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BATTERIES



THE BATTERY TRUTH PAGE


A battery pack is a group of identical batteries or individual battery cells that are linked. 

Because they are individual cells they may be configured in several ways to attain a certain operational voltage. 

Those ways are in Series, parallel or a combination of the two to attain either higher voltage or longer drain times. 

Basically in its's design stage, the voltage, capacity, or power density is determined by the devices needs.

The individual batteries or cells. 

Sometimes batteries are arranged as in most flashlights as series strings.
They may be arranged in parallel to increase longevity or sustained power.

The interconnects which provide electrical conductivity between the cells and are made of a highly refined metal with very little resistance.  They are welded, not soldered in commercial packs for reasons of continuity, consistency, and speed, welding being a lot faster than hand soldering and with less damage to the cells. They may be welded in parallel or in series.

THE CRITICAL PART OF A BATTERY PACK

Rechargeable battery packs of Ni-MH, or Ni-Cad usually have a temperature sensor which indicates  the end of charging. Thus we know heat is a factor in charging, discharging and failure as heat ruins any electronics in close quarters.  This sensor may be a PEPI type.

CHARGING - IT GETS COMPLEX

Ever wonder why some battery chargers cost $300.00 and others cost 29.95?  Packs with multiple cells might be regulated or controlled so that the peak voltage of each battery or cell is kept below its maximum value.  This allows weaker batteries in the string to charge better allowing a more balanced pack. 

A well-balanced pack lasts longer and delivers better performance so it is a rather beneficial component of high capacity or expensive packs.  This is why you match batteries for use.  The better professional chargers have this capability, the cheaper ones are merely averaging and don't add to battery life or power.


TRUTHS

The state of charge of a battery can't be determined by a  voltage measurement.  The terminal voltage of a battery may stay substantially constant until it is completely discharged.  This is another piece of expensive gear called a load tester. And cycles can take up to a day for testing.

BATTERY PACK PROS
Packs can be changed rapidly, they have extended capacity and duration.  
Multiple packs offer continuity, one on the charger while one is in the unit.
High-production cells or batteries to be combined into a pack.
Both voltage and duration may be extended, modified or adjusted for any application.
Pack holders may be recycled,  reducing hazardous waste.

BATTERY PACK CONS:
They should not be tampered with.  It is vitally important to understand there are potential chemical, electrical, and fire risks with the more powerful pack though occurrences are very, very rare.


LEAD ACID BATTERIES

Lead acid batteries are made up of cells. Each cell is rated at approximately 2 volts. A fully charged lead acid battery cell is around 2.15 volts, and a fully discharged cell is 1.9 volts. Thus, a 6V lead acid battery would measure at 6.4 to 6.6 volts when it is fully charged, and around 5.8 volts when fully discharged.

How long will it take to charge a battery?  You can approximate how long your lead acid battery will charge by dividing two numbers.  

Approximate Recharge Time Calculations
(Battery Capacity) / (Charger Current) = Hours
(Amp Hours) / (Amps) = Hours
So lets say I have a 5.5 amp-Hour battery, and I'm using a 1.0 Amp charger. 5.5 Amp-Hours divided by 1.0 Amps = 5.5 hours. So the estimated time for a 5.5 amp-Hour battery using a 1.0 amp charger would be 5.5 hours.  Our Eurocharger is 1.2 amps so 5 hours should do it well.


THE SLEEPING GIANT HAS BEEN AWAKE ALL THIS TIME

TRADE ISSUES:
Rumors again abound about cost of lead and batteries will rise in 2012 by 10%.  No one looks forward to increases. The sleeping giant HOME of the PANDA BEAR, realized they own the market now with little or no competition. Seems their abundance of lead and contaminants spilled over into paints used on kids toys and games, sheet rock wall coverings, decorations, tools, food, and a plethora of other products well.

How did CHINA become the world’s leader in battery components?  Simple, it's another perfect storm, it’s highly dangerous and profitable. Loss of life is not a shortage problem. Sort of like "whack-a -mo". One down from poisoning, explosions, contamination and another pops up and they don't miss a beat nor keep score. 

Few other countries process Lead, NiMH, or Ni-cad and add Li-On to the list. Battery making is a dangerous sport. From acid burns to sheer explosions, it’s a challenge for the OSHA types to reconcile so we get it offshore.  Only two states in the US had lead mines and it has never had that many friends or supporters so most of the lead reclaimed from car batteries and SLA's returns to China as ballast, along with steel thats the stuff that keeps those huge freighters from overturning since they go back empty only to reload and come back to drain us again. 

