Archive for the 'Battery charger' Category

09
Oct

Leaving Electronics Plugged In Leads To Wasted Electricity

ecoswitch

The environmental benefits of rechargeable batteries is undeniable. But recent reports on how “vampire electronics” — devices and cables that are left plugged in on a regular basis — can waste much more energy and money than what rechargeable batteries can save.

Once consumers get past the initial “sticker shock” of rechargeable batteries’ price tag, it becomes apparent that a quality set of rechargeables can save you a lot of money. 3 AA rechargeable batteries, which might run you AUD$21.99, pay for themselves after just a few recharges. Battery chargers can be a bit expensive at the outset, but it doesn’t take long before your battery charger becomes a money- and environment-saving machine.

However, no matter how good your environmental and money-saving intentions are in investing in rechargeable batteries and battery chargers, “vampire electronics” can erase any savings that you might gain from using renewable energy in your electronics. Continue reading ‘Leaving Electronics Plugged In Leads To Wasted Electricity’

05
Aug

Hydrogen-Powered “Reactor” Offers Perhaps The Cleanest, Greenest Battery Power Yet

brunton hydrogen core

To be sure, there’s a lot of continued debate over the use of nuclear power in generating electricity. Whilst some people say that it is by far the “cleanest” form of power available — in that nuclear reactions don’t belch smoke — others say that the nuclear waste is a major problem in disposing of, and the possibility of a core meltdown is just too risky.

Fortunately for us, this new concept in battery power technology is not exactly “fission” or “fusion” — even though the name might suggest it. Continue reading ‘Hydrogen-Powered “Reactor” Offers Perhaps The Cleanest, Greenest Battery Power Yet’

22
Jul

Electrocution In China Using Unauthorized iPhone Battery Charger Underscores Dangers

iphone battery charger

Here on the Electronics Warehouse blog, we’ve talked more than once about the dangers of cheap, unauthorized, or otherwise dodgy rechargeable battery products made in mainland China. Usually, we’ve reported on rechargeable battery brands that are known to catch fire, explore, or at best, underperform, such as BTY rechargeable batteries, or Ultrafire rechargeable batteries, which actually catch fire!

The biggest story to hit the news about dangerous battery products, however, came late last week, and this time, the story involved battery chargers.

Continue reading ‘Electrocution In China Using Unauthorized iPhone Battery Charger Underscores Dangers’

18
Apr

Are you ready for a power outage?

Are you prepared for a power outage of any length of time in your home? We really don’t think of this situation until it is upon us, so perhaps now is a good time to gather together some essentials in the unfortunate event of a blackout.

flashlight torch

 

Do you have enough Torches, and especially batteries to power them?  Vapex instant D sized Rechargeables have excellent shelf life.  They retain 80% of their capacity after 6 months and 70% after 12 months compared to standard Ni-MH rechargeable batteries.

If you happen to have an abundance of AA sized rechargeables around the house already, then perhaps some AA to D sized Battery Convertors might be of interest to you.  These allow you to run 2 AA batteries in parallel to double the mAh output of the battery, and make the most of what you already have.

Vapex also makes a nifty 12v AAA and AA battery charger that can run off of a car charger in the event you need to recharge some AA’s to keep powering smaller emergency devices like portable radios and smaller battery lamps.

Just make sure that you don’t forget to keep spare batteries fully charged in the event of an emergency, if you don’t want to sit around in the dark wishing you had dropped the batteries in the charger just a few days ago.

By Michael Nace

 

02
Apr

Into Photography? Here is some must have info about rechargeables

If you’re into photography, then you should already familiar with batteries of all types. Camera Batteries, external flash batteries, Light meter batteries, etc. If you’re still using Alkaline batteries, you must have spent a small fortune in replacement costs by now. If you have not looked into rechargeables to power all of your equipment, now is the time.

Typically most accessories will run on the standard AA sized battery, with a few exceptions utilizing AAA, such as a light meter. These are easiest ones to convert to rechargeables. Check out the great selection of AA’s over at Electronics Warehouse.

Here is some vocabulary that you need to know regarding rechargeable batteries.

mAh. (milliamp hour) This is the storage capacity of the battery. It will be your guide to compare what batteries have more expected runtime than others. a 1900mAh battery will have a shorter run time, or number of flashes then a battery rated for 2500mAh. Typically the larger the capacity, the slightly higher the cost of the battery.

