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Nickel-Zinc rechargeable batteries


Tomas4x4
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It's always interesting with new battery technology, though it is not clear to me how much improvement NiZn really is.

 

Regarding cold winter usage, my NiMH Generation 2 (low-discharge) batteries work just fine in -10C conditions. Especially the batteries delivered with my new Garmin Oregon 550t GPS receiver. They seem to last longer than my Varta Ready2Use 2300 mAh even though the Garmin batteries are labeled only 1900-2000 mAh. My old NiMH Generation 1 batteries (GP 2500 mAh) on the other hand doesn't work well when it is cold.

 

iller

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It's always interesting with new battery technology, though it is not clear to me how much improvement NiZn really is.

 

Regarding cold winter usage, my NiMH Generation 2 (low-discharge) batteries work just fine in -10C conditions. Especially the batteries delivered with my new Garmin Oregon 550t GPS receiver. They seem to last longer than my Varta Ready2Use 2300 mAh even though the Garmin batteries are labeled only 1900-2000 mAh. My old NiMH Generation 1 batteries (GP 2500 mAh) on the other hand doesn't work well when it is cold.

 

iller

 

I think the biggest advantage with this version of battery is that it delivers 1.6 volts as opposed to 1.2 volts.

 

It is a huge advantage when using the batteries for LED flashlights. I would deal with the power drop-off if I can have full brightness with the rechargable batteries.

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I think the biggest advantage with this version of battery is that it delivers 1.6 volts as opposed to 1.2 volts.

 

It is a huge advantage when using the batteries for LED flashlights. I would deal with the power drop-off if I can have full brightness with the rechargable batteries.

What would be better is to get a LED flashlight with power regulated output. Your light level will not be dependent on battery voltage. Overdriving your LED leads to shortened life.

 

Of course, the price of regulated flashlights being what they are, maybe it's cheaper just getting these batteries.

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I think the biggest advantage with this version of battery is that it delivers 1.6 volts as opposed to 1.2 volts.

 

It is a huge advantage when using the batteries for LED flashlights. I would deal with the power drop-off if I can have full brightness with the rechargable batteries.

What would be better is to get a LED flashlight with power regulated output. Your light level will not be dependent on battery voltage. Overdriving your LED leads to shortened life.

 

Of course, the price of regulated flashlights being what they are, maybe it's cheaper just getting these batteries.

 

My favorite flashlight takes 3 AAA batteries and works best with 4.5V. These batteries (if they were AAA) would deliver 4.8V which isn't a significant increase in voltage to shorten the life of a 10,000 hour rated LED. However, the reduced voltage of a NiMh of 3.6V makes me want to cry when I compare the lumen output. It seems to half the lumens with NiMh which takes my 140 lumen light down to about double of a standard maglite. I just can't have that!! ~L~

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What would be better is to get a LED flashlight with power regulated output. Your light level will not be dependent on battery voltage. Overdriving your LED leads to shortened life.

 

Of course, the price of regulated flashlights being what they are, maybe it's cheaper just getting these batteries.

I you can get to the "guts" of an unregulated 4.5V flashlight, you might be able add a schottky diode, with a 0.3V drop, wired in series with the batteries. This would result in the standard 4.5V being supplied to the original flashlight circuitry.

Edited by sagc
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What would be better is to get a LED flashlight with power regulated output. Your light level will not be dependent on battery voltage. Overdriving your LED leads to shortened life.

 

Of course, the price of regulated flashlights being what they are, maybe it's cheaper just getting these batteries.

I you can get to the "guts" of an unregulated 4.5V flashlight, you might be able add a schottky diode, with a 0.3V drop, wired in series with the batteries. This would result in the standard 4.5V being supplied to the original flashlight circuitry.

 

No point doing that. These flahslights use a resistor to drop the voltage from 4.5 to what the LEDs requires.

Eventually you could increase this resistor but as long as you don't exceed the MAX rated LED current, no point.

 

Avoid these flashligths as they don't use electronic regulation which is best for constant output while making efficient use of the battery energy regardless of its type.

 

So avoid any LED lights that requires 3 cells !

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Tomas4x4, how are you liking these, a couple weeks on from your last report...?

 

I don't have anything new to report. I only use the GPS for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Unfortunately I didn't do any of those activities recently. When I have anything new to report, I will.

