A Bluffers Guide to Batteries


Mike Colyer TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online

The Christmas decorations are down; the family have all headed home – and the New Year’s festivities have drawn to a close. I put my hand up to it – I’m a little drained. As such, I figured I’d start the new year with a Bluffer’s Guide to Batteries. With the cold weather setting in, it can be a nightmare to pick the right disposable batteries for small kit – and maintain rechargeable batteries in larger items. This article will take an overview of which batteries will last longer under certain usage conditions – and how to achieve the cell’s maximum potential.

Firstly, let’s take a quick glance at disposable batteries, assuming your device is using AAA / AA / C / D / PP3 cells. Disposables are not always the first choice for use in the field as ongoing costs can become expensive – but there are two distinct advantages: ‘starting’ voltage and (arguably) roll off. Disposable batteries such as the aforementioned (with the exception of PP3) come charged with 1.5V of power, unlike their same-sized rechargeable counterparts which tend to (once you have charged them) start their lives at 1.2V.

Another factor is “roll off” – the way the voltage drops over time during use.

Alkaline cells tend to have a gradual roll off in voltage over time if used in a consistent fashion, which can be useful if your equipment can give hints the battery is running low. Rechargeable cells tend to hold a constant voltage longer (which in its own right is an advantage) – but tend to then drop below a useful voltage quicker than an alkaline cell.

Of course, certain equipment does not give the luxury of allowing the user to pick what battery to use and instead comes with a specialist rechargeable battery. Speaking generally, there a few very popular types that are used, be it; NiCd (Nickel Cadmium), Ni-MH (Nickel Metal Hydride), SLA / LA ((Sealed) Lead Acid) & Li-ion (Lithium Ion) to name but a few.

There are a few things to consider to ensure not only a long cycle time for each battery, but a long overall lifetime.

Firstly, if your battery is NiCd, NiMH or Lead Acid – it may suffer from the ‘Memory Effect’. This is when, if a battery is not fully depleted before charging, it may no longer be able to hold a full charge, thus meaning less functioning operational hours. As a general rule of thumb, each of the aforementioned cells should be completely flattened and then completed charged once every couple of months. The same is true for any device that has a battery gauge of some description (be that your laptop or even your iPhone!). If you want to keep that gauge accurate and reduce premature shut-offs (“Hey! You said I had 5% left!”) – then it is worth flattening and fully charging the device at least once every couple of months.

Lithium – Ion cells are particularly popular in cameras. Two notes here: If you won’t be using a battery for a long amount of time, don’t leave it on the shelf fully charged. The magic number here is around 40% charged, then charge it fully before full use. If you find yourself in a situation where a Li-Ion battery needs to be stored fully charged ready for use, the trick is to keep it cool (around 15C). If you are working in a hot climate – these batteries will start to ‘leak’ charge at a higher rate if stored at temperatures above 25C.

And with that – my closing tip: Batteries, like most middle-aged cameramen / women, don’t like sudden changes in temperature. If you are looking to get the longest life out of your battery (and cameraman / woman) – ensure that a constant environment is maintained for your cell. Ideally, this is around room temperature. Also ensure all ‘shocks’ are (i.e. leaving the warm of the truck for the cold of the football ground) are properly managed, providing insulation for the battery and maybe your camera staff if the budget permits.


Tags: iss129 | batteries | alkaline | ni-mh | li-ion | lithium | Mike Colyer
Contributing Author Mike Colyer

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • PAG Batteries at NAB 2014

    PAG Batteries at NAB 2014

  • Bebob V-Mount Batteries at NAB 2019

    Bebob V-Mount Batteries at NAB 2019

  • PAG talk about flying with batteries at IBC 2014

    PAG talk about flying with batteries at IBC 2014

  • Blueshape Batteries at IBC 2013

    Blueshape Batteries at IBC 2013

  • IDX at IBC 2016

    IDX at IBC 2016

  • AntonBauer at BVE 2015

    AntonBauer at BVE 2015

  • KITPLUS rig setup at IBC 2014

    KITPLUS rig setup at IBC 2014

  • Polecam talk accessories on BroadcastShow LIVE 2013

    Polecam talk accessories on BroadcastShow LIVE 2013

  • Anton Bauer at NAB 2012

    Anton Bauer at NAB 2012

  • PAG at IBC2011

    PAG at IBC2011

  • Anton Bauer at IBC2011

    Anton Bauer at IBC2011


Articles
TV Futures - The Shadowing Experience
Daniel Jones My name is Daniel Jones, and it is no accident that I’m currently studying BSc (Hons) Television and Broadcasting at the University of Portsmouth. Since completing GSCE media studies I have been constantly questioning what I watch with questions such as, “Wow, how was that filmed?” or “That looks amazing, I wonder how long that took?” It should come as no surprise that I made it a big focus of mine to get myself some real work experience to give myself some answers to these production questions.
Tags: iss136 | portsmouth university | runner | student | education | training | Daniel Jones
Contributing Author Daniel Jones Click to read or download PDF
BSC Expo 2019 Report
Paul MacKenzie BSC Expo returned to the Battersea Evolution on Friday February 1st and Saturday 2nd. It is a busy and friendly event though this year in need of some temperature control: exhibitors around the entrance area were uncomfortably aware of the wintry conditions outside and the main hall was in need of cooling.
Tags: iss136 | bsc | cinematography | canon | c700 | c200 | cartoni | holdan | blackmagic | peli | panasonic | sennheiser | sony | fs5 | teradek | viten | flowtech | Paul MacKenzie
Contributing Author Paul MacKenzie Click to read or download PDF
Living LIVE at BVE with Ross Video
Jon Pratchett KitPlus’ Jon Pratchett chats to Stuart Russell, Ross Video, in the BVE studio. Covering customer partnerships and loyalty, pain points, growth, industry trends, pace of IP adoption, 12g SDI technologies, UHD / HDR, 8k, AI and we try to get a hint of new products on the horizon...
Tags: iss136 | ross video | 12g sdi | uhd | hdr | ip | bve 2019 | bvexpo | Jon Pratchett
Contributing Author Jon Pratchett Click to read or download PDF
4k and HDR Wireless Camera Transmitters
David Edwards Across the globe, live events represented over 50 percent of the most watched TV programs last year. However, big budget episodic shows are impacting live TV and the way viewers want to see their content. Viewers are demanding the same quality of production for live event broadcasts as they see in pre-recorded TV series and films. Producers of live content are looking to new, immersive and cinematic mobile camera views to better achieve these results. This presents a challenge to live production teams as these new camera views and angles must match the quality of the rest of the production -  the demand for mobility means that the cameras need to be wireless.
Tags: iss136 | wireless | hdr | 4k | transmitter | bandwidth | imt vislink | hcam | David Edwards
Contributing Author David Edwards Click to read or download PDF
Sennheiser Memory Mic User Review
Dr Anthony Willman The Sennheiser Memory mic, adding to the new generation of semi-professional equipment that is helping the need for high quality audio in parallel markets that until now, did not have the budgets to achieve ‘great’ results.
Tags: iss136 | sennheiser | memory mic | doctor | audio recorder | Dr Anthony Willman
Contributing Author Dr Anthony Willman Click to read or download PDF