July 1st, 2011

As long as I have been using and suggesting the usage of rechargeable batteries, I have also strongly purported the employment of a smart charger having a refresh or reconditioning function.

So, why, when I place a rechargeable battery that’s barely six months old on my own Ansmann Energy 16 charger – the most advanced charger on the globe – does my battery show as defective? This ever happen to you? If you’ve used rechargeables for almost any stretch of time, the answer will be a resounding yes.  But there is a good possibility there is nothing wrong with that battery – and yes it actually could be revived for many useful recycles. Here’s what has happened:

You put the battery in a rather unsophisticated device, such as a child’s toy and the batteries became over-discharged. Typically, you do not want to overdischarge cells below 1.0 volts and the majority of gadgets have an automatic “stop-working” voltage cutoff to prevent this. However, many toys and simple devices do not possess this feature.

So, in this instance, your rechargeable battery voltage has dropped below 1.0 volts – say right down to .8 volts. An intelligent charger will detect this for a bad cell and not start the charging or refresh cycle – because it appears the batteries are depleted.  However, if you place this battery in a “dumb” charger for about 10 minutes, the voltage will rise sufficiently for an intelligent charger to acknowledge a viable cell and begin the restoration/charging process.By a dumb charger, we’re talking about some of those units that basically cooks batteries. You can pick-up an inexpensive unit for under $10 bucks. We use the Ansmann Power Set – a simple plug-in overnight charger to accomplish this – however it is only designed for AA’s and triple A’s. If you wish to revive C’s, D’s, or 9V’s try Duracell or Energizer – they specialize in dumb chargers.

Does this mean you ought to give up on your intelligent charger? Of course not. Chargers such as Ansmann Energy 8 plus or Energy 16 will still grant you the most recycles out of your rechargeable batteries as a result of refresh function. The refresh function breaks down the chemistry in the cell in an intelligent way – by introducing a proprietary algorithm of charge and discharge cycles at different voltage levels. This prevents the cell from developing crystalline formation within the chemistry which can shorten life of the battery and recycles, especially in the latter stages of your cell’s life.
Your very best defense against erratic battery behavior is two-fold. First, don’t let you batteries to totally drain. Even with low self discharge batteries that have a shelf life of more than a year, it’s still better to cycle these batteries every six months. And secondly, always use a smart battery charger to charge your batteries.