 

So finally I have something to report. We have just returned from our week long winter vacation in Eastern Sierra (Bishop, Mammoth Lakes, Bridgeport) where we did some snowshoeing and cross country skiing.

 

I was using the NiZN batteries for the whole time in my Colorado 300 and for the first time, I did not have to keep the unit or spare batteries in my pocket to keep them warm. I could do what I do in summer, i.e. keep the spares in my camera bag and keep the GPS in the side "fishnet" pocket of my backpack. Besides being a bit more comfortable, I could actually use the temperature reading which was anywhere between -8C and 20C (18F to 68F).

 

Batteries performed flawlessly and I even got warning when there were about to run out. With battery type set to Lithium, the meter would show in relative quick (~10-15 minutes) succession two bars, then one bar, then would beep and show low battery warning. It did not die on me because I would replace the batteries as soon as I noticed either one bar or got low battery warning.

 

We have spent some 8 to 10 hours outside every day and I had to replace the cells about every day and half. I powered the unit from the car adapter for some portion of that time but I think it was running on battery power for 6-8 hours a day for sure.

 

All in all, I am pretty happy my decision to try NiZN cells so far.

 

On temperature related note, I think (and my home thermometer seems to prove) that my GPS is showing 2-3C (4-6F) higher temperature than there is. Also it seems that MapSource is having trouble with the temperature recording. Track XML does contain the temperature information (<gpxtpx:atemp>1.5</gpxtpx:atemp>) but when you open it in MapSource, it does not show up ('Temperature' column is empty). If I save the track from MapSource, the temperature data is gone. I have also tried BaseCamp but with the same results. Both MapSource and GPS are set to Celsius scale.

 

A bit annoying...

Edited by Tomas4x4
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<Kabump>

 

I just tried out a set of these batteries and was very happy with the performance.

I was using them in a Leatherman Monarch 500 (100 lumen) flashlight.

 

I didn't know there was a piece of plastic in the charger so when I went to charge them they didn't charge but lasted in the flashlight for about 30 minutes right out of the package. Now they give over an hour (which is the battery rating on the flashlight) placing them in with a full charge.

 

Something really interesting with this battery/flashlight combo. There was NO period of less light. The flashlight went from full intensity to zero output in about 3/4 of a second.

 

I'm liking these batteries a lot!

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I just tried out a set of these batteries and was very happy with the performance.

I was using them in a Leatherman Monarch 500 (100 lumen) flashlight.

 

I didn't know there was a piece of plastic in the charger so when I went to charge them they didn't charge but lasted in the flashlight for about 30 minutes right out of the package. Now they give over an hour (which is the battery rating on the flashlight) placing them in with a full charge.

 

Something really interesting with this battery/flashlight combo. There was NO period of less light. The flashlight went from full intensity to zero output in about 3/4 of a second.

 

I'm liking these batteries a lot!

Haven't seen you around recently. Hope you've been well.

 

Thanks for the update on this battery / charger combo. Even better, thanks for the flashlight recommendation. I love my Fenix LD-20 (180 lumens) but it is expensive. This looks like a good backup.

 

The reason for the "no drop in light output" is the regulation circuit that both flashlight has. I find no drop in light output with the Fenix, except at the maximum 180 lumens level.

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Something really interesting with this battery/flashlight combo. There was NO period of less light. The flashlight went from full intensity to zero output in about 3/4 of a second.

Ayup. That's the "flat discharge profile". In a GPS, when the first battery bar drops, you'd better have the next set ready to load, because you've got a minute or less! The un-need for compass calibration sure is sweet.

 

It's gotten colder here, but still not cold enough that I'd have anything useful to say about these puppies in low temps yet. Looking forward to it, though. Am guessing they'll still be humming along long after the NiMH cells are toast due to low temp voltage decrease.

 

Note: had one of the original cells I picked up early in the Spring die. Wouldn't take a charge. Sent it back to PowerGenix for their review and they sent me a whole set of 4 to replace it. Nice.

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I've been using the Powergenix NiZn rechargeables for several months now and I'm very happy with them. They provide the high voltage that a lot of electronic devices demand. I can't use my NiMH batteries in them because the 1.2V output of a NiMH just doesn't cut it.

