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1. What is a Battery?
In science and technology, a battery is a device that stores energy and makes it available in an electrical form. It converts chemical energy into electrical energy, producing an electric current when connected in a circuit. The finished battery is an electrically connected group of cells (wired in series) that stores an electrical charge and supplies a direct current (DC). We usually call finished battery as battery pack and unfinished battery is called as cell.

 

2. What are volts?
Volts - or V - is an electrical measurement of energy potential. Mathematically voltage is commonly measured by V= I x R; where V=Voltage, I=Current, R=Resistance.

Voltage can also be defined as Electrical Potential difference - a quantity in physics related to the amount of energy that would be required to move an object from one place to another against various types of force. In the fields of electronics the electrical potential difference is the amount of work per charge needed to move electric charge from the second point to the first, or equivalently, the amount of work that unit charge flowing from the first point to the second can perform. A battery contains four unique types of voltage measurements. Each voltage measurement type residing in a battery effects battery life.
Float Voltage ?is battery voltage at zero current (with battery disconnected).
Nominal Voltage ?is battery voltage range 3.7V, 5.2V, 10.2V, 12V etc that says that a voltage range exists depending on the number of cells in the battery. For example a 12 Volt battery is made of 6 cells and has a Float voltage of about 12V.
Charge Voltage - The voltage of a battery while charging.
Discharge Voltage - The voltage of a battery while discharging. Again, this voltage is determined by the charge state and the current flowing in the battery.

 

3. Battery Capacity: mAh rating
an abbreviation for milliamp hours. Milliamp hours is a technical rating that defines the battery’s total capacity. The higher the mAh rating, the longer your battery can last between charges.
Battery capacity quanitifes the total amount of energy stored within a battery. More capacity equals longer time between battery charges. Battery capacity is measured in amperes, which is the volume of electrons passing through the batteries electrolyte per second. A milliAmp hour (mAh) is the most commonly used notation system for consumer electronic batteries. Note that 1000 mAh is the same as 1 Ah. (Just as 1000mm equals 1 meter).

 

4.What is Battery Current ?
The second critical key component to battery design is the battery’s current requirements. PDAs, MP3s and other portable devices, for the most part, utilize a constant power discharge to operate. This means that the amount of current will increase as the battery discharges electricity in order to maintain constant power. So we will need to ultimately know the maximum current required. This is important since knowing the max current requirement will influence the necessary protection of chemistry, circuitry, wire, and capacity amongst others. Again we must know the current requirement over the entire nominal voltage range of the battery including start-up currents, surges (intermittent transient pulses). One other important aspect to know about current requirements is the inert current drain of the device. Devices, even when powered down, require small amounts of current to power memory, switches and component leakage.

 

5. What is Battery Temperature?
Ambient operational temperatures are also important because the internal heat of the battery compartment will dramatically affect the life of a battery. Usage and storage patterns are external effect that will also affect battery life and are the responsibility of a user (for example do not leave your device in a hot car with the windows rolled up, or take your device into a sauna).
In my previous two installments of Understanding Battery Life we reviewed what battery life means; how battery life is measured; what factors determine and impact battery life; when do batteries begin to lose life; and how the internal battery design limits the overall capability of the battery. In part 3 of Understanding Battery Life I want to look at two aspects of battery usage that reduces battery life and they are: individual usage patterns and internal technical factors.

 

6. How Does A Battery Create Energy?
A battery is a device that converts chemical energy into electrical energy. Batteries create electrochemical energy by a chain of events that have to occur prior to the creation of electrical energy. Electricity is introduced into a battery via a charger. The charger acts as a conduit of the pushing electrons that are forcing their way into the chemical lithium. This charge process involves intercalation where electrons join with other molecules in the lithium’s minuscule spaces between the the lithium’s crystallized planes. Electrons are in essence ionizing lithium which loads the crystal planes to the point where they are forced into a current flow. Intercalation replenishes, in effect, lithium but the net result of ionization is the ultimate depletion of the lithium reactive property.
But what makes lithium good for batteries is that lithium is a highly reactive metal. Lithium has a very high electrochemical potential. In some lithium-based cells the electrochemical potential can be five times greater than an equivalent-sized lead-acid cell and three times greater than alkaline batteries. Lithium is also pliable and bendable allowing lithium to fit in tight configurations (perfect for in small cell designs in PDAs. Laptops, Cameras etc...).

 

7. How many times can a battery be charged ?
500 million lithium batteries are in use today. A very big number indeed and the chances that you are one of them are quite high. You could have a laptop, PDA, MP3 or even a cell-phone, all of which more likely than not has a lithium ion or a lithium polymer chemical based battery system. If so then one question that you will have eventually is how many times will I be able to charge the battery before it is effectively dead? Is it 300 times, 400 times, or 500 times? The answer is between 300-500 times.

 

8. How Can I Maximize Battery Performance?
Breaking In New Batteries - new batteries come in a discharged condition and must be fully charged before use. It is recommended that you fully charge and discharge your new battery two to four times to allow it to reach its maximum rated capacity. Keep Your Batteries Clean -  a good idea to clean dirty battery contacts with a cotton swab and alcohol. This helps maintain a good connection between the battery and your laptop. Exercise Your Battery ?Do not leave your battery dormant for long periods of time. We recommend using the battery at least once every two to three weeks. If a battery has not been used for a long period of time, perform the new battery break in procedure described above. Battery Storage ?If you do not plan on using the battery for a month or more, we recommend storing in a clean, dry, cool place away from heat and metal objects.

 

9. How Long Should My Battery Last?
The life of a rechargeable battery operating under normal conditions is generally up to 500 charge-discharge cycles.
Up to 500 charge-discharge cycles means that your battery should power your device for at least 12 months before you begin to notice considerable shorter runtime. Every battery experiences battery degradation and power loss at different times it is normal and simply means you need to buy a new battery. Some batteries run for 3 years where others run for 12 months. Some heavey power users have battery runs if 8 months. Battery degradation and power loss does vary with each battery but in each battery it simply means that your battery has reached a point where it can no longer accpet a charge and recharge the chemical inside your battery.

 

10. How is battery life measured?
Battery life is a measurement of capacity. What is Battery Capacity? Battery capacity is a reference to the total amount of energy stored within a battery. Battery capacity is rated in Ampere-hours (AH), which is the product of:
AH= Current X Hours to Total Discharge.

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