Just like any other technology, batteries should be handled with care, both to keep your battery and yourself safe! Here is a list of four simple things to keep in mind when using your batteries.
Batteries are designed to be durable so that you can use them for any and all of your needs. In the unlikely event that a battery gets damaged for any reason, it can experience leakages of their corrosive liquid materials which can cause acid burns to your clothes, skin, or your devices. Please refer to the manufacturer's site on how to handle damaged units.
Depending on a battery's chemistry, each unit will have different requirements to best ensure its overall health, especially when stored. Always be sure to consult the manufacturer's guidelines for your battery's optimal storage temperatures. Maintaining optimal temperature conditions for your battery will not only ensure a lessened chance for mishaps occurring, but also prolong its shelf-life.
Keeping your batteries dry, whether when in use or in storage, will keep both your batteries and your devices safe. Ensuring your batteries stay dry can prevent a wide variety of different issues, letting you use them safely for as long as possible!
When a battery is no longer useable, be sure to properly dispose of it based on the manufacturer's safety guidelines. Depending on the chemistry, some batteries can be recycled. Please refer to this link for more information.
Now that you know some of the basics, here are some more specific things you can do to keep your batteries safe, and some information to understand battery health better!
Self Discharge During Storage
If a battery goes unused for an extended period of time, it is entirely natural for it to slowly lose its previously held charge, as it isn't possible for a battery to forever hold its full charge. If you remove a rechargeable battery from storage to use, it's always a good idea to recharge it as a precaution before using it again. For primary batteries, their shelf-life is based on this rate of self-discharge. For more information, please contact the manufacturer of your battery.
Run-Time Performance in Different Devices
A battery's run-time when in use will be different from its internal capacity. Different devices impose different power consumption demands which can affect your battery's overall performance. For example, while your battery might give one flashlight a 4 hour run-time, it may only provide a different flashlight with a 2 hour run-time. This isn't a reflection of something faulty with your battery, but that the device that is using the battery has an overall high power drain due to its specifications.
Internal Battery Temperatures and Overheating
When in use, your battery will experience a rise in temperature. This is usually perfectly normal and to be expected since the electrochemical process a battery uses to generate power will produce a certain amount of heat. However, if your battery starts to overheat beyond its normal specifications, it could potentially damage itself, your device, or even harm you. Be sure to check its specifications with the manufacturer's guidelines so that you know its safe operating temperature thresholds.
Rechargeable In-Depth Information
When you first receive your rechargeable battery, there are a few important details you should know and certain maintenance steps to take before jumping right into using it.
A Rechargeable Battery's Lifespan
The lifespan of a rechargeable battery is measured in the number of full discharge to charge cycles it is capable of before reaching the end of its rated specifications. When this end is met, it is recommended that you replace the battery. Weaker batteries usually last a few hundred cycles, while stronger, more efficient batteries can last for thousands of cycles. Depending on how often you use a battery, it can last anywhere from a few months to multiple years before becoming inoperable. If your batteries are constructed with a NiMH or NiCd chemistry, make sure you consult the manufacturer's website and perform proper conditioning to ensure they last as long as possible.
How to Condition a NiMH or NiCd Battery
Recharge your NiMH or NiCd battery to full capacity. Next, place the battery in a device, such as a flashlight, and run it until the battery fully discharges. Repeat this process three to four times. Finally, recharge your now conditioned battery to maximum capacity. For best results, repeat this process every two to three weeks. Please note that this is only meant for NiMH or NiCd batteries, and that not performing regular conditioning can cause the Memory Effect in nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal hybrid batteries, which will greatly reduce your battery's health and lifespan.
What is the Memory Effect?
When your nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal hyrbid battery memorizes a shortened life cycle caused by repeated incomplete discharges, reducing its overall lifespan.
How to Recharge Your Batteries
There are a wide variety of different ways for you to charge your rechargeable batteries. Many batteries can be recharged through the device that they're installed in, while others use a dedicated external charging device that plugs into a wall outlet. Some batteries, however, come with a built-in charging port for you to recharge them directly with a USB charging cable. Please always make sure to recharge your batteries according to the manufacturer's guidelines. Do not, under any circumstances, recharge a battery with a charging method that it is not designed for as this can cause serious complications.