 

My Oregon runs fine on them, and I don't have to recalibrate the compass every 10 minutes like I used to with the NiMH. The only drawback is that the NiZn don't last quite as long, but I just carry extras with me.

Edited by PokerLuck
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I have also been using these NiZN for several months in my Delorme PN-30, which does not like NiMH. Same thing with one of my cameras, that absolutely will not work with the low voltage of NiMH's. I just started using them in my wireless computer mouse.

 

I have tried them in the AA battery pack in one of my hand held Ham radios and they work well.

 

Look for the deals on Shnoop.

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I have also been using these NiZN for several months in my Delorme PN-30, which does not like NiMH. Same thing with one of my cameras, that absolutely will not work with the low voltage of NiMH's. I just started using them in my wireless computer mouse.

 

I have tried them in the AA battery pack in one of my hand held Ham radios and they work well.

 

Look for the deals on Shnoop.

 

I got mine at Frys.

4AA batteries and the charger (that will do a pair of AAA when they come out) for $20.

 

Best investment I've made in batteries so far.

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I got mine at Frys.

4AA batteries and the charger (that will do a pair of AAA when they come out) for $20.

 

Best investment I've made in batteries so far.

 

From Shnoop, I got 12 of the PowerGenix AAs with the charger for US$18.99 total delivered.

They just had a 4 pack for $5 delivered.

Every couple of weeks they seem to have some combination of these AAs and/or chargers in their deal of the day.

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Anybody have issues with high voltages on the PowerGenix NiZn batteries? I have had trouble getting them to finish charging correctly (flashing red light on the charger), and when I checked the voltage on the batteries, they were all around 1.84 volts! I shot a message to PowerGenix, and they responded that somebody would contact me, but they have not yet (been over a week). I don't dare run them in anything at 1.84 volts!

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Anybody have issues with high voltages on the PowerGenix NiZn batteries?

 

I was just reading about that - I think it was a rather thorough review by some engineer who posted his findings on Amazon. The other finding seems to be that the overall life-span of the NiZn's is rather limited as compared to NiMh. Somebody needs to make 1.5V Li-Ion AA batteries!

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The NiZN do have a high voltage like about 1.84 when just charged and not under load. ( I believe that they are typically 1.6V or less under load.)

 

I just measured some new alkalines, 1.63v

NiMH are above 1.40 just out of the charger.

I do not have any Lithium, but I remember them being over 1.7v new.

 

I have been using NiZN for months in the PN-30 using the Lithium setting. Same with a camera that uses 2 AAs. Both of these would not last long using NiMH on the NiMH settings. They last much longer using NiZN.

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Are all the AA Powergenix NiZn batteries 2500 MAh??
No - none of them are. They don't even talk much about mAh -- you'll have to dig deep to find that information. They talk instead about mWh. There's a good marketing/sales reason for that, and while I think it's a bit disingenuous of them to do so, it's fair enough if the application warrants it, and in the case of numerous GPS units, that turns out to be the case.

 

A NiMH cell that sports a 2500mAh rating produces (nominally) 2.5Ah x 1.2V = 3000mWh of power.

A NiZn cell that sports a 1500mAh rating produces (nominally) 1.5Ah x 1.6V = 2400mWh of power.

 

On the surface, this creates a conundrum. It would appear that the NiMH cell would last 25% longer than the NiZn cell (2400 + (0.25 x 2400) = 3000).

 

But it's only on the surface, and depends a lot on how low a voltage a device is capable of operating. Let's assume that a Garmin Oregon is configured such that it operates using 180mA of current. Your first thought is that 3000/180 = 16.7 hours of use. We all know that isn't going to happen. But why? Because while the cell may be rated at 2500mAh, at some point before it has delivered that current, the battery voltage has dropped below the usable threshold of the device it is powering. In short, the NiMH may not be able to deliver its entire useful energy because the device can't deal with the low voltage at which it's being delivered as the cells deplete.

 

The NiZn cell holds its voltage well until just before there's nothing left for it to give (edit: specifically, that's going to occur at about 1.3V). As a result, you get pretty much the whole 100% of its 2400mWh of juice before the device detects that it can't any longer function with the depleted cells.

