Rechargeable vs. Non-Rechargeable Batteries
Do you remember the stone ages? When batteries that once harvested of all their energy were rendered a lifeless, useless mass, their sole purpose now to infuriate the fool who finds it in the bottom of a drawer, optimistically hopeful that it may have life in it yet, before throwing it back in the drawer to repeat the same process six months later? Barbaric times.
As we move closer and closer to a futuristic utopia, batteries replace matches and lighters as the unchallenged commodity for the modern day vaper. As such, we recognise that someone needs to teach the world (and prevent our valued customers from battery explosions) about the science behind battery chargers.
How do batteries work?
Non-rechargeable batteries are not designed for reuse, let’s get that out there right away. It is never a good idea to try and recharge standard batteries - we know at least one of you will try it anyway, but at least we can sleep tonight knowing we told you so!
With non-rechargeable batteries, once you turn on your remote, or torch (Imagine for a second, if you will, that you live in a world before torches were on your phone) you’re kickstarting chemical reactions inside the battery. As the current flows, the power-generating compartments inside the battery convert themselves from stored chemical energy into electrical power.
Once the electrolyte has been fully converted, the battery dies. May it rest in power!
How do battery chargers work?
Rechargeable batteries, on the other hand, are tiny little Frankensteins, who can be reanimated by the use of a battery charger!
The charger makes the chemical reactions run in reverse, converting alternating current (AC) from the wall socket, into direct current (DC) inside the battery, effectively resetting the chemicals inside the battery.
The lifespan of your batteries
Whilst theoretically, rechargeable batteries can be used indefinitely, they will degrade over time until there comes a time where they’re no longer willing to store charge. This is also known as the 'cycle life' of the cell. The cycle life is determined by the battery's capacity. For example if you started off with a battery that had 3000mAh, but it now has 1500mAh, it only has 50% of the original capacity left.
Once a battery reaches the end of its cycle life, it is at this point when they can be recycled (which is absolutely a euphemism for throwing in a bottom drawer and forgetting about them). Jokes aside - if you're proactive about finding your local recycling centre and following recycling protocol - here's what you need to know!
A note about safety
The cheapest battery chargers use a constant current or voltage and apply that to the batteries, until you turn the charger off. This means that if a charger is not turned off after a battery has fully recharged, the excess energy needs to find a way to escape - usually done by the battery heating up, building pressure.
Batteries have been known to rupture, leak chemicals or even explode from time to time if left to overcharge too often. Whilst it’s improbable that your batteries will explode, it is worth noting it’s not impossible!
All battery chargers should come equipped with safety features such as reverse polarity, overcharge, thermal protection and short circuit - we’d advise that you buy your battery charger from a reputable, quality brand, y’know.
Our favourite battery chargers...
As your favourite stockist of 18650 batteries, we couldn't go the length of this blog with out telling you about our favourite chargers!
Our favourites include the Xtar VC4SL. This fantastic addition to the Fogstar range is a reworked version of the VC4S that now comfortably fits x4 21700 cells side by side. This charger also includes some fantastic functions including; Internal resistance checker, full capacity test and high precision cut off.
The trusty Xtar X4 is always a popular charger for our team. Compatible with all popular cell sizes - 18350, 18650, 20700 and 21700, it is capable of charging four cells at 1A and two at 2A!
One of our customers' favourites, is the Gryfalcon All-88, this impressive piece of kit is considered to be one of the best high-end chargers currently available, with the ability to charge 8 cells at a maximum of 1A simultaneously. It's one of the few chargers that has adequate space between each bay to fit 8 x 26650, 21700 or 20700! Impressive right?
Let's recap on rechargeable vs. non-rechargeable Batteries...
- Don’t try to charge non-rechargeable batteries!
- The current flowing from a wall socket to a battery, converts stored energy into electrical power.
- When the stored energy is used up in a non-rechargeable battery, the battery dies (RIP!).
- A battery charger converts direct current from wall socket into alternating current inside the battery - recharging the battery.
- Even rechargeable batteries will eventually lose the ability to store charge, nothing and no one lives forever folks.
- Batteries that are left to overcharge do have the capacity to spontaneously explode, do not charge your batteries overnight!
- Don’t try to charge non-rechargeable batteries
- Always buy your batteries and chargers from a reputable supplier!