Contrary to what many sound techs (and battery companies) will tell you, there are rechargeable batteries that can be used as microphone batteries. The main thing to know is what your run-time requirements are for your wireless mics. Instead of using a disposable battery alkaline battery one-time and throwing it a way, you can use pro-audio batteries to power your wireless mics with no compromise in performance. Why use a battery once when you can use a rechargeable battery as a wireless mic batteries up to 1000 times?
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As long as I have been using and suggesting the usage of rechargeable batteries, I have also strongly purported the employment of a smart charger having a refresh or reconditioning function.
So, why, when I place a rechargeable battery that’s barely six months old on my own Ansmann Energy 16 charger – the most advance charger on the globe – does my battery show as defective? This ever happen to you? If you’ve used rechargeables for almost any stretch of time, the answer will be a resounding yes. But there is a good possibility there is nothing wrong with that battery – and yes it actually could be revived for many useful recycles. Here’s what has happened:
You put the battery in a rather unsophisticated device, such as a child’s toy and the batteries became overdischarged. Typically, you do not want to overdischarge cells below 1.0 volts and the majority of gadgets have an automatic “stop-working” voltage cutoff to prevent this. However, many toys and simple devices do not possess this feature.
So, in this instance, your rechargeable battery voltage has dropped below 1.0 volts – say right down to .8 volts. An intelligent charger will detect this for a bad cell and not start the charging or refresh cycle – because it appears the batteries are depleted. However, if you place this battery in a “dumb” charger for about 10 minutes, the voltage will rise sufficiently for an intelligent charger to acknowledge a viable cell and begin the restoration/charging process.By a dumb charger, we’re talking about some of those units that basically cooks batteries. You can pick-up an inexpensive unit for under $10 bucks. We use the Ansmann Power Set – a simple plug-in overnight charger to accomplish this – however it is only designed for AA’s and triple A’s. If you wish to revive C’s, D’s, or 9V’s try Duracell or Energizer – they specialize in dumb chargers.
Does this mean you ought to give up on your intelligent charger? Of course not. Chargers such as Ansmann Energy 8 plus or Energy 16 will still grant you the most recycles out of your rechargeable batteries as a result of refresh function. The refresh function breaks down the chemistry in the cell in an intelligent way – by introducing a proprietary algorithim of charge and discharge cycles at different voltage levels. This prevents the cell from developing crystalline formation within the chemistry whic can shorten life of the battery and recycles, especially in the latter stages of your cell’s life.
Your very best defense against erratic battery behavior is two-fold. First, don’t let you batteries to totally drain. Even with low self discharge batteries that have a shelf life of more than a year, it’s still better to cycle these batteries every six months. And secondly, always use a smart battery charger to charge your batteries.
Equally important as the correct rechargeable battery is the proper battery charger. You don’t want to ruin great batteries with a bad charger. Let’s take a look at the battery charger options.
First, determine if you want to use a universal, high capacity centralized charging unit or several portable units or both. Most avid users of rechargeable batteries wind up using a combination of both.
Suppose your facility is a church with 12 AA wireless microphones, four 9V in-ear monitors, 5 listening assistance devices that use AA’s, and 10 LED lamps that use AAA’s. Obviously, this application will require a few high-capacity chargers that can charge multiple types of cells.
Perhaps you’re a family of four with a new baby. You need a charger that will handle AA’s for the digital camera and baby monitor, C batteries for the baby swing, AAA’s for the dad’s TV remote and wireless headphones, and a collection of C’ and D’s for the toys and games. It would make more sense to go with a universal charger too, but you may want a small portable charger as well for on-the-go charging.
A professional photographer may want an extremely fast AA charger for flash units, but still need portability for on-location. Ansmann offers quality battery chargers for every application.
If you still have that “device list” I asked you to create, now’s a good time to add all the batteries up and figure what charger(s) is/are best for you. On our website you’ll find a list of battery chargers, divided to into AA, 9V, and Combo chargers. Depending on how many batteries you need to charge, we can charge as little as two batteries and as many as 16 with a single charging unit.
Next, make sure the charger is “intelligent” and automatically switches to “trickle” charge when the batteries are completely charged. This will maintain the batteries in a topped-off condition and prevents over-charging which shortens the battery life and recycles. * The charger should not overheat the batteries. Many chargers on the market today that are dubbed as “fast chargers” overheat the batteries and shorten their life. Ansmann chargers, even the super-speed chargers all have over-heat protection to make sure batteries remain at an optimal temperature while charging.
