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Maintenance of rechargeable batteries

It is often stated that NiCd batteries must not be totally discharged. This is not entirely true but in practice, it is difficult to prevent the polarity reversal of one or more cells. The (NiCd batteries) nickel-cadmium battery is a type of rechargeable battery with electrodes made of nickel oxide hydroxide and metallic cadmium.

The polarity of a cell in a battery that gets discharged first will be reversed by the other cells in series with it. This is usually the end of the cell because its internal structure cannot cope with this condition. Manufacturers try to prevent this by making the positive electrode of battery cells more robust. But even then, the cell will be damaged by regular polarity reversal, particularly at high charging currents. Once a cell is damaged, its capacity is reduced, which causes it to get discharged more quickly, …, and a vicious circle is set up. A possible solution to this problem is to shunt each cell with a Schottky diode that can handle a current equal to, or larger than, the charging current.
Maintenance of rechargeable batteries Schematic diagram

Use a good charger

The finest chargers are intelligent or smart chargers, which will not over-charge or under-charge your batteries. Avoid using super-fast chargers (15–30 minute chargers) since they generate a very high current, which heats up the rechargeable battery and causes it to degrade quickly. If a NiMH rechargeable battery is used regularly with a super-fast charger, it is projected that it will only last 50 to 75 recharge cycles instead of the normal 500.

Guide to Rechargeable Battery Care

  • Use a good charger
  • Always select the right type of charger for your batteries
  • Always charge the same chemistry and voltage
  • Avoid charging batteries with different capacities in standard chargers
  • Keep battery contact surfaces and battery compartment contacts clean
  • General Precautions​​ Always charge your batteries as soon as possible after they have discharged

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