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Author Topic: Batteries: Li ion vs NiCd vs NiMH  (Read 3510 times)

Posts: 1

« on: July 22, 2003, 02:26:51 AM »

Recent issue of 73 had a pretty interesting article that got me thinking about the merits of Li ion (no memory problem), NiCd (readily available, but with memory problem), and NiMH (less of a memory problem that NiCd).  While shopping recently for a new HT, had some folks give me advice that perfromance issues (intermod, etc.) of individual HTs notwithstanding, one thing I should be paying attention to is battery type. Several of these folks sang the praises of the Liion batteries found in such HTs as the VX5R and TH6FA, while others regaled me with the rightousness of the ol' NiCd battery (in the TH-G71A, for example) and how a little TLC and periodic drainiage, etc can make one last even longer than a Li ion (which I understand has a pretty fixed operational life that is pretty temperature sensitive). If anyone has some recommendations/insight I'm all ears.

Posts: 15

« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2003, 04:33:17 AM »

Please excuse young YKY's silly and foolish statements. As usual young joe doesn't know what he's talking about. He is VERY insecure and believes that FM is a threat... not REAL ham radio. Because of his poor self control, anger/hostility and self esteem problems, when he sees a legitimate question he feels compelled to weigh in with his nonsensical blatherings. He is pretty much considered the VILLAGE IDIOT here at eHam. He was the village idiot over on till they banned him for his nasty and mean spirited posts. So unfortunately you'll have to suffer his narrow minded invectives and poorly rationalized thoughts. If I knew who his daddy was, then maybe he could have been brought up with better manners. But for now the world will have to deal with this angry/immature 49 year old child.

joe's Mamma

Posts: 518

« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2003, 05:45:00 AM »

You can have as much or more fun with the low end handhelds as you can with the costly ones.  Don't worry about the battery. Purchase one that suits what you want to do with it and that fits your pocketbook. However having only a handheld can be a pain if you want to use it in the evening inside the house.

Enjoy amateur radio.

Ole man JEAN

Posts: 26


« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2003, 08:15:13 AM »

Ok... I have done a bit of research on this myself... mostly on the web.. and have found some inconsistencies... but here is a quick run down:


   -LifeSpan: = 1000-1500 Recharge cycles
   -Hi Current Applications
   -Needs full (not complete) discharge/recharge cycyles to have maximum lifespan (to avoid Memory effect)
   -Lowest Capacity  (typical AA's up to 1200 + Mah)

   -LifeSpan: = 500 + Recharge Cycles
   -Handles partial charges and recharges from partially discharged batteries better than NiCd's (Less Memory effect)
   -Becoming much less expensive
   -Better Capacity than NiCds (up to 2200 or more Mah for AA's)


   -LifeSpan: = About 2 years Typical.. the lifespan for Li-Ion batteries is not based on the number of cycles... but instead on the chemistry of the battery.  I have not checked no this lately.. .and it may be getting better.
   -Little or no Memory effect
   -Most Expensive
   -Highest Capacity
   -Does not conform to normal battery sizes.. therefore .. you cannot change from NiCd's or NiMh batteries to Li-Ion without a lot of work.  NiCd's and NiMh come in 1.2V cells where as Li-Ion come in 3V Cells.

I have compiled a good bit of information on the subject.. though much is out of date and may be inaccurate.  You can check it out at:

Follow the link for Battery Information


Posts: 5483


« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2003, 10:17:22 AM »

AC4FD has some good info.

I would only add that it has been some time now (10 years or more) that the "memory effect" in NiCad's has been overcome due to optimized design of the cells.  Even so, the stigma of this issue has remained with them, even when testing has proven memory effect has been largely eliminated.  

NiMH cells got a bad rap initially as most consumers were charging them with NiCad chargers, which ruined them in short order.  For the past number of years now, IC's programmed with charge algorithms for each battery chemistry (NiCad, NiMH, PbSO and LiIon) have been available to build chargers that will correcty charge each of those chemistries.  Some battery packs, especially LiIon, contain their own charge controller chips on-board and can report battery capacity via serial data to the powered device (Sony InfoLithium).

As far as powering an HT, you really can't go wrong with any of these chemistries, however if you want maximum run time, LiIon is the way to go, at a higher price.  If you have concerns about the environment, NiMH is better, as NiCads have cadmium, a hazardous material.  As LiIon, and more specifically, LiPolymer batteries become better and cheaper to produce, they will supplant most other battery technologies due to their greater storage capacity, power density and friendliness to the environment.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM

Posts: 51

« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2003, 03:36:17 PM »

Gentlemen, please!  If I may, this is a legitimate question regarding a specific area in HAM radio.  Let's discuss the topic at hand, shall we?

