a companion discussion area for blog.codinghorror.com

Adventures in Rechargeable Batteries


if your looking for the item in europe, check conrad website of your contry ( if there is one ) and seartch for product: 512304-TH (thats the one without extra bataries, just the charger, cheepest option if you have bateries allready)

found mine on conrad.nl (number via conrad.de) for 34.95 euro, 41.90 including shipping.



Great article Jeff. I have been using only rechargeables for years. Rechargeable batteries is the only way to go with digital cameras and any multimedia device. Just keep an extra set charged and on standby and you be fine.


Great write up. I have the La Crosse charger as well (got it after graduation) and it works great.



using an nimh full capacity does not destroy it, it simply counts as a full charge. An NiMH is good for 1000 full cycles so if you only use 50% of its capacity then you get 2000 half cycles, its a way to extend the life.


I got the USB charger for the rechargeable AA alkalines (pure energy) I use, also got a NiCD/NiMH slow charger.

I’ve had good experience with my NiMH/NiCD batteries (NiCDs used in clocks) but the memory effect is outrageous!! The 2 NiCDs I got have been draining since 8 months now with a good memory effect.

My PDA’s Li-Ion battery suffered a major memory effect for 3 months before I had to replace it. Yes, almost ALL batteries have the memory effect. I even tried to drain it fully, but it only charged for 10 minutes then stated it was FULL. Unplug the charger, it dies after 3 minutes. Thankfully, it’s been cleared up 3 months ago :slight_smile:

The duracell 2500mha battery I found in wal-mart acutally overheated and melted one of my disposable cameras. I couldn’t care less anyways. That disposable camera was one I took apart and used as a flash instead.

I also got a ton of (recycled/reused/boosted) non-rechargables. I do boost and attempt to recharge them with the usb charger I got. It works. None of my “non-chargeable” have ever leaked or exploded at all, like the stupid company said would happen. One did leak, maybe cause it was dampened (found outside after the rain, inside a paper cup) and I just tossed it out.

Have you had any experience with boosting and renewing dead, non-rechargeable batteries before?

Don’t try it on a NiCD/NiMH charger cause they won’t charge, since they’re alkaline.

Pop me an e-mail and/or a video on youtube if you wish.

I’m glad to give you my experiences.


You’ll find my e-mail addresses in 2 of my videos and the description of my 2nd oldest. You gotta scroll to the LAST page to find the second oldest video to get them from the description.



Nothing beats lithium AA batteries when it comes to performance. They have much wider operating temperature range, higher discharge current, lower self-discharge, and they weight half as much as other types.

Other batteries have failed me. Countless times I had an absolutely stunning photo waiting to be taken, I turn the camera on, and I discover the NiMH discharged itself by just doing nothing, the camera dies, I curse. In the end, alkaline is what I use mostly, and lithium in mission critical places. I use the rechargeable nimh batteries only in my cheapo $5 electric screwdriver.

Lithium batteries are not to be confused with rechargable Lithium-Ion and LiPoly, they’re different. I use LiPoly exclusively for my model planes and helicopters, but that’s a whole other bowl of enchilada…


I’m sure you all know this but regularly using the full capacity of a NiMH Battery destroys it (severely reduces the number of recharge cycles). Priuses use only 2/3 of the capacity of their batteries.


great article! now does anyone know where a BC-900 can be found in Australia?



You need to try some decent NiMH, I too had given up on them and was using lithium in our cameras but I tried eneloops and decent charger and now have great results. Our cameras can take just as many pictures on a set of eneloops as they can lithiums and I have plenty of gear which sits in the closet for 6 months and still has full charge thans to the low self discharge of eneloops. Then also hold their charge better in cold weather than traditional NiMH.


There are actually Lithium-Ion in AA size, but they’re actually called 14500. They have a nominal voltage of 3.7, which means they’re about 4.2V when fully charged. This makes them unsuitable for directly replacing alkaline and nimh in most devices, though if you have a device that takes 2 or 3 AA, you can use 1 14500 Lithium-Ion rechargeable and 1 or 2 dummy cells. Not much sense in doing that, you’ll have more energy in 2 AA eneloop.

Safety is probably the main reason why we aren’t seeing standardized sizes for Lithium rechargeables used. Considering that consumers today already ignore the warnings on alkaline and nimh batteries, putting Lithium-ion in their hands would be disastrous. While nimh or alkaline at most leaks a bit of corrosive electrolyte, lithiums “vent with flame” when mistreated… The situation is not made easier by the fact that there are about half a dozen different lithium-ion rechargeable chemistries, each preferring a slightly different charge algorithm. If consumers have more than two kinds of lithium and use the wrong charger, they might find a new fountain of flame in their living room.

