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Thread: NiMH battery in "Nicad" Charger?

  1. #1
    Enlightened branny's Avatar
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    Default NiMH battery in \"Nicad\" Charger?

    One question that always seems to spring up(at least for me): Can you charge a NiMH battery in a "Ni-Cad only" dumb charger? I figure the voltage is the same, and the current level should be quite low. You should be able to use it, just increasing charge time in proportion to battery capacity.

    Obviously this isn't ideal, and I use a MHC401fs personally, but you always see "Must be charged in NiMH charger" in advertising for NiMH batteries, is this strictly true?

    Brandon.

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    Default Re: NiMH battery in \"Nicad\" Charger?

    Hello Brandon,

    The problem comes from determining when the batteries are fully charged. Your system might be acceptable for a completely dead cell, but how would you work partially discharged cells?

    The dumb chargers rely on a timer to terminate the charge. You would end up having to keep track of how much you used the cells, what temperature they have been exposed to, and what their rate of self discharge is. If you put all of this information together along with the efficiency of the charger, it would probably work.

    It seems easier to me to just go with a smart charger.

    Tom

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* MrAl's Avatar
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    Default Re: NiMH battery in \"Nicad\" Charger?

    Hello there branny,

    Well, the main difference between the NiCd and NiMH cell
    charger is that the NiMH cell charger has a way to detect
    when the cell is completely charged (or near so) and
    shut off. This feature is important because the NiMH cell
    is damaged more easily from overcharging then the NiCd cell.
    The NiCd cell can take low current overcharging for
    hours without too much damage while the NiMH cell isnt
    as hardy.
    This means you would need to find a way to detect when
    the NiMH cell was fully charged or else risk shortening
    it's life by a lot of cycles.
    Since you need charge rates around C/2 or better
    (that's 1 amp for a 2000mah cell) to use the minus
    delta V method (talked about in the other thread)
    you cant use a C/10 NiCd charger for that either.
    Also, in most cheapy NiCd chargers they dont regulate
    the current level, which is another requirement for
    using the minus delta V method.

    Summing up...

    While the cheapy NiCd charger will charge the NiMH cells
    there is always the danger of overcharging and ruining
    the cells so that's the main drawback.

    SilverFox:
    You posted exactly 50 seconds before mine :-)

    Also SilverFox got me thinking:

    It's possible to build your own constant current charger
    if you want to do that we could put together a circuit
    that would run off of a dc wall wart which are fairly
    cheap, but you'll have to watch for the minus delta V
    with a meter yourself.

    Take care and good luck with them,
    Al

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    Enlightened branny's Avatar
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    Default Re: NiMH battery in \"Nicad\" Charger?

    Thanks guys! Accurate, concise and comprehensive! I wouldn't use a dumb charger myself, I have a Maha charger, which is great. But I have a friend who I discovered tonight is still using some aged 600mAh nicads in his digital camera, needless to say he's not getting many photos per charge. I have quite a few AA NiMH around as I sell a few on the side, and I gave him some...he just wanted to know if he could get by with his old charger. I might just tell him to err on the side of caution: Discharge the batteries completely (which he does at the moment anyway- Nicads) and I'll calculate a charge time to 90% charge. The batteries are cheap anyway so frying a couple wouldn't be a disaster.

    Thanks again! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

    Brandon.

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    Default Re: NiMH battery in \"Nicad\" Charger?

    Hello Brandon,

    One word of caution. Battery cells can leak and explode if "forgotten" and overcharged for an extended period of time.

    Tom

  6. #6

    Default Re: NiMH battery in \"Nicad\" Charger?

    Well,
    Strictly speaking, both nimh and nicad will take constant current trickling at low rates. Manufacturers spec 0.05 to 0.1C for trickle rate but I'd feel much better with a lower rate. 0.1C seems to be a standard for nicads (both the MagCharger and Streamlight constant current trickle chargers push at this rate) but for nimh, 0.05C or lower is safer. I believe the charger in the TigerLight trickles its nimh pack at a constant 0.1C.

    In any case, it's always wise to A) not leave the cells on charger for extended amounts of time (a month or more) and B) check for heating or bulging of the cells.

    Don't forget to add in an efficiency factor when calculating a charge time. 15-25% are about where I'd start. It'll take longer than the numbers may indicate.