Now, as far as the batteries are concerned, I spent much time debating this same issue when I was on the 'hunt' for my first HT (Kenwood TH-D7A(G)).  There were/are plenty of options available in this regard.  The thing I found to be most important in making my decision was, "How does the HT FEEL in my hand?"  There is a level of comfort that should be at least equal to the features you are looking for in an HT.  I could have had a tribander with more or less power than I have now, but I didn't find it to be 'comfortable' in my hand, or even on my belt.  Not to mention that the antenna I would need to increase the db level would be rediculous to look at.

If you have the opportunity or the means to get to a Ham Radio Outlet (HRO) store or any store which may have floor models readily available for the customer to use or try out, please go to one.  Put an HT in your hand and determine how it 'feels'.  The next thing to look at is the menu system.  How difficult would it be to make a small change to the handheld during operation - like changing the power settings?  That more or less depends on why you're buying the HT.  If you'll be using it for ARES/RACES/MARS work, you may want to purchase something with less of a menu system.  If this is to work some contacts as you travel, you may want something that takes a minute or two to set up.  It's all up to you.

Now, you can worry about the batteries.  Although nickle-cadmium (NiCad) has matured to a respectable level, I still don't like to use them.  I've grown reliant and possibly biased towards the Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) and the Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries.  Incidentally, my Kenwood HT only takes Nickel-Metal Hydride.  I have found, though, that the batteries wbich are sold with Kenwood's name on it can't come close to the batteries that Maha makes for my HT.  In comparison, the Kenwood batteries are about 9.6 volts @ 600 mAh.  Nothing compared to Maha, which is 9.6 volts @ 1050 mAh.  This gives me longer talk time on the same battery.

A few rules I like to follow when using rechargable batteries, in general...  Always have at least two (2) batteries available to you.  Never change/charge the battery (and this is important no matter what type of battery you're using) UNTIL it is completely drained.  Never start a charge unless you're going to wait for it to complete.  Unless otherwise specified, always try to use the same type of battery (don't mix batteries, like using a Kenwood battery one day, then a Maha the next-I believe this could lead to HT damage).  When using a rapid charger, make sure the charger is capable of handling the battery you are charging - and vice-versa (try not to use a Kenwood rapid charger on a Maha battery - this could lead to the battery's early retirement).

A bit long winded for such a simple question, I know.  But there really is so much to look at when discussing HT's in general, let alone their battery counter parts.

Good luck, God bless and 73!

Chris     KC2KFW

Posts: 17484

« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2003, 04:05:07 PM »

I wouldn't buy a hand-held based on the battery type.
There are plenty of after-market options available.

Memory in NiCad?  Not a problem.  The only disadvantage
of NiCad cells is the reduced capacity compared to the
newer types.

Discharge the battery completely before recharging?
Only if the charger is not properly designed.  I built
a simple charger for my HT with voltage and current
limiting.  Used it as a drop-in.  Took the HT out to
use it, dropped it back in the charger when done,
regardless of the state of the batteries.  My first
two battery packs lasted 8 years.

Now I rarely use the HTs and have problems keeping the
batteries charged, so I use Alkaline packs instead of
rechargables.  In my mind the Alkaline battery case is
about one of the most useful accessories you can get
for any HT - much faster to pop in a spare set of
batteries than to recharge a battery when you are in
the field.  (Especially good for emergency use.)

Posts: 15

« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2003, 09:33:55 PM »

Please excuse YKY's behaviour. He's not been right since the mule kicked him in the head as a youngster. With or without his medication he's always been argumentative and just plain old mean and nasty. He never had any friends as a child, girls shunned him in his teenage and later years, plus the military rejected him. Prison just seemed to make him angrier. He spent many many years as a CB'er until some trucker punched his lights out at a truck stop for attempting to "get to know him better", if you know what I mean.
He's a conspiracy and control freak who doesn't handle the world well. He has a puritanical view of how things "should be" and this is whats causing his great angst and frustration.

Joe's Mamma

Posts: 161

« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2003, 10:33:10 PM »

The great thing about a pack you can open and fill with alkalines is that you can leave it on the shelf for years. NiCd and NiMH have an annoying habit of self-discharging. The ultimate in shelf life, which I have in my earthquake kit, is non-rechargeable lithium AA's from the camera store. They're rated for ten years shelf life.

The number of cycles you get out of a battery really depends on how smart and how nice the charger is. That's tough to evaluate, though it's encouraging to find one with a temperature sensor.

The camera folks have done some reviews of chargers and batteries. Like us, they demand intermittent high current. There's really detailed information at
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