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1. What is the difference between NiCad, NiMH and Lithium Ion batteries?

Batteries in portable consumer devices such as a laptop, camcorder, cellular phone, etc., are typically made using either Nickel Cadmium (NiCad), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) or Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) battery cell chemistry. Each type of rechargeable battery chemistry has its own unique characteristics:

NiCad and NiMH:
The main difference between the two is that NiMH battery (the newer technology of the two) offers higher energy density than NiCads. In other words, the capacity of a NiMH is approximately twice the capacity of its NiCad counterpart. What this means is for you is increased run-time from the battery with no additional bulk or weight. NiMH also offers another major advantage: NiCad batteries tend to suffer from what is called the "memory effect". NiMH batteries are less prone to develop this problem and thus require less maintenance and conditioning. NiMH batteries are also environmentally friendlier than NiCad batteries since they do not contain heavy metals (which present serious landfill problems). Note: Not all devices can accept both NiCad or NiMH batteries.

Lithium Ion:
Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) has become the new standard for portable power in consumer devices. Li-Ion batterys produce the same energy as NiMH battery but weighs approximately 20%-35% less. This is can make a noticeable difference in devices such as cellular phones, camcorders or notebook computers where the battery makes up a significant portion of the total weight. Another reason Li-Ion batteries have become so popular is that they do not suffer from the "memory effect" at all. They are also environmentally friendly because they don't contain toxic materials such as Cadmium or Mercury.

2. How can I maximize the performance of my battery?

There are several steps you can take to help you get maximum performance from your battery:

Prevent the Memory Effect - Keep the battery healthy by fully charging and then fully discharging it at least once every two to three weeks. Exceptions to the rule are Li-Ion batteries which do not suffer from the memory effect.

Keep the Batteries Clean - It's a good idea to clean dirty battery contacts with a cotton swab and alcohol. This helps maintain a good connection between the battery and the portable device.

Exercise the Battery - Do not leave the battery dormant for long periods of time. We recommend using the battery at least once every two to three weeks. If a battery has not been used for a long period of time, perform the new battery break in procedure described above.

Battery Storage - If you don't plan on using the battery for a month or more, store it in a clean, dry, cool place away from heat and metal objects. NiCad, NiMH and Li-Ion batteries will self-discharge during storage; remember to recharge the batteries before use.

Sealed Lead Acid - (SLA) batteries must be kept at full charge during storage. This is usually achieved by using special trickle chargers. If you do not have a trickle charger, do not attempt to store SLA batteries for more than three months.

3. The Do's and Don'ts of Battery Use

Battery Do's:
Fully charge/discharge battery up to 4 cycles before achieving full capacity of a new battery

Fully discharge and then fully charge the battery every two to three weeks for battery conditions.

Run the device under the battery's power until it shuts down or until you get a low battery warning. Then recharge the battery as instructed in the user's manual.

Remove from the device and stored in a cool, dry, clean place if the battery will not be in use for a month or longer,

Recharge the battery after a storage period

Ensure maximum performance of the battery by optimizing the device's power management features. Refer to the manual for further instructions.

Battery Don'ts:
Do not short-circuit. A short-circuit may cause severe damage to the battery.

Do not drop, hit or otherwise abuse the battery as this may result in the exposure of the cell contents, which are corrosive.

Do not expose the battery to moisture or rain.

Keep battery away from fire or other sources of extreme heat. Do not incinerate. Exposure of battery to extreme heat may result in an explosion.

4.Battery Maintenance and Use Instructions

1) A new battery usually comes in a discharged condition with a very low capacity. It is highly recommended to fully charge new battery packs before use. Refer to the users' guide of your electronic device for charging instructions.
2) A new battery pack needs to be circled (fully discharged and recharged) three to five times to reach its optimum performance.
3) Rechargeable battery will undergo self-discharging when left unused for a long period of time. Thus, it should always be stored in a fully charged state and kept in a cool, dry and clean place.
4) To maintain the optimum performance of a battery pack, it is highly recommended to circle (fully discharging and recharging) it at least once a month.
5) It is normal if a new battery gets warm when being charged or used. However, close attention should be paid if the battery pack becomes excessively hot. This may indicate there is a problem with the charging circuit of the electronic device. So, it is necessary to have it checked by a qualified technician.
6) New batteries are hard to be charged. Sometimes, your electronic device may indicate a fully charged condition about 10 to 15 minutes when the new battery pack is being charged for the first time. When this happens, remove the battery pack and let it cool down for about 10 to 15 minutes then repeat the charging procedure. Sometimes, a new battery will suddenly refuse to be charged. If this happens, it is then suggested to remove the battery from the device and reinsert it.

5. How can batteries be connected?

Note: When interconnecting batteries (cells), they must be identical in voltage and amp rating!