Edited by ecanderson
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In my humble opinion the mWh rating is a better indicator than the mAh of how much power a device holds. I am going to try some of the NiZn in my Oregon for sure. One thing I always remember about electrical power is how we rate soldering irons. They are not rated by their current rating but by their power rating, watts. You are correct I think, if a device holds it's voltage for a longer period of time then the usable power is at least as good if not better than a device that slopes off to an unusable voltage level. Thank you.

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I got mine at Frys.

4AA batteries and the charger (that will do a pair of AAA when they come out) for $20.

 

Best investment I've made in batteries so far.

 

From Shnoop, I got 12 of the PowerGenix AAs with the charger for US$18.99 total delivered.

They just had a 4 pack for $5 delivered.

Every couple of weeks they seem to have some combination of these AAs and/or chargers in their deal of the day.

But shnoop does a single deal per day. I don't think I have the time or patience to wait to see if the powergenix batteries come up again.

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Anyone know what it is about NiZn that makes the compass calibration unnecessary? Or alternatively, why NiMH almost requires a compass calibration every time the batteries are swapped?
Yes - for whatever reason, Garmin's design does not include tight regulation of the voltage to the compass chip, and the chip is voltage sensitive. As the voltage drifts down, the compass chip becomes inaccurate. Calibrate it there, and it'll hold until it drops further. Throw in a new set of cells (nice, high voltage) and the compass is now off again, and requiring yet another calibration.

 

Options are to calibrate with a fresh set of NiMH and swap sets when you see the first bar drop, or go with cells whose voltage during discharge doesn't drop below where the compass chip starts to get wonky (NiZn).

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Options are to calibrate with a fresh set of NiMH and swap sets when you see the first bar drop, or go with cells whose voltage during discharge doesn't drop below where the compass chip starts to get wonky (NiZn).

or use NiMH, wait until the first bar drops (or just use them for half an hour) and then recalibrate the compass. it will stay good until the batteries are empty. swap a freshly charged set in and learn to live with the compass being off for about 10 minutes or so max. after that it will go back to being normal again. you'll never have to recalibrate.

Edited by dfx
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Options are to calibrate with a fresh set of NiMH and swap sets when you see the first bar drop, or go with cells whose voltage during discharge doesn't drop below where the compass chip starts to get wonky (NiZn).

or use NiMH, wait until the first bar drops (or just use them for half an hour) and then recalibrate the compass. it will stay good until the batteries are empty. swap a freshly charged set in and learn to live with the compass being off for about 10 minutes or so max. after that it will go back to being normal again. you'll never have to recalibrate.

I haven't had that kind of luck (so far) with any of my mag compass units. Summit HC, Dakota 20 and Oregon 450 all give me some grief for more than the 10 minutes. The theory is to wait until the battery is down a bit and try to do the calibration at a voltage that represents something close to the "average" that you'll see during the useful charge of the battery. Maybe it's the cells I've used, but I found that I got burned by the compass for a lot longer than 10 minutes on both ends of the charge.
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I haven't had that kind of luck (so far) with any of my mag compass units. Summit HC, Dakota 20 and Oregon 450 all give me some grief for more than the 10 minutes. The theory is to wait until the battery is down a bit and try to do the calibration at a voltage that represents something close to the "average" that you'll see during the useful charge of the battery. Maybe it's the cells I've used, but I found that I got burned by the compass for a lot longer than 10 minutes on both ends of the charge.

it works just as i described on both an oregon 450 and a 550 with a mixture of cells: eneloops, the garmin ones, two kinds of panasonics. for the non-eneloops it's even enough not to use them right after charging, but let them sit at least overnight, then the compass won't be off at all (of course you lose some battery life through that as well).

 

at low charge i've only ever seen the compass go wonky a single time, not sure what was different then. all other times it stays perfectly stable and accurate well into the "red" charge level.

 

of course voltage also depends on load, so maybe you're seeing that behavior due to your usage patterns, maybe a very high backlight setting or something like that. also it's well possible that older compass chips (such as the one used in the 60csx) are even more sensitive to voltage changes.

Edited by dfx
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My experience with an Oregon 400 on NiMH batteries is not that the compass slowly loses accuracy as the battery voltage drops, it just stops working at all. It gets flaky for a minute or so and then the little arrow on the compass stops moving, even if I turn in circles. If I do a calibration, all is well for a while (like 10 or 15 minutes), and then it just stops working again.