For best results, choose a battery charger that offers refreshing or reconditioning of the cells. Ansmann Energy 8 and 16 chargers both feature an automatic refresh cycle which keeps the battery chemistry at optimal balance. This assures long run-times and higher recycles then with chargers that do not provide this benefit . And, although Ansmann cells do not have a memory effect, after years of service all nickel metal hydride cells (NiMH) develop chemistry imbalances that need to be corrected for optimal battery life. The refresh function on the Energy 8+ and Energy 16 will maintain your batteries providing you with the greatest battery life.
Here’s a little recharging tip: Do not try to run the batteries completely dry. We’ve all been accustomed to squeezing the most out our throw-away alkalines. You do not have to do this with your Ansmann rechargeables. They do not develop memory effect. Whether you use the battery for 2 hours or 12, return it to the charger and get it ready for the next use.
Finally, consider extra batteries. Instead of having a huge pile of throw-aways, reduce your extra batteries to a few spares or at most a second set. This is true whether you use standard rechargeables, or LSD cells, or both. Always have a few spares. Isn’t it much more convenient to have a few extra batteries just sitting on the charger instead of scrounging around for a random battery in the junk drawer? To save even more money, consider buying our batteries and chargers in pre-packaged kits. You receive special savings and the assurance of getting the best batteries and chargers available.
After 25 years of service and literally speaking to thousands of clients, we finally asked our clients to share their stories with the rechargeable world. Ansmann and Horizon continue to lead the pack in top quality rechargeable batteries and amazing battery chargers.
So… below are just a few of our 25,000 + customers comments on their experience with Ansmann products and Horizon Battery.
In Part 1 of this series we discussed, you must first make a list of your battery devices and the batteries they need. Once you understand the needs and specifics of your wireless electronics, you can then select the right batteries. Here’s some helpful ideas in choosing the best battery for each application.
Part 2 of 3 – Choosing The Right Batteries
1. High-drain devices. For electronic devices such as wireless mics, in-ear monitors, flash units, portable fans, etc., always use the highest capacity batteries available. Even if your run-time requirements are minimal, high-drain devices are best handled by high-capacity cells. Since high quality cells like Ansmann do not have memory effect, it does not matter if you use the device for 2 hours or 12 hours. For AA’s this means choosing a high-capacity cell such as the Ansmann 2700 mah or 2850 mah cells. Ansmann cells are not only high capacity, but have high recycles. Obviously, you’ll save more money by purchasing a high capacity battery that allows up to 1000 recharges. It makes no sense to skimp on an inferior brand that touts high capacity but can only deliver for 50 recycles. You’re needlessly throwing money -and batteries- away. For AAA’s, use Ansmann 1100 mah cells. For C and D cells, use the Ansmann C 4500 mah and D 10,000 mah cells. For 9V’s you have two options: If your run-time requirements are less than 4 hours,choose the standard Ansmann 250 mah cell. For longer run-times and extremely high-drain 9V devices, utilize the Hi-Tech 9V lithium ion rechargeable cell. These batteries are rated at 600 mah and can achieve run-time applications for over 15 hours depending upon the drain of the device. However, the number of recycles are up to 500 instead of 1000.
2. Low-drain devices. Use a high quality brand like Ansmann Max-E low self-discharge (LSD) batteries if your portable electronics are dormant for more than a few days. An example of this would be a wireless mouse or keyboard. Even if you use your computer everyday, the drain on the battery is minimal and, unless you’re an online junkie, the keyboard and mouse sits dormant for hours at a time. Another LSD example would be the TV and/or Cable remote. Sure, you may channel surf for a few hours, but eventually the remote just sits there. Flashlights may only be used once a month. The same holds true for a hair trimmer that’s used once a week. Smoke detectors, hearing assist devices, nursery pagers, pre-amps, effects pedals, and LED reading lamps, are all examples of devices that would use LSD effectively. Using the LSD batteries assures there will be power on demand – for up to one year! Ansmann Max-E batteries are available in all standard sizes, and are slightly less in total capacity.
Remember, the higher the capacity (or mah) the longer the run-time. The high-capacity cells have longer -run-times but do experience self-discharge -about 2% per day. This means if you leave a 2850 mah AA battery in a wireless mic for one week, you’ll lose at least 10% of available power just by virtue of self-discharge. High capacity cells need to be left on a quality battery charger on “trickle charge” (we’ll get to that next time) until their next use. So, for devices that are left dormant, in stand-by, we recommend Ansmann Max-E LSD batteries.
