Rechargeable batteries for lights

Mikey joe
Mikey joe Posts: 66
edited October 2008 in Commuting chat
Hello

With the dark nights coming back, I'm reminded of how often I was replacing batteries in my S-Sun L130W front light last year. It takes 2 AA size batteries and I was using duracell.

Can anyone recommend rechargeable batteries to use?
Or are they just not up to the job when compared with non rechargeable batteries such as Duracell?


Are NiMH better than NiCd? I guess I should get the highest rated ones I can.


I would be very grateful for any helpful advice you guys have.


Thank you

Mj

Comments

  • Jamey
    Jamey Posts: 2,152
    If you go for rechargeables then you want to use Uniross Hybrio batteries.

    Full explanation of why you should use them here:
    http://www.batterylogic.co.uk/hybrio.htm

    And the best charger by a country mile is this one, I've got one and it's just staggeringly good. You wouldn't think a battery charger could turn out to be a must-have gadget that you fall in love with but I really, really, really rate it. one of the best things I've ever bought:
    http://www.batterylogic.co.uk/technolin ... -bl700.asp

    Seriously, it's fiendishly brilliant.
  • RufusA
    RufusA Posts: 500
    I would definitely recommend using rechargeables, and NiMh at that (niCad are environmentally quite nasty and don't last as long).

    IMHO the biggest problem with rechargeables is that they leach power over time. However there are some hybrid batteries which have all but eliminated this, examples are eneloop, hybrio etc. They may not be as high capacity as some quoted (2100mAh vs 2600mAh), but in reality they'll last longer as they keep their charge over time.

    I now don't use disposables (except in smoke alarms) and have a clever battery charger and a stack of hybrios.

    At the moment Amazon are doing some stonking offers on chargers and batteries i.e.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Uniross-Hybrio- ... B001B0B8C2

    4 x AA + 2 x AAA and a little Panda!

    The charger is very crude, but it will do the job fine, you just would benefit from not leaving the batteries in there longer than the recommended maximum time otherwise they may overcharge (reducing their life).

    HTH - Rufus.
  • Surf-Matt
    Surf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    I find Ansmann make the best batteries for such applications:

    http://www.battery-force.co.uk/detail_AMAANI004U.html
  • RufusA
    RufusA Posts: 500
    Jamey wrote:
    You wouldn't think a battery charger could turn out to be a must-have gadget that you fall in love with but I really, really, really rate it. one of the best things I've ever bought:
    http://www.batterylogic.co.uk/technolin ... -bl700.asp

    Didnt see you post until after I'd posted.

    +1 on the charger recommendation, it's what I use too.

    Only mild critism is that on mine if a battery is nearly discharged (lights left on, or had a long time in a digital clock), then the technoline doesn't detect it. So I need to give the battery a 5 min charge in a crude charger to have enough juice in it for the technoline to detect and take over the job in hand.

    That and the fact it took me 10mins to work out (the blindingly obvious) way of getting AAA's to fit it!

    Rufus.
  • daniel_b
    daniel_b Posts: 11,773
    Followig Alfablue's advice, I plumped for a load of triple AAA's from here:
    http://www.vapextech.co.uk/acatalog/High_Power_Consumer_Batteries.html

    And the 14.55 charger - which is very good, has an LCD display so you know how charged/uncharged batteries are, and no chance of damage

    uf20002.jpg

    Hopefully AB will soon be along to provide far more detail than I can :roll:

    Dan
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • Jamey
    Jamey Posts: 2,152
    edited October 2008
    RufusA wrote:
    That and the fact it took me 10mins to work out (the blindingly obvious) way of getting AAA's to fit it!

    Lol. I had to do some triple-As for the first time in ages yesterday and I'd completely forgotten how they fitted in. I was standing there, knowing full well that I'd managed it in the past but completely unable to comprehend how I did it. The look on my face must've been priceless. I was well and truly baffled.

    On the point you mentioned about batteries being at very low charge - could you not put it on a refresh cycle? That would do the charge -> discharge -> charge for you all in one device?

    And the Technoline doesn't do the full twenty cycles if it determines that the capacity on the most recent cycle was virtually identical to the previous cycle. It's quite clever that way and breaks the refresh pattern early (with the battery as fully charged as it can get it, obviously).

    Daniel B - I appreciate that £14.55 is over a tenner cheaper than the charger Rufus and I are recommending but I really think that having four completely independent channels and the ability to do refreshes and proper discharges on each one separately is well worth an extra £12.

    Just my opinion but I'm so glad I bought the Technoline.
  • Jamey wrote:
    If you go for rechargeables then you want to use Uniross Hybrio batteries.

    Full explanation of why you should use them here:
    http://www.batterylogic.co.uk/hybrio.htm

    I have bought into Hybrios big time for the kid's toys, etc.. However, for my Fenix, I use some 2800mAh NiMH that came with my charger (which is good but doesn't look quite as cool as the one you posted). I read an article that measured the discharge of different cells and it was only after 4-6 weeks (IIRC) that Hybrios retained more charge than regular hi-cap NiMHs. Since I replace the batteries in my Fenix twice a week, the 2800s should be giving significantly longer burn times.

