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rechargeable batteries

Old 09-19-06, 10:51 AM
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rechargeable batteries

I was wondering about using rechargeable batteries in the lights I get that take standard AA or AAA. I haven't used much in the way of these rechargeable ones in the past. I notice that the Lithium battery sales are usually designated for battery pack builds and such.

I guess my question is, which batteries are most useful for lighting systems, like blinkies, which usually run on standard batteries.

Thanks for your help.
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Old 09-19-06, 10:58 AM
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I use Ni-Mh recharagble AA and AAA batteries in all manor of things. They work just fine, hold a charge for a decent amount of time and are cheap. Although I have had problems with off-brand batteries, so now I buy only name brand.
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Old 09-19-06, 11:04 AM
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thanks, any sites you found more trustworthy to purchase batteries? or do you mean that energizer and such sell those type of batteries and you buy them?
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Old 09-19-06, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Adiankur
thanks, any sites you found more trustworthy to purchase batteries? or do you mean that energizer and such sell those type of batteries and you buy them?
The rechargeables have taken a bit of a leap forward in capacity in recent times. The batteries have a notation on them in mAh (milliamp-hours). That represents the charge capacity of the battery. The tech-types can explain it better to me, but the higher the figure, the longer the battery will work in a light or whatever other device. The AAs from the "trustworthy" brands are up around 2500mAh now when a couple of years ago, you'd be lucky to get 700mAh. Similar trends for the AAAs. You might find higher capacity batteries at RadioShack (or its reincarnation) and similar stores. These batteries generally have no label, but similar ones I bought in Australia have served quite well over three or four years.

One piece of advice I do have, though... get a smart charger for the batteries, especially if you are prone to forget about them being on charge for several days or more. Nothing destroys the internal structure of rechargeable batteries faster than being overcharged. The "smart" chargers that are available in package deals rely, I think, on the heat in fully charged batteries still on charge (if you can understand that) to turn them off. I belive the most sophisticated ones rely on the current. If you can't afford a smart charger, get an ordinary one and a wall-plug timer and use that to measure the recharge time.
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Old 09-19-06, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan
The rechargeables have taken a bit of a leap forward in capacity in recent times. The batteries have a notation on them in mAh (milliamp-hours). That represents the charge capacity of the battery. The tech-types can explain it better to me, but the higher the figure, the longer the battery will work in a light or whatever other device. The AAs from the "trustworthy" brands are up around 2500mAh now when a couple of years ago, you'd be lucky to get 700mAh. Similar trends for the AAAs. You might find higher capacity batteries at RadioShack (or its reincarnation) and similar stores. These batteries generally have no label, but similar ones I bought in Australia have served quite well over three or four years.

One piece of advice I do have, though... get a smart charger for the batteries, especially if you are prone to forget about them being on charge for several days or more. Nothing destroys the internal structure of rechargeable batteries faster than being overcharged. The "smart" chargers that are available in package deals rely, I think, on the heat in fully charged batteries still on charge (if you can understand that) to turn them off. I belive the most sophisticated ones rely on the current. If you can't afford a smart charger, get an ordinary one and a wall-plug timer and use that to measure the recharge time.
Be aware, however, that rechargable aren't necessarily the best answer to all problems. For example, if the light is going to sit unused for long periods of time, alkalines self-discharge at a very slooooow rate. On the order of years. Rechargables self-discharge on the order of days with NiMH being worse than NiCd (30% vs 20% per month). The Ni chemistries are also of a lower voltage, 1.2V vs 1.5V, which can affect the light you get from a headlamp.
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Old 09-19-06, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
The Ni chemistries are also of a lower voltage, 1.2V vs 1.5V, which can affect the light you get from a headlamp.
Yes, I have worried about this in the past, but in the end, I didn't have any significant worries with bulb brightness (Cateye HL-500IIs being the case in point). It could be argued the lower voltage is in fact better for longevity of bulbs.
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Old 09-19-06, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
Be aware, however, that rechargable aren't necessarily the best answer to all problems. For example, if the light is going to sit unused for long periods of time, alkalines self-discharge at a very slooooow rate. On the order of years. Rechargables self-discharge on the order of days with NiMH being worse than NiCd (30% vs 20% per month). The Ni chemistries are also of a lower voltage, 1.2V vs 1.5V, which can affect the light you get from a headlamp.
I always use Duracell batteries in my lamps that take them. They have the brand name over here and the quality and the life and the power. Other copies of the high power batteries do not work as good.

I do use rechargables occasionally for cheapness but They have a problem in that they are 1.2v as mentioned by cyccomute. If the lamp only takes one or two then not a problem. If it takes 4 then you are talking about 6volt on the Duracells or 5.2 on the rechargables. This does affect the Brightness of the lamp.

