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Battery Tips

Taking care of your new battery pack

Normally, a new battery pack comes in a very low charge condition and must be fully charged before use. Refer to the user manual of your portable electronic equipment for charging instructions.

A new battery pack needs to be fully charged and fully discharged or "cycled" as much as five times to condition them into performing at full capacity.

Your equipment may report a fully charge condition in as short as 10 to 15 minutes when the new battery pack is being charged for the first time. This is a normal phenomenon especially for Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cad) and Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) chemistries. When this happens, remove the battery pack and let it cool down for about fifteen minutes then repeat the charging procedure.

"Conditioning" (fully discharging and then fully charging) is necessary so as to maintain the optimum performance of a battery pack, and is recommended at least once a month particularly for Ni-Cad and Ni-MH batteries. Failure to do so could result in reduced charge capacity and can significantly shorten the battery pack’s useful life. Lithium Ion batteries do not require conditioning.

It is normal for a battery pack to get warm when charging and during use. However, if the battery ack gets excessive hot, there may be a problem with the portable electronic equipment’s charging circuit and should therefore be checked by a qualified technician.

Rechargeable batteries undergo self-discharging when left unused for long periods of time. This is normal particularly in the case of Ni-MH and Li-Ion chemistries. For best results, always store a battery pack fully charged. It should be removed from the equipment and kept in a cool, dry and clean place.

The amount of runtime a battery pack produces depends on the power requirements of components in your electronic equipment. This could be the hard drive setting, screen intensity and back-lighting on notebook computers, the liquid crystal display (LCD) screen and floodlight feature in a video camcorder, or the tri-mode communications network of a cellular phone. Always refer to your equipment’s user manual for power management settings.

Battery Dont'ts

Rechargeable batteries contain a considerable amount of energy.

  • DO NOT leave on charge for extended periods.
  • DO NOT short circuit terminals.
  • DO NOT drop or mutilate.
  • DO NOT disassemble.
  • DO NOT place in fire or near sources of extreme heat.
  • DO NOT expose to moisture or rain.

Battery Packs Explained

In simplest terms, a rechargeable battery pack is a collection of one or more rechargeable cells , assembled together to provide power, measured in watts per hour (Whr), to a portable electronic device such as a camcorder or notebook computer.

The most common forms of rechargeable cells are the Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cad), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) and recently, the Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) chemistries. Each of these rechargeable technologies provides their own distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Different Types of Rechargeable Batteries

Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cad)

Ni-Cad battery is the oldest of the rechargeable chemistries used in today's portable electronic industry. Its low cost and high discharge rate capability make it suitable for low cost electronic applications like g ames and toys as well as for high discharge applications such as cordless power tools. Its low energy density (power-to-weight ratio) makes it undesirable for use in equipment such as notebooks and cellular phones. Ni-Cad has a chemistry-related problem associated with it called Memory Effect, which limits the discharge capacity of the cell if not completely discharged during each use.

Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH)

Ni-MH is most commonly used in the cellular phone battery, camcorder battery, laptop battery and notebook battery. A relative of the Ni-Cad chemistry, it has improved performance in respect to the memory effect problem, increased capacity, and therefore a higher energy density than Ni-Cad. Operation of this chemistry at elevated temperatures decreases its cycle life or the number of times a cell can be charged and discharged.

Lithium-ion (Li-Ion)

The newest of the rechargeable chemistries, Li-Ion has been in mass production since 1995. With three times the voltage per cell as Nickel-based chemistries (3.6 V vs. 1.2 V), Li-Ion has a higher energy density and is therefore ideal for lightweight applications. It is currently the chemistry of choice for laptop battery, notebook battery, camcorder battery and cellular phone battery applications. Li-Ion battery has had a history of early production overheating related problems and is designed in a battery pack with a Pack Control Circuit (PCC) to protect the cells from abusive conditions such as current and voltage overcharging, high temperature, and over-discharge. The relatively high cost of Li-Ion cells combined with the need for circuitry makes the cost of Li-Ion battery packs higher than for other chemistries.

Memory Effect

Ni-Cad batteries remember how much charge was released on previous discharges. It has a tendency to release the same amount of energy with every charge/discharge cycle. If a Ni-Cad battery is always partially discharged before recharging, the usable capacity of the battery will be reduced. The Ni-MH battery is also affected by memory effect but to a lesser degree. A periodic discharge to one volt per cell or " exercise" is essential for Ni-Cad cells to prevent the building-up of memory. "Conditioning" (fully discharging and then fully charging) a battery pack also helps minimizing memory effect. Batteries can be fully discharged by disconnecting the equipment from the AC power supply and letting the equipment run on battery power until it ceases to function. Conditioning the battery once a month will keep it performing at its optimum level for a long time.

The Pack Assembly

The cells are assembled into a battery pack configuration to provide a required amount of voltage (V) and capacity (Amperes per hour - Ah) needed to operate the equipment. The cells are connected using metal strips called tabs. The number of cells needed and the size of these cells determine the size and shape of the pack. A wire lead or connector is then attached to the positive and negative terminals of the pack for connection to the electronic device. The pack can then be wrapped in heat-shrink plastic or encased in a hard plastic enclosure.

Smart Batter and Fuel Gauging

Increasingly, portable electronic equipment is becoming more complicated and power hungry. Also, users demand to know how much battery life is remaining during the use of the equipment. This has created a need for the inclusion of complex circuitry into the design and manufacture of today's battery packs (Fuel gauging is very common in the latest laptop battery, notebook battery and camcorder battery). Although it has caused an increase in the price of these battery packs, it has also improved the efficiency, prolonged the life and increased their user friendliness.

Reading the battery specifications

There are two important figures to consider in reading and understanding a battery pack’s specifications. First is the voltage of the battery pack in terms of Volt or V. Second is the capacity rating in terms of Ampere-hours (Ah) or milliamp-hours (mAh: 1mAh=0.001Ah). The voltage of the new battery pack should always match the voltage of the original battery. The higher the Ah or mAh capacity rating of the battery pack means the longer runtime and does not mean incompatibilities. Most IBI battery packs have higher Ah or mAh readings than the original, yet are manufactured up to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) standards.

In-Flight Charging

More passenger airline companies are providing outlets or receptacles into which passengers can plug portable electronic equipment such as notebook computers and cellular phones for recharging during flight. Our industry trade associations like the Battery Association of Japan, European Portable Battery Association, Passenger Electronic Device Association and Portable Rechargeable Battery Association have taken into account that the recharging of batteries in portable equipment while on board aircraft is not recommended. Such practice should be deferred until appropriate technical safety standards are established and that such standards are fully implemented. Intelligent Batteries Inc. advocates and favors such position and does not recommend that any battery pack product be recharged through airline in-the-seat power sources.

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