3. High recycles are key. Always choose batteries with the highest recycles available. Check the brand reputation. Cirque du Soleil, Blue Man Group and 25,000 schools, churches and theaters all use the Ansmann brand for a reason – they work! Not just 50 times, but up to 1000 times – year after year. Again, the purpose of switching to rechargeables is to save money. The more recycles achievable, the more bang for your buck.
In the next and final step of the series, we explore the heart of your rechargeable system – the battery charger and maintenance device.
The Horizon Group launched the country’s Smart Battery Club this week. This is a program meant to alleviate the requirement for families to shell out money on batteries annually. It is not your typcial “switch to rechargeable battery” idea that so many of us have seriously considered, maybe tried previously, and said “forget it.”
Why is this idea so inviting is threefold:
First, Smart Battery Club capitalizes on cutting edge ZeroWatt Rechargeable Technology. Unlike traditional battery chargers, Zerowatt chargers disconnect from the power source when the batteries are charged. This eliminates stand-by power consumption and saves you money on the power company bill.
Second, the application of Max E low self-discharge cells (also referred to as LSD batteries) eliminate the need for the batteries to be left on the charger as a way to stay charged. They may be saved in stand-by up to a year – with minimal loss of power. That as well, saves the family money buy not having to but throw-away batteries year after year. (Furthermore, it takes a small dent out of the 15 billion batteries being thrown-away each year on this planet) Since Max E batteries are also high-capacity cells, you don’t have to constantly switch out the recharged cells because they are not lasting long enough. The truth is, the most of the Max E batteries outperform alkaline cells in run-time. Add to that the ability to re-use these batteries as much as 1000 times and the savings really start mounting up.
Finally, the club is set-up to refer other families to join. Whenever a new member joins due to another, the referring party earns commissions on the purchase of product. It’s this “pay it forward” attitude of the club that encourages families to do the right thing about living green buy “making some green” too. This concept has attracted the interest of church congregations, civic organizations and other groups who have a capacity to “convert” other to this new way of doing batteries – and in essence, freeing up their wasted “battery cash” for other priorities. It’s refreshing to see an eco-friendly program that truly saves and earns green too.
This article is REPOST from Mike Sessler at Church Tech Arts. Mike is a Tech Director that blogs about a wide variety of information in the Pro-Audio/Video arena. I have found his information to be exceptional in content. (No Fluff) If you are a tech director for a church, school or production facility, you should consider following Mike at http://www.churchtecharts.org
Rechargeable Batteries: The 1 Year Test
Last year, I wrote a series on rechargeable batteries. I’ve long been a proponent of them, having started using them in wireless mics in 2006. In that series of posts, I did some pretty extensive testing to see exactly how long two modern, NiMh AA batteries would run a Shure UHF-R mic with an SM58 capsule on it (with music played through a wedge to simulate the mic processing audio). I compared the run time to a brand new Duracell ProCell (considered the standard for alkaline–aka disposable–batteries). I expected the NiMh batteries to hold their own against the ProCell, as I’ve had good experience with them for years. What I did not expect is for the ProCells to be completely trounced by the rechargeable cells.
In that test, the best NiMh cells ran for 14 hours before the mic switched off. The ProCell only managed 9.75 hours before going dead. So not only do rechargeable batteries save you a bunch of money, they also run longer than a ProCell (by over 4 hours!). Faced with that clear and decisive victory, many people made the switch. However, some remained unconvinced. “Let’s see how they hold up in a year,” was a comment I heard often. So here we are, one year later. This time, I pulled three sets of NiMh batteries from our regular stock. These are batteries we’ve been using every week for a year. I have no idea how many cycles are on each one, because we have more stock than we actually need. I can tell you we don’t baby them, nor do we abuse them. They’ve always been charged at the soft charge setting (500 mah), and we always pull straight from the charger.
Last time around, I tested two low self-discharge chemistries, the Ansmann Max-E and the Sanyo Eneloop. Neither provided the runtime of the higher capacity NiMh batteries, but they both outlasted the ProCell. As I don’t see any compelling reason to use low self-discharge batteries in wireless mics, I’ve pulled them from our stock and didn’t re-test. I have the charger capacity to always fill mics from the charger and suggest that to everyone. I do use Eneloops at home, however, and they’re fantastic. But let’s get on to the results, shall we?
As you can see from the chart, the ProCells once again lost. Big time. This time, we got 8.5 hours out of a fresh set of ProCells, while the worst NiMh battery ran over 12.5 hours. Just as importantly, the “fall off the cliff” point (as indicate by the vertical red lines) is 7 hours for the ProCell and 11.25 hours for all three NiMh batteries. I define “fall off the cliff” as the point where you really should replace the battery as the life declines very rapidly after this point. Interestingly, last year, the Sanyo ran the longest at 14 hours (beating the Ansmann by 45 minutes); this year however, the tables turned and the Ansmann outlasted Sanyo by well over an hour.
