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Rechargeable versus Non-Rechargeable Batteries

Discussion in 'Flashlights & Other Illumination Devices' started by Willieboy, May 4, 2009.

  1. Willieboy

    Willieboy Loaded Pockets

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    In my limited experience, it seems one gives up some power when opting for rechargeable batteries versus fresh non-rechargeable.

    Do you guys think you get the same ooompf from the regargeabkes... is their performance equal to the non-rechageable?

    Thanks in advance for yoyr help.
     
  2. shrap

    shrap Loaded Pockets

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    Batteries are a very complicated subject.

    Primary cells (non-rechargable) like alkaline can't provide high output for very long periods of time - their voltage drops immediately from their 1.5V stated voltage, whereas rechargables will provide stable 1.2V for longer periods of time. Lithiums break this mold by providing high voltage for long periods of time, but are non-rechargable and more expensive.

    Battery performance depends on the application - I wouldn't use alkalines in a light with high discharge, nor would I use rechargables in a light with long runtime or that gets used infrequently.
     
  3. Valerian

    Valerian Tea-powered admin

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    That's pretty much what I was going to say, but shorter. :iagree:
     
  4. Marduke

    Marduke Loaded Pockets

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    Versus alkaline cells, NiMH in maintained condition will be brighter, and run longer.
     
  5. Antig

    Antig Loaded Pockets

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    Do yourself and the environment a favor by using rechargeables. The Eneloops are a good choice. I love how they come pre-charged.
     
  6. carrot

    carrot Loaded Pockets

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    NiMH instead of alkaline is almost always a no-brainer. Good LED flashlights will compensate for the slightly lower voltage just fine and will almost always perform better using NiMH.

    With Lithium-Ion vs. Lithium primary this is a bit more complicated but generally speaking it seems like you will get less burn time in many cases using rechargeable. (I think?)
     
  7. Willieboy

    Willieboy Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks for your help guys. I think rechargeable makes most sense for me, despite the tradeoffs.
     
  8. Smokey

    Smokey Empty Pockets

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    Along the same lines, which will hold a charge longer when stored?
     
  9. jag-engr
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    jag-engr Semper Bufo!
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    I use NiMH batteries for AA or AA applications. If I were going to leave the light for emergencies, I'd probably put an Energizer lithium cell in it.

    For CR123 applications, I use lithium primaries for safety, runtime, and dependability.
     
  10. captainamerica

    captainamerica Loaded Pockets

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    We were tired of throwing away regular AA and AAA batteries and recently have been using Wal Mart bought rechargeable AA and AAA batteries and they're ok. But after a lot of searching and reading I'm about ready to buy some MAHA Powerex 2700 rechargeables for our Canon camera. They are supposed to be about the best for digital cameras; which suck up the energy really fast from most standard type AA rechargeables.
     
  11. carrot

    carrot Loaded Pockets

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    Eneloops and similar low self-discharge NiMH are the best rechargeables for this. Lithium primaries are better but less bang for the buck.
     
  12. LeeEdc

    LeeEdc Empty Pockets

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    So, no NiMH in a 50 hour low mode flashlight?
     
  13. Marduke

    Marduke Loaded Pockets

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    You could, and many routinely do.
     
  14. Valerian

    Valerian Tea-powered admin

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    Oh, easily. Even in a 500 hour low-low-mode light. I run all of my lights with low-self-discharge NiMHs (except for the ones that use lithium cells, obviously).

    But I wouldn't put a NiMH in a very low-drain device like a clock or a remote control, where you change the battery every few years. That's the kind of application where you get more life and use out of a normal alkaline cell.
     
  15. chmsam

    chmsam Loaded Pockets

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    Maybe not as simple a question as it would seem.

    Remember, it isn't just about volts. Current can be as important. Also, consider things other than what the battery is going to be used in. Will it sit for a long while unused? Will it be exposed to extreme heat or cold?

    Recharging is usually better for the environment and NiMH batteries will do just fine for many, many needs but they should be disposed of properly when they do finally die. Also, most rechargeables will lose a fair portion of their charge over time just sitting waiting to be used -- as much as 10% or more per month just sitting on the shelf. Eneloops are a new breed of rechargeable the are called LSD's (Low Self Discharge) and there are other brands. Those LSD type rechargeables most often come pre-charged and do not suffer as much for discharge over time as others. Be aware that rechargeables can be ruined by charging at too high a rate and that can cause them to dangerously overheat. Nearly all rechargeable batteries do not have as much current (mAH rating) as primary cells.

    Alkaline batteries might be the best choice for some high drain requirements since they usually have a higher mAH rating. However, they are prone to failing when kept in extreme heat (say 100 degrees F or more). They also might be more prone to leaking than other battery chemistry types.

    Temperature extremes can mean that when you grab for that device it might not work or that the batteries might be fully charged but not work anywhere near as well. Nothing like grabbing that flashlight on a sub-zero night when the car breaks down on the side of a busy highway and you've got... nothing.

    Lithium primary cells (non-rechargeable) have an extremely long shelf life and will generally work in temperatures (high or low) where alkaline or rechargeable batteries will not.

    Lithium rechargeable batteries need special handling. Draining then down too far and then recharging can cause them to overheat and vent dangerously. Follow manufacturers specifications! They do however have good mAH ratings and obviously can be recharged hundreds of times. There's a reason they are used in cell phones and laptops.

    Scoot on over to CPF and read some threads about this and you'll get a good education in a short time and spend your money more wisely.
     
  16. karlito

    karlito Loaded Pockets

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    What do you mean by maintained condition? I've heard two sides: drain fully before recharging & never let it full drain. What about fully charging for s period of time before first use? Anything else to be aware of?
     
  17. chmsam

    chmsam Loaded Pockets

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  18. jag-engr
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    jag-engr Semper Bufo!
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    I'm confused as to what you are talking about here. Do you perhaps mean capacity, not current?



    Keep in mind that capacity (mAH) is only part of the equation. For flashlight applications, AAA or AA NiMH rechargeable batteries may be able to provide the necessary voltage for longer than AAA or AA primary alkaline cells. While the alkaline cell has more capacity, it prefers to discharge it a tapering rate. A NiMH cell can discharge at a much flatter rate. For any sort of high power LED, the voltage has to be boosted to around 3 or 4 volts, anyway, so once the voltage drops below a certain point, the light just goes out regardless of how much capacity is left in the battery. I believe that the Streamlight Microstream can run for almost twice as long on Eneloops as on alkaline primaries.
     
  19. Katdaddy

    Katdaddy Loaded Pockets

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    As someone else stated the Sanyo Eneloops are great if you have an item that sits for awhile between uses. I had another brand of rechargeable battery that I used in my digital camera and Garmin GPS. Every time I went to use them the batteries were dead. I switched to the Eneloops and now have power when I need it. They may sit for months between uses and still are good to go. One application that I found the Eneloops did not perform as well as alkalines is in my LED lanterns that we use for camping. The lanterns dimmed much faster using the Eneloops compared to the alkalines. I have not tried the non-lsd rechargeables in the lanterns yet.
     
  20. chmsam

    chmsam Loaded Pockets

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    Sorry for the confusion. First thing I posted in my post was that it wasn't just about the volts, but also about current -- meaning both are important considerations. Capacity is too of course. I later posted a wiki link that describes all of that.