Looking after rechargeable battery packs

As with lots portable tools and gadgets these days most are powered by NiMH or Lithium battery packs.  (NiCad’s on the whole have been replaced long ago).  Many of us do not appreciate that rechargeable batteries have a serviceable life and will at sometime need to be replaced.

Typical life expectancy for lithium or NiMH battery packs is around 500 recharges or 2-3 years, after such time the period between charging starts to decrease as the cells start to deteriorate.

How you look after your rechargeable battery packs will also have an impact on the serviceable life of a rechargeable battery pack.

In particular, exposing a charging battery pack to any form of external heat is not a good idea and at best is going to shorten the life or maybe cause battery pack to deform and be completely unusable.  At worst it could cause a fire hazard!

Note: Always read the charger instructions and in particular pay attention to H&S warnings and cautions.  We all take charging of battery packs for granted.

detectortesters

Solo 726 charger and Solo 760 battery batons

Some battery chargers like the Solo 726 (and older Solo 725) which are specifically designed to charge the battery batons and packs that are used to power Testifire; Solo 460 heat tester and Scorpion incorporate both mains connection as well as 12 volt DC.  This means that the battery packs can be either charged on the move in the car or van or while on site.

Untitled

When charging the battery pack in the vehicle, it can be fairly common practice to place the charger and battery in the footwell of the car and if it is cold outside, the car/van heater may be set to maximum and heat applied to the footwell.  The battery will soon start to overheat which can lead to cell damage or in extreme cases physically deformed battery packs.

There are many other scenarios where a battery under charge may be inadvertently placed in direct sunlight;  close to a source of heat or even charged within an insulated sleeve in a bag which will also cause the cells to over heat and damage the battery pack and shorten its effective life.

Newer Solo 760 battery batons have a date of manufacture so it makes it easier to identify age, to give an indication that you should consider replacement.  You can check the batch number of a Solo 760 battery baton and if it is prior to W26729  then it was manufactured before 2010 and could well need replacing.