Are you tired of your battery dying again and again repetitively? Each time when you’re in an emergency, did your batteries refuse to get charged or simply are dead? Many of us get frustrated with the batteries when they die. All we do is simply throw them in trash bins without even realising the harm that they cause to the environment or give them away to the recycling services to be recycled.
However, how many of us know that our dead/un-chargeable batteries can be brought alive, saving a lot of money for you. Reconditioning a NiCad battery is known as battery zapping, a method that can make the dead batteries new and allow them to be charged.
Why do NiCad Batteries die?
The NiCad batteries don’t actually die. The rechargeable NiCad batteries usually build up crystals that appear like dendrite substance with continual recharge and discharge. The usage of the NiCad batteries decreases noticeably over the period, and as the time progresses, they tend to hold less charge till they reach a stage where they no longer can hold the charge. Therefore, reconditioning of the NiCad battery involves removal of these dendrite crystals using a high electric current.
History of NiCad Batteries
During the 1980s and before, NiCad batteries are used the most replacing another type of batteries. When the batteries were ill, the common reason that had been pointed out is the ‘Memory effect’. The word memory is used differently in the present day battery world, with most of the batteries being ‘memory-free’. This memory means the ‘Cyclic memory’, standing for how much a battery can remember given the amount of energy that was drawn on the discharges and whether it would deliver the same energy on repetitive discharges.
The modern day NiCad batteries don’t have cyclic memories, and most of the deaths come because of the crystalline formation. The cadmium, when applied on the negative nickel plate with the progression of time, leads to the formation of crystals. The crystals developed tend to reduce the surface area of the batteries and one that lowers the performance. In the advanced stage of the battery life, the sharp edges of the formed crystals can penetrate into the separator which causes self-discharge which leads to short outs.
What are the reasons behind NiCad Battery death?
As mentioned above, the sulphur crystals are the major reason for the death of the NiCad batteries. The growth causes behind the formation of sulphur crystals are:
- When the battery is being overcharged repetitively at a higher current.
- When the battery cell is left to either manually discharge or self-discharge for a longer period.
- When the NiCad battery’s memory effect is deteriorated again and again.
- When the NiCad battery is exposed to sunlight or higher temperature for a prolonged period.
As the crystals being to grow inside the NiCad Battery, they gradually start touching the battery terminal ends leading to the short out of the battery which prevents it from further recharging. The only good thing about crystallisation is that they can be destroyed by supplying a surge current to the battery.
Most of the batteries fall under this pattern, and the batteries die because of the same reason. A NiCad battery requires a discharge over a particular period to 1 volt per a cell to prolong service life. A cycle with charge and discharge is called as an exercise which should be practiced once in every 1-3 months.
Why to Recondition NiCad Batteries?
Reconditioning a battery extends the battery life. However, over-exercising will wear the battery down unnecessarily. If a generic exercise of a battery is omitted for half a year or even longer, the crystals tend to ingrain the batteries and a restoration of discharge to 1 volt will cease to be adequate. In such cases, one has to apply a subsequent cycle of discharge called as a reconditioning a battery.
Battery reconditioning is nothing but a slower discharge that drains the battery to 0.4 volts per cell and sometimes even lower. You can check out the EZ Battery Reconditioning DIY course to learn it and do it yourself. By discharging the NiCad battery to 0.6 volts, you can break the crystallites that are formed, and during this corrective discharge, the current is to be maintained at a lower level to minimise the reversal.
Reconditioning is the effective method used to rejuvenate the batteries, especially the ones that are not exercised. Different methods can be adopted to apply the reconditioning to the battery if the target capacity is not reached to 1 volt per cell with discharge alone. Most of the ship batteries, laptop batteries and car batteries; the larger ones are NiCad batteries.
Similar to the size of a largely sized starter battery in vehicles, the batteries are often serviced by applying a full level discharge. The battery is then kept at 0 volts for 24 hours before it is recharged again. Each cell is then corrected for the right voltage and capacity after the charge/discharge cycle.
How to Recondition a NiCad Battery?
1. Battery Zapping using a Camera
- To proceed with this process, you will need a disposable camera, dead batteries, wires, a battery holder for the dead batteries depending on the size of the batteries that you want to zap, a high power switch and a small switch to be used as a slide switch.
- The tools involved in battery zapping are wire cutters, wire strippers, pliers, a flat head screwdriver and a soldering iron. Start with opening up the camera and taking the circuit out safely without being short-circuited by the capacitor after pry opening the case apart.
- Once you have taken the case off, discharge the camera’s capacitor using a screwdriver. Be cautious of the spark followed by the discharge of the battery.
