Rechargeable Batteries Finally Living Up to Their Promise

I have perhaps many powerful memories from the 80s that run around my brain, no really I have many. However today I'm going to discuss just one, the introduction of rechargeable batteries to the mass market. Do you remember the blurb? Recharge them up to 1,000 times! Wow! Think of the money you saved, if you could just get over the 16 hour charging time.

The reality wasn't quite so good, as the voltage wasn't quite up to the 1.5v that non-rechargeable output, so things like torches where dimmer. They didn't seem to last anywhere near as long, even less if you charged them without discharging all the way first, due to a memory effect. But all in all they had an appeal, and did seem to save you money somehow, even though it was at a price.

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Later on things switched to Nickel-metal Hydride, giving you a safer battery which suffered less memory effects. That isn't to say they didn't, but it was something you could recover from by doing a set of complete charge/discharge cycles. However, running parallel to the increase in capacity, chargers have moved to the point that you can charge a set of 4x AAs in an hour.

That sounds great, but it really isn't at all. Put simply, the higher a voltage you charge a battery with, the faster it charges, but the quicker you wear it out. Suddenly a battery is lasting way less than it used to, all because we want it charged here and now, as soon as is possible. On top of that, they lose their charge over time even whilst unused. Charge a set, stick it on the shelf, come back a few weeks later and they are all flat.

Fast charge them all the time, pretty soon not only do they no longer last very long, they are flat within a week of no use. Convenience has killed usefulness, I'm sure many people have personal experience these days with rechargeable AA batteries that is extremely negative.

But things have changed, now we have a new technology which has been out a few years and prices are finally coming down to the point where it is now not only worth forking out for them, you'd be mad not to. Of course the down side is they still can have their life damaged by fast chargers, but we can't have everything.

Anyway, the new kings of the block when it comes to rechargeables are low self-discharge NiMH batteries. The most common brands are Hybrio by Uniross, Eneloop from Sanyo and Powerex Imedion from Maha. The latter company also make what I suspect is the best battery charger money can buy, the Maha C9000 Wizard One, however this will set you back £50 as it did me, however I don't regret buying it. The thing has resurrected old batteries for me and given them a life extension, in the process it also taught me how ruined some of them had become.

These new (well they've been around for 4 years, but for consumers they are reasonably new) batteries are what everyone has always wanted. They can be charged in existing chargers, though as I've said avoid the fastest chargers if you want to prolong their life, anything shorter than 2 hours is probably not going to be good for them.

They claim to retain about 90% of their charge if left unused for six months, yes you read that right, I said six months. Something like 85% after a year, and 70% after two, which finally means you can chuck them in your ipod speaker dock or radio that you hardly ever use, and actually expect them to work when you dig it out for that one use every month.

In addition, they come charged, so you really can stick them straight into your camera and have that flash firing for a load of piccies before they go dead. What's not to love?

If you want to geek out some more on batteries in general, take a trip to the Battery University.

This Weeks Videos

To some people Jackass was a lot of young guys being childish, to Daily Mail readers it was the cause of happy slapping, but to others it also contained some really good skateboard and BMX tricks. This first video features Danny MacAskill, doing a succession of amazing bike tricks around the streets of Edinburgh in April of this year.

Next we have a clip from up North, which symbolises for me what this Labour government has delivered to the public. Now I hate the Conservatives, I really don't think if they were in office they'd have not done a lot of the same. I also usually hate these sort of videos, because the maker of the film is often out to cause a bit of trouble.

But this feels different, as we elected what we hoped was a left of centre government that would protect us from the police state. Yet what we've got is one that continues to support arms fairs in London, and would rather kettle demonstrators than let them peacefully protest.

This isn't the fault of the police, this is the fault of government. Much like the way the policing was handled in the Miner's Strike, you have to blame the top.

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