Battery Facts

Rechargeable batteries

Rechargeable batteries do exactly what the name implies. Once you've used them, you don't dispose of the battery, you simply recharge it!

Like primary batteries, rechargeable batteries have four basic components - a positive electrode (cathode), a negative electrode (anode), a separator and electrolytes. But that's where the similarities end. The chemicals inside a rechargeable battery are reversible, allowing them to be recharged again and again.
For heavy users of batteries, rechargeable batteries have always been a cheaper source of electricity. Recharging 4 batteries from mains electricity costs about 2p, whereas a new set of alkaline batteries can easily cost £4.00 or more. You don't have to be rocket scientist to realize that the slightly higher cost of buying rechargeable batteries is more than covered by savings over the life of a set of rechargeable batteries. With high performance rechargeable batteries, you can go through 1000 charge/discharge cycles before you need to replace them. That means literally hundreds of pounds saved over the use of primary batteries.

A further important consideration is how battery use affects the environment. Using rechargeable batteries reduces household waste. 15 billion ordinary batteries are thrown away every year, all of which end up in landfill sites. Rechargeable batteries can be reused which helps reduce the impact disposable batteries have on the environment.

Rechargeable batteries have been continuously enhanced to improve performance, as well as becoming more environmentally friendly. The most ecological rechargeable batteries are Ni-MH rechargeable units (Nickel-metal hydride), which are the current state-of-the-art in rechargeable battery technology.
The previous generation technology, Nickel-Cadmium, is still in use, being manufactured and sold. However, Ni-MH technology is superior in several ways:

• Ni-MH rechargeable batteries do not suffer from the Ni-Cd ‘memory effect', thus allowing a far greater number of charge/discharge cycles before the rechargeable battery's performance declines.
• Ni-MH technology is more environmentally friendly, because it avoids introducing highly toxic Cadmium from Ni-Cd cells into household waste.

Rechargeable batteries are ideal for high drain devices that use a lot of power, such as digital cameras or camcorders. But they should never be used in smoke detectors and won't work that well in other low drain devices. Here's why: Primary batteries have a much greater ability to retain their charge when not used, or when only a trickle charge is drawn from the battery. But rechargeable batteries lose some of their power every day, whether they are in a device or not.

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