Tag Archives: Rechargeable Batteries Review

More info about Eneloops and avoiding counterfeits

Following our post yesterday regarding Eneloop rechargeable cells, SWLing Post contribtors Guy Atkins and Ivan Cholakov both warned of numerous fake and counterfeit batteries available from sellers on eBay and elsewhere. Ivan notes:

Please be aware Eneloop batteries are widely copied and there are many many fakes out there. You should only buy them from a reputable source.

Thank you for that warning, Ivan!

Guy also comments:

I use Eneloop Pro AA batteries in small portables. The newest version of the “Pro” comes in a 2500 maH size and retains 85% of the charge for one year. The downsize is that this model is “only” good for 500 recharges. A useful comparison chart is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eneloop

[…]Here is a FAR more comprehensive page of Eneloop model & version comparisons, charts, FAQs, tips, warnings, etc.: https://eneloop101.com/batteries/complete-lineup/. This web site also contains warnings about Ebay fake Eneloops, and other useful details…probably more than most people want to know but if you want to make the most informed choice, check it out!

Many thanks to both of you for sharing. I agree that purchasing Eneloops from a reputable seller is incredibly important. For one thing, if you plan to invest in Eneloops, there is no rationale to buy something sub-standard. Additionally, I do worry about counterfeit cells having an unstable chemistry which could result in overheating or fire.

Click here to read our original Eneloop article with links to reputable sellers.

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Marcus recommends Panasonic Eneloop rechargeable cells

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Marcus Keulertz, who writes:

I use these special rechargeable batteries [Panasonic Eneloop cells] for almost everything especially in household appliances and think what else?

In my energy hungry portable radios and active Loop Antennas. They are reliable power sources, especially in the cold weather period right now. They are quite expensive but worth to have them with you, when travelling.

Thanks for sharing, Marcus!  Like you, I almost exclusively use Eneloop cells in my portable shortwave radios (save when I’m doing an evaluation and use fresh alkalines for comparison consistency).  I even use Eneloops in my Elecraft KX3 transceiver. They’re brilliant! For daily use, Eneloops are simply invaluable as they hold a charge much longer than standard AA cells.

We’ve purchased three of the Eneloop starter packs in the past–two via Amazon.com (affiliate link) and one via Costco (who no longer sells them). I’ve also purchased these multi-packs of AA cells since they’re the most widely used battery in our household. The great thing about the starter packs is that they include AAA cells and D and C cell adapters.

True: Eneloops aren’t cheap, but I think they’re worth the price. Once I invested in them, I gave my other rechargeable cells away.

Thanks for your comments, Marcus.

Click here to shop Eneloops at Amazon.com (affiliate link). Also shop Walmart and B&H Photo.

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Throw away AC adapters, invest in rechargeables

I receive a lot of emails from readers and listeners who are new to shortwave radio. The bulk of the emails I receive ask for advice about which radio to pick for travel, for home, or for work. A lot of emails, however, are from listeners who wish to improve the performance of their portable radios.

One of the first things I suggest–especially if they’re hearing a lot of interference noise on the radio–is simply to unplug the AC adapter (a.k.a., “wall wart”) and run the portable off batteries. Why?  Quite often, those wall warts are injecting a lot of noise into your receiver. Find it hard to believe?  Give it a try!

Not all rechargeable batteries are created equal. Choose name-brand, higher quality cells. Dollar store batteries lack longevity and capacity.

Solution: Rechargeable batteries

I get so annoyed with noisy wall warts, that I simply never use them. Instead, some time ago I started investing in rechargeable batteries.  Though one pays a bit more for them (than for alkaline batteries) initially, they can be recharged hundreds of times, and thus last for years.

You can buy rechargeable batteries nearly anywhere these days, and the price has dropped significantly over the past few years, even for name-brand batteries.

It’s worth noting that I’ve bought rechargeable batteries at radio hamfests or dollar stores that were as cheap as $1US per AA cell. Big mistake–not only do these ultra-cheap batteries not hold a charge for long, but they also wear out more quickly. Instead, stick with name brand rechargeables, like Energizer, Duracell, RadioShack, or (my personal favorite) Powerex.

About 85% of the shortwave portables I own are powered by AA cells, the remaining 20% off of AAA’s (you’ll find that I gripe about the ones that use AAA’s, by the way). When I buy a new portable–one that I plan to keep after reviewing on SWLing.com–I invest in twice the number of rechargeable batteries that the portable holds. For example, my Sony ICF-SW7600GR operates on 4 AA cells, thus I bought a pack of 8 cells for its operation. That way, I can always have an extra set of charged batteries available when I deplete those in the unit.

There are three main types of rechargeables available: NiCd (nickel cadmium), Lithium Ion, and NiMH (nickel-metal hydride). Without going into too much detail, I recommend NiMH batteries–they offer the best bang for the buck, are widely available, and with correct care, do not easily develop a memory effect.

A few tips for making NiMH rechargeables last longer

NiMH batteries are fairly fool-proof, but there are some simple rules of thumb you should follow to insure that they provide years of service:

  • Never mix old and new rechargeables
  • Never mix LiIon and NiMH cells
  • Nickel-based cells, such as our NiMH’s need to be fully discharged occasionally, else the batteries lose capacity over time in a phenomenon known as the “memory effect.” Once my radio has depleted its current set of batteries, I’ll often pop them into a flashlight to deplete them even further before recharging.
  • Label your batteries with a piece of colored tape or  a marker to note the purchase date on the cell–that way, you’ll easily keep like batteries together and charged in sync.
Chargers

The Maha MHC9000 is pricey, and you will need the manual to operate it, but it's a very high-quality battery charger and conditioner. I have brought nearly dead NiMH batteries back to life with this wonderful machine.

Like batteries, not all chargers are created equal. You should opt for a higher-quality, NIMH-specific charger. Ideally, since most radios require 3-4 batteries at a time, purchase a charger that will hold at least 4 batteries.

Personally, I’ve found it helpful to own three chargers: one for rapidly charging batteries (the Maha MH-C401FS-4), one for conditioning and charging batteries (the Maha MH-C9000) and one that is solar powered (which I use only in a pinch).

You can see that I’m very fond of the Maha brand battery chargers, though there are other good chargers on the market. Maha receives high praise from many amateur radio operators, and I’ve had excellent luck with them, too. What I especially like about the Maha/Powerex company is that they focus all of their innovation in the area of batteries and charging systems for a wide variety of uses.

Throw away the wall warts!

Have I convinced you yet? Don’t even bother unpacking the AC adapter that comes with your radio!  You don’t really need it.  “But wait,” you may be thinking, “my radio has a built-in battery charger, so don’t I need my AC adapter?” Even if your radio has a built-in battery charging function, it’s probably very basic and should only be used if you have no other option. Many of these are prone to over- or under-charge batteries, and take hours to complete this relatively simple task.

Trust me:  your portable shortwave reciever will perform at its best when powered by quiet, rechargeable NiMH batteries charged properly with a good-quality charger. Try it, and hear for yourself.

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