 

With NiZn batteries, I have to calibrate much less often. I can't get by with calibrating just once on a set of batteries, but I can go an hour or two between calibrations. When I'm trying to find a cache in an area with muggles, they usually ignore me until I have to do the calibration dance. That always gets their immediate attention, and they come over and ask me if I'm ok. I'd much rather avoid that, so having batteries that don't need calibration as often is a big plus.

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I measured the voltage of the last two pairs of NiMH I took out of my Oregon, they all measured 1.2 volts, but the Oregon said they were dead and or had one bar. I had the Oregon set to NiMh. ????? I think I'm going back to 1.6V alkaline.

I know you've already bought the NiZn, hope they work out for you. Just curious about how long the NiMH lasts before your GPSr thinks they're dead? How long have you used the NiMH? Trying to determine if it is faulty batteries or GPSr.

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Better than typical NiMH, not as good as LSD NiMH. I have to charge mine frequently enough that it doesn't even matter.

 

The difference between NiMH and NiZn is in part what happens when self-discharge starts to reduce cell voltage. At 1.2V, you can't afford much of a drop of NiMH voltage for most devices before they call a halt to things. One place I really notice this is in my wireless keyboard/mouse combo. It's getting better as operating voltage on electronics continues to drop, but ...

 

With the NiZn, there's little voltage drop with some self-discharge, so devices using them don't complain.

 

Some gadgets would give up while the NiMH still had 25% useful energy capacity remaining due to droopy voltage. They wouldn't blink with a NiZn at 25% (or even 5%) remaining.

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I measured the voltage of the last two pairs of NiMH I took out of my Oregon, they all measured 1.2 volts, but the Oregon said they were dead and or had one bar. I had the Oregon set to NiMh. ????? I think I'm going back to 1.6V alkaline.

I know you've already bought the NiZn, hope they work out for you. Just curious about how long the NiMH lasts before your GPSr thinks they're dead? How long have you used the NiMH? Trying to determine if it is faulty batteries or GPSr.

It seems to me to be in the 6 hour range. I measured the voltage on the last two pairs I took out, the GPS said they were dead, but they still measured 1.2 volts. I'm used to my Garmin 76 running for a week or more on a set of alkaline so this is a real disappointment to me. These are almost new NiMh, I just bought them from Radio Shack.

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It seems to me to be in the 6 hour range. I measured the voltage on the last two pairs I took out, the GPS said they were dead, but they still measured 1.2 volts. I'm used to my Garmin 76 running for a week or more on a set of alkaline so this is a real disappointment to me. These are almost new NiMh, I just bought them from Radio Shack.

It could be one faulty cell. That's one advantage of getting a good charger that can diagnose such problems. But since you bought the NiZn already, not really much point in trying to diagnose the problem - unless they die really quickly (in which case it'll be time to take another look at the Oregon).

 

A battery could measure at a high voltage when not under load, but have the voltage drop dramatically when there is a load.

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I would use the lithium setting, but no battery setting is going to give a good indication of life left in them since when they start to die one minute they look good and the next minute they're dead, figuratively speaking. I have used them with good success in 20 degree weather when out ATVing all day.

 

Am interested in hearing back your comments on them.

Edited by eaparks
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I would use the lithium setting, but no battery setting is going to give a good indication of life left in them since when they start to die one minute they look good and the next minute they're dead, figuratively speaking. I have used them with good success in 20 degree weather when out ATVing all day.

 

Am interested in hearing back your comments on them.

My test day was probably too mild to be a good test. The temps ranged between 35-45F, in my experience the Eneloops would have worked fine. My hike lasted 4-5 hours and I had no apparent problems. I got to 12,900' to the CD and feel blessed to be able to walk that high in Nov.

 

The charger is sure odd with inner/outer pairing but lights in the center and no markings on the charger to show the pairing. One gets spoiled with a Lacrosse with its individual cell charging. Besides having yet another wall wart is not a plus.

 

Thanks for the Lithium suggestion, that's what I used.

 

Of note, saw no critters on my hike, but driving home encountered a half-dozen big horn sheep on the pavement, apparently seeking salt, seemed to be licking the pavement. I slowed to 5 mph, would have stopped if needed, they barely moved.

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