    _
  • scoobers
    scoobers Posts: 364
    I use Sanyo Eneloop, same idea as the Uniross Hybrios
    They keep about 80% of their charge when not being used for along periods.
  • Thanks very much - this is really informative.

    I've ordered the hybrio AA and AAAs from amazon that come with a free charger. I might upgrade to the technoline charger though.

    Can I ask Rufus and Jamey - why is it so good?

    Do you get noticeably longer time from the battery when compared with another charger? or does it increase the the number of times you can recharge it?

    Thanks again folks
  • Jamey
    Jamey Posts: 2,152
    Mikey joe wrote:
    Can I ask Rufus and Jamey - why is it so good?

    Reason 1:
    Each of the four channels is completely independent of one another. This means you can do the following simultaneously:

    Slot 1 - AA battery, charging up.
    Slot 2 - AAA battery, discharging
    Slot 3 - Crappy old AA battery on refresh cycle to see how much juice it's got left.
    Slot 4 - empty right now but in ten minutes' time you decide you want to start charging something (but completely discharge it first) and you don't have to wait until the others are finished.

    Reason 2:
    In order to prolong the life of batteries, it will completely discharge a battery before it starts charging it up. Unless you don't want it to (maybe you're in a hurry) and then you can choose to just charge it without running it down first. And remember you can do this independently on all of the four channels, so if you want to do three batteries with a discharge before the main charge and then do one with just a charge, that's all fine.

    Reason 3:
    It has a refresh cycle. This means you can bung an old battery in it and it will completely discharge and completely recharge it twenty times in a continuous cycle to get the battery back up to its maximum capacity. This can take up to a week to complete but (a) it's the only way to make sure the battery is as good as it can be and (b) the charger is intelligent enough to end the refresh cycle early if it determines that there is no more capacity to be gained from another discharge/charge cycle.

    Reason 4:
    You can vary the current on each slot of the charger depending on how fast you want that battery charged (or discharged). Generally speaking batteries last longer if you charge/discharge them slowly and this is what the charger does by default, but if you're in a hurry you can choose from three (or maybe four, I forget) different levels of current to juice it faster.

    And the most important reason of all is the simplest...

    Reason 5:
    It gives you information about each battery so you know what the true capacity is. After (and during) the charging or discharging process it will show you four separate things:

    - The capacity in either mAh (milliamp hours) or Ah (amp hours).
    - The current charging current (apologies for double use of the word current, hope you know what I mean).
    - The voltage (least useful of the lot if I'm being honest).
    - The duration of time the battery has been on the current cycle.

    And you get each of those pieces of info for each of the four channels separately.

    Just being able to see the true capacities at the end of a charge cycle is one of those things that makes you wonder why you never had that information available before. You can see if one of the four batteries is dying faster than the other three, and you can see how they're holding up over time. Plus when you're halfway through charging you have a rough idea of how long it's going to take to complete.

    Oh, and one more reason - it goes onto trickle charge once the battery is full so it's impossible to overcharge, yet the batteries don't start losing anything until you remove them from the device.

    But I really can't stress enough just how useful it is to have each channel behave completely and utterly independently from the other ones. That and being able to see the actual numbers (mAh) is just a revelation and really it's the sort of thing every charger should have.

    I know this all sounds stupidly geeky and gushing about a battery charger is a bit sad but it really is just about the best you can buy. And how many categories of things can you buy the best for under thirty quid? Not many.
  • Thanks Jamey

    That's exactly the type of answer I was looking for. You've convinced me!

    Thanks to everyone else for their input. It was very useful.

    Cheers

    Mj
  • Jamey
    Jamey Posts: 2,152
    This pseudo-screenshot may or may not be useful for anyone else looking:

    bl700rn2.gif
  • apreading
    apreading Posts: 4,535
    I have a charger that does most of that stuff but without the final capacity reading - except it does up to 8 batteries and does C & D batteries too. Cant remember the name but it is fantastic, although a little big.

    However you dont seem to be able to get Eneloops in C & D and to be honest the capacity of Cs and Ds that you get isnt much more than AAs. I am thinking of getting one of these AA chargers and some C & D jackets which allow you to use AAs in anything. Would make life simpler...
  • gabriel959
    gabriel959 Posts: 4,227
    Jamey wrote:
    RufusA wrote:
    That and the fact it took me 10mins to work out (the blindingly obvious) way of getting AAA's to fit it!

    Lol. I had to do some triple-As for the first time in ages yesterday and I'd completely forgotten how they fitted in. I was standing there, knowing full well that I'd managed it in the past but completely unable to comprehend how I did it. The look on my face must've been priceless. I was well and truly baffled.

    On the point you mentioned about batteries being at very low charge - could you not put it on a refresh cycle? That would do the charge -> discharge -> charge for you all in one device?

