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  1. #1
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    Care and feeding of Li-ion batteries

    With all the new clone systems and batteries posted here...as well as the brand name systems...I was wondering what people are doing to keep their batteries going and getting the best life out of them.

    I'm looking for real world experience and advice.....as opposed to cutting and pasting from a MFR's site.

    When do you charge them?
    How do you store them?
    How about for the summer when you don't use them?

    Looking forward to hearing from Catman and other battery gurus....

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor View Post
    With all the new clone systems and batteries posted here...as well as the brand name systems...I was wondering what people are doing to keep their batteries going and getting the best life out of them.

    I'm looking for real world experience and advice.....as opposed to cutting and pasting from a MFR's site.

    When do you charge them?
    How do you store them?
    How about for the summer when you don't use them?

    Looking forward to hearing from Catman and other battery gurus....
    It's actually very straightforward and well understood for li-ion batteries. The principles are applied in things like satellites and electric car battery packs as a common practice. Ever wonder how the car makers can offer 8 year battery pack warranties. Unfortunately, almost no bike light manufactures offer the tools to make it easy to do.

    Li-ion batteries don't like
    - heat
    - high voltage levels
    - low voltage levels

    if you keep them between 20% and 80% of their capacity all the time, and keep them cool, they can last for as much as 4x longer in both time and cycles than packs that are charged all the way up and sit that way for long time. What would be ideal for bike light, is if they had an "economy" mode that gave you shorter runtime, but kept the battery between those limits. Most people don't need the full runtime on every ride.

    In terms of what you can do.
    - it's best to store them around 50% charged in a cool place
    - don't leave them sitting around fully charged. Ideally, charge them right before use
    - charge them each ride, but charge them up to the level you need for the ride

    I use chargers that I built myself that can charge up to the level I want. I have a couple of packs that are going on 8 years of use now.

  3. #3
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    Good stuff...thanks!
    That's what I....and probably others...are looking for.
    Are there any commercially availabe chargers that would make it easier to keep the batteries in that zone?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor View Post
    Good stuff...thanks!
    That's what I....and probably others...are looking for.
    Are there any commercially availabe chargers that would make it easier to keep the batteries in that zone?
    I'm not aware of any, which is kind of surprising. I think the view is that everyone is focused on maximum run time and wouldn't buy a charger that offered the feature of less runtime but longer battery life. You can somewhat have your cake and eat it to, if you have a system that would let you keep the batteries charged to something like 60-80% of capacity most of the time, and then automatically bump it up to higher levels right before use, but only when really needed. But, I think the view is that most people want plug and forget and aren't interested in this level of pre-planning.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for tips - I'm forwarding this information to Boeing and NTSB.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by POG View Post
    Thanks for tips - I'm forwarding this information to Boeing and NTSB.
    +1 FAA too!

  7. #7
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    My thoughts on the subject: Things I learned over the years...

    1) Never leave a Li-ion battery in a hot car. If possible store in a cool area.

    2) Deep discharge will age a Li-ion battery faster. If you take longer rides, use a bigger battery.

    3) As has been advised, store Li-ion batteries at a lower charge. This slows the aging process of the battery.

    4) As has been advised, charge your Li-ion battery to full status "just before you use it", if possible. The shorter the duration the battery is kept at full charge the better. Longer periods at full charge will age the battery faster.

    5) Li-ion batteries will lose capacity over time ( even if you baby them ). Most are rated for 500 charge/discharge cycles. After that expect significant loss of capacity. Not unusual for a Li-ion battery to lose 10-20% capacity per year ( depends on quality of the cells and how well they are handled ). Even when stored at low temperature when not being used, Li-ion cells lose capacity. You can slow aging but you can't stop it.

    6) Higher quality Li-ion cells will not only have better capacity ( watt/hrs ) but will last longer and have a more usable life span.

    I recommend that you evaluate your Li-ion battery(s) at least a couple times a year. Particularly if you are into epic or endurance events. Knowing how long your batteries will run is very important. Keep in mind that battery warning LED's can be unreliable. No one wants to be miles back in the woods at night only to discover that their batteries are about to poop.

