Choosing The Best Batteries For Outdoor Use

by Nick Sotos on December 11, 2012

Any gadget or device, no matter how advanced or modern, will be utterly useless when the wrong batteries are used. If you expect high performance from your outdoor battery-operated tools and devices, you ought to make sure you choose batteries that are also high-performance. It could very well be what will keep you safe and warm when you face dark and extreme conditions during one of your expeditions.

Types of Batteries According to Frequency Of Use

Basically, we can classify batteries into two types according to how frequently they can be used: the rechargeable batteries and the single-use batteries. Let us take a look at the specific types that are now available in the market under each category.

1. Rechargeable Batteries: Most devices and gadgets now make use of rechargeable batteries, which come with their own chargers.

  • NiCd or Nickel Cadmium: Used in two-way radios and devices often utilized in high-temperature situations, NiCd batteries can be recharged up to 1,500 charging cycles. In a month, it has an estimated self-discharge rate of about 40%. However, its cadmium content is a disadvantage, due to its toxicity.
  • NiMH or Nickel-Metal Hydride: Unlike the highly toxic NiCd batteries, NiMH is free of cadmium and also has a higher energy capacity – up to 50% more. It also has a self-discharge rate of 40% monthly. However, its number of recharging cycles is estimated to be limited to up to 500 cycles only. NiMH batteries are often used on digital cameras, GPS receivers, and other devices that are frequently used and are considered to be high-drain.
  • Precharged NiMH: This is similar to the regular NiMH, with a few exceptions. Its self-discharge rate is very low: up to 20% for a period of 6 months. Aside from digital cameras and other high-drain devices, these batteries are also used in moderate-drain devices and smoke detectors.
  • Li-ion or Lithim-ion: Most commonly shaped in a block or a slab, Li-ion batteries are used in digital cameras, camcorders, mobile phones, as well as some notebook computers. Its voltage is higher, at 3.6, while charging it can reach up to 1,000 cycles with no problem at all. Unfortunately, it discharges very quickly especially when not in use. There is also the fact that it is the more costly than the other rechargeable batteries.
  • N Cells: The small gadgets and devices also have to be fitted with tiny batteries, and it comes in the forms of N Cells. However, their limited energy capacity entails more battery changes and replacements.

2. Single-Use Batteries: Batteries that cannot be recharged.

  • Alkaline: Probably the most popular, most readily available, and the most commonly used single-use batteries, Alkaline batteries are often used by outdoorsy people as back-up to their rechargeable batteries. Headlamps, flashlights, torches, radios and a few digital camera models make use of alkaline batteries. However, to make the most of the batteries’ energy capacity, concentrating utilization of this type of battery to moderate-drain devices would be more ideal.
  • Lithium: Among all the single-use batteries out there, lithium batteries boast the longest life, making them ideal for high-drain devices. Even when exposed to extremely cold temperature, its performance and functionality remain at peak.

What to Consider When Choosing Batteries

Having the right batteries would ensure that everything will go smoothly during your outdoor adventure. When choosing the right batteries for your specific devices, there are things that you should take into account.

  • Type of Device: What is the gadget or device that you will need the battery for? There is a need to clearly identify what they are, whether it is a digital camera or a camcorder, or a LED headlamp.
  • Duration of the Activity: Will you be out on your trip or outdoor adventure for just a couple of days, or will it take you longer than a few days? The length of time you expect to be out there should also be noted, so you will know whether you have to invest in a rechargeable battery or a single-use battery.
  • Performance: Check out the battery’s volts, self-discharge rate, and its life (even the shelf life, in the case of single-use batteries). These will indicate whether the battery will be able to hold its own when exposed to the elements or subjected to frequent use, or they will easily drain.
  • Recharging Cycles: Batteries differ in the number of recharging cycles they can be subjected to. Take note of the recharging cycles of the battery you are buying.

Power Packed In A Cell

With so many types and brands of batteries flooding the market nowadays, many people find it daunting to have to choose which type of battery they should buy. However, that shouldn’t be a problem, as long as you take all the above considerations in figuring out which battery would be perfect for your use at any time in the future, when you plan on venturing into another adventure.

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