Make sure that you recharge your batteries in a dry environment that is room or cool temperature. Please also ensure that you recharge your batteries in a location where they cannot get damaged from falls or impacts. Also, do not leave your charging batteries unattended as they could potentially overcharge.
Caution: Rechargeable batteries should never be thrown away in the trash under any circumstances. These batteries should always be recycled by dropping them off at dedicated recycling locations. Refer to this link for more information.
Primary and Secondary Batteries
There are two types of batteries that all units fall under: Primary Batteries and Secondary Batteries.
Without a need to recharge, Primary Batteries are inherently more reliable as they need less upkeep. For this reason, Primary Batteries are a go to resource for many medical purposes, such as for hearing aids and pacemakers. Due to their higher level of reliability, they are incredibly effective for tactical missions as well. In these instances, personnel will carry a variety of spares to replace discharged batteries. They are also great in devices that have a low power drain such as a TV remote. Their low self-discharge rates ensure a long shelf life. However, they do need to be replaced and disposed of after being fully discharged.
A battery built from secondary cells which can be recharged by reversing the flow of the electrical current. This process restores the battery's active materials through a reversed electrochemical reaction after a full discharge.
With the ability to recharge, Secondary Batteries are great for work tools, household appliances, and personal electronic devices. This allows you to power the same device for far longer. They are also well suited for devices that have higher power drains. The reusable nature of these rechargeable batteries makes them more environmentally friendly and recyclable. However, this is not a recommendation; due to their construction, they cannot be safely disposed of like Primary Batteries. Please consult the manufacturer's guidelines for proper recycling methods. Also, please refer to this link for recycling information and locations.
A unit of electric charge used to measure a battery's capacity
A battery's maximum charge and how long it can last on a singular full charge
The metal electrode that gives up electrons to the load circuit and dissolves into the electrolyte, only in primary and secondary cells
Batteries which use a saline solution as an electrolyte for lithium ion transfers
The maximum capacity of battery that can be used to power your devices, typically expressed in ampere-hours or milliampere-hours
A device which converts chemical energy into electrical energy through a process of oxidation and reduction
Batteries typically come in two different forms. Primary batteries are made to only allow one continuous or intermittent discharge, meaning it cannot be recharged. Secondary (also known as accumulator) batteries can be recharged through a reversed discharge flow
The total amount of electrical charge that a battery can hold (usually measured in ampere-hours, watt hours, or some other comparable unit)
A device designed to supply a battery with more electrical energy after a discharge
The rate at which a battery can be recharged after a discharge
Battery Voltage, Final
The voltage at which a battery is considered fully discharged
The total amount of electrical charge that a battery can hold, typically measured in ampere-hours
The electrode that oxidizes the anode and absorbs electrons
The basic building block of a battery, an electrochemical device which can store electricity. It is made from positive and negatively charged plates, a separator, and an electrolyte.
A battery's capacity rating, the ampere-hours that can be delivered through a constant discharge current from the battery over a set period of time (i represents the number of hours, usually between 1-10 hours or 20 hours)
The process of converting electrical energy into chemical energy in a dead battery by restoring its active materials through a reversed discharge current, which is then stored for future use
Supplying a battery with electrical energy to restore the active materials of a battery, which converts the electricity into chemical energy
(State of) Charge
The current charge level in a battery's capacity
The measurement of the current used to fully recharge a battery based on its capacity. This process is measured as multiples of a battery's rated capacity (Example: C/10 means the charge rate in 10 hours, so for a 500Ah capacity battery, this would mean that C/10 = 500Ah / 10h = 50A)
A charging process in which the current of a storage battery is maintained at a constant value. For some types of lead-acid batteries this may involve two rates called the starting and finishing rates
A charging process in which the voltage of a storage battery at the terminals of the battery is held at a constant value
One full sequence of a battery charging and discharging
The total number of charge and discharge cycles that a rechargeable battery can perform before becoming fully inoperative. A battery is considered to have reached the end of its Cycle Life when it can no longer charge beyond 80% of its total capacity
The total withdrawal of a battery's electrical energy before battery has been fully recharged
Depth of Discharge
The amount of power that can actually be used from a battery's total capacity without shortening its lifespan (Example: A battery with a DoD of 80% can only use 80% of its total capacity without damaging itself)
The conversion of a battery's chemical energy into electrical energy