It’s also interesting that all three NiMh batteries fall off the cliff at roughly the same point, however the Ansmann lands a little softer, giving you a little more time to get them changed. Now, with that said, quibbling over the last hour of run time in the scope of a total run time of 14 hours is rather academic. And I don’t recommend you push them this far anyway, you’re really asking for trouble after about 8-9 hours with any of them. Again, it’s interesting to note that the Ansmann indicated 3 bars far longer than the rest of them, which is consistent to what we observe each weekend.
In our use, we battery up the mics around 12:30 on Saturday, and power them off at 6:45 or so. Most of the time, the mics are reading 3 bars, though the Ansmanns tend to be reading 4 at that point. When we use them in our PSM900 IEMs, we rarely see them report less than 4 at the end of the day. Sundays are similar, though the runtime is shorter.
We’ve gotten pretty confident in the run time of these batteries; to the point where we really don’t spend much time thinking about it. Sure, I have Workbench open at FOH and glance over occasionally, but it’s more to make sure they’re all turned on; I rarely consider the battery gauge. For me, that’s a big benefit of using the rechargeable batteries; I just don’t think about them anymore. When I’m at FOH, I’d much rather spend my time thinking about the mix than wondering whether my batteries are going to hold out for one more song (and I’ve been in that boat far too many times with ProCells).
Last time around, I gave the nod to PowerEx batteries as the winner, though I acknowledged the other two as being so close that it really doesn’t matter. A year of use has changed my mind. We have a bunch of all three batteries, but we use the Ansmann more than the others most of the time. This is for a few reasons. First, the Sanyos are bigger than the others and don’t fit well in the UR2s. We have to pull them out, and that’s caused some degradation of the plastic wrap on the outside. Some of them are really coming apart. The PowerEx are also breaking down a little bit, and again are slightly bigger than the Ansmanns. They come out of the mics better than the Sanyos, but the smaller Ansmanns fit the best. Overall, the Ansmann cells are holding up very well, both in charge capacity and physically. We have had two Ansmann batteries short out internally, however. I’m not sure what caused this; the vocalist noticed the mic heating up, so we pulled the cells and found a clear dark line on the top of the cell. This happened twice in the first 6 months of operation, and hasn’t been repeated. We assume we got a few bad cells, because I’ve used at least 150 Ansmann batteries over the years and these are only two to ever go bad.
As I’ve said over and over, we’re saving a ton of money every year on batteries; at least $1,000 and probably more. Given that it cost us less than $300 to get into it, it’s a pretty fair bargain. I expect the batteries to last 5 years before we have to replace them, our savings is pretty significant. It’s also considerably more environmentally friendly to not dump thousands of used AAs in the trash every year. We use them and don’t think about it, which I really like.
I’m not sure how you could remain unconvinced about the effectiveness of rechargeable batteries at this point, but in case you are, we’ll revisit these same cells a year from now and see how they’re doing. Until then, I’m going to find something else to spend that $1,000 on. Maybe some new mics…
Part 1: Understanding Your Electronic Devices
We all use rechargeable batteries. Cell phones, digital cameras, and a host of electronic devices are prevalent in every household and business. In this three part series, we provide some important guidelines that will save money, prevent frustration and disappointment and ultimately make the most of using rechargeable batteries.
First and foremost, everything depends on what you are trying to achieve by using rechargeable batteries. How do you plan to use them? More importantly, what are the specifics of your portable electronic devices? Let’s explore some of the “need to know” rules about your electronic gear in order to effectively use rechargeable batteries.
1. Is it a high drain device? Wireless microphones, in-ear monitors, flash units, digital cameras, CD and MP3 players and other high-drain devices all work just fine with rechargeable batteries. In fact, rechargeable batteries are preferred because of their faster recovery times between power usage. For example, a photo flash unit will recycle faster using rechargeable batteries over a standard alkaline. In addition, man times, the overall strength or capacity (measured in milli-amp hours or mah) of a rechargeable battery is much higher than a standard alkaline battery. Some other examples of high-drain devices are portable fans, paintball guns and hoppers, and portable TV’s.
2. Is it a low drain device? Not many people realize that devices such as smoke detectors, wireless mouse and keyboards, video game controllers and remotes can also utilize rechargeable batteries. Personal electronics such as hair trimmers and electric toothbrushes, as well as thermostats, penlights and LED lamps can all use rechargeables. Typically, these devices do not draw a large amount of current and are used intermittently. With new advances in rechargeable technology, just about any household item that uses AA, AAA, 9V, C or D’s can be powered by a rechargeable battery.
