New Battery Technologies

One of the long held truths of the battery business is that it’s tough to develop new longer-lasting batteries because we aren’t discovering any new elements.  There are only so many chemical elements and compounds the Earth can provide that are suitable for use as battery components.  The first dry cell battery was invented in 1866 and ever since then mankind has been trying to improve on it.  We’ve tried everything.

However…..

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Thanks to advances in technology, we can now understand the interactions between different chemicals at a level Georges LeClanche’ could never have dreamed of.  The challenge is not only to make a longer lasting battery but one that’s more environmentally friendly.  The electrolytes and other chemicals in batteries are often hazardous in large concentrations and requiring recycling when they expire.   So for the last several years, researchers have been working to solve these challenges.  And now, they may be on the verge of a number of breakthroughs.  And as the world becomes more dependent on technology it couldn’t come at a better time.

Researchers in Ireland recently claim to have developed a lithium ion battery that utilizes a germanium nanowire anode that doubles the capacity and the lifespan.  Instead of the usual 500 charge cycles, this new battery retains its capacity after 1000 cycles.  Not only that, but they claim it will be affordable and more eco-friendly.  Imagine a laptop or phone battery that lasts twice as long under charge and last twice as long for its normal lifespan.  Pretty awesome, huh?

But let’s think bigger.  Much bigger.  How about a battery system that powers your entire house or even your neighborhood?  A company in Silicon Valley is developing a Vanadium redox flow battery that could conceivably last forever.   Vanadium is an element that can conduct both a positive and negative charge.  As a result it doesn’t degrade over time like normal compound batteries.  Subsequently the Vanadium electrolyte in the battery can be endlessly reused.  On the downside, it isn’t as efficient as a lithium ion battery and would be quite a bit larger.  But when you couple it with solar or wind turbine charging, you could potentially go off the electrical grid.

To top it all off, a company in Israel just announced that they have developed an organic nano-crystal technology that makes it possible for a battery to be recharged in as little as 30 seconds!  Better still, the nano-crystals are made of organic materials, making it less expensive to produce.  There’s still work to be done on this though.  The battery itself hasn’t been refined enough to fit inside cellphones or laptops yet, nor does it last as long but it’s a promising start.

Severe Weather Disaster Kit

Severe weather comes in various forms but the essentials needed by humans is the same. During the terrible tragedies that have occurred across the plains lately it brings awareness to the fact that we should all have a emergency preparedness pack/bag. These items should help you after the threat has passed.

This bag should include essentials such as

  • flashlight
  • batteries
  • water
  • a portable power pack for charging your phone
  • first aid kid

Other non-essential but are a good idea would be

  • non-perishable food (3 day supply)
  • can opener
  • whistle
  • spare clothes and shoes
  • dust mask(s)
  • blankets
  • pet food if you have a pet
  • weather radio
  • games, books, etc. if you have children
  • infant formula and diapers for children
  • trash bag or plastic sheeting

Since every second counts it’s essential to be prepared.

A laptop working without a battery?

Have you ever worked on a presentation, sending emails, or analyzing a spreadsheet when the low battery alert pops up. If you’re not at home you immediately start scanning the room for an outlet to run to. Tick, tock, tick, tock. Time isn’t on your side, you keep looking down at your laptop hoping to not see the “shut down” screen. Then, once you find an outlet you have to get out your charger, unravel it, and plug it in. Tick, tock, tick, tock. One company may have solved this race against the clock.

The new Lenova T-series laptops have the capability to operate briefly with any battery attached. During the brief time when switching batteries or finding a plug Lenova’s small built-in battery will take over. This small battery is capable of of powering the laptop for just a few minutes.

Next time you take off with running for an outlet before that presentation is lost, or the spreadsheet won’t be saved remember Lenova T-series could be your answer.

Which alkaline is right for your device?

If you are like most shoppers you’ve gone to the battery aisle in a store and have seen AA, AAA, C, D & 9V batteries. Sometimes there is even coin cells, hearing aid and others. But for this example we’ll stick to the main types.

If you’re looking for a AA or AAA battery for your digital camera and you notice there are these ultimate lithium, advanced lithium, and rechargeable batteries that might be a good option. But how do you really know? Batteries.com has put together an alkaline battery chart that can help you figure out what type of battery may be best for your electronic device. Check it out by clicking here.

Hopefully we’ve helped make your purchase a little easier. If you have any other questions about batteries for your device feel free to contact us.

