Rechargeables in the Real World

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Rechargeables in the Real World

Postby tncaver » Jun 6, 2011 9:35 am

This story concerns two brands of Rechargeable NiMH batteries and the recent experience I had. I began a cave trip with Energizer NiMH rechargeable batteries
in my Apex light. The batteries were charged about a two weeks ago but had not been on any cave trips. I entered the cave and the light started going dim
after just 15 minutes. The light was already set on the lowest output setting. It refused to go to any of the brighter settings. This was extremely disappointing.
These batteries were made in China.

I changed batteries and installed my Duracell NiMH rechargeable batteries and finished the cave trip. 8 hours later the light had not even dimmed. The
Duracells were made in Japan and cost about three times as much as the Chinese made Energizers. Both sets of batteries were charged in a cheap Rayovac
charger bought at Walmart.

The bottom line is that the Energizers won't hold their charge very long. I will have to test them again and charge them the day before I use them to see
if they are any good at all. I've used the Duracells for over and over for a month without recharging them and I've never fully discharged them yet. They just
keep going and going an going (like the energizer bunny only these are Duracells).

It seems the Japanese Duracell NiMH rechargeables are well worth the extra cost over the Chinese made Energizer NiMH rechargeables. Since both were
charged in the same cheap Rayovac charger, I must assume it is the Energizer batteries that are inferior in every way.
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Re: Rechargeables in the Real World

Postby Marduke » Jun 6, 2011 11:22 am

You don't specify the exact cells used, or the model charger.

For the cells, the brand, capacity, and country of origin would be helpful (and if they are LSD/precharged). The charger model is printed on the back.

LSD cells (Eneloops or Duraloops) and a independant channel smart charger is the best combination.
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Re: Rechargeables in the Real World

Postby tncaver » Jun 6, 2011 12:53 pm

Marduke wrote:You don't specify the exact cells used, or the model charger.

For the cells, the brand, capacity, and country of origin would be helpful (and if they are LSD/precharged). The charger model is printed on the back.

LSD cells (Eneloops or Duraloops) and a independant channel smart charger is the best combination.


The Duracells are the precharged type, made in Japan and claim to hold a charge for up to 365 days, with no memory effect and
can be charged in an ordinary charger.

I just now examined one of the Energizer batteries. It is a 2500 ma and says it is made in JAPAN also. But that's
all I know about them. I don't have the packaging.

The charger is a Rayovac PS13 and is designed for charging NiMH rechargeables only. Cheap but it seems to work
just fine. I just let the batteries charge overnight.

The bottom line here is that the Duracells are way better than the Energizers but they did cost three times as much.
Well worth it too. I suppose the Duracells are a newer improved NiMH than the Energizers.
That's all the data I have.
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Re: Rechargeables in the Real World

Postby Marduke » Jun 6, 2011 1:11 pm

Okay, to clear a few things up. Those 2500mAh Energizers are by far the worst mass produced NiMH cells ever made. Your Duracells are "Duraloops", or rebranded Eneloops, which are currently the best NiMH cells available.

You charger on the other hand is also one of the worst you could use. You would be well served to obtain an independant channel smart charger for $10-25, and your cell life and performance will be better by at least a factor of 10 overall.
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Re: Rechargeables in the Real World

Postby tncaver » Jun 6, 2011 2:23 pm

Marduke wrote:Okay, to clear a few things up. Those 2500mAh Energizers are by far the worst mass produced NiMH cells ever made. Your Duracells are "Duraloops", or rebranded Eneloops, which are currently the best NiMH cells available.

You charger on the other hand is also one of the worst you could use. You would be well served to obtain an independant channel smart charger for $10-25, and your cell life and performance will be better by at least a factor of 10 overall.


I will certainly never buy any more of those Energizer rechargeables. They are awful.
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Re: Rechargeables in the Real World

Postby JR-Orion » Jun 6, 2011 3:21 pm

Very interesting. Will stay far away from those Energizers.

I've been an Eneloop guy since I got into caving, and have been quite impressed with them. I also use them in cameras, Wii remotes, my son's toys, and so on. Great performance all around, and I like not having to continuously spend $$$ on batteries.

Is it true that not all Duracell rechargeables are Duraloops? Thought I saw a flowchart somewhere on how to select the good ones.
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Re: Rechargeables in the Real World

Postby Marduke » Jun 6, 2011 3:35 pm

JR-Orion wrote:Is it true that not all Duracell rechargeables are Duraloops? Thought I saw a flowchart somewhere on how to select the good ones.


