What Are The Different Types of Rechargeable Battery Chemistries/Technologies?
Batteries in portable consumer devices (laptops and notebooks, camcorders, cellular phones, etc.) are principally made using either Nickel Cadmium (NiCad), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) or Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) technologies. Each type of rechargeable battery technology has its own unique characteristics:
NiCad and NiMH: the main difference between the two is the fact that NiMH batteries (the newer of the two technologies) offer higher energy densities than NiCads. In other words, pound for pound, NiMH delivers approximately 100% more capacity than its NiCad counterpart. What this translates into is increased run-time from the battery with no additional bulk to weigh down your portable device. NiMH also offers another major advantage: NiCad batteries tend to suffer from what is called the memory effect. NiMH batteries are less prone to develop this dreaded affliction and thus require less maintenance and care. NiMH batteries are also more environmentally friendly than their NiCad counterparts, since they do not contain heavy metals (which present serious landfill problems).
Li-Ion has quickly become the emerging standard for portable power in consumer devices. Li-Ion batteries produce the same energy as NiMH batteries but weigh approximately 35% less. This is crucial in applications such as camcorders or notebook computers, where the battery makes up a significant portion of the device's weight. Another reason Li-Ion batteries have become so popular is that they do not suffer from the memory effect AT ALL. They are also better for the environment because they don't contain toxic materials such as Cadmium or Mercury.
Is it Possible to Upgrade My Device's Battery to a Newer Chemistry?
NiCad, NiMH and Li-ion are all fundamentally different from one another and cannot be substituted unless the device has been pre-configured from the factory to accept more than one type of rechargeable battery. The difference between them stems from the fact that each type requires a different charging pattern to be properly recharged. Therefore, the portable device's charger must be properly configured to handle a given type of rechargeable battery.
Refer to your owner's manual to find out which rechargeable battery types your particular device supports, or simply use our search engine to find your device. It will automatically list all of the battery types supported by your machine.
What is the Memory Effect ?
NiCad batteries, and to a lesser extent NiMH batteries, suffer from what's called the memory effect. What this means is that if a battery is continually only partially discharged before re-charging, the battery forgets that it has the capacity to further discharge all the way down. To illustrate: If you, on a regular basis, fully charge your battery and then use only 50% of its capacity before the next recharge, eventually the battery will become unaware of its extra 50% capacity which has remained unused. Your battery will remain functional, but only at 50% of its original capacity. The way to avoid the dreaded memory effect is to fully cycle (fully charge and then fully discharge) your battery at least once every two to three weeks. Batteries can be discharged by unplugging the device's AC adaptor and letting the device run on the battery until it ceases to function. This will insure your battery remains healthy.