Camcorder Battery Packs:
Finding the Right One for Your Camera!
At some point you will have to buy replacement camcorder battery packs for your camera. Which type is the best one for you? Here is some info and a few tips on how to find the right battery for you!
Here are some of the most popular types of batteries that are used in camcorder battery packs.
Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) Battery Packs...
A Nickel Metal Hydride (or NiMH) battery is a type of rechargeable battery similar to a Nickel-Cadmium (NiCad) battery but without the expensive and environmentally unfriendly metal Cadmium.
It has a hydrogen-absorbing alloy for the anode (the battery terminal where current flows in) instead of cadmium and like in NiCd batteries nickel is the cathode (the battery terminal where current flows out).
Nickel Metal Hydride (NIMH) Battery Advantages...
- Lighter than NiCad batteries.
- 2 to 3 times the capacity of an equal size NiCad battery.
- NiMH batteries tend to have a higher power capacity than NiCads.
- They suffer far less from the “memory effect” (gradual shortening of available power after each battery charge caused by the battery being recharged before it is totally discharged).
- When NiMH camcorder battery packs are compared with lithium ion battery packs they have a lower energy density and a higher self-discharge rate.
Nickel Metal Hydride (NIMH) Battery Disadvantages…
- Fewer life cycles compared to NiCad batteries.
- Shorter run time. They have to be recharged more often.
- Does not perform well in cold temperatures, so keep that in mind if you plan to use a camcorder powered by NiMH batteries in cold weather.
- Higher self-discharge level than NiCad batteries.
- Voltage will drop at near-discharged levels which can cause camera malfunction.
Nickel Cadmium (NiCd or NiCad) Battery Packs…
The Nickel-Cadmium battery (commonly abbreviated NiCd or NiCad) is a type of rechargeable battery using nickel oxide hydroxide and metallic cadmium as electrodes.
It is a popular type of rechargeable battery for portable electronics and toys
Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) Advantages...
- Lower in cost than other types of batteries.
- Longer life cycles. Lower self-discharge level than NiMH.
- No voltage drop at near discharged levels.
- NiCd camcorder battery packs can be a good option for users who tend to operate frequently in extreme hot or cold temperatures, as NiCd batteries will experience lower efficiency losses at the upper and lower bands of the temperature spectrum
Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) Disadvantages…
- It’s heavy, making it harder to use for longer periods of time.
- May suffer from 'Memory Effect' if constantly discharged halfway and then recharged.
The Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) Battery Packs
A type of battery composed of Lithium, the lightest metal and the metal that has the highest electrochemical potential. It is the battery of choice for most digital devices these days.
Lithium itself, however, is an unstable metal, so Lithium batteries are made from Lithium ions that are produced chemically.
Because of its lightness, high energy density and rapid charge times, Lithium-Ion batteries are ideal for portable devices, such as smart phones, digital cameras, digital video cameras, camcorders and notebook computers... Just to name a few.
Lithium-Ion (Li Ion) Advantages…
- They have one of the best energy-to-weight ratios of any type of battery.
- High performance in cold weather. Great for winter outdoors use.
- Lithium-Ion batteries have no “memory effect” and do not use poisonous metals, such as lead, mercury or cadmium.
- Li-Ion batteries can be charged up to twice as many times as comparable NiCd and NiMH batteries.
- Li-Ion batteries are able to hold their current level of charge over extended periods. They have a slow loss of charge, compared to other types of batteries, when they are not in use.
- Li-Ion batteries are much lighter and smaller compared to NiCd batteries. This reduces fatigue and stress on the user and allows for smaller camcorders that are powerful yet, very compact.
Lithium-Ion (Li Ion) Disadvantages…
- Less tested than other battery types.
- Li-Ion batteries can sometimes erupt or explode in high heat - hot cars, direct sunlight, etc.
- Permanent damage to the battery can happen if stored at too-low discharge level (below 1v), so be careful and keep these types of batteries charged well.
- Due to the electronics required to manage Lithium-Ion systems safely and reliably, the Li-ion batteries cost more than other types of batteries.
- There can be some restrictions when transporting or shipping devices that use this type of battery.
Tips on What to Look for When Buying New Camcorder Battery Packs...
What are some of the most important things for you to know about your camcorder battery pack…
- Battery life cycle, battery voltage and amp-hour rating are the key specifications to look into when you're buying a new battery for your digital camera or camcorder.
- New camcorder batteries, if they are not a lithium ion type, need to be fully charged and discharged (cycled) a few times before it is “conditioned” to charge to full capacity. (refer to the devices manual for charging instructions).
- The milliamp-hour (mAh) rating of a new camcorder battery will often be higher than the one on the original battery. A higher mAh rating is indicative of a longer lasting (higher capacity) battery and will not cause any incompatibilities. The newer digital camcorder lithium ion batteries will, in a lot of cases, outperform the original by 30% to 50%.
- Don’t short-circuit your camcorder’s battery terminals or store your digital camcorder with metal parts that may touch the terminals. Doing this can damage or destroy your battery.
- When charging the battery using your camcorder as the charger - don’t continually connect and disconnect the camcorder. An irregular charging of the battery may occur which leads to a much shorter battery life.
- Rechargeable batteries undergo self-discharging when left unused. Camcorder battery packs tend to self-discharge even faster when it’s hot. Don’t leave a digital camcorder in a hot car or in direct sunlight. Also… Be careful not to discharge your camcorder battery pack too deeply (Less than 1v). Discharging to absolute zero will quickly make your batteries useless.
- If lithium ion type batteries will not be in use for a month or longer, it is recommended that the battery be removed from the device and stored in a cool, dry, clean place. Just remember... the refrigerator is cool... but not dry.
- Invest in a good stand-alone battery charger for your camcorder. Make sure that the battery charger you get has good reviews and is well made. Chargers with micro-controller chips are usually the best choice. Do not attempt to charge non-rechargeable batteries. They can explode!
- NiMH batteries should not be charged in a NiCad charger, unless the charger is specifically made for both types of batteries. Be sure to carefully read the instructions that come with the charger and the battery so you can use them safely.
I hope this information will be helpful to you the next time you buy battery packs for your camcorder!
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Have fun...! Dan (Editor)