Low Self Discharge. Rechargeable batteries will lose some of their charge if simply left unused. Newer batteries have been developed to reduce this drain effect and will provide a longer shelf life, or in this case – a better “camera bag” life.

NiMh and NiCad. NiMh is nickel metal hydride, and NiCad, is nickel-cadmium. NiMh is the battery of choice, as it provides many more desirable characteristics that you as a photographer want out of your batteries – sich as Low Self Discharge, longer running time and no cell memory.

NiCad’s have a memory issue, and if they are not cycled completely on a regular basis, they will pick up “bad charging habits” and provide a lower performance. They are cheaper, but will cost you more than the purchase price down the road.

As discussed by Brian Rock over at HubPages:

For general usage, you’ll probably want standard capacity, low self-discharge batteries. 2000 mAh is good enough, and you’re better off having batteries that hold their charge in your camera bag than higher capacity batteries that discharge too quickly.”

And as additional comment:

“For some people, though, you’ll the extra power of the high capacity batteries. Let’s say you’re using several flashes off camera, and you’re popping the flashes regularly at half or full power. That will use up your batteries fairly quickly, and an extra 25% capacity can make a difference. The trade-off is that these batteries will discharge more quickly when not in use, so you’ll want to remember to charge them the night before an important shoot.

If your main camera runs on AA’s, a simple change over to Rechargeables is easy enough. However if your trusty Canon requires a more specialized battery, it would be good to have at least one spare, in the event you require more power. Again, Electronics Warehouse has a great selection for your Canon.

Now lets look at chargers. Energizer makes a 15 minute quick charger that seems fantastic in concept, until you actually use one. They know that the batteries are going to be putting off so much heat from the charging process, that they have a fan running to try to keep the batteries cool during this process. And once done, the batteries are far too hot to even hold in your hand.

This is a sure fire way to really reduce the life expectancy of your AA rechargeables for the convenience of a quick charge.

For best results, you want a smart charger that actually monitors battery voltage and capacity during the charge process. Check out Electronics Warehouse for their great selection of chargers to fit your needs.

Photo credit: Monkwhy / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

17
Mar

Did Boeing take too many risks with the Dreamliner batteries?

Boeing had quite a few risks when it embarked on it’s Dreamliner project.  Several pieces of the technology it put in place were an industry first, and seldom would a company debut them all on the same platform, such as the Dreamliner.

 

 

Most of the airplane was constructed out of Carbon Fiber, over a more traditional use of aluminum.  It is well known that Carbon Fiber is a very strong composite, but is it stiff as well as flexible as required by a plane flying in turbulence?  This was yet to be identified in testing. Also numerous pieces of the assembly were completely outsourced to other companies, instead of being developed by Boeing in-house.

Now comes the biggest concern over the design – Utilizing electric controls over traditional hydraulic systems typical of most all other planes.  Boeing knew they needed a rechargeable battery solution in place to power these controls in the event of failure of the electric generator system, and that is when they turned to lithium-ion.  The plane simply required more reserve power and additional lead-acid batteries would add too much weight to the plane.

As reported by the Economist:
Relying more heavily on electrical power than any other commercial jet, the 787 Dreamliner uses two 32-volt battery packs, containing eight lithium-ion cells apiece. These are not employed during normal flight, but are kept fully charged by the plane’s main generators ready to step in when needed.


Apart from being lighter than other rechargeable cells and able to operate at a higher voltage, lithium-ion batteries have no “memory effect” (the tendency to accept less and less charge each time they are recharged). They can also be charged faster than most other cells, and they hold their charge far longer.

The downside is that, if overcharged, physically damaged or allowed to get too hot, lithium-ion cells may experience thermal “runaway”—generating heat faster than it can be dissipated. A cell may then rupture, releasing inflammable gases that ignite and cause a fierce fire or an explosion.

However, it was determined after the 2 Dreamliner planes were examined, the charging systems were working as designed, and battery voltage was spot on.  Manufacturer problems on the assembly line were also ruled out, as the batteries were from different lots.