Even the Japanese, who love recycling and profit, after the SONY plant blew up and burned to the ground offered great incentives to the Chinese to do their battery business for them.  Thus the En-EL3A from Nikon in Japan at outrageous prices are made in Shen-Feng-Shui, China.  

ENELOOPS and HYBRIDS
The Eneloop is marketing by SANYO of a newer, greater, better Ni-MH. They claim the Eneloop cell is a new second generation of NiMH rechargeable and looks like SANYOS future development. The entire generational difference is in the components such as the chemical and metallurgical makeup of the anodes, reactants and shell, thus less deterioration of the product, (more recharges)  loss of energy (self-discharge) and longer shelf life ( better for retailers).  

Actually we saw knockoffs in our store show up before the SANYOS got there. We also saw new combined Hybrid cells and Ni-ZN.  Hybrid is a buzz word today. Once again the hype usually exceeds the actual conditions experienced. The hybrids we received and I tried them, failed miserably. Some never came alive out of the box. Stay away from them if they do not say SANYO.  We also saw some of the cells wipe out some smaller point and shoots.  My jury is still out, I want to see down the road a bit before I endorse anything.


STANDARDS:

The term "lithium battery" refers to a large and growing family of different lithium chemistries, comprising many types of cathodes and electrolytes. 

The main characteristic or most popular form of Lithium in the Commercial/ Industrial applications, or is installed into devices where no consumer replacement is performed is Lithium-thionyl Chloride. It is well suited to extremely low-current applications where long life is necessary, e.g. wireless alarm systems.

The most common type of lithium cells used in consumer applications use metallic lithium as the anode and manganese dioxide as the cathode, with a salt of lithium dissolved in an organic solvent. 

Lithium promises to be lighter, stronger, more powerful, with no memory and smaller. The voltages with Li-on range in multiples of 3.7. Thus you will see, 3.7 -7.4 - 11.2. outputs which seem strange at times. 

Really futuristic techno-poop terminology abounds when they sell you something that has Lithium based Batteries in it like at Lowes and Home Depot but there is a dark side, especially in tools. They can be unstable at times, poor quality may get mixed with good stuff and they can either burn or explode if not handled properly. Never ever pitch one in a fire. 

In the US we are locked in the 6v-12v theology. Our cars are twelve, most emergency lights are six, motorcycles can be both.  This has existed for decades and was based on 2 volts per cell as used in Sealed Lead Acid. This is commonly known as the US standard. 2v x3 =6 volts and 2v x6 = 12 volts. 

Motorcycles, garden tractors, and other outdoor ATV, water and terrain vehicles can run on six volt setups. 
The most popular being GOLF carts. The standard of the industry relates to heavy usage. Chain six 6 volt batteries together and you have a 36V Golf Cart. Fast with fast recharging. Perfect for golf. 

This will change as Lithium gets more prolific. That's as long as Lithium doesn't continue to blowup plants, pickup trucks and DELL, APPLE Toshiba, Panasonic, and IBM laptop computers can handle the fiery economic loses.

MORE LITHIUM
There are several other types of Lithium and we could write a book about the variants. See Wikipedia on-line encyclopedia, for more information and they have white papers linked on the subject.


NEW FEDERAL AIRLINE REGULATIONS (LITHIUM):

Effective January 1, 2008, the following rules apply to the spare lithium batteries you carry with you in case the battery in a device runs low: 

Here are some Points of Lightning. The problem is Lithium is a fire and explosive hazard. It's hard to fight a fire below decks in the cargo area, It's easier to contain in the cabin of an aircraft. Loose Lithium's if jarred or the terminals compromised will burn, oxidize or explode. 

1. Spare batteries are the batteries you carry separately from the devices they power. 

2. When batteries are installed in a device, they are not considered spare batteries. 

3. You may not pack a spare lithium battery in your checked baggage. 

4. You may bring spare lithium batteries with you in CARRY ON BAGGAGE if you pack them properly. Use your smarts. 

5. Even though we recommend carrying your devices with you in carry-on baggage as well, if you must bring one in checked baggage, you may check it with the batteries installed. 

6. Removing batteries from devices does not enhance safety! When they are in the device they are intended for they are supported by it's design. 

