FAQ's by one of our vendor's,
Isidor Buchmann on Care For
What To Consider When Making
Your Charger Purchase.
The Green Light Lies
When charging a battery,
the ready light will eventually illuminate, indicating that the
battery is fully charged. The user assumes that the
battery has reached its full potential and the battery is taken
In no way does 'green light' guarantee sufficient battery
capacity or assure state-of-health. Similar to a toaster
that pops up the bread when brown, the charger fills the battery
with energy and 'pops' it to ready when full. Charge
termination is commonly detected by a rise in battery
The rechargeable battery
is a corrosive device that gradually loses its ability to hold
charge as part of natural aging. Many users are oblivious
to the fact that their batteries barely last a day with no
reserve energy to spare. In fact, weak batteries can hide
comfortably because little demand is placed on them on a routine
day. The situation changes when full performance is
required during an emergency. Total collapse of portable
systems is common and such breakdowns are frequently related to
poor battery performance.
Carrying larger batteries
or switching to higher energy-dense systems does not assure
better reliability if the weak batteries are not
Likewise, the benefit of
using advanced ultra-high capacity systems offers little
advantage if the packs are allowed to dwell in the fleet after
illustrates four batteries with different ratings and
state-of-health conditions. Batteries B, C, and D show
reduced charge acceptance because of memory problems and other
deficiencies. The worst pack is Battery D; it switches to
ready after only 14 minutes of charge (assumed time).
This battery is a likely
candidate to be picked when a fresh battery is required in a
hurry. Unfortunately, this pack will last only for a brief
moment. Battery A, on the other hand, has the highest
capacity and takes the longest to charge.
Ironically, battery A is
least likely picked because it is slowest to charge.
The weak batteries are
charged quicker and remain on "ready" longer than the
good batteries. The bad tend to gravitate to the top,
making them available for the unsuspecting user. In an
emergency situation that requires quick charge action, the
batteries that are on ready may be 'deadwood'.
|Battery Maintenance, A
Function of Quality Control
The reliability of
portable equipment is as good as the battery. While most
equipment receive scheduled maintenance and calibration,
batteries get little support. Historically, batteries are
serviced either when they no longer hold charge or when the
equipment is sent in for repair. As a result,
battery-operated devices become unreliable with time.
Implementing a battery
maintenance plan demands effort and commitment on behalf of
management. Battery maintenance must become an integral
component of an organization's overall maintenance and repair
Whether the batteries are
done in-house with their own battery analyzers, or sent to an
independent firm specializing in that service, sufficient spare
batteries must be kept on hand to replace those temporarily
taken away from service.
remove batteries without assuring proper replacement. After
service, the batteries are marked to identify performance and
service dates. This is best done by attaching a battery
label. With the basic battery information shown, a user
removing a battery from the charger will look for a good
capacity reading and valid date.
Battery analyzers are now
available that automatically print a label with date, name of
organization from the unit. A sample of such a label is
illustrated in figure 3.
|Battery Maintenance Made
Several methods are
available to maintain a fleet of batteries. A simple,
self-governing system is illustrated in figures 4 to 6.
Only 30 minutes per day
should be required by a technician to maintain the system.
The equipment needed is one or several battery analyzers capable
of producing battery labels.
After servicing, the
restored batteries are returned to the charger; those that
failed are replaced with new ones.
maintenance assures that all packs at the user level perform at
the expected capacity level.
When taking a battery from
the charger, the user checks the service date on the battery
label. If expired, the battery is placed into the box
marked "To be serviced". Periodically, the box
is removed and the batteries are serviced and re-certified with
a battery analyzer.
Battery maintenance has
been simplified with the introduction of battery analyzers which
offer target capacity selection. This novel feature works
on the must meet a user-defined perform test or target
capacity. Nickel-based batteries that fall short of the
required capacity are automatically restored with the analyzer's
recondition cycle. Batteries that fail to recover are
subsequently replaced with new packs.
Recondition consists of a discharge to one volt per cell,
followed by a secondary discharge to 0.4V at a much-reduced
While removing the
remaining energy, the molecular structure of the cell is reset
to its original chemical composition and the cell is
rebuilt. This process commonly restores nickel-based
batteries to full service.
On recondition, the
battery is first discharged to one volt per cell after which the
discharge continues at a much-reduced current.
It should be mentioned,
however, that batteries with high self-discharge and those
containing shorted cells cannot be corrected with recondition;
neither can a battery that is worn out due to old age or one
that has been damaged through abuse.
A practical target
capacity setting for most battery applications is
80percent. Increasing the capacity to 90 percent will, in
essence, raise the performance level by 10 points.
It should be noted that
higher settings will yield fewer batteries because older
batteries often cannot reach 90percent capacity.
The target capacity
setting of a battery analyzer can be compared to a student
entry-exam for college.
With a passing mark of 80
percent, a reasonable number of students will pass. If the
passing mark is set to 90 percent, fewer but higher qualified
students will be admitted.