So far, air-safety investigators in both Japan and America agree that, in neither case, was there evidence of the batteries being overcharged. The flight recorders show their voltage was correct before the fires broke out. That would seem to rule out the charging system as the source of the problem. By the same token, it would suggest the battery-management system, which is used to keep the voltage within its prescribed limits, was working properly.

This leaves the problem potentially being in the actual wiring.  However as the cabling literally went up in smoke, it could not be properly examined.

The investigators also agree that the fires cannot be put down simply to a faulty batch of batteries. Their serial numbers suggest these came from different lots. It is therefore unlikely that manufacturing defects caused the short-circuits that made them overheat and catch fire. Unfortunately, with the fires having been so intense, any evidence of a fault lying in the actual wiring of the battery-management systems went up in smoke.

So we may never know what really happened, but all Boeing can really do is keep adding layers of system security to try to prevent future issues.

Or perhaps simply go back to using traditional rechargeable batteries is the best solution until safety measures can be insured, especially when the total weight savings of Li-ion over standard NiMH batteries is about the same as an extra piece of luggage.
 
By Michael Nace

14
Mar

Apple may get into the wireless device charging game – a new Patent appears

Apple may be seriously looking into the technology of wireless charging as a new patent shows up in a recent application that would embed inductive charging inside the Apple smart cover designed for iPads.

This is a different take than what we have typically seen for a wireless charging design for the internal rechargeable battery. Instead of being tethered directly to a power source, it appears that the Apple Smart Cover itself, would have battery cells of some type inside each panel. This would enable the cover itself to recharge the internal iPad battery when not in use, however it also brings the potential situation that you now have 2 items to recharge.

It was not mentioned what the recharge time might be via induction vs simply plugging the device in, but this would enable a much longer lifespan of usage when away from power for extended periods of time. Perhaps the ability to recharge via induction the Smart Cover is a possibility, when the iPad is plugged in itself? This would save the end user from having to remember to separately charge 2 unique devices.

As stated by Apple insider:

Charging occurs when the flap is covering the display, thus signaling that the device is not in use. Other embodiments describe methods in which the iPad can determine its own battery state and enable the inductive charging circuit when in “portable mode,” or not plugged into a power source.

Apple’s system is not completely wireless, however, as the cover itself needs to be charged. This is accomplished through a normal AC adapter, though the patent does note that solar cells can be disposed in the outer layers of the cover to harvest ambient energy.

Current iPads do not had this capability at this time, and highly likely could not be retrofitted for use. This is very interesting feature that we may see down the road if Apple decides to go forward with the technology.

12
Mar

Are current day rechargeables the restriction for future power-grids?

Several countries have been researching future development to convert their fossil fuel based power grids to a more environmentally friendly solution.  However, the greatest obstacle to overcome is not how to make the power – but how to store the excess power for use during times when the winds slow down and the sun goes down.

Currently we can’t control the weather, (well not yet, at least) so we are reliant upon Mother Nature’s random cycles for energy.  Therefore the requirement of how to store this excess and off-hour power for when it’s really needed comes into play.

 

 

As noted from Wired UK:

” That power needs to be stored somewhere so that it can be used, otherwise renewable energy can’t ever replace coal, oil, nuclear or similar plants that can output a reliable level of power whenever needed.

For that reliability, there are three main options: pumped hydroelectric storage (PHS), where water is pumped upwards into a reservoir where it can be released later; compressed air energy storage (CAES) where the air can be expanded again through turbines when needed; and batteries, of which there are many different types, each with their own maximum number of effective charge cycles. ”

PHS stands to be the most efficient of the options, but it has certain limitations on local landscape that severely affect where it can be made effective.  You can’t build a reservoir on flat land next to a solar panel grid, and it is quite costly to install wind turbines in the mountains where a reservoir might fit best.
Unfortunately the mountainous terrain areas as well as national parks appear to make ideal locations for a pumped hydroelectric storage location, but at what cost?

This is where rechargeable batteries can come into play.  If a battery could be developed to withstand the enormous number of cycles required, developers would have more control where they could build future power grids, and be less reliant on working around the location requirements of a pumped hydroelectric storage setup.  It would be more ideal to build a “eco-grid” on cheap land next to a town that requires the power, than to invade a national park where building is difficult and disruptive to the environment.