Can primary batteries lifespan be changed by temperature?

Not a fan of the hot summers? Neither are your primary batteries. Battery manufacturers like Energizer recommend storing batteries between 68 and 78 degrees F at 35 to 65 percent humidity. Under those conditions, alkaline batteries should last between five and seven years, and lithium cells for 10 to 15 years.

Temperatures above 80 degrees F will increase the self-discharge rate and reduce the life expectancy of alkaline and lithium batteries. Please keep in mind these batteries should never be recharged either. Attempting to recharge a primary battery will more than likely cause it fail and explode.

Home Alarm System Battery Replacement

How do I know when to replace alarm battery?

The security system typically gives warnings visually on the display panel with a dead battery indicator, and audibly via an irritating beeping noise. You can call a technician, which can be expensive, or you can take the project on yourself.  Be sure to read our guide on changing home alarm system battery

How do I get the right battery for my alarm system?

When looking to purchase a new alarm battery replacement, it is important that you get a battery that matches the specifications of the one you are replacing.  First check the installation manual or wiring diagram for type of battery.  If you don’t have either of those then check the front of the battery for rating information.  3 things to consider when looking for a replacement alarm battery – voltage, dimensions, and AH (amp hour) rating.  Be sure that your alarm replacement battery is at the very least the same dimensions and voltage. The amp hour rating (or actually capacity of the sla battery) should be somewhere in the same vicinity as your old battery – please note that a higher capacity battery with the same voltage and dimensions will actually run your alarm system longer during power outages.

How to change a Home Security System Back-Up Battery?

Step 1:  Read the installation manual

First step is to locate the owner’s manual to look up what type of battery your system requres and for wiring instructions.  Always obtain a replacement battery that meets the manufacturer’s specifications outlined in the owner’s manual and/or on the wiring diagram.  If you don’t have either of those then check the front of the battery for rating information.  3 things to consider when looking for a replacement alarm battery – voltage, dimensions, and AH (amp hour) rating.  Be sure that your alarm replacement battery is at the very least the same dimensions and voltage. The amp hour rating (or actually capacity of the sla battery) should be somewhere in the same vicinity as your old battery – please note that a higher capacity battery with the same voltage and dimensions will actually run your alarm system longer during power outages.


Step 2:   Locate the system panel

Afer referring to owner’s manual next step is to find the location of your security systems housing panel. Typical locations for this panel would be basements, closets, mudrooms, and other discrete but accessible locations in the house. Once the panel to your home security system has been found, it is time to remove the cover. This might involve removing a screw or two depending on the make and model of your security system. Once the panel is off, you should have full access to the alarm battery compartment.


Step 3:  Place system in test or deactivate

Typically installers leave behind an engineer’s code to disable the alarm when needed. This code should be entered into the system prior to disconnecting the battery to avoid tripping the alarm. Unfortunately, without this code, removal of the battery could cause the alarm to sound. If this code is not accessible, cover the speaker of the alarm to weaken the noise while removing the battery. It is important to muffle the sound as best as possible as most alarm sound louder than 100 decibels and could cause serious damage to human eardrums if too close for longer than a few minutes.  Before replacing the battery, if the system is monitored, place the account “on test” with your central station to avoid a false dispatch.


Step 4:  Unplug the power source and disconnect old battery

To be safe and avoid running electricity through the cables, unplug the power supply to the main panel (careful not to touch it to the circuit board or enclosure).  Disconnect the battery from the circuit board. Usually the units are color coded red and black for positive and negative connections. If your panel had been neglected in the past, you may need to replace a terminal or two on the battery leads due to corrosion. A local electrical or electronics supplier should have a suitable replacement. Usually the leads are 18AWG wire.

Step 5:  Install your new battery

Install the new battery into the compartment inside the panel. Paying attention to polarity reattach the cables to the battery just as they were removed. Plug the power supply to the main panel.  On most alarm models, the alarm will continue to sound with the engineer’s code being entered. A message may appear that warns “Open Zone” or “Tamper”. If the engineer’s code was entered prior to the battery removal, the alarm will not continue to sound.  Plug the transformer back in or reconnect the wire disconnected

If the alarm continues to sound after the battery has been installed, check the main panel tamper switches. These switches are spring loaded and are pushed back into place once the main panel door has been put back into place. Reinstall the door so that the switches are pushed in and the alarm will cease.

