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  • Lithium Battery Observations

    Last year, rather than invest a hundred bucks for a single Ridgid lithium battery and more for the "proper" charger, I purchased a flashlight/drill combo with two lithium batteries and charger from Ryobi. Price was low and I was curious if the performance would live up to the hype. I'm into flashlights as a hobby and I use several different sizes of rechargeable lithium ion batteries which perform well and save a lot of money over single use. I can charge these batteries when they are only partly drained or to the point they shut down without a problem. I mentioned this because with the 18volt Ryobi lithium ion battery, it seem if I try to charge a battery that is not drained much the charger malfunctions. The lights flash and indicate a "defective" battery, but if I drain the battery completely it will charge fully with not problem. I have had problems when trying to use these same batteries if they have been stored in a very cold environment. Now I have mixed thoughts regarding the pros and cons of what should be a superior battery technology compared to nicads. My Ridgid nicads are amazing! Been going strong for several years now.

  • #2
    Re: Lithium Battery Observations

    So do you think that the troubles you had were due to the batteries technology or the charger's? Over the years, I've read so many different points of view as to the proper and improper ways to recharge all the forms of different batteries that, to be honest, I don't have a clue as to what is the right or the wrong way. I long ago gave up on the idea of trying to keep my batteries charged at all time and now I just recharge them only when they run out of power.
    Teach your kids about taxes..........eat 30 percent of their ice cream.

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    • #3
      Re: Lithium Battery Observations

      Dave, I'm positive that in the case of nicads it is best to run them way down because of the memory issue. When it comes to lithium's, since they don't have that memory problem it should be okay with the battery to chage them at any point, near full, half way or way, way discharged. I have to think there is some circuity design with the charger that is tripping the "defective battery" indicator when I attempt to charge them and they are close to fully charged. Since I can discharge them fully and then put them on the charger and get a successful, full charge without a hitch, the batteries seem to be working. I did expect the Ryobi lithiums to work just like my flashlight lithiums, but they don't. The other odd thing with them and cold weather is also something to consider when switching from nicads. I can't knock them for performance when it comes to power and the abitlity to run full out until they cut out. I'm sure a next generation lithium will work out more bugs. Frank

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      • #4
        Re: Lithium Battery Observations

        The "memory" issue is a misconception. Do a web search and you can read about it. There have been many posts on the net from scientists about this. Yes, I do use the battery, NiCd, until it starts to degrade in performance before charging, I use a fan over the charger/battery as heat is a killer on any battery. There is no memory effect on any modern battery pack. What can happen, is people leave batteries on chargers too long after charge, run them down till dead, and repeated recharging nearly full packs can fry the cells that are fully charged already. You have a series connection of cells [1.25v]and not all will be of the same value, often 1 or 2 weak cells can cause the whole pack to fail as they will indicate low charge but the rest of the pk. is charged, thus damaging the good cells too.

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        • #5
          Re: Lithium Battery Observations

          Originally posted by Andrew M. View Post
          The "memory" issue is a misconception. Do a web search and you can read about it. There have been many posts on the net from scientists about this. Yes, I do use the battery, NiCd, until it starts to degrade in performance before charging, I use a fan over the charger/battery as heat is a killer on any battery. There is no memory effect on any modern battery pack. What can happen, is people leave batteries on chargers too long after charge, run them down till dead, and repeated recharging nearly full packs can fry the cells that are fully charged already. You have a series connection of cells [1.25v]and not all will be of the same value, often 1 or 2 weak cells can cause the whole pack to fail as they will indicate low charge but the rest of the pk. is charged, thus damaging the good cells too.
          Andrew, thanks for your input. I remember reading a post at "candlepowerfourms.com" on the "battery" section, something about the importance of using batteries of very similar voltage in series to prevent fire and or explosion. I forgot the term used but it has to do with an imbalance of voltage running across the cells? I never leave my batteries just sitting in the charger and from now on I won't attempt a charge on a slightly discharged lithium. My Ridgid twin nicad charger has the built in fan and I agree the cooling helps. I have damaged Ryobi 18volt nicads by running them down and trying to charge them while still hot from the discharge, bad idea!