    I can't speak for others but I personally expect to get about three years out of a "good quality" Li-ion battery pack. After that I start looking for new batteries and use the older ones for back-up.

  8. #8
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    Cat man....thank you.
    Charger quality has come up in a few threads.
    Do you have a thoughts/suggestions on those?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor View Post
    Cat man....thank you.
    Charger quality has come up in a few threads.
    Do you have a thoughts/suggestions on those?
    Just that you need a charger that will function properly for the battery that you own. It helps to have a multi-meter to check on stuff like that. If your charger is charging the battery to the full "peak" listed voltage for your battery than it is working properly. Just keep in mind that if a battery is not fully charging the problem could be the battery or the charger. Knowing which is not working properly helps.

    There are hobby chargers that have more bells and whistles. So far I have yet to buy one of those but sooner or later I may do so. In my case I would like the option to run a discharge run-down to test the actual amp/hour capacity of the battery. Some of the chargers are set-up with that option. Some are also set-up to vary the charge rate. If you are into competitive 24hr race stuff having this option could be real useful. Last but not least the hobby chargers are usually set-up to charge batteries of different chemistry and different voltages. These things can be useful if you are really into owning a lot of different type of batteries.

  10. #10
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    Great info, just what I was hoping for when I searched the forum for battery care today. I didn't know about avoiding deep discharges or ideally storing them at half-full. I'll be changing my habits now.
    The first no-no regarding Li Ion batteries that I used to do was charging them at temperatures below freezing. I'm sure like many others, my night riding started as a way to get more riding in during winter months. I store my bikes in the unheated garage and since it is more convenient to just leave the battery on the bike I would just charge it while still mounted right after every use at temps definitely way below freezing. I have taken much better care of my replacement name-brand battery, but like I said I'll change some habits again after reading this thread.

  11. #11
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    I'm no guru by no means, but C-M-D's advice to check the hobbie chargers is spot on. If you're willing to really read the owners manuals you can set them up to do edzachery what you want.
    The older I get, the faster I was.

  12. #12
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    ...Sometimes I need to follow my own advise.

    Sitting here reading this thread I glanced over at my bike and noticed that the battery was not mounted on the bike. That's when it dawned on me, "Where's the battery". Suddenly I remembered that I didn't bring it in from the car from my last ride on Sunday. ...Sadly the heat index where I live has been over 100F for the last few days. ...I hate when I forget stuff like this..

    Anyway, I ran out to the car and brought the battery in. Before bringing it inside ( to the coolness of the A/C ) I took my infrared thermometer and measured the temperature on the shrink wrap of the battery; 102F.. Bad... ( ) Cat... ( )

    Don't be a "Bad Cat"...don't leave your batteries out in a hot car ( or they might go "poof" ).

    SavageSam thanks for posting. It made me read my own advise and helped me remember my battery being out in the car. Thankfully I park my car in shade which helps a bit.

  13. #13
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    im confused and bummed by this news. i like to top off my lights after rides. Also how am I not supposed to drain the thing? I often ride till it kicks off then throw a backup on to get back home.
    Keep trying to do the awesomest thing you've ever done.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bamwa View Post
    im confused and bummed by this news. i like to top off my lights after rides. Also how am I not supposed to drain the thing? I often ride till it kicks off then throw a backup on to get back home.
    Just means that your battery won't last as long. Not the end of the world. If you are like me and its the only way that you will remember to plug it in.. then keep doing it. Best practice isn't always best for everyone.
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  15. #15
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    what about cycling the battery dead to full several times? would that gain back runtime?
    do these batteries have memory. (I'd ask google but like you guys better
    Keep trying to do the awesomest thing you've ever done.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bamwa View Post
    what about cycling the battery dead to full several times? would that gain back runtime?
    do these batteries have memory. (I'd ask google but like you guys better
    No, there is no memory effect for Li-ion cells. If you ride till the battery poops and do so on a regular basis then you might want to consider a bigger battery. Other than that this is what I would do if I were you:

    Run the battery down till you get the final "red light" warning ( assuming your lamp has LED battery indicators ). When the red light comes on immediately switch out the battery to the back-up and use that one as long as you can. If you have to completely discharge both batteries to finish your ride then so be it. If that were the case though you are certainly a candidate for at least one bigger battery. Truthfully though, if I were you I'd not worry so much about the deep discharge factor. Eventually Li-ion cells will lose capacity over time anyway. More important to worry about running out of of battery juice while back in the woods at night.

