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Batteries Question.

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Talal Itani, Jul 15, 2004.

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  1. Talal Itani

    Talal Itani Guest


    I would like to know what causes batteries to go bad. I have seen so many
    electronic devices with leaked and rusted batteries.

    Best Regards,
    Talal Itani
  2. Dave Platt

    Dave Platt Guest

    Modern "alkaline" batteries use a liquid electrolyte which
    incorporates a good deal of potassium hydroxide ("lye"), a corrosive
    alkaline material. Over time, the electrolyte can attack the metal
    shell of the battery, or the seals around the upper (positive)
    electrode, and leak out.

    I've read, in a couple of places, that this corrosive action is
    relatively small if the battery is in its "as new" condition and has
    not been partially discharged, and that the electrochemical processes
    which occur when you draw charge out of the battery have the effect of
    starting or speeding up the corrosion of the shell. This seems to
    match my experience - alkaline batteries rarely seem to leak when
    they're still in their packages, and leak rather more often once they
    are partially or completely discharged.

    Most equipment manufacturers recommend removing batteries from the
    equipment if it's not to be used for a while, so as to reduce the risk
    of equipment damage from leakage. If you can't do that - if you
    really do need to have the equipment available "on standby" for rapid
    use - then it's probably a good idea to swap out the batteries for
    fresh ones any time you've used it significantly, and perhaps every 6
    months in any case.

    I've recently read one suggestion (by a ham-radio operator) that
    battery-powered equipment which is used only occasionally, should be
    powered by "heavy duty" carbon/zinc batteries rather than by
    alkaline batteries. Carbon/zinc batteries have less power per cell
    (roughly half as much for the "heavy duty" types), but they're less
    expensive, and they use a chemistry with a near-neutral electrolyte
    pH. If they "die of old age" it usually seems to be due to the
    electrolyte drying out, rather than chewing its way out of its cage
    and attacking innocent bystanders :)

    Unfortunately the "heavy duty" carbon/zinc batteries seem to be almost
    impossible to find in retail stores these days... everybody's
    carrying alkalines.
  3. It seems thatt he only batteries the 99 cent stores carry are the
    zinc-carbon types. Cheap, too, something like four for 99 cents.
  4. Dave Platt

    Dave Platt Guest

    I'd sorta hoped that that would turn out to be the case... thanks!
    I'll check out a few.

    I've found a number of sites on the Internet which do sell the
    heavy-duty carbon/zinc variety. One place has Eveready AA cells at
    $0.15 (minimum order is 48).

    I'll have to stock up, one of these days.
  5. Jim Yanik

    Jim Yanik Guest

    (Dave Platt) wrote in
    I remember carbon-zinc cells leaking,and that's why manufacturers brought
    out their policies against leakage.
    And alkalines will last in standby far longer than carbon-zinc cells.
    BTW,I see "heavy-duty" C-Z cells in most retail stores.

    To clean alkaline corrosion,use ordinary household vinegar to neutralize
    the alkalinity,then rinse and dry.
  6. Bob Wilson

    Bob Wilson Guest

    So, what exactly kind of batteries are we talking about here? I means what
    SPECIFIC chemistry?

    The answer to your question will be vastly different if you want to know about
    (say) alkaline cells, as compared to (say) Li-Ion cells. Without this
    information, no one can answer your question.

  7. Jim Adney

    Jim Adney Guest

    I just gotta say that this sounds completely backwards to me.

    I've seen many, many items damaged by the old style carbon zinc
    batteries, and only a very few damaged by alkalines. Part of the
    problem is that the carbon zinc chemistry uses an acidic electrolyte
    and acids attack metals.

    Alkalies generally ignore metals, but there are some exceptions.

    The other half of the problem is that alkaline batteries are the main
    product of most battery companies, leaving the carbon-zinc cells as
    the loss leaders. This means that they will be made as cheaply as

    No matter how cheaply you can buy carbon-zinc cells, I'd strongly
    recommend that you not leave them in any device for long unless that
    device really had to value to you.