Still- What do I care as I have just got my new powerfull lamp with Lithium- Ion battery. Pity that that will only have a life of about 3 years before it starts to deteriorate.
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Old 09-19-06, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
Be aware, however, that rechargable aren't necessarily the best answer to all problems. For example, if the light is going to sit unused for long periods of time, alkalines self-discharge at a very slooooow rate. On the order of years. Rechargables self-discharge on the order of days with NiMH being worse than NiCd (30% vs 20% per month). The Ni chemistries are also of a lower voltage, 1.2V vs 1.5V, which can affect the light you get from a headlamp.
The solution is simple. Keep a set of AA's around for backup and get the NIMH's as your primary power source.
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Old 09-19-06, 01:41 PM
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So for things like blinkies and such, rechareable batteries would be good? I read that if you let the batteries get too low, or completely discharge too often, their lifespan would be diminished. You should just do a total discharge now and again.

So, Im thinking that, while you wouldnt just leave them in for as long as you may another battery, environmentally, probably a best bet to go with NiMH.

Anyone notice any concerns with using these batteries with blinkies and the like? Ill probably get an HID for my main light soon.
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Old 09-19-06, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by operator
The solution is simple. Keep a set of AA's around for backup and get the NIMH's as your primary power source.
Even better... get a dynohub (SON or Shimano, take your pick), match it to one of the new LED hub-driven headlights and taillights and you never have to worry about batteries again. I use batteries now only for my rear LEDs... the SON takes care of what's up front!!
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Old 09-19-06, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Adiankur
So for things like blinkies and such, rechareable batteries would be good? I read that if you let the batteries get too low, or completely discharge too often, their lifespan would be diminished. You should just do a total discharge now and again.

So, Im thinking that, while you wouldnt just leave them in for as long as you may another battery, environmentally, probably a best bet to go with NiMH.

Anyone notice any concerns with using these batteries with blinkies and the like? Ill probably get an HID for my main light soon.
The rechargeables are good for blinkies. You don't have to discharge them. The memory aspect, from my reading, is mythical.
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Old 09-19-06, 01:50 PM
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I use camera batteries, AAA or AA non lithium. Panasonic with niooh technology. inexpensive, long-life and shelf life, more voltage >.8 more volts
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Old 09-19-06, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Adiankur
Ill probably get an HID for my main light soon.

Look on the commuter forum -there are plenty of threads on DIY Hid's if you are handy with a soldering iron.

If you are on the road- there is a problem with HID's and that is Turning them on and off when meeting oncoming traffic. The bulbs do not like it. If offroad then definitley one of the lamps to go for. More important though is battery life. Look at the High power Luxion LED's These have plenty of power for on road or smooth trails. In fact- I do ride offroad and have just got a twin 5w Luxion lamp with L Ion battery to give me the power I want with the long batterey life.

Ones to look at are the Blackburn X6 or the Exposure lamps. Inearly got the Blackburn after trying them- But Got the Exposure Enduro Turbo. A lot more money but almost as powerfull as the best HID's but suited me better.

http://www.blackburndesign.com/lights.html

http://www.use1.com/exposure/product...duro/index.php
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Old 09-19-06, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by stapfam
If the lamp only takes one or two then not a problem. If it takes 4 then you are talking about 6volt on the Duracells or 5.2 on the rechargables. This does affect the Brightness of the lamp.
It's actually only 4.8V A Ni chemistry battery has about 20% of the voltage of an alkaline. While this will make bulbs last nearly forever, the brightness of the bulb will be rather dim. I overvolt my halogen lights by a lot (7.2V vs 6V or 14.4V vs 12V) to gain brightness. It makes the lamps last a little less time but it sure gives out a lot of light! Way more than you'd expect from only 1.2V higher output.
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Old 09-19-06, 04:35 PM
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Get a smart charger. You can put the batteries in and forget about them overnight. In the morning you'll have freshly charged batteries.
I'm using the RayOVac PS3 with no problems at all. This charger will charge NiMH AA, AAA, C, D and 9 volt.

The batteries I'm currently using are the 1800mAh 1.2V NiMH AA RayOVacs. Something with a higher mAh rating would be better and I'll be looking for that as I replace these. Powering bicycle headlights, bicycle taillights, flashlights, digital camera, and anything else that needs a AA is no problem. The bicycle headlights, I run until there is no more light, then swap lights with the spare in the same mount and throw the dead batteries on the charger when I get home. I go through a set of four AAs every two and some commutes to work. About 2 hours, approximately. When these batteries go dead, they go right now. When your headlight gets noticably dimmer, you've got seconds before things go completely dark. My headlights are Cateye HL500IIs. All the other batteries I throw on the charger at the first of the month, but it's no big deal if I forget to do this, like I did this month.

