NiCad Battery Reconditioning: Extending the Life of a NiCad Battery
By Andrew Oke
Whereas most cars use lead acid batteries, power tools, mobile phones, laptops, and electronic toys usually require nickel cadmium (NiCad) batteries. And just like lead acids, NiCads can also benefit much from a process called reconditioning. The reason for failure of NiCad batteries, however, is quite different from that of lead acid batteries. While lead acids normally fail due to sulfation, NiCads often fail due to what is known as "memory effect." Here are some instructions for you to follow when it comes to NiCad battery reconditioning. This will help you revive your batteries and also help extend its life.
For your purposes, you will need a charger or a universal charger, a NiCad-powered device, and the NiCad battery to be reconditioned. The first thing you need to do is to discharge the battery completely. Do this by inserting it into the device and then using the device until the battery runs out. For example, you may insert the battery into a circuit drill and then run the drill until it stops turning. You don't have to actually drill into something, just keep the drill running until it's life is exhausted. Remove the battery as soon as the device stops working. If the device you used recharges a battery with the use of an A/C adapter then you don't have to remove the battery from the device.
Now, it is time to bring your battery back to full working capacity. If the NiCad is a stand-alone model (separate from the device), insert it into the battery charger. Be sure to align the battery terminals with their respective positive and negative symbols as reflected on the charger. Plug the battery charger into an outlet and switch it on, unless it automatically turns on when plugged. If your device requires an A/C adapter then you simply have to connect it with an adapter that is plugged into an outlet.
Wait until the battery is fully charged. Depending on the specific device or the type of charger that you used, the process could take anywhere between 15 minutes and three hours. Unplug the device as soon as the battery reaches full charge. For stand-alone batteries, you may choose to leave it in the charger for a few more minutes or hours after it has reached full charge. Take note, however, that you can only leave it for a maximum of 24 hours after being fully charged so as to avoid overcharging.
NiCad battery reconditioning is best done once a month for maintenance purposes. You also have the option to remove the battery from the device if you are running said device on A/C power. You might want to buy fast chargers for your NiCad batteries if you don't already have one. They may be more expensive than standard chargers, but they can help extend your battery's life by "sensing" that the battery has reached full charge and then switching to "low" charge. Always make sure that your NiCad batteries do not have leaks or cracks before inserting them into a charger or device.
Reconditioning batteries can save you thousands of dollars. I actually recondition batteries as a side business (and it's quite profitable). If you would like to learn how to recondition batteries check out: NiCad Battery Reconditioning