Adventures in Rechargeable Batteries

Every self-respecting geek loves gadgets. I'm no exception. And so many of my favorite gadgets have a voracious appetite for batteries. I don't know why all the other battery types fell so far out of favor, but between AA and AAA, I could probably power 95% of my household gadget needs.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

I can’t believe that noone has mentioned Maha Energy. Excellent chargers and batteries.

Nothing wents over my Li-Ione-Accuj powerer Canon Ixus, or other gadgets with this type of accu like nearly all handys or the ipod touch (ok, there the accu is hard to replace).
They live longer than 6 years, and up to now no malfunction, just a little bit less power over the time. NiMh is junk, go for Li-Io!

The the poster above about game controllers, I’m using 2700mah AAs from in my Wiimotes right now. They seem to last much longer for me than your experience. I get weeks out of them.

I also second the good words about Maha… the new “slow-discharge” Imedion AA rechargeables are fantastic:

-Mick O

I just checked and my LaCrosse BC-900 has a firmware version of “33”. It was purchased in December 2007.

In case you’re curious, upon power up, there are three numbers on the display:

channel 1: temperature sensor #1
channel 2: temperature sensor #2
channel 4: firmware version number

I hadn’t heard of any complaints about the BC-900 melting down until now; supposedly firmware 33 reduces the shutdown threshold temperature. It is true that the batteries are pretty close together on the BC-900 with little room for air circulation, so if there was a lot of excessive heat from rapid charging, and something went wrong… I could see it.

I just picked up a Maha Wizard, and like it quite a bit. It also has a built in stand to lift it off the work surfce. Otherwise, it is quite similiar to the BC-900 (not quite as nice looking, I admit) :slight_smile:

@Andre - I had some of the original recharables from the 80ies, dynacell or some such. Every one in a while, one would go sour and short out. Not a comfortable experience if it happens in your pocket, but that is just the risk you take of rearranging all those electrons.

Even the NiMH batteries have pressure release holes in case they short out to keep them from just exploding.

Regardless of the technology, they are just fancy capacitors, and occasionally all the electrons run back to the otherside all at once, and without permission or regard for the consequences. More of a battery defect in most cases.

charging without cords

Also, small BC-900 charger protip (courtesy of the aforementioned and totally awesome Mr. Lee):

BC-900 will not charge a completely drained cell (display says ‘null’ after you insert the cell). Follow the instructions here to ‘jump-start’ the dead cell, so that its terminal voltage is restored to about 0.5-1 volt. Then the BC-900 will charge it:

  1. UNPLUG the BC-900!
  2. Place a good cell and a ‘dead’ cell next to each other
  3. Short the (+) terminals of the two cells together with a paper clip for a few seconds
  4. Remove short, plug in the BC-900

I had the same problem (inserted cell, no response) tried this trick and it totally worked!

pic here:

It turns out that massive 2500mAh capacity of the Energizer rechargeable battery doesn’t mean much when the battery drains itself within a month.

Too right! I have about 5 different brands of rechargeables of similar age and the Energizers (2500mAh) are the only ones almost guaranteed to have discharged when I want to use them.

I have the Maha C204W. It’s small, works great, needs no external power brick and is happy with 100V or 240V.

Ooh, somebody’s getting kickbacks!!

I kid! I kid!

Good info, Jeff! We’ve been a rechargables household for a few years now. About the only things we don’t use 'em in is our fancy-shmancy Crest SpinBrush toothbrushes. (Given the wet environment, I didn’t wanna risk my prized rechargable batteries in those.)

I would have loved the BC900 a few years ago when I had a whole bunch of devices that used AA/AAA/C/D etc batteries. Unfortunately now, apart from TV/DVD remotes (which will go for well over a year even on yum-cha $2 for 50 batteres from a crap shop) I don’t think I have any appliances that use them anymore.

I find myself stuck in the annoying position where every device (PDA, Laptop, Camera, Phone, Video Camera, Remote Control Car, Electric Shaver etc) has its own different batter, which comes a long witha different pack/charger.

I yearn for the day when Induction (or whatever they’re called) chargers (and batteries/devices with charging capability) are the norm and I can simply throw all the things listed above on a big pad on my bedside table to charge them all.

Unfortunately now, apart from TV/DVD remotes (which will go for well over a year even on yum-cha $2 for 50 batteres from a crap shop) I don’t think I have any appliances that use them anymore.

And ironically those kind of TV/DVD remote use cases are exactly the sort of low-draw, long-run applications that NiMH cells are not very good at. Even if the self-discharge rate is very low, it’s still high enough (compared to traditional alkaline batteries) to be a problem.

So they drain in about a month.

I guess I’ll have to stop complaining to Mrs Engtech about replacing all of the charged batteries with discharged batteries.

Coding Horror saves relationships.

My first cellphone in 1996 had a NiHM battery. Any idea why these rechargable batteries still use NiMH while most gadgets have moved to lithium batteries?

Thank you for the informative article. It’s nice to see some non-coding related articles once in a while, though that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the coding related articles as well.
Keep up the good work!


I did some digging into that very question myself this year.
The answer is safety. Basically, lithium batteries are not fool-proof enough for consumers.

These are pretty geeky:

I ordered a box of 10 packs. We’ve got 6 pc’s in the house, 2 of which are on all the time so lots of places we can plug these in when they need charging. AAA cells will be coming soon.

We have a couple of cells always charged ready to replace flat ones. The flat ones get charged and go back on the shelf :slight_smile:

The answer to your question…

“Is it really true that AA battery capacity has more than doubled in the last ten years?”

…is quite simply “No”, since 2500 is certainly not “more than double” 1300. :wink:

I have to say that i really enjoyed this article and that i learned alot from it.

Good writing as always jeff.