Particularly for the headlights, rechargable are much better (and cheaper) than disposable batteries.

One problem I ran into when I switched to rechargable batteries, and I don't even remember if it was these batteries or some others I was using, was that the rechargable batteries were just a wee, little bit shorter than standard alkaline double As. A problem in just one device and it was an easy fix just by bending a contact a wee, little bit.
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Old 09-19-06, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Adiankur
So for things like blinkies and such, rechareable batteries would be good? I read that if you let the batteries get too low, or completely discharge too often, their lifespan would be diminished. You should just do a total discharge now and again.

So, Im thinking that, while you wouldnt just leave them in for as long as you may another battery, environmentally, probably a best bet to go with NiMH.

Anyone notice any concerns with using these batteries with blinkies and the like? Ill probably get an HID for my main light soon.
Actually that's the place where rechargables are a bad idea. The power demand for the LED is so small that rechargables end up self-discharging before you get a useful life out of them. Self-discharge isn't good for the Ni chemistry batteries either. It's less of a problem with NiCd than it is with NiMH.

If you use rechargeables, use them in the headlamp where they are getting exercised all the time and you are recharging them constantly. you should "exercise" your rechargeables once a month when in storage, i.e. the summer, so that the batteries don't die an untimely death. Don't leave them on a charger, but use something to discharge them regularly to make them last their full lives
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Old 09-19-06, 04:44 PM
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I found that Lithium AA's (non-rechargeable) made my LD1000 brighter. Alkaline starts off bright, but then the voltage begins to taper off while the batteries still have most of their life ahead of them. I think you could easily notice the difference between 1.2-volt NiMH's versus fresh alkalines or lithiums (1.5V+) on an LD1000, if you did some comparison tests. I mean, it's still a good light compared to a run-of-the-mill dinkie-blinkie, but if you own an LD1000 then you probably want maximum long-range punch, right?
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Old 09-19-06, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
you should "exercise" your rechargeables once a month when in storage, i.e. the summer, so that the batteries don't die an untimely death. Don't leave them on a charger, but use something to discharge them regularly to make them last their full lives
That's probably a good way to kill your Nimh's faster. Nimh's work best when they are frequently charged and not ran dry - this is a very good way of destroying it. A month or two in storeage is fine, just pop them into the charger before you use them again.
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Old 09-19-06, 07:47 PM
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Wow, a lot of different things to look at. I should be fine for a little longer before it gets too dark, so Ill take some time to make final decisions. It's amazing how much there is to look at as it relates to differing aspects of cycling.
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Old 09-19-06, 08:16 PM
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I've used rechargeable batteries in my blinkies for years with no ill effects.
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Old 09-19-06, 09:20 PM
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I've been using nimh AAs and AAAs for a while and though usually its not an issue, that lower voltage can cause some devices not to work at all. this might be a particular problem for LED based lights. I haven't tried mine yet since I had some fresh regular AA's around for my Cateye, and my new Mars blinkie came with its own batteries.
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Old 09-20-06, 02:22 AM
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The new Sanyo Eneloop NiMH that are being introduced seem to be the way to go. I hear great things about them from users.
http://www.eneloop.net/

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Old 09-20-06, 02:35 AM
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The 1,2V nominal voltage in rechargeable batteries is just that, nominal. Freshly charged they will have higher voltage than that, it goes down gradually with use.

I scraped together a battery holder for 6 rechargeable NiMH AAs, aiming at 20% overvolting for a 6V bulb (cyccommute was referring to this earlier). Because the batteries have more than nominal voltage at first, I ended up getting somewhat more than 20%. The (halogen) bulb has taken it well so far, but it will shorten the bulb life.

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Old 09-20-06, 03:05 AM
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Yeah, lifetime goes down when overdriving halogens, but the efficiency goes up. As in lumens-output per watt. Overdriving the bulbs by 20% will get you something like 30-35% more light.
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Old 09-20-06, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by operator
That's probably a good way to kill your Nimh's faster. Nimh's work best when they are frequently charged and not ran dry - this is a very good way of destroying it. A month or two in storeage is fine, just pop them into the charger before you use them again.
I didn't say to run them down, just that they need to be used and recharged on a regular basis. Self-discharge causes all kind of internal problems that will kill the battery. A month or two of storage (if stored properly which is at about half charge) won't kill a Ni chemistry battery. But 6 or 7 or 9 months of storage can do it real harm. And let's face it, most of us don't use our lights or batteries from March to October, not a regular basis anyway.

For my batteries, I don't store them on the charger (not a good idea for any rechargeable). On the first of each month that I'm not using them, I connect them to my charger which has a discharge function, discharge them (I think the charger discharges to around 1 V per cell) and then the charger automatically charges them to full charge and I remove them from the charger. I've gleaned this method for information here.
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