This page explains how batteries work, their chemical composition, how they're used, how to care for them and so much more.
Batteries are those amazing little things that allow us to enjoy our life on the move. But there is a lot to understand about batteries and it can be confusing trying to find the right one. We hope to explain everything you'd want to know about batteries!
Batteries: Your Questions Answered
o What makes a battery “high-capacity”?>> In the simplest terms, a high-capacity battery generally means the battery has more battery cells packed into the battery casing and will thus store more power. The result is that you receive much longer use time between each charge.
o My battery has multiple contacts. What are they for?>> Batteries all have at least two contact terminals -- a positive (+) and negative (-) contact. However, most modern batteries -- like digital camera batteries and MP3 player batteries -- also have additional contacts usually referred to as a “data contact”. These are used to communicate with your device in some way. The only two contacts you need to worry about when recharging the battery with a battery charger is the positive and negative contacts.
o What does mAh stand for on a battery?>> mAh stands for milliamp-hours and is the measure of the power capacity of a battery; the higher the mAh rating the larger the power capacity of the battery. Unlike voltage (V) the mAh rating can be much higher or much lower than your original battery and it will still function with its intended device. NOTE: the larger the mAh rating the longer the battery will last without having to be recharged.
o How long does it take to charge a battery?>> Batteries will all charge at different rates depending on the battery type (i.e. Li-ion vs. NiMH) and mAh rating. Lower capacity batteries charge quicker than higher capacity batteries. It's hard to determine exactly how long a battery will take to charge. However, generally smaller 3.7V batteries (like cell phones batteries or video game console batteries ) generally charge in 2 - 4 hours. Larger 7.4V batteries (like camcorder batteries , GPS batteries , or two-way radio batteries) generally charge in 4 - 8 hours. NOTE: these are general time frames and may differ with your particular battery and device.
o How does a battery work?>> In the most basic terms a battery cell is made up of three components: an anode (-), a cathode (+), and the electrolyte. Due to a chemical reaction within the battery the anode builds up an excess of electrons. This causes an electrical difference between the anode and the cathode. The electrons want to rearrange themselves and displace the extra electrons in the cathode; however, the electrolyte ensures the electrons cannot travel directly to the cathode. When you close a circuit (i.e. connect a wire or a “conductive path” between the anode and cathode) the electrons are able to travel to the cathode. Placing an electronic device within that circuit (i.e. light bulb, blender, mp3 player, etc.) provides power to the device along the way.
Over time this electrochemical process alters the chemical make up in the anode and cathode and eventually they stop providing electrons. This is what happens when a battery “dies”.
You can recharge a battery by reversing the direction of the flow of electrons and restore the anode and cathode to their original electrochemical state and renew the capacity of the battery.
o How should I care for my battery?>> If you want your rechargeable battery to last for many years there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure long life.
1) Don't Over Charge The Battery - The easiest way to kill a battery's ability to retain a long charge is to leave it on an AC/DC battery charger or attached to the AC power adapter for too long. Leaving the battery on the charger for days, weeks, or months will over stress the already full battery cells and will ruin the battery.
2) Avoid Heat - Leaving your battery in a hot car or in direct sunlight is a sure way to ruin a battery. Do your best to keep your battery at room temperature whenever possible.
3) Don't Store A Dead Battery - Whenever you're finished using a battery give it a full charge and store it in a dry room temperature location. Try to ensure you use the battery at least once every couple months and always give it a full charge when you're finished. Dead batteries will eventually lose their capacity to hold a charge, and even charged batteries will naturally discharge overtime. Storing a battery for many months at a time will naturally cause the battery to go dead and eventually you'll be storing a dead battery; ruining its capacity to hold a charge in the future.