7. Keep batteries in their original packaging. This packaging is specifically designed to protect batteries in transportation, at the store, and in your home or worksite. 

8. If original packaging is unavailable, tape over the electrical connections (contacts or terminals) Electrical tape is great for this job, since if removed promptly will not get gooey. But any adhesive tape not made of metallic material will do! 

9. Placing each battery in its own individual plastic bag will also isolate the battery's terminals 

10. Every rechargeable battery-powered device comes with a charger that is right for that device. They do not interchange. 

CAUTIONS:
The Lithium batteries constructed of Lithium -Ion carry warnings about placing in fire. Li-on can ignite if exposed to air. In 1995, an entire SONY plant blew up in Japan so problems with Li-On are not new to SONY. Toshiba was also involved. It is reported this latest foo-pah will cost about 430 million dollars which has since doubled.

DO NOT THROW LITHIUM CELLS AT ANYTHING

IF the small controller internally should break the battery will short and may explode. People walk in our local battery store and pitch the dead ones on the counter. Boom. They don't read the sign that says "don't throw batteries, they can explode".  A gentleman in South Korea made the papers when his cell phone went off in his ear. He no longer resides on earth and the signal dropped when he did. Brings new meaning to the word "ROLLOVER MINUTES".

In the 80's Lithium EPIRBS (ELT's in those days) were recalled from aircraft as they leaked and corroded control cables!  I was the proud owner of a Piper Cherokee and had recently upgraded to the new miracle battery that would outlast the standard alkaline's used in the ELT.  Four months later we were told to remove them.  We got the recall notice from the FAA. They leaked and had eaten through stainless steal cables that controlled the rudder and horizontal stabilizer on several aircraft, we had ours reinspected.


CHEAP IS STUPID:
Buying cheap Lithium batteries are a stupid thing to do. Lithium batteries find application in many long-life, critical devices, such as artificial pacemakers and other implantable electronic medical devices. These devices use specialized lithium-iodide batteries designed to last 15 or more years.  

Lithium batteries can be used in place of ordinary alkaline cells in many devices, such as clocks and cameras. Although they are more costly, lithium cells will provide much longer shelf life, thereby minimizing battery replacement.  However, attention must be given to the higher voltage developed by the lithium cells before using them as a drop-in replacement in devices that normally use ordinary cells like some FUJI cameras and flashes.

Small lithium batteries are very commonly used in small, portable electronic devices, such as PDAs, watches, thermometers, and calculators, as backup batteries in computers and communication equipment, and in remote car locks. They are available in many shapes and sizes, with a common variety being the 3 volt "coin" type manganese variety, typically 20 mm in diameter and 1.6–4 mm thick. 

The heavy electrical demands of many of these devices make lithium batteries a particularly attractive option. In particular, lithium batteries can easily support the brief, heavy current demands of devices such as digital cameras, and they maintain a higher voltage for a longer period than alkaline cells. The downside is they drop dead instantly when discharged with little or no warning.

Lithium batteries can provide extremely high currents and can discharge very rapidly when short-circuited. Although this is useful in applications where high currents are required, a too-rapid discharge of a lithium battery can result in overheating of the battery, rupture, and even explosion.

Lithium-thionyl chloride batteries are particularly capable of this type of discharge. Consumer batteries usually incorporate over-current or thermal protection or vents in order to prevent explosion. Because of the above risks, shipping and carriage of lithium batteries is restricted in some situations, particularly transport of lithium batteries by air. 

Read the new regulations mandatory January 1, 2008 at the top of the page. The computer industry's drive to increase battery capacity can test the limits of sensitive components such as the membrane separator, a polyethylene or polypropylene film that is only 20-25 μm thick. The energy density of lithium-ion batteries has more than doubled since they were introduced in 1991. When the battery has more and more material, the separator can undergo stress. In French, this translates as "Mon ami, sacre bleu, Oui de poop-e-doo". In English, "Oh Shit" is linguistically correct. 


THE DRUG SCENE 

DEA/Florida Bureau of Investigation Hand Guide
Unused lithium batteries provide a convenient source of lithium metal for use as a reducing agent in illegal methamphetamine labs. Some jurisdictions have passed laws to restrict lithium battery sales or asked businesses to make voluntary restrictions in an attempt to help curb the creation of illegal methamphetamine labs. 