    And the Technoline doesn't do the full twenty cycles if it determines that the capacity on the most recent cycle was virtually identical to the previous cycle. It's quite clever that way and breaks the refresh pattern early (with the battery as fully charged as it can get it, obviously).

    Daniel B - I appreciate that £14.55 is over a tenner cheaper than the charger Rufus and I are recommending but I really think that having four completely independent channels and the ability to do refreshes and proper discharges on each one separately is well worth an extra £12.

    Just my opinion but I'm so glad I bought the Technoline.

    I can appreciate what you are saying but the VapexTech charges does indeed HAVE four completely independent channels.

    Info of the charger:
    Charging Supervision :
    4 individually monitored charging channels (charge 1,2,3 or 4 cells!)

    LCD displaying charging status for each battery!

    Charging times:
    1 x aa 2500 = 1.1hr 1 x aaa 900 = 0.8hr
    2 x aa 2500 = 2.3 hr 2 x aaa 900 = 1.5hr
    3 x aa 2500 = 3.5 hr 3 x aaa 900 = 2.3hr
    4 x aa 2500 = 4.5 hr 4 x aaa 900 = 3hr

    Safety:
    Overtime,Overload,Overheat,Over Voltage Protection, Non-rechargeable battery detection.

    Extra Life: Smart 12 bits Microprocessor to increase rechargeable battery lifespan.



    For £12 I can buy 12 Ni-MH - I don't really think it is worth the extra.
    x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x
    Commuting / Winter rides - Jamis Renegade Expert
    Pootling / Offroad - All-City Macho Man Disc
    Fast rides Cannondale SuperSix Ultegra
  • simon_e
    simon_e Posts: 1,706
    NiMh rechargeables are definitely up to the job.

    I use 700mAh AAAs in my rear light and they last several weeks before swapping over. The four 2500mAh AAs in the Cateye EL-320 front lasted less than a week last winter when it was used for the whole of my 30 minute commute. After being caught out once I always carry a charged spare set for the front in those dark months.

    I went for Uniross as they came with a Uniross X-Press 700 charger bundle from Battery Logic. Have bought additional ones of the same capacity from ebay seller medbat. Both traders appear good value and provided good service.

    I'd never go back to disposables, they're just a license for Duracell and co. to print money. They drain quickly and then are only good for the TV remote.
    Aspire not to have more, but to be more.
  • Nick6891
    Nick6891 Posts: 274
    ive never seen a charger that discharges batteries before charging them, it means that rechargeable batteries actually last a long time, might have to get myself some
  • Surf-Matt
    Surf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    Simon - thanks for your post. Think that'll do the job for me.

    Might use the 2500s for my digi camera and pinch the 2850s for the light when I get it.
  • Jamey
    Jamey Posts: 2,152
    gabriel959 wrote:
    I can appreciate what you are saying but the VapexTech charges does indeed HAVE four completely independent channels.

    Fair enough, I stand corrected on that particular point but I still think that the TechnoLine is a better buy. I haven't seen any other chargers that can do everything the BL-700 can do, particularly the refresh cycles, selectable current and giving a reading in mAh for the battery's true charge.
  • gabriel959
    gabriel959 Posts: 4,227
    I can appreciate what you are saying. That charger does undoubtedly look very good but you are also paying for it. Damn even some people would consider 14.55 to be a lot for a charger. I just tend to buy middle of the pack, not the best, not the worst :)
    x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x
    Commuting / Winter rides - Jamis Renegade Expert
    Pootling / Offroad - All-City Macho Man Disc
    Fast rides Cannondale SuperSix Ultegra
  • Jamey
    Jamey Posts: 2,152
    I'm just a control freak... I like to have plenty of information about things and in this case that means knowing the exact charge that the battery was able to absorb down to the last little mAh. It's pedantic but it keeps me happy :)
  • A little detail about NiMH Vs NiCD:

    NiMH batteries require an 'intelligent' charger to switch down to a trickle (top-up) current once the battery is fully charged, in order to avoid damaging the battery (just losing capacity, they'd only explode if they got really hot). Nicads are more forgiving with overcharging, so if you're going for a 'dumb' approach such as wiring a dynamo into your light system to recharge your batteries (which I appreciate you aren't), Nicads are a better option. I believe that Lead acid ones are even batter for that kind of often topped-up operation, (think car batteries) but they can be a bit heavy and bulky for bikes.
  • Ive just bought some GP NiMH batteries, AAA and AA for my Fenix torch and the boy's MANY toys! Paid £23 for a charger (stops once fully charged) plus 4x 2400mAh, 4x 2700mAh and 4x 700mAh's (the AAAs!)

    Very impressed, will report on longevity...if I remember :wink:
    Newbie with a Felt Q720

    A day where you don't learn something is a waste...
  • Surf-Matt
    Surf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    Damn this thread! Was about to get a nice cheapie charger but have been "forced" to get the Technoline BL-700 and some Hybrio batteries now for my new Hope 1 Vision LED light!!!