Sunday, December 27, 2015

Lithium battery replacements. How to tell good from bad

Over the years I've use a lot of lithium batteries. Quite honestly, I abhor them. I think the world would be a lot better place without lithium batteries and without nickel cadmium batteries too. Nickle Metal Hydride are the otherwise bright spark in an otherwise dismal battery world.

As far as laptop batteries, we don't have a choice any more - everybody has gone over entirely to lithium batteries. In my case, I have a 10 year old Mac laptop. It worked until the battery died. I did what everybody does and went on ebay to buy a cheap lithium battery. Instead of spending $80, I spent $20. Perhaps that shouldn't be spent but more wasted - it worked fine the first few times then started giving the same problems the old original did before it stopped totally. I have yet to save enough to replace that battery with the genuine article. I won't be buying another fake.

With camera batteries, I bought a fake from B&H to power my Canon XT and it worked and is still working, 10 years later. I bought a fake from B&H to power my 30D and it worked once then when I went to charge it again, a year later (I don't take my DSLRs out of storage very often), it was totally dead and wouldn't take a charge.

This pretty much echoes my entire experience of knock-off products. If it's a knock off and costs more than 1% of the price of the real thing, it's way too expensive. I've never had a genuine article fail on me - it's always the cheap knock off that fails. I don't expect a long life for my RCA tablet, for example but equally I expected more than 14 months from my Nexus 7. The reason I went for the cheaper knock-off this time is that since the real thing only lasts barely a year, if I go through two RCA tablets in a year I'm still financially way ahead!

Tablets and batteries are not the same thing, however. The technology of lithium batteries is just plain scary. Lithium combines with water to produce hydrogen. Normally, water is used to extinguish fires. With a lithium battery fire, water doesn't extinguish it, it feeds the fire. And people keep their phones in their pants pocket and their shirt pocket where it's constantly bathed in a very humid atmosphere. It's equally scary to see people drinking while holding cups near their computers. They're a spill and a spark away from a conflagration that canot be extinguished with normal fire-fighting equipment.

So, do you really, truly trust budget and knock-off batteries where god alone knows what corners have been cut. Could the battery have been made by a devious al-Quaida or ISIS operative? My best advice is to toss your fake batteries in your next-door neighbors trash (don't want to set your own trash on fire).

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