Batteries are one of the most common every day items that are found in many household pieces of equipment such as kitchen scales, bathroom scales, TV remote controls, radios, cassette recorders, portable MP3 player, CD players, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA), laptop computers, children's toys, digital cameras and cordless telephones. When you think about it batteries are everywhere. Batteries are chemical power sources and they should be treated with respect. There are simple things you should be aware of. Do not mix and match batteries of different types or manufacture. Do not mix a new battery with an old battery as this will certainly affect the overall performance. Store the batteries carefully, do not mix up loosely in a box, you will risk accidentally shorting out the cells which could result in fires.
Batteries can vary in price and quality of build, be aware that like every thing in life you get what you pay for. If you want to buy 20 cheap batteries for a £1.00 from the market then just be aware that these are more likely to leak if left in equipment. As a student I remember having a portable radio that we moved around the room, leaving brown stain marks on the carpet, it took us weeks to realise that the brown marks were not actually part of the carpet pattern but leaking batteries. Another common thing that people do is to leave batteries in the Christmas musical toys, they put them away in January and come next December they come back to corroded terminals and unusable toys.
If you are trying to be good to the environment then you will be using Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) batteries or Nickel Metal (NiMH) Batteries. These have proved to be very cost efficient in high power consumption equipment like Digital Camera or PDA. Ensure you use the correct charger and do not attempt to charge Alkaline batteries or Zinc Carbon batteries in an NiCd or NiMH battery charger.
Dispose of you batteries with due care, do not incinerate. Small batteries such as watch batteries and lithium coin cells should be not be left lying around. Treat all batteries with the care and respect they deserve, after all if glass bottle broke and shattered all over the kitchen floor you would not leave the glass lying around.
Lithium Ion Batteries quickly become inefficient in cold temperatures. If you are using equipment such as digital cameras in sub zero conditions keep the battery stored in warmer place until you need to use it (maybe a good quality insulated camera bag).
Note that the local temperature can affect charging times so it is not the best idea to charge your batteries in a cold garage.
A common mistake that people make with Lead Acid batteries is to leave them for long periods of time in a discharged state. For example these ride on children's toys are usually powered by 6V 10ah batteries. The child plays all week end and then it might get forgotten about until the next week or even the ext month or even the next season. What happens in this situation is that the lead plates begin to sulphate internally and within a couple of weeks you will find that you are left with a battery that is unable to accept a charge. The same situation can occur with golf trolley batteries. You do your 18 holes, flatten the battery and then as an oversight forget to charge. The best advice is to leave Lead Acid batteries in a charged state and ensure that the battery terminals are not left exposed to potential accidental short circuiting.
Please check your fire alarm and Carbon Monoxide alarm batteries regularly.
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