Basic Knowledge of Batteries
Much of my battery knowledge comes from my personal experience working with batteries. I also draw on test results from our own laboratoriy. While laboratory analyses have their rightful place, I respect the opinions of battery users, especially the feedback from them. This interface with the user gives me an advantage in learning how the battery behaves in the field. Such information is, in my opinion, more important than regurgitating reams of laboratory tests. The critical mass speaks louder than fancy brochures and printed specifications.
There is no black and white in the battery field, only many shades of gray. The battery behaves much like us folks — it’s a black box with a mind and mood of its own; it’s mystical and unexplainable. For some users, the battery causes no problems at all; for others it’s nothing but a problem.
When looking at a battery we must keep in mind that it is electrochemical. It’s a vessel that is slow to fill, holds relatively little storage capacity and has a defined life span. Although critical improvements have been made over the years, the progress is marginal compared with the vast advancements in microelectronics. As long as the battery relies on an electrochemical process, limitations will prevail.
As there is no perfect spouses or ideal employees, so also have batteries strengths and limitations. The manufacturer has the choices of building a battery for long runtimes and low cost, but this pack will have a limited service life. Another variety is high load capabilities but this pack will be bulky. A third group offers extended life but the battery is heavy and expensive.
Manufacturers of electronic devices base the performance on a perfect battery, a condition that only exists when the battery is new. Runtime, low cost and safety have been the number one criteria, and in consumer products longevity is often neglected. With the electric vehicle, this emphasis is changing, a move that will benefit the battery industry immensely. Meanwhile, there are ways to prolong batteries
The basic knowledge is written for the professional user who needs a basic understanding of battery behavior. It also served the ordinary user who wants to get the more cycle life out of a pack. We stresses the strengths and limitations of the battery, explains different battery types and provides useful hints in choosing a battery.