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Guide to Batteries

What types of batteries are there?
What is Memory Effect?
Can I use a different type of battery? (ex. switch NiCad with Li-Ion)
How to keep your battery in good condition.
How are batteries rated?
What is the life of a new battery?


What types of batteries are there?
Batteries in portable consumer devices (laptops and notebooks, camcorders, cellular phones, etc.) are principally made using either Nickel Cadmium (NiCad), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) or Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) technologies. Each type of rechargeable battery technology has its own unique characteristics:

MiHM & NiCad
The main difference between the two is the fact that NiMH batteries (the newer of the two technologies) offer higher energy densities than NiCads. In other words, pound for pound, NiMH delivers approximately twice the capacity of its NiCad counterpart. What this translates into is increased run-time from the battery with no additional bulk to weigh down your portable device. 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 dreaded affliction and thus require less maintenance and care. NiMH batteries are also more environmentally friendly than their NiCad counterparts since they do not contain heavy metals (which present serious landfill problems).

Li-Ion
Li-Ion has quickly become the emerging standard for portable power in consumer devices. Li-Ion batteries produce the same energy as NiMH batteries but weigh approximately 35% less. This is crucial in applications such as camcorders or notebook computers where the battery makes up a significant portion of the device's 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.

Li-Polymer
This is a newer type of Li-Ion battery. It uses a solid polymer electrolyte that looks like a plastic film. It contains a gelled electrolyte which is less susceptible to leaking and uses a bag type enclosure rather than a rigid metal case. This leads to a lighter and thinner battery and it is considered safer because the gelled electrolyte is less likely to leak. It is also more resistant to overcharge.

What is Memory Effect?
NiCad batteries, and to a lesser extent NiMH 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.

Can I use a different type of battery?
NiCad, NiMH and Li-Ion are all fundamentally different from one another and cannot be substituted unless the device has been pre-configured from the factory to accept more than one type of rechargeable battery technology. The difference between them stems from the fact that each type requires a different charging pattern to be properly recharged. Therefore, the portable device's internal charger must be properly configured to handle a given type of rechargeable battery. Refer to the owners manual to find out which rechargeable battery types the particular device supports or use our search to find the device in our database. It will automatically list all of the battery types supported by the machine.

Keeping your battery in good condition.
New batteries are hard for the device to charge; they have never been fully charged and are therefore "unformed". Sometimes the device's charger will stop charging a new battery before it is fully charged. If this happens, remove the battery from the device and then reinsert it. The charge cycle should begin again. This may happen several times during the first battery charge. Don't worry; it's perfectly normal.

There are several steps you can take to insure that you get maximum performance from the battery:

Break In New Batteries
New batteries come in a discharged condition and must be fully charged before use. It is recommended that you fully charge and discharge the new battery two to four times to allow it to reach its maximum rated capacity.

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, we recommend storing 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 break them in 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.

For Notebook Users
To get maximum performance from the battery, fully optimize the notebooks power management features prior to use. Power management is a trade off: better power conservation in exchange for lesser computer performance. The power management system conserves battery power by setting the processor to run at a slower speed, dimming the screen, spinning down the hard drive when it's not in use and causing the machine to go into sleep mode when inactive. The notebook users guide will provide information relating to specific power management features.

How Are Batteries Rated?
There are two ratings on every battery: volts and amp-hours (Ah). The Ah rating may also be given as milliamp-hours (mAh), which are one-thousandth of an amp-hour (for example, a 1Ah battery is 1000mAh). Amp-hours are a rating of the amount of energy that a battery can store. Another way of looking at it is to say that the higher a battery's amp-hour rating is, the longer the battery's run-time will be. Some of our batteries will have higher amp-hour ratings than the original battery found in your device and will not cause any incompatibilities.

How Long Do New Batteries Last?
The life of a rechargeable battery operating under normal conditions is generally between 500 to 800 charge-discharge cycles. This translates into one and a half to three years of battery life for the average user. As the rechargeable battery begins to die, the user will notice a decline in the running time of the battery. When a battery that originally operated the notebook for two hours is only supplying the user with an hour's worth of use, it's time for a new one.
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