That a nimh battery’s label says “1300mAh, Charge 130mA 14 hours” is entirely correct. When charging at a rate that is one tenth of the battery’s rated capacity, the charge efficiency is somewhere roughly around 70%, meaning that you have to put in 1.4 times the battery’s capacity in order to fill it up. The “missing” 40% warms up the battery.

Regarding the cost of electricity, if we assume you treat your battery well and will thus get about 500 cycles out of it, you’ll have put in 500 cycles * 1.2volts * 2AmpHours * 1.4 (charge efficiency losses) = 1680 watthours of energy. That’s 1.68 kWh. Assume that the charger and its AC adapter are somewhat inefficient, say a very pessimistic 50% efficiency 3.36 kWh. A kWh costs less than 50 cents in most parts of the world, but let’s assume you’re paying 50 cents, round it up, about $2 in electricity costs to charge a Eneloop AA battery 500 times. This is why people rarely factor in the electricity cost, even with this pessimistic calculation it is insignificant. How much does 500 AA alkalines cost? :wink:

Btw, to those of you who have the “null” problem with the BC-900, do keep in mind that it’s generally a bad idea to drain nimh completely empty. Cameras and such shut down long before the batteries are empty, but less “high tech” devices such as flashlights can be run past the point where it goes dim. If the flashlight uses more than one battery, it is likely that one of the batteries will go empty before the other, this results in the remaining battery “reverse charging” the empty battery. This is quite harmful for a nimh battery, and will greatly decrease its lifetime. nimh batteries also don’t like to wait around in a discharged state for very long, so charge as soon as possible, and it’s okay, even recommended, to recharge the batteries as soon as you notice the flashlight dimming. The old urban legend about running flashlight until it’s completely dead in order to maximize rechargeable performance is wrong.

Many people use the term “memory effect” to describe all kinds of loss of performance, but the truth is that such a thing doesn’t really exist in real life. The harsh reality of it is that batteries will die, and often it’s a long and slow death. Lithium Ion rechargeables degrade and lose capacity (i.e. you get less and less talk time / laptop runtime even on full charge) over time. It used to be as high as 50% degradation in 2 years, hopefully research and progress has managed to improve this a bit. There’s no memory effect involved, the battery just becomes weaker over time. Completely discharging Li-Ion wont magically make it perform better, it’s even outright dangerous to use a Li-Ion that has been discharged past the point where the device no longer operates on it.

So many issues, still so many rumours and false tips floating around about “memory” and similar, it’s no wonder people just find it simpler to continue throwing money into the alkaline pit…


Does anyone know where to get this charger in the Toronto, Canada area? I’d really like to buy one but I can’t seem to locate anyone who sells them here.


from Amazon.com 39.00 free shipping
"La Crosse Technology BC-900 AlphaPower Battery Charger" [Lawn
Estimated arrival date: 06/05/2008 - 06/11/2008

I ordered this last week and i received this today!!!

I canceled and per one of the persons above i bought it from http://www.thomas-distributing.com 57.97 the shipping is 8.?? but the one i ordered as the 8 Sanyo eneloops,ordered 4 MAHA IMEDION too it came to about 76.?? i think i may have paid 10 over but i was just mad at Amazon, plus I wanted it for my birthday. :stuck_out_tongue:


I have learned to never buy any device which uses a
Lithium Ion battery if there is an AA device available.
Imagine how many cords/power supplies/chargers I would
need for three cameras, gps, scanner, two way radio, etc,
instead I have only two, one for the maha c9000 and one
for the maha c401

I can’t imagine not having a lithium ion battery in my camera. I got it almost a year ago, and it is still working fine on its initial charge. I have not had to recharge the battery even once yet, and I have taken over 1000 photos, many with the flash.

In a device that can handle the higher voltage, Li Ion makes a lot of sense. You probably wouldn’t want to use it in a TV remote control, for example, because you can get probably 3 years out of a standard alkaline AA cell at 1/10th the cost.

However, larger universal remotes with LCD displays, whose cost is great enough to include the cost of a more expensive battery, coupled with the fact that it will drain the battery faster and actually need recharging in a matter of days or weeks, make a lot more sense with a Li Ion or NiMH rechargeable battery.