Batteries may be connected in series. The positive terminal of the first battery is connected to the negative terminal of the second battery; the positive terminal of the second is connected to the negative of the third, and so on. The voltage of the assembled battery is the sum of the individual batteries. The batteries are connected: + to - to + to - to + to -, etc. The capacity of the battery is unchanged.

Batteries may also be connected in parallel. The positive terminal of the first battery is connected to the positive terminal of the second battery, the positive terminal of the second is connected to the positive of the third; the negative terminal of the first battery is connected to the negative terminal of the second battery, the negative terminal of the second is connected to the negative of the third and so on. The batteries are connected: + to + to + and - to - to -. In this configuration, the capacity is the sum of the individual batteries and voltage is unchanged.

For example, (5) 6V 10AH batteries connected in series produces a battery array that is 30 Volts and 10AH. Connecting the batteries in parallel produces a battery array that is 6 Volts and 50AH. Ordinary auto batteries are designed in the same fashion. Six 2-volt cells are arranged in series to produce a 12v battery. Many Ni-Cd batteries are arranged in the same way.

6. What is the "Memory Effect"?

Ni-Cd batteries, and to a lesser extent Ni-MH batteries, suffer from what's called the "memory effect". What this means is that if a battery is repeatedly only partially discharged before recharging, the battery "forgets" that it has the capacity to further discharge all the way down. To illustrate: If you, on a regular basis, fully charge your battery and then use only 50% of its capacity before the next recharge, eventually the battery will become unaware of its extra 50% capacity which has remained unused. The battery will remain functional, but only at 50% of its original capacity. The way to avoid the dreaded "memory effect" is to fully cycle (fully charge and then fully discharge) the battery at least once every two to three weeks. Batteries can be discharged by unplugging the device's AC adapter and letting the device run on the battery until it ceases to function. This will insure your battery remains healthy.

7. What is a battery cycle?

Cycle life is measured by the amount of times a battery may be charged and discharged. Every time a battery is charged and discharged, it uses one cycle. Cycle life is very important in battery applications such as laptop batteries and emergency light batteries. A Ni-Cd battery has a cycle life of 500-1000 or more cycles.

8. What are the advantages of Lithium Ion batteries compared to other rechargeable batteries?

Lithium-ion batteries have several advantages:

They have a higher energy density than most other types of rechargeables.  This means that for their size or weight they can store more energy than other rechargeable batteries. They also operate at higher voltages than other rechargeables, typically about 3.7 volts for lithium-ion vs. 1.2 volts for NiMH or NiCd. This means a single cell can often be used rather than multiple NiMH or NiCd cells.

    Lithium-ion batteries also have a lower self discharge rate than other types of rechargeable batteries.  This means that once they are charged they will retain their charge for a longer time than other types of rechargeable batteries.  NiMH and NiCd batteries can lose anywhere from 1-5% of their charge per day, (depending on the storage temperature) even if they are not installed in a device. Lithium-ion batteries will retain most of their charge even after months of storage.

So in summary; lithium-ion batteries can be smaller or lighter, have a higher voltage and hold a charge much longer than other types of batteries.

9. What is the difference between "name brand" (Sony, Toshiba, Acer, etc.)  Lithium Ion batteries and the other types?

 Like prescription drugs there is often very little difference between name brand lithium-ion batteries and generic lithium-ion batteries.  Camera makers often make very little from the sale of the camera itself, but have high profit margins for the accessories, like batteries and flashes. Not all third party batteries are the same quality as the original battery, but many (including those which we sell) are virtually identical.

10. How should I dispose of Lithium Ion batteries?

Lithium ion batteries, like all rechargeable batteries are recyclable and should be recycled.  They should never be incinerated since they might explode. Most places that sell rechargeable batteries will also accept them back for recycling.

11. What is the best way to store Lithium Ion batteries?

Lithium-ion batteries can hold a charge for many months. It is best to store a lithium-ion battery with a partial or full charge. Occasionally, a lithium-ion battery with a very low charge is stored for a long period of time (many months) and its voltage slowly drops to below the level at which its built in safety mechanism allows it to be charged again. If the battery is going to be stored for several months it's a good idea to take it out and recharge it after a few months. Better yet would be to actually use the battery every few months and then leave it partially or fully charged.

Friendly Remind

-- (It's best to recharge batteries slowly)

Quick Charging NiMH Batteries Will Reduce Their Life.

For practical purposes with batteries that are designed to be quick charged, for example, Sanyo, GP, that is not true. It is important to use a battery charger that has been specifically designed to rapid charge NiMH cells. Actually there is a much greater likely hood of reducing the life of a NiMH battery by using an "overnight" charger than by using a smart fast charger.  Overnight chargers rely on the fact that you will unplug them after a number of hours. If you forget to unplug them they can continue to charge the batteries longer than they should. Overcharging Will reduce the life of batteries. From a strictly technical sense, a battery that is always slow charged will likely last a little longer than one that is always rapid charged.  However, the difference is so small that it is not likely to be noticeable for most users. -

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