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Topic: Rechargeable battery question
Message: Posted by: sethb (Jul 7, 2008 12:11PM)
My PASO ProCast50 is almost two years old now, and has been used (and recharged) about 40-50 times or so. Maybe it's my imagination, but it does not seem to be holding a charge for as long (or as much) as it used to. I thought that a rechargeable battery (12 volts, sealed) should be good for at least 100 recharges if I haven't abused or damaged it in some way, no?

Since I'm a magician and not an electrician, does anybody know if there is some sort of electrical meter or gizmo I can hook up to the battery to determine if it is really fully charged, and how many amp-hours there are on it? I know there are simple "battery testers" for small "C" and "D" cells, but they usually only tell you if the battery is "good" or "bad," with no measure of capacity or strength.

Thanks in advance for any info or suggestions. SETH
Message: Posted by: ClintonMagus (Jul 7, 2008 01:07PM)
If you don't allow rechargeables to discharge FULLY before recharging, they will not hold a charge as long. This is known as developing a "memory" with NiCads. The newer rechargeable technologies (lithium and NiMH) don't experience as much of a problem.

I have never seen a capacity tester for anything but flooded cell type batteries, but I'm sure someone has something.
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Jul 7, 2008 01:38PM)
I don't own the PASO, but something to understand about rechargable batteries is how you treat them the first time you get them.

They need to charge fully before the first use. This is critical. Sometimes you need to cycle them to full, and then empty, and then to full, and then to empty, before normally charging them whenever you want. This is usually in the instructions (men are known to ignore instruction manuals.) :)

If you interrupt the first charge, you shorten the overall performance of the battery.

- Donald
Message: Posted by: sethb (Jul 7, 2008 02:22PM)
From what little I know about batteries, this battery is an old-fashioned lead-acid battery, like the one in your car. It does need (and got) a full charge prior to first use, but I understand that it does not necessarily need to be completely discharged prior to recharging. In fact, supposedly it is harmful to this kind of battery to completely discharge it, and the PASO has some sort of protection circuit that automatically shuts off the unit when the battery gets too low, to protect the battery.

Similarly, this type of battery supposedly has no memory. So I was told that it doesn't matter if you charge it when it's only one-quarter or one-half discharged; in fact, based on that info, it seems like it's better to keep "topping it off" instead of waiting for it to run down. However, I will often run the unit all day until it shuts off for lack of enough juice, then recharge it first thing when I get home.

Like I said, I'm a magician, not an electrician, and this is the information I've picked up so far. Could be right, could be wrong, could be old wives' tales or urban legends, but I had to do something, and this was it! SETH
Message: Posted by: Michael Messing (Jul 7, 2008 04:59PM)
My understanding of sealed lead acid batteries (SLA), which is what the PASO has, needs to be charged at least monthly to keep it in good condition. They should be able to be recharged 100s of times but they do go bad. Here's a quote from Appex Battery ( http://www.apexbattery.com/faq-seleacba.html ): "How long do SLA batteries last? When SLA batteries are charged and discharged according to recommendations they can reach nearly 1000 cycles."

You are correct that SLA batteries do not have a memory and should not be completely discharged. It can damage them.

It sounds like you got a bad battery.

Message: Posted by: gallagher (Jul 8, 2008 07:13AM)
Michael got it pretty much right. SLA Batteries have NO `Memory Effect´, can be charged and charged and charged; but they do wear out! Two years IS the life-expectency of this type battery. Cold/Freezing temperatures also shorten the lifespan.
When the Battery is `Worn-out´, it will usually still hold 13.5 Volts, when charged;... but no longer the Amps. Replacing the Battery is not difficult, and I would recommend a Panasonic Battery. It´s worth the couple of bucks extra;...much more rugged then `chinese specials´.
all the `power to you´,
Message: Posted by: ClintonMagus (Jul 8, 2008 07:20AM)
I wasn't familiar with the PASO, but it sounds like it might use a motorcycle-type battery.

If it makes you feel any better, we use 250-cell strings of flooded-cell batteries at work. They are twenty-year batteries, and we get from eight to eleven years, on average, from them. This is only to caution you to take any manufacturer specs with a grain of salt.
Message: Posted by: sethb (Jul 8, 2008 10:07AM)
Thanks everyone, for all the info and advice. Sounds like it might be worth replacing the battery, which fortunately is only about a $25 investment.

One of these days, I'd like to see a solar-powered rechargeable wireless PA on the market. Now, THERE'S a neat idea that somebody ought to pursue for all of us outdoor workers! (Actually, I believe there is already some sort of fold-up solar panel that's available to campers, but I don't think it generates enough juice for a PA system.) SETH
Message: Posted by: gallagher (Jul 16, 2008 09:28AM)
Hey seth, that idea of a solar-powered-rechargible-system is good. Could you imagine, though, a `stand-bicycle´ with a small dynamo, on the side of the show !?! man, it could look really great; with a hot assistent pedeling away, so that we have enough power to talk!
all the best,
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Jul 21, 2008 04:18AM)
My 35 watt Hisonic has the same type car battery. They are suppose to last a year but the first few did not. The one I have now seems to be making it.

Advice is the same they tell me. Charge it at least monthly. The charging light goes off on mine within a few minutes of a charge however. I use it a little before charging also.

I have a 150 watt system as well but I find out more and more venues have me hooked up so its nice not having to haul more equipment with me.