Large electrical current withdrawals from a battery which drain it in a short period of time
Small electrical current withdrawals from a battery which drain it over a long period of time
The withdrawal of an electrical current from a battery
A primary battery which absorbs the electrolytes into a porous material to restrain the flow of energy
The battery's system of active materials that store chemical enery and generate electrical energy through electrochemical processes
An electrical conductor through which an electric current enters or leaves a conducting medium, whether it be an electrolytic solution, solid, molten mass, gas, or vacuum
A chemical compound which conducts an electrical current by producing ions when combined with solvents (usually water)
The degree to which an element within a galvanic cell can give electrons in order to oxidize
The voltage of a battery when it is fully discharged
A battery's ability to power electrical devices (expressed as capacity times voltage, or watt-hours&rpar'
The ratio of a cell's energy to its weight or volume
A style of recharging in a secondary cell where it is connected to and continuously charged from a constant-voltage charger which will keep it in a fully charged state
A combination of electrodes which are separated by an electrolyte that can produce electrical energy through electrochemical reactions
When electrodes of a cell begin to produce gas, which most commonly occurs due to self discharge or from electrolysis of water in the elctrolyte during charging
Resistance against the flow of electrical currents within the cell or battery
When a battery is constantly discharged before being fully charged, causing it to progressively lose some of its maximum capacity
The terminal of a battery through which releases electrons during the discharge cycle
Cells and batteries that do not use water
The formula that describes the amount of current flowing through a circuit (Voltage= Current x Resistance)
An electrical circuit which is not complete and is disconnected from any charge
The difference in potential between a battery's terminals of a cell when the circuit is open
A chemical reaction which releases electrons by the electrode's active material
When the cells in a battery are all connected by their positive terminals together and their negative terminals together, which generates the voltage of one cell, but disperses the drain amongst all of the cells
The type of charge (positive or negative) of the battery's terminals at its ends
The terminal of a battery which receives electrons during the discharge cycle
A battery constructed solely from primary cells, one that cannot be recharged (These batteries should be immediately discarded after being fully discharged)
A cell which produces an electric current through an irreversible electrochemical reaction, a cell which cannot be recharged (These cells should be immediately discarded after being fully discharged)
The amount of ampere-hours a cell delivers under specific conditions, usually determined by the manufacturer
Capable of being charged after fully discharging
When the gases in a battery recombine to form water during use
The chemical process by which the active material of a battery's electrode accepts electrons
Part of a galvanic cell that restricts the solvent and electrolytes from escaping the cell while preventing air from entireing the cell
A battery built from secondary cells which can be recharged by reversing the flow of the electrical current
A cell which can be recharged by reversing the flow of the electrical current to restore the active chemical materials
Discharge that occurs to a battery while in an open-circuit condition
The permeable membrane that allows ions to pass through the cell without causing short-circuiting
When cells are arranged to connect their positive terminals to the negative terminals of other batteries to create a cumulative voltage
The period of time that a dry cell can maintain its original energy content (usually 90%) while in optimal storage temperature (21°C or 69°F) from the date it was manufactured
When an abnormal connection between a battery's cathode and anode causes the electric current to become limited by creating an unintended traveling path
The current that is delivered when a cell short-circuited
A battery designed to start internal combustion engines, usually used to power vehicles when the engine is shut off (In case of emergencies, this battery can be used to power other items)
A secondary battery meant to be used in a fixed location
Economically rechargeable batteries, synonymous to Secondary Batteries
Economically rechargeable cells, synonymous to Secondary Cells
A method of charging in which recharging starts with a high current, but as the battery's charge increases from a low charge level, the charging current will decrease
The ends of the battery that the external electric circuit connects to
When a lithium-ion battery destroys itself due to overheating caused by overcharging, excessive discharge, or other dangerous conditions (This condition can produce gas, an explosion, excess heat, smoke, and fire)
Charging a battery at the same rate as its self-discharge rate
A mechanism of some batteries that allows gas to escape the cell in a controlled manner to preserve its health
A batteries voltage level at the end of a discharge
A cell's voltage level in which the connected equipment will no longer function and should no longer be used until the cell is recharged
The voltage of a fully charged cell while it delivers a rated current
A cell that uses liquid for the electrolyte to flow freely through