Thursday, October 4

rechargeable AA and AAA batteries

I've had mixed success with rechargeable batteries, but that's due to my early use (and ignorance) of low-capacity cells. I assumed that all 1.5V batteries were the same - not even.

I've been trying to use rechargeable batteries whenever possible and am experimenting with different brands. AAAs max out at ~900 mAh .. some are only rated at 500 mAh and drain at 2%/day! I have some (Sanyo) Eneloops en route and have higher hopes for their shelf life, although they're only rated at 800 mAh - Rayovac's Hybrid brand also promise better shelf life, too.

AA rechargeables can be had in 2500+ mAh flavors but they're not yet commonly available that way in retail - I spotted mostly low capacities when visiting the nearby MicroCenter and had much better luck (2500 mAh Nuon brand) at the (chain) Batteries+ location.

I took my Digital Audio Recorder (an Olympus DS-2300) out for a single 5 hour session a few weeks ago, and the batteries held up nicely. Odds are I'll always keep a spare set handy, though -- lesson learned with digicams, which tend to powerfail on me at The Most Inopportune Moment.

I'm using LaCrosse Technology's BC-900 (AA/AAA charger, NiCd/NiMH) which provides real insight into the charging process, although there are web reports of overheating (to the point of melting!) so I won't leave it unattended (those reports are dated early 2006 -- so it's possible mine has better firmware).

My preferred travel charger is the Energizer (NiMH) CHDC-CA although I'm not thrilled with its performance .. only the size (not all chargers can charge both AA and AAA). They have a new USB model which has onscreen monitoring, and hence shows promise (assuming I'm packing my laptop).

History lesson: my first battery charger was the (Radio Shack) Archer 23-122, which belongs in a museum somewhere. It charged NiCad AA, C and D cells. Years later, I favored Olympus' BU-100 which charged Ni-MH AA cells, but the required power cord is unwieldy for travel (it's since been upgraded - the latest model appears to be the BU-500 and there's no cord).

If you travel internationally, you'll need a power converter for the models with integrated US power prongs (115 VAC), but .. that goes without saying.

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