Power Central

Living in the era of the information age, technology users are constantly demanding solutions to further power their devices for longer use. As technology advances, our day-to-day lives depend on increased battery life to operate products today more than ever. These devices are no longer just a luxury, but instead, have quickly become necessities to survive and stay connected in this world.

With all the different types of batteries being used in today's demanding society; do you know what kind of battery you are using? Let's explore the world of batteries.

 

Battery Characteristics

Characteristics and applications of batteries are taken into consideration when designing the electronic device. For instance, an electric screwdriver requires batteries that are able to carry higher currents, short charging intervals and a lighter weight. Therefore, Ni-CD batteries are ideal for this equipment. However, if Li-ion batteries were chosen, they would not be able to supply sufficient power when discharging and could lead to damages to the batteries in the process.

In general, batteries are pre-assembled by manufacturers in the form of a "battery pack" for specific applications which tend to require power management functions and enhanced safety features. A single battery pack comprises of one or several rechargeable cells connected in a series and/or in parallel. They are frequently combined with modules such as NTC, PTC, Thermostat and Poly Switch, then packaged in a sealed plastic case. For instance, a cellular phone battery consists of a single Lithium-ion battery (3.6v 6/mAh) and a battery protection module, and is sealed in a plastic case.

 

Battery Life Span

The life of a rechargeable battery operating under normal conditions is generally between 300 to 500 charge-discharge cycles. This typically translates into one and a half to three years of battery life for the average user. As your rechargeable battery begins to die, you will notice a decline in the running time of the battery. When your two-hour battery is only supplying you with an hour's worth of use, you may consider replacing it.

 

"Smart" Batteries

Smart batteries have internal circuit boards with smart chips, which allow them to communicate with the notebook, and thus better monitor battery performance, output voltage and temperature. Smart batteries will generally run 15% longer as a result of their increased efficiency, and also give the computer much more accurate "fuel gauge" capabilities to determine the running time left before the next battery recharge is required.

 

How Batteries are Rated

There are two ratings on every battery: volts and amp-hours (Ah). The Ah rating may also be given as milliamp-hours (mAh), which are one-thousandth of an amp-hour (for example, a 1Ah battery is 1000mAh). Amp-hours are a rating of the amount of energy that a battery can store. Another way of looking at it is to say that the higher a battery's amp-hour rating is, the longer the battery's run-time will be. Some of our batteries will have higher amp-hour ratings than the original battery found in your device and will not cause any incompatibilities. On the other hand, while the voltage of the battery may not be identical to the original battery, the voltages must be within a reasonable range. In order to rate the voltage of the cell, a voltage value between 3.0 and 4.2 must be picked. The voltage that is picked is called the "nominal" voltage, which means that it is for naming purposes only, whereas the actual voltage of the cell depends on the state of charge. Historically some manufacturers picked 3.6V while others picked 3.7V to name the cell. The functionality and performance of either cell is identical and cannot be differentiated by the device. The explanation above applies to a single Lithium-Ion cell in series. When a battery has two or more Lithium-Ion cells in series, the voltage is multiplied by the number of cells in series, as in the table below:

Number of Lithium-lon cells in seriesNominal Voltage*Type of device
1 3.6V or 3.7V Cellular Phones and Digital Cameras
2 7.2V or 7.4V Digital Cameras and Camcorders
3 10.8V or 11.1V Laptops / Notebooks / Netbooks
4 14.4V or 14.8V Laptops / Notebooks / Netbooks

*A Li-Ion battery labeled 3.6V is the same as a Li-Ion battery labeled 3.7V. A Li-Ion battery labeled 7.2V is the same as a Li-Ion battery labeled 7.4V. A Li-Ion battery labeled 10.8V is the same as a Li-Ion battery labeled 11.1V. A Li-Ion battery labeled 14.4V is the same as a Li-Ion battery labeled 14.8V.