How to take care of rechargeable batteries.

Most DSLR’s come with a rechargeable camera battery that are typically Lithium Ion batteries. There are 3 main types of rechargeable batteries, Li-Ion, Ni-Cad, and Ni-MH. If you need to know what technology your battery is using try googling the model number if it doesn’t say what it is on the battery itself. On my Canon 6D II battery, the LP-E6, it actually says “Li-Ion” on it indicating that is a Lithium Ion battery.

Different battery technologies require different approaches to caring for them. But first I will talk about some of the things that apply to all batteries.

Time

Time is the biggest enemy of batteries, the chemicals inside them are not stable and degrade naturally. For example, lithium in Li-Ion batteries is highly reactive and will burst into flames when exposed to oxygen. Due to this issue it’s important to realize that buying batteries and keeping unused spares in a closet or drawer is not a good idea. By the time you get around to using it the battery might already be degraded. So only buy new batteries when the old ones are ready for recycling.

Temperature

Avoid getting batteries too hot or too cold. Even storing a battery in a hot environment, like the inside of a car parked outdoors in the sun, could damage it and cause it to hold less of a charge. Batteries will also suffer performance degredation when in use if they’re either too cold or too hot. So be considerate of the fact that extreme temperature may degrade your gear and batteries.

Storage

In most cases it is not advisable to store batteries for long periods. They’re simply not designed to do that for the reasons above. If you have to store your batteries for months charging them to about half and removing them from the devices is your best option. Of course you want to store them at room temperature in a dry place. With Li-Ion batteries its also best to leave them off the charger if you plan on not using them for a long time. This puts the least amount of stress on the battery, but if you leave it too long it will eventually lose all its charge, which is a bad thing. Proper storage actually requires you to charge the batteries to 50% every so often (3-4 months) before returning them to storage.

Partial Charging

Try to avoid pulling your battery off the charger before it is full. The charging cycle is specifically designed to maximize the battery’s life, interrupting the cycle can leave the battery in a vulnerable state and degrade your batteries faster.

Li-Ion Specifics

When using your Li-Ion battery try to avoid running it completely down. Look for the battery low indicator and swap it out before it actually drops completely. The reason for this is that the battery retains chemical stability if it retains some charge. If the charge is removed completely and the battery is left in that state, the battery will degrade more rapidly, in fact it will become unusable and unstable.

Ni-Cad Specifics

Nickel Cadmium batteries suffer from something called “memory effect” meaning that the battery won’t charge up to maximum unless it is fully discharged first. Doing a deep discharge of a Ni-Cad battery generally requires a special charger that first discharges the battery before charging it.

Ni-MH Specifics

Nickel Metal Hydride batteries do not have a memory effect but they do discharge more rapidly when left off the charger. Typically it is advisable to keep Ni-MH batteries on the charger even if you’re storing them.

And thats pretty much it. I hope these tips help you get the most out of your equipment. Feel free to leave your questions and comments below. Thanks for reading.

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