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          • #6
            Re: Lithium Battery Observations

            Merry x-mas guy's. Some observations on LI batts now that we have a couple of years experience with them.
            1) self discharge-I was under the impression that one of the benefits of LI batts was a very low self discharge rate. The only LI battery large voltage power tools we have are
            the Ridgid 18V and 24V. The 24V self discharges very quickly and the 18V less, however it still seems faster than the 18V Nicads we have. We have some small 4V LI batt drills and they don't seem to self disharge which is the same for my LI powered Dremel tool. We work with a couple of contractors who use Makita LI batts and they claim no self discharge issues. The self discharge on our Ridgid LI batts doesn't cause any problems as we are using them so frequently, however it does seem strange that they are the only LI batts that seem to have that issue.

            3) Nicad memory-From what I have read it would indicate that Andrew is correct in that if you pull a partialy discharged Nicad battery from a tool and throw it in the charger each day you won't have the old dreaded false "bottom" memory issue. The explanation I read stated this would only happen if you were recharging from the same level of discharge every time.

            2)cold weather operation-The 18 and 24V LI batts we have die very quickly when left over night in trucks when the temps are below 40 degrees. If left in a warm room overnight and transported to the job site in the warm cab they function normaly. If left out in the cold they can be brought back to life by sticking them in a charger for a few moments.

            3)Heat-If we are running a tool very hard the "overheat protection cicuit" in the LI batts will shut down the batt. We can definately overwork or abuse a tool to a greater extent with the Nicad batts as opposed to the LI's. For a professional contractor this is good and bad news. It's probably good to have the tool shut down if it is really being overworked to the point of damage. When we are on a job and trying to get it finished we will take a chance on damaging the tool to do so. I know our crews complain about the LI batts shutting down prematurely when they get hot.

            4)run time-We have 18V 1.5Ah LI batts and 2.5Ah Nicad batts so I have no direct comparison. The 2.5 Nicads have a greater kick, however that is to be expected.

            5)Longevity-We replace the heavily used Nicads on pretty much a two year cycle. We are just at the three year date on our first 24V LI batts and some of them are getting soft and need replacing. We also have several of the 18V LI batts that are shot after apprx two and a half years. With all the complaints about people having problems getting LI batts (especially 24V) I was a little nervous about the response when I contacted our closest service center which is located about 30 miles from us. I called last week and was informed that they had a good supply of 18 and 24V LI batts. They advised I should bring the batts, the charger and a single tool for testing. I will bring all the batts, even the marginal ones, all the chargers, just to be sure, and a variety of the tools when I drive up this coming week. I'm curious how they will test the batts. On a straight voltage test I have noticed that the 18V batts will hold about 20-21 volts fresh from the charger when new and only around 18 volts when performance is gone.
            The person I talked with at the service center told me they can perform the necessary tests and have me down the road in a few minutes.
            Stay tuned boys. I'll post a report after the visit.....Ray
            Last edited by roadrashray; 12-28-2009, 09:43 AM.

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            • #7
              Re: Lithium Battery Observations

              Ray, I am very interested how they test them. I have several older 12v NiCd packs that are getting weak. They must be over 4 years old. I would have to drive several hours round trip to go to a center but it might be worth it if they would swap them out right then.

