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When asked about experiences with rechargeable batteries most customers respond with having had "mixed" or "unsatisfactory" results. Why is this? 

Two differences between rechargeable batteries and regular disposable alkaline batteries.

1) Self-discharge. Most rechargeable batteries (NiMH) can lose power in a few week just sitting unused. Newer battery designs solve this with low self-discharge features. Low self-discharge batteries can sit for a year with only minimal loss of their power (outside of any device). The majority of rechargeable NiMH batteries on the market are still the self-discharging type. However, at Lampcraft we sell only low self-discharge rechargeable batteries.

2) Deep discharge damage. Draining down rechargeable batteries too deeply can cause immediate and permanent loss of capacity. Up to 40% each time deep discharge occurs.

How can deep discharge damage be avoided?

Change your batteries before its absolutely necessary. FERMATA light has battery protection which warns you when the batteries are low. The warning indicator is a fast flicker which lasts between 1-12 seconds (visible only within 8ft). After the fast flicker, there is still remaining time to finish you rehearsal or concert.~ hours of light on high, 2 hours on medium, and 3 hours on low. After the remaining time, the circuit will cut off the power before any battery damage occurs.

Chargers- The new smart chargers are quite sophisticated and do all of the conditioning necessary. The two most important features for rechargeable batteries are:

1. Speed of charging - Recharging (4) AA batteries can take up to 16 hours. There is no industry standard for the hours a company calims to be "fast charge". We recommend full charging of (4) AA batteries in <8 hours.

2. Single-Cell battery Charging and Regulation - Most chargers charge and regulate batteries in pairs to save money. However, since cells do not discharge equally, charging them in pairs doesn't consistently condition or recharge each cell. Over time this may lead to shortened life. For the fullest battery charge and most number if recharges, only use single-cell regulated battery chargers. 

                         Paired Charging

       

                        Single-Cell Charging    

 
            

Other useful Information-

To avoid accidentally deep discharging just requires a little planning.  For musicians using their FERMATA lights 2 or more times a week, how often to recharge your batteries will depend on what light setting you use.  A “High” setting will last about 5 – 6 hrs, so a conservative recommended charging frequency would be each 1 or 2 sessions.  A “Medium” setting will last about 7 - 8 hrs, so recommended charging would be each 2-3 sessions.  A “Low” setting will last about 11 - 13 hrs, so recommended charging would be each 3 sessions.   If you can afford it, keeping a second set of batteries on the charger makes swapping them out easy and a one-step task. 

If you use your light less often, (once or twice each month), you probably keep a light in your gig bag or instrument case.  Because of the long periods between uses, you should only use low self-discharge batteries otherwise the batteries will self-discharge to the point of damaging their capacity.  For infrequent users, we also advise that you remove batteries from the light between usages.  We’ve all experienced old and forgotten, leaky batteries.  Always keep batteries isolated from contact with instruments as batteries contain acid and other chemicals, which if they leak or corrode, could cause damage.

FERMATA light comes equipped with battery protection which warns when batteries are low.  The warning indicator is a fast flicker which lasts between 1-12 seconds (visible only within 8ft.).  Then ~1 hour later (on high) the circuit will cut off the power before permanent battery damage occurs.  If you need longer time after the warning flicker, simply switch the setting to medium or low.

BATTERY LIFE, Savings and Environment – These new low self-discharge batteries, together with smarter chargers can be recharged over 1,000 times.  Our experience is that after about 500 recharges you will see some loss in capacity (~15%) but they are still useable and provide substantial savings over alkaline disposables.   You could easily avoid replacing batteries each week, at a cost of ~$1 per set of (4).  That’s $260 over the anticipated 5 year life.  And 5,000 batteries not thrown into the waste stream and landfills.

Getting the maximum performance from your rechargeable batteries will help you get the most from your music light, and add to your enjoyment of making music.  And the compelling economic and environmental impacts, should encourage everyone to use them.  We hope this article will encourage you to use rechargeable batteries, or try them again, and to have a positive experience with them.  If you have any questions regarding this article or batteries for music lights, please contact us directly at info@lampcraft.com, or (800) 277-5527.

 

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