Additionally from Wired regarding the current status of the batteries we have available today:

” This is in large part because battery technology currently can’t handle enough charge cycles. Lithium-ion batteries can handle at most around 6,000 cycle, lead-acid batteries only 700, compared to more than 25,000 cycles for a PHS facility. Even though the material costs for large-scale batteries are more prohibitive than for PHS (rare-earth minerals versus what is often no more than concrete and steel), it’s the lifecycle of batteries that we’ll need to work on if we want to be able to rely on them as affordable parts of the grid. ”

As researchers continue to make progress on new technological breakthroughs on rechargeable batteries, we get closer to being able to locate future power grids in the most Eco-friendly locations, and out of our national parks and mountains.

07
Mar

Forgot your phone charger at home? You just might not need it anymore

Researchers are continuing to discover new ways to power and recharge your mobile devices.  With the ever increasing demand for power in a compact smartphone, the internal rechargeable battery struggles to keep up with the device.  The popular solution is to just shove a larger battery inside the phone, or carry a spare battery to swap in.

But what if you could recharge that battery by doing…nothing?  Just by leaving the phone out on your desk, or in the sun, it could be replenished as if by magic.  A new technology called “Wysips” from a French solar energy company SunPartner, could bring this to your future mobile smartphone.

As documented in this article from What Hi Fi:

Wysips – it stands for What You See Is Photovoltaic Surface – is a transparent material able to be installed beneath the glass screen of mobile devices, or built into add-on charging devices. It’s 90% transparent, and 0.5mm or less thick, and uses a combination of micro-lenses and photovoltaic materials to charge the battery of the device in or with which it’s used.

The semi-cylindrical lenses are designed to maximize the light capture while keeping the layer invisible to the naked eye, and the system will work on either natural or artificial light. The lens system also has the advantage of increasing the viewing angle of a screen.

Currently the power output is about 5.8mW per square centimeter, and the company is expecting that to be doubled by sometime next year.  In larger sized applications, “Wysips” can produce a 30w peak output per square meter, which is quite impressive.  Applications such as office building windows,commercial ground vehicles, and even planes are ideal subjects looking to offset their electrical requirements.

03
Mar

Is Wireless Battery Charging the Next Big Thing in Portable Electronic Devices?

Imagine not having to physically plug your cell phone in to charge anymore.  Just by placing your cell phone or tablet on a desk, and if by magic, the battery is automatically replenishing on its own.  This is great for the on-the-go family members, who often forget to plug in their devices and find them dead when most needed.  But who is working on this technology, and when will we have this available?

 

The WPC or The Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) is the foremost group of companies and manufacturers working together for future solutions of our beloved gadgets.  As referenced by a report from Smart Planet:

“Established in late 2008, WPC has nearly 150 member companies including major mobile phone manufacturers and semiconductor companies. The consortium introduced the Qi inductive power standard in late 2010, and it is working to drive adoption – along with a healthy market for wireless power. The more companies that adopt Qi and produce interoperable products, the more opportunity there will be to develop the technology further, and extend it to new applications.

How far do we have to go?

Since Qi was introduced, more than 30 companies have shipped mobile phones using its embedded wireless charging capabilities. Those phones are designed to power up on compatible charging mats and cradles, alarm clocks and music players, and the inside surfaces of some new car models.”

This all sounds intriguing, but what exactly is Qi you might be asking?  As described on Wikipedia:

“Qi (pronounced “chee”) is an interface standard developed by the Wireless Power Consortium for inductive electrical power transfer over distances of up to 40 millimetres (1.6 inches). The Qi system comprises a power transmission pad and a compatible receiver in a portable device. To use the system, the mobile device is placed on top of the power transmission pad, which charges it via electromagnetic induction.”

Right now the standard supports 5 watts or less.  However, later this year we should see the standard increase to 15 watts, enough to charge larger devices such as tablet computers.  Laptops which require substantially more power to recharge won’t be able to benefit from this technology just yet, but it is only a matter of time.

The WPC is looking to expand on this technology going forward to new markets as well.  Imagine not needing power cords for counter top appliances.  Just pulling out your blender and placing it on a power-mat or engineered counter top – and it works.  The power supply inside a device could be potentially eliminated, reducing the overall production costs of manufacturing.




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