  8. mike

    mike Guest

    Many manufacturers claim to replace damaged equipment.
    I'm currently testing that out with Duracell.
    Here's my damaged radio:

    My intital email contact with Gilette/Duracell was very positive.
    They claim to be sending me a prepaid label so I can ship the radio to
    them. We'll see...

    I have taken the batteries out of everything I don't use daily. ;-)


    Return address is VALID.
    Bunch of stuff For Sale and Wanted at the link below.
    Sony Digital Camera
    Compaq Aero floppy,ram,battery.
    FT-212RH 2-meter 45W transceiver.
    Toshiba & Compaq LiIon Batteries, Test Equipment
    30pS pulser, Tektronix Concept Books, spot welding head...
  9. Louis Bybee

    Louis Bybee Guest

    I just hate it when people don't post complete information! You didn't tell
    us if the radio still works or not! :-]

    I just called Duracell yesterday about a high end flashlight of mine damaged
    by their batteries. As it turned out the lady indicated I was a bit past the
    expiration date (true - guess I need better glasses), but she was, out of
    good will, going to send me a new flashlight, and a coupon for new
    batteries. It hasn't arrived yet, but at this point I am impressed!

    Good customer relations on their part. I suspect I will lean towards
    Duracell as I buy batteries in the future.

    Remove the two fish in address to respond
  10. jtaylor

    jtaylor Guest

    The differences between brands of alkaline batteries are so small that they
    are dwarfed by the price differences. Duracell will replace your <whatever>
    happily - they are on their way to the bank with your money and don't want
    you to even look at another brand.

    How much does a <whatever> cost? How many batteries that cost $2 each
    versus ones that cost 39 cents each wiil it take to buy you a new one?
    "Coppertop" - "Titanium" - sheesh, whada buncha suckers.

    I rarely buy primary cells anymore as the price/performance ratio of
    rechargeables is getting so low.
  11. Louis Bybee

    Louis Bybee Guest

    Like you, I use rechargeables more and more these days, but there are
    instances where an Alkaline battery is a "better fit".

    In the case of my flashlight that was damaged its primary function is to
    rest quietly beside the bed until it is desperately need some night when the
    need is immediate, and one needs to depend on the flashlight working
    instantly. The flashlight frequently sits unused for great periods of time
    between uses (it still lights up even after the cells leaked). Much longer
    than many rechargables would maintain a charge. The correct, or best battery
    for one application usually isn't the best for another, and the same
    application with different people's use patterns could warrant a different
    battery type.

    This "sucker" will continue to use Alkaline batteries in my "emergency"
    flashlight. I do however, appreciate your concern for my potential state of
    unwise financial exposure. :-]

    Remove the two fish in address to respond
  12. Boozo

    Boozo Guest

    In the last 5 years I've had 6 or 7 items damaged by leaky batteries.
    Even have a couple of Duracell AAA cells which expire in 2006 with
    a negative reading on the battery tester and multimeter.
    All of the damaged equipment had current (before use by dates)dates
    stamped on the cells.
    Only one of those was caused by me plugging in a PSU to the wrong
    socket, the rest were battery faults.

    Is the quality control getting slack or are they using cheaper seals etc...?

    Never had a leaky battery in the previous 30 years until recently.

  13. gothika

    gothika Guest

    You could easily convert that emergency light to rechargables.
    I've got a couple I did this with.
    Just wire in coaxial power jack and use a wall wart to keep the
    rechargables in them charged up to peak.
    I use the six volt flashlights that normally use the 6v lantern
    battery and have subbed various 6v nicad packs(old style 6v batteries
    for camcorders mostly.) instead.
    This leaves plenty of room for wiring in the coax jacks.
    A 6v 50-100ma wall-wart will keep them permanently topped off and
    ready for a moments use.
    If your light is the standard 3-6v barrel type you could sub AA nicads
    in a cluster as well.
  14. dan

    dan Guest

    What's that Lassie? You say that gothika fell down the old
    sci.electronics.basics mine and will die if we don't mount a rescue by
    Fri, 20 Aug 2004 19:30:31 -0500:

    Look for a SLA lantern battery Part # UB5-6S
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