On the good side, hopefully, if there are explosions, a methamphetamine lab is a real good place for it to happen. A newspaper article from January 2004 reports that Wal-Mart stores limit the sale of disposable lithium batteries to three packages in Missouri and four packages in other states.

However, the heavy demand for lithium batteries for use in modern, current-hungry devices such as digital cameras conflicts with such restrictions. And as far longevity, just think how long your last cell phone battery lasted whether it was lithium or NiMH, neither lasted very long usually one to two years.


Ni-MH NIMH is OK for some things, bad for others

Ni-MH really gained in popularity with AA sized cells when Ni-Cadmium went on the federal disposal list. The world jumped on it especially when Digital came into being. One of the exotic pack builders after Quantum, got caught up in the speed race with Ni-MH and after a few Canon flashes became toasters he vanished. Sometimes more is not better and sometimes newer needs a chance to be proven.

If your NiMH last more than 18 months to two years you are lucky. I hate playing with AA cells, small chargers, and changing AA batteries. I don't hide it, please respect me for my opinion and I'll respect yours. If you are a devotee of AA cells, and think the MAHA 204 or the Ray-O-Death or the Eveready Instant Charger and AA cells are Ok for a Wedding, this place isn't for you.  To me a guy lugging twenty AA batteries going for a shoot makes no sense. If you do use AA cells in Ni-MH, here are some good tips. 

Don't mix chemistries, types, brands, lots or capacity of the cells. When you put cells together, you have basically built a pack. It may store in the camera or flash or it may be in a holder but you made a pack generally with very POOR connections. Cells should be marked and kept in specific sets and kept them together for performance to stabilize. The weakest cell in that pack will draw down the others. Thats why you don't mix.

Ni-MH cells do not get better with age, it's the reverse, they actually taper off. Since Ni-MH tapers and deteriorates as it gets older, the point you have to change batteries increases or changes. You are kidding yourself if you believe the life expectancy of the Ni-MH is as promised. 

Ni-MH do not recharge as many times as professional NiCads. They also have a shelf life no one talks about. Ni-Cads are actually better in the C and D cell commercial categories. That's why they are preferred in the higher power packs, the Ni-Cads and Sealed Lead Acid batteries are the preferred power source for longer use and less depreciation in professional units. 

So why the popularity of NiMH? Simple. It CHEAP and a profit maker.  It's cheapest battery to make, least offensive to the environment, lightweight and it works in all the toys like phones, beepers, Walkmans, cell-phones, portable phones, and Vibrators. 

And we all like our toys! This is reality in the battery business. If you are not in the battery business, like anything else in life, like buying a car, it's not what they tell you more often it's what they DON'T tell you. I will tell you. 


CAPACITY and Quality

Some of you won't like this...batteries come in different price ranges, qualities and integrities. In batteries simply saying "you get what you pay for" means nothing. You get what was put inside and NO MORE THAN what you paid for.  It depends on the integrity of the builder and then the integrity of his vendors. Whether you know it or not, the manufacturer can print anything they want on the outside. That's the part you get to see.

The testing standards used to achieve "incredible results" are usually about as accurate as the testing individual who works for the guy selling the batteries. Job retention. Sorry, that's the game in a totally unregulated business.

Example: Those 2500 - 2700 AA MAH batteries attained their numbers from a three amp hour draw. Think of it as a large bottle of beer. A quart bottle. You have two drinkers. One guy gulps it down in a 1/2 hour. They rate him as a 1/2 GAH ( Gulps an hour). Drinker number two sips his beer and takes two hours. (20 GAH) Sounds more impressive. It's not. The sipper has a lower draw or drinking speed but the capacity is the same. Remember a business with no regulations. A 2100 mah battery at a three amp drawer can be the same thing as a 2700 mah battery at a six amp drawer. Numbers mean little in milli-amps. It's the drawer that tells the truth. 

BETTER PRODUCTS COME FROM BETTER COMPONENTS:

Our Black Box and Tuxedo batteries are SLA'a and rated or tested at the 20 AMP draw. Two could start a car.  The theory is you build to the profit margin, just as Wal-Mart goes to it's vendors and says "that's all we'll pay", you figure out how to make it cheaper. They, the vendors go to China or elsewhere where cheap labor is available and the vendors say this is all we'll pay. 

The internal boards and workings, of most battery operated products, the batteries themselves, even the plastic cases are made all over the world, China in particular.  Mine come from Denmark. They were stronger and tested better than the Chinese ones. 