Depending upon the panel, you may need to reset your panel’s clock. If applicable, instructions for resetting the clock should be in your user’s manual.

IMPORTANT  Don’t forget to call and clear your account from test after you are done with your servicing.

Power Tool Battery Care

You’ve heard the expression: “Take care of your tools and they’ll take care of you.” That expression still holds true for power tools. Unless you’re a professional contractor, you probably don’t think about your cordless drill until you need it. The average homeowner may use a cordless drill a couple times a year.  The rest of the time it sits in a cabinet or on a workbench. Unfortunately that kind of treatment isn’t good for the battery.  Let’s face it. A cordless power tool without a working battery isn’t much good. Batteries.com has some helpful hints for caring your power tool batteries.

First, never leave your battery on the charger. Even though your charger may shut off automatically, the continual charging will eventually deteriorate the chemicals inside.

If your battery is nickel-cadmium (NiCd) chemistry, you should fully discharge and recharge it every few cycles. This prevents what’s known as memory-effect, which is very common with nickel-cadmium batteries and shortens their lifespan.

Don’t leave your battery out in cold temperatures. Like a lot of things, battery chemicals are sluggish when they’re cold. Even though it may be fully charged, your battery may not deliver full power until it’s warmed up.

Keep the battery clean and dry. Water and other liquids may leak into the battery, causing a short circuit. Dirt, grime and other residue on the contacts could prevent the battery from delivering power to the tool.

Inspect the battery periodically for cracks or other damage. Any damage to the battery shell could allow liquids or other contaminants to get in and cause a short.

Finally, if you’re going to store your NiCd or NiMH battery for a long period, it’s suggested that you drain the battery down to 40%. This allows for easier recharging. Even then, it’s recommended that you recharge the battery after several weeks, even if you’re not going to use it.

You might be thinking that’s a lot of work for something I don’t use very often. Maybe it is, but imagine a tree limb crashing through your roof in the middle of storm. Is that the time you want to find out if your power drill battery is still any good?

Can you get free HDTV?

When television signals converted from the standard signal to the digital signal most of us gave up on receiving signals for free using antennas. If you are one of the many who gave up then you don’t know what you’re missing.

Antennas still have the ability to pick up local digital channels and even some high definition channels. By simply using an digital antenna like the TERK FDTV2 you can still receive free local channels* and even free high definition channels (HDTV). These antennas are easily set up. To check out the ever increasing availability of FREE HD Channels in your local area, visit: www.fcc.gov/mb/engineering/maps or www.titantv.com

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*Channels received will depend upon your equipment, installation, location, and the actual channels being broadcast in your particular area.

Battery Poison Concerns

You wouldn’t think of something as small as a watch battery as being dangerous.  But unfortunately small button and coin cell batteries are becoming a serious danger to children.  These small batteries are used to power watches, hearing aids, toys and even musical greeting cards.  To a child, these batteries often look like candy and because of their size are way too easy to swallow.  The CDC reports that in the last 12 years, the number of ER cases of children ingesting batteries has more than doubled.  Sadly a small number of these cases have even resulted in death.

The danger comes from the battery becoming lodged in the child’s esophagus and the battery’s chemical contents begin to leak, resulting in serious burns.  It becomes more difficult because the symptoms don’t often appear for some hours and even then it appears as simple stomach pains.  Since parents are usually reluctant to take their child to the emergency room for stomach pains, treatment  could be delayed until serious harm is done.   Sometimes, even when a child is taken to a doctor, the cause can be overlooked unless an x-ray is taken.

By law, any toy designed for a child under the age of 3 is supposed to make the battery inaccessible.  But children are resourceful and adults sometimes careless.  Don’t leave these small batteries laying around, even when they’re intended for adult use.  Have you ever changed the battery in your garage door opener or car’s key fob and left the batteries sitting out?  As most of us know, a child will stick pretty much anything in his or her mouth as long as it will fit and they’re more likely to do it when an adult is not looking.

Even pets are not immune to the danger.  In fact, pets are probably more at risk than children.  While your child may not be able to swallow an AA battery, your dog might.  Since your pet is likely to be even less cooperative than your child, you may never know what happened until it’s too late.  If your child or pet is showing signs of intestinal distress, check to see if they may have swallowed a battery.   If you believe it may have happened, call the Battery Ingestion Hotline at 202-625-3333 or your Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

For more information, visit http://www.poison.org/battery/