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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a rechargeable battery?

A rechargeable battery is a device that generates electrical energy from chemical energy, usually consisting of two different conducting substances placed in an electrode. Once the energy is generated it is stored for later use.

What is the difference between:
Nickel-Cadmium Battery (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) and Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries?

Ni-Cd
The principal advantages of Ni-Cd over other rechargeable types is: lower weight for a given quantity of stored energy; good charging efficiency; small variation in terminal voltage during discharge; low internal resistance; and non-critical charging conditions. They can be used in place of regular batteries in most applications.
With a relatively low internal resistance, a Ni-Cd battery can supply high surge currents. This makes them a favourable choice for cordless power tools. Ni-Cd cells have a nominal cell potential of 1.2 Volts e.g. A 12 Volt battery pack is made up of 10 cells connected in series (same as Ni-MH). The main disadvantage of Ni-Cds is that certain usage patterns may cause a "false bottom" or "memory effect". Specifically, if the battery is consistently discharged to the same level, then fully recharged, the battery will eventually stop discharging on its own upon reaching this threshold thus the device being used will be unable to get the full capacity of energy from the battery.

Ni-MH
Similar to a Ni-Cd battery but has a hydrogen-absorbing alloy for the anode instead of cadmium. Like in Ni-Cd batteries, nickel is the cathode. A Ni-MH battery has approximately 30% more capacity of an equivalent size Ni-Cd at the expense of cycle life and load current where typically cells have a reduced cycle life (rated for only 500 charge/discharge cycles) where shallow rather than deep discharge cycles are preferred. It also has a lower load current compared to Ni-Cd batteries. The advantage of Ni-MH are that it is less prone to memory affect than Ni-Cd's and is less toxic and is considered less environmentally hazardous.
The disadvantages of the Ni-MH compared to Ni-Cd's is they generate considerably more heat during charge and require more complex algorithm for full charge detection. Additionally, Ni-MH cannot accept as fast a charge as Ni-Cd's. Its charge time is typically double that of a Ni-Cd. The recommended discharge current of Ni-MH is also considerably less than that of Ni-Cd. For best results, manufacturers recommend a load of one-fifth to one-half of the rated cell capacity. This shortcoming may not be critical if the required load current is low. For equipment demanding high power or pulsed load, such as power tools, the more rugged Ni-Cd is the more appropriate choice. Both Ni-MH and Ni-Cd are affected by reasonably high self-discharge. The self-discharge of Ni-MH is 15% to 20% within the first 24 hours compared to approximately 10% for Ni-Cd's. Therefore it is more important that a Ni-MH battery be used as soon after charging as possible to gain the greatest operational time on a single charge.

Li-ion
Li-ion batteries have an excellent energy-to-weight ratio providing more power than the Ni-Cd and Ni-MH batteries. It is not affected by "memory effect" and features a slow loss of charge when not in use (approximately 5% per month). They can be dangerous if mistreated and unless care is taken their lifespan may be reduced. Although originally intended for consumer electronics, Li-ion batteries are growing in popularity and are much lighter than other batteries. Li-ion batteries are not as durable as Ni-MH or Ni-Cd batteries and are usually more expensive.

How long will a fully charged battery last?

This is difficult to determine as battery running time depends greatly on the power demands made by the power tool. For example, the discharge rate of a battery would be completely greater if drilling into hard wood than soft wood. The heavier the work load, the more power drain on the battery. In addition, the running time will also be influenced by the capacity (Ah) and age of the battery.

What is memory effect?

Specifically, if the battery is consistently discharged to the same level, then fully recharged, the battery will eventually stop discharging on its own upon reaching this threshold thus the tool being used will be unable to get the full capacity of energy from the battery. In other words the battery is only being partially discharged and charged to a point where it will no longer charge to its full capacity.

Can I use a Ni-Cd battery charger to charge Ni-MH?

The simple answer is no! Ni-MH batteries are not compatible to Ni-Cd chargers, however most Ni-MH chargers are compatible with Ni-Cd battery packs. To be certain please check with the original manufacturer.

How can I maximise battery life and performance?

  1. Charge the battery pack fully before use.
  2. Batteries that are new and are being used for the first time may need 3-5 cycles (charging & discharging), before full capacity is reached.
  3. Do not over charge the battery. Do not recharge a battery that is fully charged because this will shorten the life of the battery.
  4. Always fully discharge a battery before re-charging. Note: when the speed of the tool reduces this is when the battery should be re-charged. Do not allow the tool to labour as this will damage the cells.
  5. Do not discharge the battery to a point where the tool no longer operates. This will cause damage to the cells.
  6. Periodically clean battery terminals with a lead pencil eraser - never use a file or metal object. Ensure the terminals inside the tool are making good contact with the terminals on the battery.
  7. Usage under extremely hot or cold conditions reduces the operating capacity of the battery. If the battery has become hot during use or charging, allow it to cool for 10 minutes before re-charging or use.
  8. Ni-MH batteries should be stored in a fully charged state. If stored for several months it will require 3-5 charge cycles to reach peak performance.
  9. Ni-Cd batteries stored for long periods should be stored in a discharge state. If stored for several months it will require 3-5 charge cycles to reach peak performance.
  10. Batteries that are used infrequently should be cycled every 4-6 weeks.
  11. Always allow at least 10 minutes after a battery is charged before fitting to the tool for use.
  12. Do not charge the battery when the temperature is below 10C or above 40C.
  13. Do not drop the battery.
  14. Do not expose the battery or charger to moisture or water.

What is the battery cycle?

A battery cycle is when the battery has been charged and then discharged of its energy.

How should I dispose of disused battery packs?

Batteries contain toxic metals which are harmful to the environment and should be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. Do not dispose of them in household waste. Batteries should be recycled. Contact your local council for information with regard to their recycle program.



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