And now the game is taking the Chinese stuff and assemble it in Mexico so that no tariffs are paid and does not show China as the builder. So it might say "Made in Mexico, but all of it is Chinese. I am not a fan of Chinese components.  The only thing I can control is to buy the best reputable components I can find and it's getting harder. I am willing to buy better supplies and I have held pricing though my costs have gone up. 


The TEN COMMANDMENTS OF BATTERY CARE:

(1) Fully charge a new battery before use to get rid of the storage blues.
(2) Never run any battery to exhaustion. You might have to kick start the battery to kick start what ever you were starting.
(3) Good chargers are not the fastest chargers. They are battery killers.
(4)  Don't mix rechargeable cells that are not from the same brand, much less the same batch, much less the same size or capacity.
(5)  Do not store batteries in the fridge, you’ll rust and split the cases which are not made from stainless.
(6)  Mixing cells of different capacities can cause permanent damage to the weakest one in the set.
(7)  Different manufacturers state a cell’s capacity at anywhere from a ten-hour to a three-hour discharge rate. You shouldn’t simply assume that all 2000 MAH capacity cells will perform identically in your gear.
(8)  Don't leave your batteries in the charger for weeks on end unless the charger is specifically designed to handle the maintenance charge curve.
(9)  Put cool batteries in a flash only, never when they are hot or warm cells from a charger.
(10) Read the instructions. And don’t believe half the hype.


MORE ON BATTERIES

A device usually referred to as an electrochemical device that converts chemical energy into electricity, by use of a galvanic cell. A galvanic cell is composed of two electrodes (an anode and a cathode) and an electrolyte solution.  Placing these cell in packs or strings create different voltages. That’s why we call them battery Packs. Batteries store energy they do not make it. Rechargeable batteries can be restored many times. Batteries are not 100% efficient, energy is lost as heat and chemical reactions occur as when charging and discharging. Typical efficiency in a lead-acid battery is 85-95%, in alkaline and NiCad battery it is about 65%.

BATTERY KILLER SEALED LEAD ACID
Sulfation is the formation or deposit of lead sulfate on the surface and in the pores of the lead plates. If the sulfation becomes excessive, the battery may not work at all. Sulfation is caused by stored a long time in a discharged condition, operating at excessive temperatures, and prolonged under or over charging.

What are some of the major applications for lead acid batteries? The major applications for lead acid batteries are automotive, related marine, and deep-cycle. Deep-cycle includes solar electric (PV), backup power, and RV and electric motor applications like trolling motors. Their life depends on how it is used, how it is maintained and charged, temperature, and other factors.

Lead Acid Batteries may have flooded or wet cells, gel cells or absorbed glass matt cells.  
Flooded may be standard, with removable caps, or the so-called "maintenance free" batteries which are usually not. they still need water.  
Gelled cells, as in Sonnenshine from Germany virtually do not exist, too expensive.  All gelled are sealed and a few are "valve regulated", which means that a tiny valve keeps a slight positive pressure.
Nearly all AGM batteries are sealed valve regulated commonly referred to as "VRLA" - Valve Regulated Lead-Acid.
AGM or Absorbed Glass Mat batteries are also sometimes called "starved electrolyte" or "dry", because the fiberglass matting is only 95% saturated with Sulfuric acid and there is no excess liquid. Sealed batteries are known as maintenance free batteries. They are made with vents that (usually) cannot be removed.


How does an AGM battery differ from a Gel cell?

The sealed nonspillable maintenance free valve regulated battery uses "Absorbed Glass Mats", or separators between the plates. This is a very fine fiber Boron-Silicate glass mat. These type of batteries have the advantages of gelled, but can take much more abuse. A GEL battery design is typically a modification of a standard battery with a gelling agent added to the electrolyte to reduce movement inside the battery case. 

RATINGS

What is the Amp Hour (Ah) rating?  It is amps X hours. Example: An amp-hour is one amp for one hour or 20 amps for five minutes (20th of an hour). The accepted AH rating time period for batteries used in backup power systems (and for nearly all deep cycle batteries) is the "20 hour rate". 

What is a MilliAmp Hour (MAH)?

MilliAmp Hour means how much current a battery will discharge over a period of one hour. Higher numbers here reflect a long battery runtime and or higher storage capacity. Higher MAH ratings do not necessarily reflect on speed but more on runtime. 

 © copyright aljacobs Stardate 10-18-2012