Magazine article American Cinematographer

Cinema Workshop

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Cinema Workshop

Article excerpt

NICAD BATTERY LIFE I

After spending $500.00 or more on a NiCad battery system, most people feel it should last forever. But alas, like most of us, the NiCad battery will eventually enter its twilight period followed by inevitable death. The battery can at least be comforted knowing its owner will definitely be grieved by its demise. And with good reason, as passing of one battery means a new one must be purchased. It is, thus, understandable that one of the prominent questions always asked while shopping for batteries is "How long will it last?" This is a very valid question, as the ultimate cost-per-hour of the battery is obviously a function of its initial cost divided by its length of service. Unfortunately, that question is very similar to asking a doctor in the maternity ward to what age a particular baby will live.

This analogy has many parallels. There are many "diseases" that can affect the life of a battery as well as "coronaries" that can kill it almost instantly. Certain ailments can be cured, while others are most certainly terminal. Lastly, there are certain guidelines that will definitely help to achieve a longer and healthier life for a NiCad.

Most people relate to NiCad "life" in either years of service or number of charge/discharge cycles. Paradoxically, the tendency of a NiCad to "wear out" is not directly dependent on either of these parameters. NiCads have been known to last up to ten years under ideal test parameters and minimum cycling. Likewise, NiCads can survive up to thirty-thousand cycles under strictly controlled conditions. So where can you buy cells like these? Unfortunately, the life expectancy of a battery is almost totally dependent on the way it is used and its environment. In the real world NiCad cells rarely achieve anywhere near the length of service of which they may be capable under laboratory conditions. The elements that actually account for a NiCad "wearing out" are preprominently temperature, overcharging conditions, and, to a lesser degree, depth of discharge. These factors are obviously tied in to the number of cycles and the age of cells. Thus, both time and cycling eventually become significant elements in determining the ultimate life of the battery. …

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