How to Use Rechargeable Batteries
Nobody wants to throw money out with disposable batteries if they dont have to. The more you use your electronic devices the more you benefit from rechargeable AA cells.
What Types of AA Batteries are There?
AA batteries are one of the most common formats available; they work for everything from digital cameras to TV remotes. With so many options, both rechargeable and single use, it can be hard to find the right kind of batteries for a given application. Once you know the different types, its easier to choose the right battery:
- Alkaline Batteries: These primary cells are very useful for long term low drain uses like remotes where you dont need a lot of power, but you dont want to spend all your time changing batteries.
- NiMH: Nickel metal hydride batteries developed as a greener replacement for nickel cadmium. They dont contain heavy metals, but they self-discharge approximately twice as much.
- NiCD: NiCd batteries are great for high discharge applications where you need lots of power.
How Do You Use NiCd Batteries?
In many ways rechargeable batteries are just as simple to use as disposable ones. Once you take them off the charger you can just slip them in your devices and away you go.
- Charging NiCd: NiCad batteries are relatively hard to charge, as there is no float charge as you might see with lead-acid and lithium-based batteries. Instead you basically have to force the energy into the battery to charge it. Both NiCd and NiMH cells exhibit the same behavior, but both can charge effectively so long as you have the right battery charger.
- Memory Effect: one concern people have with NiCd is the so-called "memory effect" where repeated partial discharges can appear to decrease the total capacity of the battery. This is actually a phenomenon known as voltage depletion, and it is reversible. Just discharge the battery fully, and then charge it again a few times.
Picking the Right Battery Pack
Rechargeable AA cells are among the more common rechargeable battery options. While some people may be concerned about the voltage difference between a 1.2 Volt NiCd cell and a 1.5 Volt alkaline its actually less of an issue than people may think. Disposable batteries show the peak voltage when fully charged, but this drops faster than with rechargeable batteries, so the average is actually 1.2 Volts. In contrast, 1.2 Volt NiCd batteries hold that voltage throughout the majority of the discharge cycle. This is one of the factors that makes them more useful for higher drain uses like cameras and power tools. There is no one right battery chemistry for all applications, only the right chemistry for specific applications.