    All things considered, not only is it a good thing not to overly discharge your battery but the battery juice that you plan on "Not using" can be used for the unexpected misdirection or emergency. Sometimes crap happens. Best to be prepared for the unexpected.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by bamwa View Post
    im confused and bummed by this news. i like to top off my lights after rides. Also how am I not supposed to drain the thing? I often ride till it kicks off then throw a backup on to get back home.
    If you ride everyday like I do in the fall and early winter then topping it off after your ride, while not absolutely the best for the battery, is certainly the most convenient and worth the price in life span.

    One thing to be sure to remember is if you do drain the battery all the way to shutoff, be sure and put some charge back on it as soon as possible. The battery will continue to self discharge after use and drop to very harmful levels.

    To know for sure where your battery is (in charge level) use a volt meter. 7.4V is ideal for long term storage.

    If you want to invest in a battery tester, I use the West Mountain Radio CBA battery analyzer. It lets you do a constant current or constant power discharge and produces a graph of voltage vs AmpHrs. You can create a test file for each battery you own and keep track of it's performance over time.
    Jim Harger
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  18. #18
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    Thanks for the help. I'll get another $30s out to amazon and have two of everything, and grab the voltmeter to have a look at packs and chargers. Cant wait for the 3d batteries to come out.
    Keep trying to do the awesomest thing you've ever done.

  19. #19
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    I persoanlly have had limited experience with Li-on packs but tonnes of exp with Li-po packs which have a similar character. There is alot of good info in this thread however it is unlikely most people have the tools to monitor charge levels. It is not a complicated issue however as it is simply a case of aiming to have you battery 1/2 charged when you are not using it and charging it up for use as late as possible before use.

    If you want to go to a more advanced level then there are plenty of hobby chargers out there capable of charging to specific levels and more importantly offering a "store" charge mode for 60% charge. These chargers also usually have balancing ports so depending on your lights plug config it may be possible to balance charge your packs for even long life. The easiest way to look into this would be checking out your local hobby shop that deals in electric radio controlled aircraft and ask for their advice.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor View Post
    How about for the summer when you don't use them?
    Not a single person to comment on this question? I use the sh*t outta mine in the summertime. Summertime and night ridin go hand in hand like....

    Well, like beer and night ridin

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBitey View Post
    Not a single person to comment on this question? I use the sh*t outta mine in the summertime. Summertime and night ridin go hand in hand like....

    Well, like beer and night ridin
    Gee I don't know about beer and night riding mixing.... Each to his own I guess....

    Anytime you are not using your battery it is best to store it at 60% charge. This includes long breaks during summer if you can fit all your riding into daylight hours.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBitey View Post
    Not a single person to comment on this question? I use the sh*t outta mine in the summertime. Summertime and night ridin go hand in hand like....

    Well, like beer and night ridin
    Good catch! I rarely nightride once winter sets in. Too cold. Too wet. Too muddy. Summer and Fall are the best!

    +1 on the beer. Beer stays cold much longer in the hydration pack without the sun shining on the pack.

  23. #23
    Shuttles R 4 Pussies
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    Quote Originally Posted by POG View Post
    Thanks for tips - I'm forwarding this information to Boeing and NTSB.
    I'm sure they're already aware of it.

    My Sony Vaio laptop has an extended battery life option (their own 'smart' software) that stops charging the battery past 80% when it's plugged in, in order to maximize the lifetime of the battery. I didn't understand the reason at first, but it makes complete sense now. When I'm traveling on a plane, I'll switch to the normal setting and top the battery up to 100% before I leave so I have maximum operating time.
    Screw the shuttle, I'm riding to the top. You're all worthless and weak!!!

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