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Bob Cole
batteries: rechargeables okay?
on Feb 19, 2010 at 9:06:50 pm

Facing a small mountain of AA's and 9-volts, many of them "almost" good enough to keep using, I wonder whether the technology of rechargeable batteries has improved to the point where we can use them in production, for wireless mic's particularly. I don't like the environmental "sin" of tossing "okay" batteries away, nor the cost.

Any user information would be welcome. I have two potential applications: highly-controlled situations where swapping out fresh batteries is quick and easy, and stage productions, where you need to start with the strongest-possible batteries, which can definitely last the length of the show. I suspect I'll always want fresh non-rechargeables for the latter scenario, though I'm willing to be corrected.

Thanks!

Bob C


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Mark Barroso
Re: batteries: rechargeables okay?
on Feb 19, 2010 at 9:32:26 pm

I'm thinking about checking out I-power rechargeable 9vs, again. The first generation sucked with a high failure rate, but I hear they fixed the problem and a lot of folks use them.


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Bob Cole
Re: batteries: rechargeables okay?
on Feb 19, 2010 at 9:37:10 pm

One more issue with rechargeables: I need to be able to carry them aboard airplanes, and I have heard that there are restrictions on certain batteries due to the possibility that they may burst into flames.... That's one restriction I can live with.

So do the iPower batteries conform to flight safety rules?


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Richard Crowley
Re: batteries: rechargeables okay?
on Feb 20, 2010 at 3:28:57 am

Check the TSA web information about transporting batteries. They have slightly relaxed the restrictions.

NOTE that rechargeable batteries and cells use a very different chemistry and the cell voltage is significantly less than primary (dry, non-rechargeable) cells. Lots of equipment has a much shorter run-time because the battery starts out at a lower voltage (like 1.2V vs. the nominal 1.5V of a typical dry cell.) And some equipment won't run at all on lower-voltage rechargeable batteries.


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Bob Cole
Re: batteries: rechargeables okay?
on Feb 20, 2010 at 11:18:47 am

[Richard Crowley] "the battery starts out at a lower voltage"

What I feared.

I am primarily a shooter, so have to deal with audio much less than most of you guys. What do you do with that mound of slightly-used batteries which are just fine for average use, but NG for professional applications?


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Richard Crowley
Re: batteries: rechargeables okay?
on Feb 20, 2010 at 2:44:36 pm

"What do you do with that mound of slightly-used batteries which are just fine for average use, but NG for professional applications?"

Put them back into "average use". Use them for flashlights (etc), give them to friends to use for their flashlights. Use them for non-critical applications like monitoring (Comtek, etc.)

You can also be more environmentally-friendly by using relatively "safer" batteries like alkaline vs. the ones with toxic and polluting heavy metals like lead and lithium, etc.


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Bob Cole
Re: batteries: rechargeables okay?
on Feb 20, 2010 at 3:05:35 pm

[Richard Crowley] "give them to friends to use for their flashlights"

Of course! I have more AA's than I'll ever need for my flashlights, but I can make them available via a community list-serve.

I'd really like to get rechargeable AA's, but from what I've observed and heard (from this thread as well), they aren't ready for prime time.

And the suggestion about alkalines is a good one. Thanks.

Bob C


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Jordan Wolf
Re: batteries: rechargeables okay?
on Feb 20, 2010 at 5:16:40 am

There have been a number of improvements in rechargeable batteries, but it takes a bit of research and comparison to be able to choose the ones that suit your requirements.

Wolf
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Joel Servetz
Re: batteries: rechargeables okay?
on Feb 20, 2010 at 5:06:32 pm

A oouple of points about rechargeables vs throwaways. First, always use alkalines for the throwaways, never ever the cheap, bargain lead acid cells. You could use lithium cells, which have superior shelf life but are very expensive. 9V alkalines are rated at about 625mah, AA alkalines at about 2890mah. What I've always done with partially used alkalines, other than using them in other devices, is to reserve a bunch to use during sound checks. After I'm done with my setup I switch to fresh batteries for the show, recording session, whatever.
As for rechargeables, great strides have been made in their development. First, forget about ni-cads, They are subject to memory effects from partial use. Use NiMH (nickel metal hydride). They are available in capacity ratings similar to alkalines, up to about 3200mah for AA, but are much more economical, and environmentally friendly in the long run, and don't suffer the memory effects of nicads. They are also very well suited to high drain devices as they maintain their voltage over most of the discharge cycle better than alkalines. So, although they start out with a lower nominal voltage, they maintain it longer. Also, while all electronic equipment list a nominal operating voltage, they usually are operable over a +/- volltage range that can often be found in the product specifications. You'll have to evaluate the available batteries in relation to the needs of your equipment. One other caveat, most NiMH batteries have a pretty short self-discharge rate, so they need to be freshly charged before each job. That being said, I'm using them more and more these days.
One last point, wireless mics that transmit battery level data back to the receiver are probably calibrated to read the discharge curves of alkalines, and will probably transmit erroneous data about the status of rechargeables. You'll have to do a little experimentation to get an accurate read on how to interpret the status readings you get.

Joel Servetz
RGB Media Services, LLC
Sarasota, Fl
videobyjoel@aol.com


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Bob Cole
Re: batteries: rechargeables okay?
on Feb 20, 2010 at 6:23:03 pm

Thanks for the very informative post. Joel, it sounds like you have positive experience with rechargeable AA's. Care to share a brand name?

Bob C


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Joel Servetz
Re: batteries: rechargeables okay?
on Feb 21, 2010 at 12:22:54 am

You're welcome, I'm glad you found it useful. As for brands, I've always urged people to go with familiar, established brand names for most things. However, lately I have had very good experience with the Nuon brand distributed by Batteries Unlimited. Also, I just bought a couple of 8-bay AA/AAA chargers from B&H Photo under the Pearstone brand name and so far I'm completely satisfied. I have some Powerex 9 volt rechargeables and a Nuon charger for them. A good charger will have individual "fuel gauges" for each cell instead of just a simple LED, be capable of discharging and conditioning cells and detect and identify bad cells. Quick charging is a nice convenience, but not always the best choice for the long term health of your batteries. Buy enough so that on the job you always have a spare set sitting in the charger(s) staying topped off while you shoot, record, whatever you're doing. best of luck.

Joel Servetz
RGB Media Services, LLC
Sarasota, Fl
videobyjoel@aol.com


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Joel Servetz
Re: batteries: rechargeables okay?
on Feb 23, 2010 at 2:27:11 pm

Bob, one correction to my previous postings, I mentioned Batteries Unlimited, but I meant Batteries Plus.

Joel Servetz
RGB Media Services, LLC
Sarasota, Fl
videobyjoel@aol.com


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