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Battery Facts & Myths FAQ

#1 Tip -  My new battery doesn't indicate full charge
New batteries will not reach their full capacity until they have gone through 3-4 complete charge/discharge cycles.
Manufacturers suggest leaving a battery on charge overnight before its first use. Run the battery fully down in your equipment before recharging it. Do this 3-4 times and each time the run time of the battery will likely increase.
Often removing the battery and reinstalling it will kick start this process particularly if the battery appears to charge immediately.
#2 Tip - My original battery is .1 or .2 volts different than you ones you are selling
Usually this only applies to lithium batteries as different factories rate their batteries slightly differently. It makes no difference in any way to the operation of your device. A larger voltage difference means that the battery is likely not compatible with your device.
#3 Tip -  How can I tell that I am buying an original OEM battery? - It is very difficult to tell as often the original logos, serial numbers, etc are copied. Price is often a good indication in that if it seems to good to be true then...
Some sellers purchase used or old surplus stock or factory seconds and sell them as new for a few dollars including shipping. A clue may be that they do not publish a phone number or a mailing address on their web site as this would identify their true location.
Buying from a supplier that you trust is probably the best bet.
#4 Tip -  How can I know that I am buying from a Canadian company? - A number of battery suppliers are not located in North America even though they may use Canadian .ca domain names. Their products are very cheap and are often sent by airmail which is now illegal as lithium batteries cannot be carried on passenger flights and may be seized by Canada Customs if they are identified. The problem with this kind of purchase is that if the battery has to be returned for warranty the cost of returning it by UPS or Fedex would far exceed the price of the battery.
What is the difference between Nickel Cadmium, Nickel Metal Hydride, Lithium Ion and Lead Acid batteries?
Nickel Cadmium-NiCd
Nickel Cadmium  batteries may suffer from reduced run time if they are are not discharged completely before being recharged. This is the so called memory effect which reduces battery life but can be reversed by completely discharging (Not to zero volts but 1 volt per cell. Running the device until it powers down is sufficient.) and recharging, sometimes over a number of cycles (at least 3 times). A more common reason for reduced life is overcharging by poorly designed battery chargers which continue to charge the battery rather than automatically shutting off and is not reversible. You can determine if this is occurring by checking if the battery is warm or hot sometime after the charger indicates a full charge.
Ni-Cd batteries use cadmium which is highly toxic to the environment if not disposed of properly. They have a life of approximately 800 cycles or 3-5 years but in practice this is probably much less due to memory and overcharging.
Nickel Metal Hydride-NiMH
Nickel Metal Hydride batteries have an approximately 40% higher charge density and will run longer on a charge than an equivalent NiCd. They do not suffer to the same extent from the memory effect and do not need to be fully discharged before recharging although occasional discharging may be beneficial. They have a life of approximately 400-600 charge cycles. They can be stored charged or discharged but should be charged every 6 months to prevent them from drying out. They have a higher self discharge rate than other types of batteries when not in use.
Ni-MH batteries are a more environmentally friendly alternative to Ni-Cd.
Lithium Ion - Li-Ion
Lithium ion batteries have the greatest charge density (twice that of Ni-Cd) and do not suffer from memory effect. Although more expensive they offer longer use, lighter weight and less self-discharge than other battery chemistries. They have a life of approximately 400 charge cycles . They are more environmentally friendly as they don't contain toxic materials such as Mercury or Cadmium.
The biggest shortcoming of rechargeable lithium ion batteries which is seldom mentioned is that they lose some of their capacity after one year and may fail after 2 or more years even when they are not in use. Another good reason to not buy cheap, discount batteries.
Lead Acid and SLA (Sealed Lead Acid)
Lead Acid batteries are the same as the one in your car and are generally very reliable . They should be kept fully charged and there is no requirement for discharging prior to recharging. They should not be totally discharged to 0 volts which will shorten the batteries life. They have a life of approximately 400 charge cycles which can be increased by not fully discharging them in normal use. They can be stored for up to six months fully charged at which point they should be charged again.
Can I upgrade my batteries to lithium-ion or a different battery chemistry?
Different battery chemistries have different voltages and charge characteristics so unless another type is shown in the cross reference or manufacturer's information the answer is no. NiCd batteries can normally be replaced by their NiMH equivalent and require a different battery charger if the charger was designed for NiCd only. NiMH batteries charged in a NiCd charger could overcharge the battery as would be indicated by the charger light staying on continuously even after charging is complete. In this case turn the charger off and remove the battery which will be fully charged. A NiMH charger can charge either NiCd or NiMH.  NiCd and NiMH batteries are interchangeable in cordless phones because of the type of charger they use.
