The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

8 September 2007

And four for the sixty-minute man

I go through AA batteries like teenagers go through refrigerators: at high speed, with little if any regard for the potential expense. It's not the only size that gets used around here — within twenty feet of this desk are items that take AAAs, Cs, and the occasional 9-volt bricklet — but a stack of remote controls and a digital camera guarantee that I'll run out of AAs on a regular basis.

In days of old I experimented with batteries that could be recharged, and this worked only slightly well, mostly because you paid dearly for nickel-cadmium cells which took a long time to juice up, which eventually wouldn't take even a fractional charge (the so-called "memory effect"), and which, when I eventually threw them out in frustration, contributed to environmental hazards.

Panasonic, which makes my camera, also makes a funky super-alkaline battery for it called Oxiride, which sounds like something you'd see for three payments of just $19.99 on late-night television. The camera shipped with a pair of them, and they lasted fairly well; unable to find them locally, I replaced them with your run-of-the-mill Duracells, which didn't. A guy at a big-box electronics store which shall remain anonymous suggested something that just sounded wrong: new nickel-metal hydride batteries that charge up in 15 minutes flat. I bought six of them, and a charger that holds two at a time.

The charger, incidentally, is loud: there's an internal fan that vents to the outside of the case, and it makes a fair amount of noise. It's almost loud enough, in fact, to use as a signal to tell you when it's done, if you don't happen to be in the same room when the green indicator light goes off. The first batch of AAs (it also does AAAs) I put through finished in 16:07, which is not too far off the mark; the camera accepted them with alacrity.

The rules of TANSTAAFL require me to point out that in a quarter-hour, these cells don't actually reach their maximum charge:

The Rayovac 2000 mAh cells appear to be of very good quality, testing higher than many 2100 mAh units when put through the standard Imaging Resource charging protocol. And the 15-minute Rayovac charger does indeed complete its charging cycle in 15 minutes, without detonating the batteries. The only catch is that after a 15 minute charge cycle, the cells have only reached about 85% of their maximum capacity. They do continue to drift up if left in the charger overnight, but the Rayovac charger never "tops them off" as completely as my DC trickle-charging protocol does.

I don't consider this to be too much of a drawback, since I expect the lifespan of these batteries in use to be easily two to three times that of alkalines, and while there's still some memory effect, it's not anywhere nearly as horrid as it was with Ni-Cd cells.

So color me at least slightly impressed. I'll be more so if I get the kind of battery life I'm expecting from this little investment.

Posted at 6:08 PM to Entirely Too Cool

technology from the East

Posted by: zigzag at 8:00 PM on 8 September 2007

Geez. And to think I was complaining about diuretics this week.

Are these P batteries, by chance?

Posted by: CGHill at 8:26 PM on 8 September 2007

I have the same energy sucking camera and bought this kit right away. The PowereX batteries have been fantastic! They last forever and the charger is supposed to be able to "rejuvenate" well used batteries.

And don't forget to change the battery type setting on the camera. That was a new one for me.

Posted by: MikeH at 9:22 PM on 8 September 2007

I found that the batteries which worked the longest in my digital camera were the CR-Vs. I had some rechargeables but they sucked.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 10:29 PM on 8 September 2007

I have seen these and equivalents here as I'm a big user of rechargeables but haven't tried any of these new chargers Sounds interesting if they can cycle old batteries too.

Posted by: Emalyse at 5:26 AM on 9 September 2007

I have an old ni-cad charger and the new nickel-metal hydrides charge in it just fine -and- they do indeed last longer than ni-cads and work better. I always charge overnight just for good measure. My charger doesn't "ding" and then turn itself off but won't blow them up either :)

Posted by: ms7168 at 7:54 AM on 9 September 2007

Ehehe. Our life hangs in precarious balance because of all these disparate batteries surrounding us. And the manufacturers make them all different on purpose, I am more than sure.

Oh, by the way, did you hear about this:

I am praying for these guys. On the other hand, they will create a million of different sizes and types when they get in... No escape.

Posted by: SnoopyTheGoon at 9:20 AM on 9 September 2007