3. Know your run-time requirements. To properly choose the right rechargeable system, you need to know the run-time requirements of your wireless devices. For example, you may need to run a wireless microphone for 2 hours or 12 hours per use. It may be used daily or once a week. A digital camera may be used professionally everyday for 4 – 6 hours or a couple hours twice a month for personal consumption.
4. Here are a few other factors to consider: How long does the device sit dormant or in stand-by? A video game controller may be used for 2 hours but only once a week. Are your electronics stationary or on-the go? Is it important to be portable when considering a charging unit? Understanding your pattern of usage and run-time requirements will help in choosing the best batteries and minimize frustration.
5. Finally, consider what you are spending a year on throw-away batteries. Is it $50 or $5000? When we switched all the Cirque du Soleil touring and resident shows over to rechargeable technology, they were spending over $1000 per week in disposable batteries. Talk about saving money! In contrast, a church or school facility may spend $250 -$1000 per year. Even most families spend an average of $150 -$200 per year. As a family, that adds up to over $10,000 in a lifetime! Have you ever thought about how you could be spending 10K instead of on throw-away batteries?
Your first step in making the switch to rechargeables is to compile a list of all your wireless gear and classify it by low-drain or high-drain and by battery size. Also jot down a note about your usage pattern for each device. You’d be surprised how many batteries you use in your facility or household.
In Part 2, we discuss the various types of rechargeable batteries – and how to choose the proper ones for each of your electronic devices.
Shrink your energy footprint
For the gear you have: Even when they’re not in use, many house-hold appliances suck up juice. Pull the plug on wasteful habits and save.
By Alex Pham
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
February 24, 2008
First, get a handle on your current electricity usage. A device called Kill A Watt, from P3 International Corp., makes for a nifty parlor game of Guess Watt with anything that plugs into a socket.
One surprise might be how much energy some devices use even when idle or turned off. Consumer electronics suck as much as 25% of their power when not in use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. For computers, the figure can be much higher — up to 85% for a PC that’s always left on.
That’s because many devices don’t really turn off — they operate in standby mode, awaiting commands from a remote control. Many also have digital displays that stay on.
For example, a computer, monitor and cable modem together suck 11 watts even when powered down, adding 66 cents to a typical Californian’s monthly energy bill. An idle CD player can munch 6 watts. So can a switched-off TV.
It adds up. These silent siphons of energy, known as phantom loads, add about $28 to the average annual household power bill, according to the energy department.
You can tame these electricity vampires by unplugging devices between uses. If that’s too much effort, consider buying a SmartStrip, a power strip and surge protector that automatically cuts off power to devices that are shut down.
It’s designed to be used with computers or home entertainment systems where devices operate in clusters. If, for example, the TV is off, the SmartStrip also shuts down the DVD player, surround-sound speakers and cable box.
What about cellphones, digital cameras, iPods and other rechargeable devices? Try taking them off the grid, at least partially. A Solio charger, about the size of a computer mouse, attaches with a suction cup to a window, where it soaks up enough energy from the sun to fully power up two cellphones.
For those on the move, there’s a solar backpack from Voltaic Systems Inc. Fully charged, the backpack’s solar panels can juice up to three iPods. The company is expected to come out this spring with a version powerful enough to charge laptops.
Wind power is another alternative. The 5-inch HYmini wind turbine attaches to your arm while running, downhill skiing or biking. A 20-minute session with wind speeds of 19 mph can capture enough power to keep an iPod going for 30 minutes, according to Miniwiz, the Taiwanese company that makes HYmini.
Alternative energy isn’t always the cheapest or fastest way to charge up. The Solio costs $80 to $200. The solar backpacks are $199 to $599. And the HYmini is $50 to $70. Most take hours of movement or sunbathing to fully charge.
A more economical and easier tweak is to reduce battery usage, which might help cut down on the 15 billion disposable batteries produced each year.
A top-of-the-line AA nickel metal hydride MaxE battery from Ansmann Energy, distributed in the U.S. by Horizon Battery, costs about $4 and can be recharged 1,000 times. At 3 cents in electricity per charge, the battery’s total cost comes to about $34. By contrast, 1,000 disposable AA batteries costing 30 cents apiece would cost about $300.
Road warriors who don’t want to get loaded down with a charging unit might consider USBCell, which looks and acts just like a AA battery, except the top pops off to reveal a USB head that can plug into a laptop’s USB port to recharge. A pair will set you back $17.50.
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times