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PRO

I should point out, i dont' actually own any battery powered kit as yet, maybe next year!

However more and more people are going over to battery power, so i was just wondering how most people charge them.

Do you just top them up or give a full charge every evening?

As an example of good battery maintenance, for phones the optimum charge for battery longevity, is to maintain it between 40% and 80%. Constantly charging to 100% does more harm than good in the long term, mainly because force feeding maximum power into the cells all the time, degrades the chemicals and creates more heat in the process, which causes even more stress on the cells.

I guess for the type of use the machinery batteries are intended for, a full dishcharge and then full charge are to be expected fairly regularly, and you'd hope this was taken in to account in the design and manufacture of these particular type of batteries. Even so, the drain/charge cycle would appear to be at odds with the lithium iron ideal charging cycle.

Thoughts from those having used battery kit long term?

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  • hi been using lithium battery garden kit (various brands) for at least 10 years

    have a lot of batteries, like probably 100 packs

    don't tend to fully discharge before recharging

    but like to keep them partially discharged over winter if not using so much

    when they are "empty" they aren't actually empty anyway, they have a residual charge to keep cells healthy

    if going out doing jobs i tend to take the ones at least 50% charged as the top part of the charge is the "best bit"

    having a lot of packs means i am relaxed about running out, if i had fewer i would ensure they were all fully charged

    i have a bank of chargers various brands so either put batteries on charge after a days work

    or in the morning whilst tidying up the yard and loading tools for the day ahead

    when i can predict what i will likely need for the intended jobs that day

    the way li-ion packs charge is that they charge fast and the last bit is slower

    so just 80% charge is very fast the last bit is a trickle charge so i might take them off the charger before theyre done, it doesn't hurt them or create a memory effect

    Also I tend to avoid recharging them while still hot from use, just seems good practice

    • PRO

      I find if i put a battery in a mower with only 50% charge left it wont start the mower but that same battery will operate a hedge cutter or blower . 

      However a full battery will start and operate the mower until its fully depleted . 

      I can never fathom them out so i make sure all batteries are fully charged before a job , some are Three years old and show no adverse affects although i remember the older nicad batteries it was recommended they had to be fully discharged before recharging , 

      Battery charging  instructions have always being a bit vague in my opinion apart from safety care and storage instructions . 

      I have a lazer level which wont accept fully charged rechargable batteries but will accept very cheap budget batteries from the pound shop , rocket science !!

    • PRO

      That sounds like an ideal system, obviously you have the luxury of many batteries at hand which helps, but the fact the chargers switch to a trickle/maintenance charge well before 100% is good to know.

      • yes am not an electrical boffin but i think most chargers step down the current as the battery gets nearer to being fully charged. I like the plug n play aspect of the cordless and reduced level of maintenance most of the tools need. i have built up my stock of batteries gradually , occasionally i sell an old one off with a piece of equipment but with minimal care they should last many years, obviously you would expect the pricier brands to be less prone to failure and that seems to be the case. I have had a couple break but even those have a decent re sale value on ebay

  • I'm no expert but based on advice for electric cars (particularly those that give you the choice of fully charging, many have a "top buffer" so that the user doesn't get that option) my method is as follows.

    Its fine to charge to 100%, but best not to leave the battery at that level. Similarly running it down to empty, don't leave it in that state. I charge the car (i.e. the last bit from 90% to 100%) shortly before departure, and if I return home "empty/low" I override to charge immediately rather than waiting for cheap overnight rate.

    The other life-shortening aspect is rapid charging, mainly because of the heat generated. Active cooling helps, but slower charging is better. That might make the case for cheaper / slower overnight chargers for normal day-to-day use and only use rapid chargers during the day when recharge is needed quickly, particularly for specific needs such as when using greedy devices like Blowers in Autumn

    I think it is probably quite difficult to stop chargers short of 100% as they will trickle charge to that point, and then the battery will be stored in that sate. I have a timer on my chargers so I can give them 30 minutes so they get somewhere into the 50-80% range, and so that I don't forget to turn them off for days on end!

    But all that said, battery tech is way better than it was back in the day of memory-effects. Electric Vehicle batteries are typically losing around 5% of capacity at 100K miles, and that itself has improved over the last half dozen years, such that it is becoming less and less of an issue. There are cars used for airport taxi runs, rapid charged to 100% every day, extremely high mileage so worst case scenario, and they haven't appeared to lose significantly more capacity, so whilst it may be worth trying to do "best practice", there might not be a lot in it.

  • PRO

    I charge to 100% then run them flat as I trust the charger to correctly manage the charging process, cooling the battery if still hot from use then adjusting the charging rate as required.

    I will also fully charge partly discharged batteries before going to a job that may need several fully charged batteries to complete.

    Turning up on a job without the kit ready to run to it’s maximum ability doesn’t seem like a good plan to me.

    Modern chargers are a lot more sophisticated than they used to be with temperature sensors and fans to protect the batteries, so I just let them do their job and work the batteries as hard as the job in hand requires.

    Trust the design and research people at the equipment manufacturers.

    https://www.stihl.com/stihl-battery-faqs.aspx

    Battery FAQs: Find answers to your questions | STIHL
    How to charge your cordless STIHL tool? How to dispose a broken battery? Find the right answers to many frequently asked questions about our batterie…
  • PRO

    To quote Stihl, who expect you to be charging the batteries twice every working day:

    The use of a quick charger has no detrimental effect on the useful life of the battery.

    The battery and charger are intelligently connected during the entire charge process. Both components jointly determine the optimum charge process and are monitored by the battery management system. This avoids the cells in the battery being damaged by excessively high charge currents and temperatures.

    • I think Stihl and Ego are pretty good, I also use a lot of Bosch 36V, which are very good packs as well but killed a charger one time running too many batteries through it in succession on a warm ish day which caused the charger itself to over heat and fail. It was under warranty so got a replacement but lesson learned there, the li-ion battery packs in general are extremely robust, some moan that they are expensive but after a couple of seasons use seem rather a bargain when they just keep on working as if they were new, indeed i have some 10 years old still going strong

  • PRO

    However Makita warn against trying to push the batteries too hard, once the tool slows down or stops don’t let it rest to recover a bit then run it again.

    Also take spare batteries with you and don’t recharge the tool batteries using an inverter in the van or truck

    https://www.makitatools.com/service/faq

    Makita USA
    Makita USA: The Leader In Cordless with 18V LXT Lithium-Ion. The best in class for cordless power tool technology. A leader in power tool technology…
    • i have the makita job radios and coffee maker but haven't tried the garden tools. Bought a very realistic fake 18v makita battery on ebay recently, very convincing including makita branded packaging, etc. However within minutes of close scrutiny I was able to discern it was counterfeit. I have no problem with the unbranded copy batteries but to pretend it was genuine was a bit naughty. The seller had sold nearly 400 of them with very good feedbacks. But soon refunded me once I told him it was dodgy and made no request that I return the battery

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