After service, the batteries are relabeled and returned to the
charger. Those batteries which fail to meet the target
capacity are replaced with new packs. All batteries in the
charger are now certified to meet a required performance
| Maintenance, a
Poorly Understood Discipline
Organizations tend to postpone battery maintenance until a
crisis situation develops. A story comes to mind where a
fire brigade using portable radios experienced chronic
communication problems, especially during calls lasting longer
than two hours. The symptom manifested itself in their radios
not transmitting, although receive worked fine. This situation
left the fire fighters in an awkward position because they were
unaware that their call did not get out.
The fire brigade acquired
a Cadex battery analyzer and all batteries were serviced through
exercise and recondition methods to restore lost capacity.
Those batteries that did not recover to a preset target capacity
Shortly thereafter, the
fire brigade was summoned to a ten-hour call that demanded heavy
To their astonishment,
none of the portable radios failed.
The success of this
flawless operation was credited to the excellent performance of
The following day, the
captain of the fire brigade personally contacted the
manufacturer of the battery analyzer and enthusiastically
extended his congratulations for the superb performance of the
Batteries placed on prolonged standby commonly fail when put to
use. Such was the case when a Cadex Representative was
allowed to view a State Emergency Management Facility of a large
US city. In the fortified bunker, over one thousand
batteries where kept in chargers. The green lights glowed,
indicating that the batteries where ready at a moments
The officer in charge
stood erect and in an assured voice said "We are prepared
for any emergency".
The salesman then asked to
check it's state-of-health. Within seconds, the analyzer
detected a fail condition. In an effort to good, the
officer handed another battery from the charger bank, only to
find out that is also failed.
Scenarios such as these
are quite common. The disturbing fact is that little is
done to correct the system, once discovered.
charge current is not available. All the officer can do is
pray that an emergency will not occur.
Another user group that relies heavily batteries is the
military. Defense organizations take pride in using the
highest quality and best performance equipment.
When it comes to
batteries, however, there is an apparent lack of discipline and
maintenance is frequently ignored.
The battery often escapes
the scrutiny of a full military inspection and only the visual
appearance is checked. Little effort is made in keeping
track of cycle count, user pattern, and age.
Eventually, weak batteries
get mixed in with the new ones and the system becomes
unreliable. In some cases, the batteries soldiers carry
might as well be rocks.
Without a system to
systematically remove weak batteries, the benefit of the
state-of-the-art, ultra-high capacity battery is defeated.
The soldiers carry rocks instead of batteries.
|Choosing a Battery Analyzer
Even the most advanced battery will deteriorate with use and
age. The level of deterioration depends on battery type,
use, maintenance, and handling. Without a system to remove
weak batteries at the appropriate time, the benefit of
state-of-the-art, ultra-high capacity batteries is defeated.
Batteries with high energy-density are only superior to older
systems if frequently checked for performance. Implementing
a properly managed battery maintenance system is essential in
assuring reliable service and preventing unexpected system
Today's market offers a
wide selection of battery analyzers at various prices.
There are two basic types of systems available, namely fixed
current and programmable units.
are more accurate, easier to adapt to different battery types
and more effective in restoring weak batteries than fixed
current analyzers. The results are higher battery
recovery, reduced operator time, increased throughput, simpler
operation and the use of less trained technicians.
An advanced battery
analyzer, such as the Cadex C7000, evaluates the condition of
each battery and implements the appropriate service to restore
its performance. A recondition cycle is applied if a
user-selected capacity level cannot be reached.
The battery settings are
stored in interchangeable battery adapters that configure the
analyzer to the correct function when installed.
Service programs address
the different battery needs and include: Ohm Test to measure the
battery's internal resistance; Prime to prepare a new battery
for field use and Auto to recondition a weak battery.
In addition, Custom
programs allow the user to create specialized programs such as
self-discharge test and life cycling.
Analyzers capable of printing service reports and battery labels
simplify battery maintenance and help in the scheduling of
To manage a large battery
fleet, battery analyzers should be capable of interfacing to a
PC. BatteryShop by Cadex Electronics is software that simplifies
battery maintenance in a market that offers an ever-increasing
number of battery types.
With BatteryShop, the user
simply enters the battery model number and the software
automatically sets the correct parameters in the analyzer.
Battery manufacturer, vendor references, price, purchase date
and performance history of all batteries are stored in a
database and made available for cost analysis and performance
In this article, Mr. Isidor Buchmann has
simply and graciously expressed our very own views on battery
characteristics, charger characteristics, battery management
characteristics, and apparent customer awareness in the area of
their battery packs and chargers. Note: Every personal
experience or opinion is always, to some extent, slightly
different, including ours. Mr. Buchmann, we thank you for
such a well-written article.
This article;The Green Light Lies;
borrowed or copied, without permission, from Battery Power
Products & Technology Magazine November/December 1998.
Article written by Isidor Buchmann. Isidor Buchmann is the
founder and CEO of Cadex Electronics, Inc. We thank Battery
Power Products & Technology Magazine for their indulgence in
our copying this article for all of our clients benefit.
(Due to continuing development
all prices & specifications are subject to change without
Copyright Rathbone Energy, Inc.,
1990, All Rights Reserved.
Last Revised Thursday, September 18, 2008 04:49:51 PM