    Wilkey

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    Enlightened branny's Avatar
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    Default Re: NiMH battery in \"Nicad\" Charger?

    Thanks, I will warn him.
    From memory, this charger charges 2 sets of 2 batteries in series/parallel, and it quoted a 7 hour charge time for 2 batteries, 14 hours for 4. Given that it was supplied with 600mAh nicads, even with 2 batteries I guesstimate (I'll check, the charger did give mA ratings) that the charger is only providing around 80-90mA. Given that the Maha's have a trickle current of 50mA, it should have a little leeway before it melts/explodes (especially if he charges 4 batteries at a time!).
    Actually, now I come to think of it,he does have a 7 day timer, I'll tell him to use that!

    Brandon.

  8. #8

    Default Re: NiMH battery in \"Nicad\" Charger?

    [ QUOTE ]
    branny said:
    I might just tell him to err on the side of caution: Discharge the batteries completely (which he does at the moment anyway- Nicads) and I'll calculate a charge time to 90% charge. The batteries are cheap anyway so frying a couple wouldn't be a disaster.
    .

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Ironically, this is also a lifetime limiting solution, perhaps severely so. NiMH don't take well to being discharged to low voltages, 'grinding out the last few shots' can easily reverse charge the weakest of the lot, causing premature (fairly random) failure. Because NiMH don't take 'trickle charges' like NiCd or Lead/Acid cells do, you're often best advised to get a charger that can treat each cell as an individual, this reason being often cited. Part of the American Spirit no doubt, we're all special you know and should get individual treatment.....

    OTOH, you're spot on, it's a cheap experiment, I'd have a lash on that basis alone.

    Good luck.

    Doug Owen

  9. #9
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    Default Re: NiMH battery in \"Nicad\" Charger?

    What about using NiMH in a phone that has NiCAD batteries, and sits in a recharging cradle?

    I would think that this phone cradle, as the phone is designed to always sit in the cradle, is a very low trickle.

    I am about ready to try it, I was given a Siemens 2.4 gig 2420 system, with two extra phones.

    Any thoughts?

  10. #10

    Default Re: NiMH battery in \"Nicad\" Charger?

    The Siemen's is supposed to be able to use either. I've not left NiMh in for over a week yet.

    BTW the negative delta V is only seen at rapid charge rate and would be too easy to miss.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: NiMH battery in \"Nicad\" Charger?

    Regarding the original charger question: Since you can get a smart charger with 4 independent channels for as little as $10, why would you want to mess around with a dumb charger and risk the batteries?

    Regarding the cordless phone question: I have been using a very old NiMH pack in a Panasonic that came with Ni-CD batteries. It has been going strong for about a year and the phone works much better now than on the original batteries. I believe this is a safe mod. The only way this might cause a problem is if left on charge continuously without any use. Then the batteries would probably not last as long. My NiMH pack is over 6 years old now.

  12. #12

    Default Re: NiMH battery in \"Nicad\" Charger?

    Inside my portable electric shaver was 2 AA's that died about 6 months ago. I've been using it as a corded shaver. Recently, I replaced those 2 Nicad AA's with Rayovacs IC3 15 minute 2Ah AA system. I decided to do this since each battery has an auto shutoff.
    It actually works quite well, 30 minutes will charge it right up and
    then the batteries cut themselves off. The only problem is the shaver has a 6 LED showing how much charge is left - it always stays at the bottom - which leads me to believe that the nimh's V is lower than nicads. Actually when it's almost completely full, it reaches about half way up the LED bar.

    As a side note, I now charge up this shaver between 1 and 2months.
    Whereas it used to last about 2 weeks. awesome.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: NiMH battery in \"Nicad\" Charger?

    [ QUOTE ]
    Lurker said:
    Regarding the original charger question: Since you can get a smart charger with 4 independent channels for as little as $10,....

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Where would one find such a thing? I'm definately interested.
    Fester

  14. #14
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    Default Re: NiMH battery in \"Nicad\" Charger?

    The Rayovac PS1 charger is often only $10, unless packaged with batteries which makes it a couple of dollars more. It is carried at Wal-Mart as well as many other places. There are better (i.e. faster) smart chargers, but not for anything close to this price. Mine has served well for years. I think it is a great value.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: NiMH battery in \"Nicad\" Charger?

    Thanks [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/bowdown.gif[/img]

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