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              • #8
                Re: Lithium Battery Observations

                Originally posted by Andrew M. View Post
                Ray, I am very interested how they test them. I have several older 12v NiCd packs that are getting weak. They must be over 4 years old. I would have to drive several hours round trip to go to a center but it might be worth it if they would swap them out right then.
                I agree Andrew and am very interested in how they test the batts. The only experience I have had is testing the golf cart batts used in my RV. The process is to put a 5Ah load on them and read the voltage level. I'm assuming they must have some type of tester that puts a load on the batt and takes a reading. I guess we will find out.......Ray

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                • #9
                  Re: Lithium Battery Observations

                  Originally posted by Andrew M. View Post
                  Ray, I am very interested how they test them. I have several older 12v NiCd packs that are getting weak. They must be over 4 years old. I would have to drive several hours round trip to go to a center but it might be worth it if they would swap them out right then.
                  Andrew, with the price of gas being what it is, would it be cheaper to call and speak to someone and then ship a battery for testing and possible replacement? I don't have a repair center close either and I might look into shipping when the time comes, rather than drive. Please let us know how you make out. Frank

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                  • #10
                    Re: Lithium Battery Observations

                    Originally posted by Frankiarmz View Post
                    Andrew, with the price of gas being what it is, would it be cheaper to call and speak to someone and then ship a battery for testing and possible replacement? I don't have a repair center close either and I might look into shipping when the time comes, rather than drive. Please let us know how you make out. Frank
                    Frank......Good idea and several posters to this forum have done just that, however most service centers require a tool and charger in addition to the batt which complicates(makes costlier) the shipping process. I'm a little curious where Andrew could live in SoCal that would require a 100 mile drive to a service center? Must be a Hermit living in one of those right wing John Birch compounds on top of Mt. Gorgornio(SP)....Ray
                    Last edited by roadrashray; 12-28-2009, 09:41 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Lithium Battery Observations

                      Thank you Ray and others for all the info on LiI batteries. They are new to me and I want to use and charge them correctly. My new Ridgid 12v drill/driver did not come with an owner's manual in the box and you might be able to help me with a charging question. At what stage in the charging procedure would you expect a defective battery to be recognized and the flashing lights to appear? On its first re-charge after first use, one of my 2 batteries went through the stages of evaluation and charging only to then, at the end of the appropriate charge, go back and flash "defective". I had thought the evaluation period would have turned up the "defect". What do you think might be happening? This "defective" battery has powered the driver just fine on a test; haven't used it on a job yet. Thanks.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Lithium Battery Observations

                        I have 6-7 of the 12 LI drills. I love the drills but the batteries are horrible. I went today and bought two more 12LI drills and guess what. three of the four batteries come up defective. So I took them back to the store and they tested them. They were defective. So they grabbed me two more drill sets and tested those also. only one of those batteries came up defective. what's the deal. Who make ridgid batteries?

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                        • #13
                          Re: Lithium Battery Observations

                          Originally posted by ridgid2455 View Post
                          I have 6-7 of the 12 LI drills. I love the drills but the batteries are horrible. I went today and bought two more 12LI drills and guess what. three of the four batteries come up defective. So I took them back to the store and they tested them. They were defective. So they grabbed me two more drill sets and tested those also. only one of those batteries came up defective. what's the deal. Who make ridgid batteries?
                          TTI makes ridgid's batteries, cells come from Moli Energy in canada or from Samsung. The reason they are "defective" is because they self-discharged below critical level due to sitting on the shelf for too long. This can happen to any brand. Try a different store that might have a newer batch.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Lithium Battery Observations

                            Hello there & thanks for the info,

                            so the LI batteries must be keep charged and not allowed to become discharged? Does this permanently damage the battery. That just seems like a horrible choise for any portable, cordless device. It would seem like the cells or the charging circuit/protection was not selected or designed properly. So I buy a new Ridgid drill and if it sat on the shelf a long time I get a dud? I hope that would not be the case. What does Rodgod have to say?

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                            • #15
                              Re: Lithium Battery Observations

                              What can happen, is people leave batteries on chargers too long after charge
                              My opinion is in this day and age knowing what we (that being the manufacturers) know about various battery chemistries there should be no reason to have a battery charger that is not smart enough to completely shut off when the battery is charged. In other words there should be no risk or detrimental effect on the battery if it sits in the charger once a full charge has been obtained.

                              Anything less to me is the company trying to reduce costs.
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