There are several different types of batteries in common use, Ni-Cad, Nickel-Metal-Hydride, Lead-Acid and Lithium-Ion. They require different handling, but all have at least one thing in common. The electro-chemical systems in all may not be completely "formed" or balanced when new, or after extended periods of disuse.
New batteries, and ones that haven't been used for many months should be given a 16 to 24 hour charge prior to use. Then, use the battery until the equipment will no longer operate. Do this for two or three charge / discharge cycles to insure maximum battery capacity and life. After that, partial discharge / recharge does no harm.
The above procedure has nothing to do with "memory effect" that was a problem with Ni-Cad batteries years ago. It is necessary to completely "form" the electro-chemical system within the cells, and to insure all cells are balanced (charged to an equal level). Cell imbalance is a major cause of premature battery failure. While you are charging a battery, an equal amount of energy goes into each cell until one or more are fully charged. The charger senses this, turns off the charge light and reduces the charge rate to "trickle". This rate will not harm cells that are already fully charged, but will bring any that are not fully charged up to a 100% level. This keeps the cells in your battery balanced, and is why we recommend charging batteries "overnight" whenever possible.
Lead Acid batteries were the first technology to be used in camcorders. They are heavy, and have the least energy/ounce. They need to be kept charged, and recharged at least every 3 months if not being used. Today, it is not uncommon to buy a new lead acid battery and find it will not charge. The demand for them is low. The one you purchase may have been sitting on the shelf or in a warehouse for years. We find this is particularly true of "generic" batteries.
Ni-Cad is currently the most popular battery for Camcorders. It is lighter than the Lead Acid. Ni-Cads give best performance when used hard. Unlike Lead-Acid, they prefer to be stored discharged or partially discharged. In other words, don't charge it before putting it away. Memory in Ni-Cad batteries hasn't been a problem for 20 years. As long as you let it run till the Camcorder shuts down at least once in every 10 chargings, you won't have to worry about memory. Avoid those devices sold to "discharge" your battery, and avoid using the "refresh" button provided on some chargers. Ni-Cads age more rapidly when not in use, so when buying a new battery, make sure it hasn't been sitting on the shelf for months/years.
Nickel-Metal-Hydride replacements for Camcorder batteries are showing up from a number of aftermarket manufacturers. NMH batteries are very similar to Ni-Cad in charge/discharge characteristics. They have higher energy/volume, but, many camcorders/chargers are not able to get the most out of this battery technology. In addition, the NMH battery has very poor charge retention as compared to Ni-Cads. If you charge a NMH and store it for several weeks, it will have lost a substantial percentage of it's charge.
Lithium-Ion is the newest battery technology to become available for camcorders. It has the greatest energy density and performance. Like the Ni-Cad, they should be discharged before long term storage, but are much more tolerant of mistreatment. One word of caution, never try to charge a Lithium-Ion battery with anything but the charger it came with. Many items using Lithium-Ion batteries have a very accurate "fuel" gage to keep track of remaining time (at the current discharge rate) in the battery. For this to work properly, the battery must be properly "formed" and balanced per paragraph 3 and 4 above, and charged overnight whenever possible.
All types benefit from being kept in the refrigerator if they are not going to be used for many months.
With most chargers a complete charge takes overnight! The charging light goes out at between 70% & 90% charge. That is all the battery can take at the "fast" charging rate, and is ready for use at that point, but not fully charged. A full charge is obtained by leaving it on the charger an additional 8 to 12 hours.
Batteries should always be removed from the Camcorder when not in use. Most camcorders draw a small current from the battery even when turned off. Not only does this reduce the time you have available for use, it can damage the battery and/or even the unit if left on while it is being stored.
Many customers complain about poor battery life. Most of the time we find they are using aftermarket batteries. Many of these are produced so they can be sold for less than the original equipment part. Bottom line, you get what you pay for. Usually an original equipment battery will out perform the aftermarket version.
Use caution when buying "universal" batteries. Some of these fit one type of Camcorder when installed right side up, and another brand when installed upside down. If you are not careful, and attempt to install it wrong, it is possible to touch the wrong contacts and instantly do major damage to your equipment.
Recently we have experienced a
number of units being brought in with complaints of "dead" or
"will not charge battery". These have been traced to the use of the
extended life, large size generic batteries. When these are put on charge, the
can draw higher current, for longer periods of time than the
"factory" batteries. This can damage the camcorder, camera, or
charger. We strongly recommend only using Sony batteries in Sony equipment,
JVC batteries in JVC equipment, etc.
Last modified: March 31, 2007