Can NiMH batteries be substituted for alkaline batteries?
Usually they can in spite of the fact that NiMH batteries are 1.2 volts and alkaline batteries are 1.5 volts. Alkaline batteries start their life at 1.5 volts and gradually drop to 1.0 volts whereas NiMH batteries stay at about 1.2 volts for 80% of their discharge cycle.
What are Amp-Hour ratings?
Amp-Hour rating of battery capacity is calculated by multiplying the current in amperes times the time in hours. Battery run-times are a rule of thumb and may differ significantly in different equipment depending on current consumption and usage.
What if the mAh current rating is different than my original battery?
If the mAh rating is higher then the replacement battery will last longer than the original. In some cases the replacement current rating may be less in which case it won't last as long as the original when it was new but is otherwise compatible.
Care of new batteries.
New batteries come partially discharged and should be fully charged before using them. They generally do not reach their rated capacity until they have been charged and discharged at least 4 times. It is recommended that new batteries be charged overnight even though the charger may indicate that the charge is complete after a few hours. Sometimes charging may stop during the initial charge and it is necessary to remove the battery for approximately 15 minutes to let it rest and then put it back on charge.
Battery Storage
NiCd, NiMH and lithium-ion batteries will discharge during storage which is normal. Lead Acid batteries should be stored charged and trickle charged if storage is longer than 3 months.
What is the expected life span of a battery?
Generally between 400 and 800 charge cycles or 2 to 4 years under normal conditions. As a battery ages it's hours of use on a charge decrease and it may finally not accept a charge in some cells.
Should batteries be recycled?
In the interest of the environment all batteries, particularly NiCd and lead acid, should be recycled and not thrown in the garbage. Call 1-880-8-BATTERY or visit www.rbrc.org  for the location of a recycling depot.
What are smart batteries?
Smart batteries have 2 way communication between the laptop and battery to monitor time remaining in minutes, battery temperature, state of charge, error reporting & vendor information. They typically have a so called gas gauge or LED's on the battery to indicate battery charge level.
What is a RAM or Resume battery?
Some laptop computers have a separate battery for RAM memory when power is no longer being supplied from the main battery. This allows the user to change the main battery without memory loss in current applications. They are rechargeable and typically have a 2-3 year life before being replaced.
Laptop and Notebook Users
Power Management conserves battery power by setting the cpu to run at reduced speeds, putting the hard disk in sleep mode and dimming the screen when not in use. Windows periodically checks your CD-ROM to see if a disk has been inserted which can be disabled by right clicking on My Computer, selecting Properties and Device Manager and double clicking on CD-ROM and disabling Auto Insert. Your operation manual will detail the various settings available to prolong battery life.
Why are some laptop batteries so expensive?
The higher the quality of the cells used in the battery construction account for much of the expense.
Some batteries which are specific to a manufacturer's model may be discontinued or their price is kept high in order to motivate buyers to replace their laptop.
Why are some laptop batteries so cheap?
You get what you pay for with batteries and very cheap ones may lack proper protective circuitry which is required for your safety in the case of lithium batteries or may use cheap cells in the construction of the battery. The full one year warranty with laptop batteries is our guarantee of quality.
Laptop batteries are often manufactured in very large volume production runs and as a result cannot be all sold immediately and end up as surplus or old stock. The biggest shortcoming of rechargeable lithium ion batteries which is seldom mentioned is that they lose some of their capacity after one year and may fail after 2 or more years even when they are not in use. Lithium-ion batteries particularly need to be charged periodically and so a battery may have gone through many charge cycles by the time it is purchased. In many cases the advertised warranty may be a good indication of the manufacturers willingness to stand behind their product.
How can I determine how many cells are in a laptop battery?
Lithium ion cells are typically 3.6 to 3.7 volts each (this is referred to as the nominal voltage and is rated differently by manufacturers.) and have about a 2200mAh current capacity. If your laptop battery is 10.8 volts and 8800mAh we can determine the number of cells by the following: 10.8v divided by 3.6v = 3 cells in series. The individual cells have a capacity of 2200mAh so 4 of them are required in parallel to equal 8800mAh. The battery has a total of 12 cells.

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