Correct. They must be:
1) precharged
2) 2000mAh
3) made in Japan
4) white insulator around positive terminal

The made in china variety of duracell recharged are the same as rayovac hybrids, which are themselves good cells, just not as good as Eneloops (and Duraloops)
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Re: Rechargeables in the Real World

Postby NZcaver » Jun 6, 2011 5:21 pm

I experienced much the same issue with those horrible Energizer NiMHs a few years ago, and even grumbled about it on the forum. :wink: They seemed to be OK for about a year with occasional use, and then epic failure. :rant:

I haven't touched Energizer rechargeables since, instead stocking up on Rayovac "hybrid" and "platinum" LSD NiMHs. They've served me very well and I'm sticking with what works, even though we know the original Eneloops and re-branded Duraloops are just as efficient if not slightly more. And as Marduke recommends time and time again until he's blue in the face, getting a smart charger is the smartest thing for your batteries. I shelled out about $40 on a LaCrosse BC900 and never looked back.
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Re: Rechargeables in the Real World

Postby self-deleted_user » Jun 6, 2011 5:34 pm

Maybe you should sticky one of the more in-depth battery threads at the top of this forum? Or merge some of the best explanation posts and sticky it as "Batteries: Doin' It Right" or something... It keeps coming up and peeps keep having to say the same thing over and over again. I am certainly grateful for what I've learned...I found myself channeling Marduke the other weekend at Speleofest when someone started complaining their light dies too quick but their rechargables weren't any better and asked how I kept my light for so long (both of us have Apexes).

So... :thanks: especially to marduke!
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Re: Rechargeables in the Real World

Postby tncaver » Jun 6, 2011 6:52 pm

NZcaver wrote: And as Marduke recommends time and time again until he's blue in the face, getting a smart charger is the smartest thing for your batteries. I shelled out about $40 on a LaCrosse BC900 and never looked back.


Where do you buy such a charger. I know nothing about them. However, I've had no problem at all with my charger and the Duracell batteries.
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Re: Rechargeables in the Real World

Postby snoboy » Jun 6, 2011 7:00 pm

I bought my charger and quite a few Eneloops from Thomas Distributing. Happy with their service.

At the current time I believe the following are rebaqnded Eneloops:

Sony "Cycle Energy"
President's Choice Precharged
Duracell prechrged.
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Re: Rechargeables in the Real World

Postby NZcaver » Jun 6, 2011 9:20 pm

tncaver wrote:Where do you buy such a charger. I know nothing about them. However, I've had no problem at all with my charger and the Duracell batteries.

I bought mine off Amazon. The BC900 has been superseded by the BC9009 seen here.

As Marduke and others have patiently explained many times, basic chargers usually charge cook cells in pairs and switch off after a predetermined time (or not at all). Smart chargers are different in that they constantly analyse each cell independently and cease charging when the cell is full. You can also set the charge rate and select program options which recondition your cells to improve their performance.

As the old cliché goes, "most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered..." :doh:
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Re: Rechargeables in the Real World

Postby Cody JW » Jun 9, 2011 8:57 am

One thing that I never understood until recently about rechargeables was that eneloops or similar make your light brighter. Last year I got a Custom Duo insert for my Duo and the mfgr. had mine rated at 340 lumen. I though great, this should make it as bright as a sten. I got it in the mail and filled it with new Duracells and turned it on. It was bright but it did not seem any brighter than my Fennix rated at just over 200 lumen. I contacted the mfgr. and was told their rating was with the assumption that you are using eneloops. I also posted on this forum and was told by others the same thing. I started caving over 30 years ago and can remember when rechargeables first came out. They were crap, so I had that stuck in my mind and kept using regulars and never looked back. I just thought people were using them to be "green". It then came to me all the government money currently being used to encourage new generation batteries for electric cars. With all that in mind I understood todays rechargeable batteries are not your grandpa's rechargeables. The good ones last as long or longer than alkalines and make your light brighter. I suspect the tech. will get even better.
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Re: Rechargeables in the Real World

Postby NZcaver » Jun 9, 2011 5:03 pm

Cody JW wrote:I started caving over 30 years ago and can remember when rechargeables first came out. They were crap, so I had that stuck in my mind and kept using regulars and never looked back. I just thought people were using them to be "green". It then came to me all the government money currently being used to encourage new generation batteries for electric cars. With all that in mind I understood todays rechargeable batteries are not your grandpa's rechargeables. The good ones last as long or longer than alkalines and make your light brighter. I suspect the tech. will get even better.

Bingo. Some people still can't get past the stigma of the old NiCads and wet cells. Unfortunately, that kind of ignorance can lead to this. :roll:
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Re: Rechargeables in the Real World

Postby JR-Orion » Jun 10, 2011 10:22 am

Here's another vote for the LaCrosse Tech BC9009 smart charger. Got mine off Amazon for around $40.

It's really nice. Lots of options, and it puts out plenty of info on the health / state of your batteries.
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