- After removing the circuit of the camera from the camera frame, we now have to remove the charge which is surface mount. This step has to be done in order to have an easier control over the circuit and to reduce the possibilities of being shocked.
- Add an external switch to the circuit and then remove the top of the switch. You will find some tape on the top bit which makes it easy to remove the top bit of the switch. Examine the metal tabs which is exposed and solder the two different pieces of wire. Now, solder a new switch and connect it to both the ends of the wires.
- Now, solder the holder that is accurate for the battery size and then connect the high power switch as mentioned above to the black capacitor.
- Solder, the wire of the holder to the lead, write of the battery capacitor that is close to the grey stripe of the holder. Now, solder the other piece of wire to the remaining lead of the capacitor.
- Once this is done, connect the push switch to the red wire of the holder and the other wire to the capacitor. Once the holder is added, you should connect the dead battery to this system to zap the batteries.
- To insulate the high voltage, you can put the project inside a box and tape the entire box or on the metal parts and tape the camera circuit’s bottom. To zap the NiCad battery and make it alive, put the battery in the holder along with a working alkaline battery in the same holder that is connected to the camera’s circuit.
- After placing the battery inside, turn the switch on and wait for the LED light to glow. Once the light starts glowing, push the switch and wait till you hear a ‘POP’ sound. If the battery has popped, it means that the battery is alive and has been zapped.
2. Battery Zapping using a Welder
- This is another method that is adopted for battery zapping of a NiCad battery. To proceed with this, you will need a Battery Charger, Multimeter, Insulated Gloves, Safety Goggles, a Voltage source and a Welder.
- Start with charging the battery for few hours or even an entire night until you’re sure that the battery is entirely charged. In case if you think that your charger is not effectively working, trickle charge the battery by using another source.
- Make sure that you are not overcharging your battery by putting some minute light bulbs or for example the Christmas lights. These lights should be connected in series to maintain a current between half an amp and 1 amp.
- When you’re sure that your battery has a possibility for reconditioning, check the voltage of the batteries by using a multimeter. The voltage should be lesser than what the label says.
- To check the amount of the current that a battery can hold, run the battery drill. Now, grab the battery chuck and install it to get a feel of how much charge and power it holds. You can compare the before and after condition, to know which one is better.
- Use the multimeter to be sure if your welder is supplying direct current and whether the clamp or the gun is negative or positive. Welders sometimes provide AC, and the polarity acts backwards in such cases.
- Turn the knobs on to see the range of the voltage of the welder when there is no current flowing. In this condition, you will see a thirty volts current at the maximum setting.
- Start taping the positive side of the welder to the positive terminal of the battery while holding the negative terminal of the battery tight.
- You can see few sparks in the battery, and nothing should be welded in this condition. If there is some kind of explosion, it means that you’re doing it wrong.
- You can either zap the battery on the whole or zap the individual cells at two different times. Try the battery after checking the voltage to see if the battery is working or not.
3. Using a Nicad Battery Reconditioning Construction or Healing Machine
To build a NiCad nudger, start drilling smaller holes in the plastic case. Once after drilling the holes, a mountain a neon lamp and switch indicated according to the layout. You can use rubber cement to tighten the lamp. Solder all the components by being extremely careful about the polarities of the diode and the capacitors. Tie the knots of the line cord to the clip leads that are present in the case and make sure that the wires don’t pull any components inside the case. If the leads are uninsulated and are to come outside the case, you will confront a life-threatening electric shock, and therefore it is highly recommended to use a plastic case.
The NiCad resuscitator knew as a healing battery machine is used to resurrect the batteries while charging them to 22 volts. While keeping the line cord unconnected and unplugged, connect the black, and red clip leads to the negative and positive terminals of the dead battery. You might need to add a connector, some working batteries and a battery holder in this method. Once after connecting the batteries, insert the plug into the power outlet and wait for the neon lamp to lit. It will take around 90 seconds or more for the light to glow and then press the ‘Restore’ button of the healing machine. After pressing this, the ready light will go out, and the reconditioning will start. In case if the light is still glowing, check the battery connections.
To wrap up, adopt any of the above-mentioned processes in order to restore the NiCad battery. Even after restoring the battery, it will die eventually after repetitive cycles of charging and discharging continuously. Reconditioning a NiCad battery is not simple, and it involves many life threatening issues. One has to be extremely cautious and wear protective gears when you’re connecting the battery and testing it. Any mishandling of the battery results in severe injuries and also heavy electric shocks.
Sparks might arise from the clamps of the battery terminals and therefore be careful while you’re doing it. Perform a full charging only in ventilated areas so that even if there’s a fire, there are chances of escape. If you find any flammable objects in the vicinity, remove them. That being said, recondition your NiCad battery and use it affectively before you waste some bucks on a new battery all over again.