You’re spot on with most points and have a commendable knowledge of battery characteristics. But…the simple fact is that “memory effect,” or voltage depression, does in fact exist for nickel-based batteries. Sure, its effect is so small in lithium-ions that in all practicality it’s not there. But in Ni-Cad and NiMH batteries it is a very real condition.

The term “memory effect” actually refers to crystalline formation on the positive electrode (in Ni-Cads it also happens on the negative electrode, hence the reason Ni-Cads have a greater tendency to develop memory). When these crystals form, they block some of the surface area of the active electrode from being able to absorb Hydrogen from the electrolyte. This translates to less energy for you, the end user to pull from the battery and a decrease in the mid-point voltage.

However, there is no need to ever suffer from memory effect. All you have to do is make sure to fully discharge your batteries down to 1.0 volt once every 3 months (every 1 month for Ni-Cads). If you are in the habit of running your batteries down completely in a digital camera, cell phone, or whatever before recharging them, then you’ll never notice a decrease in capacity from memory. And the good news is, most memory effect that does build up is reversible. Just put the batteries through a “Refresh” cycle on the BC-900 and you’ll get most if not all capacity back.

Here are a some references that confirm my point:
http://www.duracell.com/oem/Pdf/others/TECHBULL.pdf (section 5.9)


Interesting comment about increasing NiMH battery capacity from the LifeHacker link to this article:

[Hybrid batteries] are not made from NiMH, they are NiMH just with a thicker insulating layer. If you dissect any NiMH you see its a roll of material. Manufacturers have been going to higher capacity making those layers thinner which causes the higher self discharge. So for the low self discharge they have went back to a better insulating layer. There is nothing hybrid about them and all NiMH are 1.2v and all have the flat discharge curve with sharp drop off at the end, that is a NiMH characteristic.


Those energizer rechargables are worthless IMO, within a week you are down to about half the runtime in a flashlight or whatever. No point in having 2700mAh if you have to use it all immediatly straight from the charger.

Older GP 1800mAh cells I have are performing much better - and some must be up around the 300 cycle mark by now. I can take them from the charger, and a month later still get some use. Whereas the energizers would be at the point where the digicam will turn on move the lens out, let you line the shot up and then shutdown before you get the first pic taken.

The conspiracy theorist in me says that they make them crap intentionally to put people off the idea of rechargeable so they go back to the old faithful alkaline cells which haven’t let them down yet.


Item is currently (March 27, 2008) NOT available on Amazon. It is shown as a preorder item with an April 2008 ship date


I can confirm that using the BC-900 as a poor mans VOM works. IE you can put a alkaline battery in the BC-900 just to check the voltage level without charging it.

I’m assuming the BC-900 doesn’t begin charging until the 8 seconds are up (the period you have to choose a charging rate). Even if it does start charging before the 8 seconds are up it only takes a few seconds to see the voltage and pull the battery out and assuming the battery isn’t hot or unstable for other reasons before you checked it out in the BC-900 a couple of seconds receiving 200mA is relatively safe.

This means I won’t be buying 9v batteries for my VOM anymore.

It also means I don’t have to charge two batteries at a time as I did with my old charger. Having 4 independent charging circuits is another plus.

I now know more about batteries than I ever wanted to know thanks to Forrest’s batteryuniversity links and a few other articles I googled up.


My BC-900 was a v33, and completely melted itself while charging 4*AA cells (the ones supplied with the charger) at the lowest current setting. This isn’t just a case of missing charge termination (the batteries had only been in for an hour or two, and at 200mA they shouldn’t get that hot even if they’d been in there for days). Fortunately I was in the room at the side and smelt burning, otherwise who knows what could have happened.

I’d suggest anyone who uses a BC-900 keeps it away from anything flammable while using it. I won’t be buying another.


I’ve got one of those chargers. What you don’t say is how stupidly difficult it is to use. Here’s a quote from the user manual:

By pressing the MODE key within 8 seconds after inserting the rechargeable batteries the Refresh mode can be selected (The mode key shall first be pressed and held for about 1 second to activate the mode change. The subsequent pressing of the mode key will enable to toggle between the “charge”, “Discharge”, “Test” and “Refresh” mode). The user may also select different discharging current by pressing the CURRENT key (See “note” in Discharge mode and Table 2), within 8 seconds after inserting the batteries.

And what’s with the “NULL” readout when a battery is dud? It’s really sad that the designer decided to use a geek word on a consumer product.

ps In other countries, these chargers sometimes are branded TechnoLine BL-700/BC-700