Manage Your Rechargeables At A Glance

If you enjoy photography, radio controlled vehicles, or any other activity that requires you to keep multiple sets of rechargeable batteries on hand you know how much of a pain it can be if you get a dead battery mixed in with your charged batteries. This easy approach to managing your batteries while on location does not require fancy electronics, meters or anything else that might pop into mind, but rather simple stickers and storage.

The first set of labels get stuck on the battery, offering a green and red color code along with a number so its easy to keep track of which group of batteries go where and to catalog date / life. The second set of labels gets attached to your storage compartment, when a battery is charged, place it in the box so the positive end is facing the green on the storage label, and when its dead just flip it around.

While this mainly focuses on AA batteries (and even shows you how to make a simple but effective holder out of some elastic band and staples) this idea can be used with just about any type of battery for a quick glance to see where you stand on juice.

17 thoughts on “Manage Your Rechargeables At A Glance

  1. Similar approach to how you manage magazines to keep track of which are full and which are empty/low. You simply place them in the holster with the bottom facing up or down. At least that’s how we were drilled to do it here in Sweden, I’m sure it’s the same all over.

  2. Don’t give the naysayers any ground. Here be some great tricks.

    My tip would be to mark the battery pairs somehow. For my early (b/w) Palm PDA, I’d run NiMH batteries. One pair would always be in the trickle charger and one pair in the PDA. I’d mark the pairs with a paint pen to make sure that the two stayed matched. Because I only had two sets, things were easy to keep track of. I’d likely have to develop something like this if the NiMH didn’t already last over a week per set.

  3. My camera uses 4 Nimh AA’s. I have 3 sets of batteries. I keep every set grouped with a rubber band. If they are all put in the same direction in the rubber band, the set is charged. That way it’s quite easy to keep things organised, as long as you don’t mix the sets while changing batteries.

  4. I think the holder is brilliant, but the full empty markers are kind of useless to me. If I had the mind to remember which ones were charged then I wouldnt need to remember to set the labels.

    Simple is always the best answer…. Always put them into one of these nice holders when you take them from a charger. When you remove them toss them into the backpack pocket , or a zip lock bag. Self maintaining organization.

  5. @Standard Mischief, @Michael, or anyone who can explain the fundamentals of rechargeable batteries:

    What’s the advantage of always using the same batteries together? Does it have something to do with the charge/discharge cycle “memory” that rechargeables are known for?

    I’ve about a dozen general purpose NiMH AAs used in everything from my wireless mouse, to remote controls, to flashlights. Since these devices drain the batteries very differently, is it better to rotate the cells through the devices regularly, mix/match as they discharge, or keep the same cells in the same device?

  6. I only have devices that require 2 AAs. So I simply store them in 2 state: both polarities at the same side for charged. Both in different directions for discharged. Why like this? Well, they come out of devices in different directions, and they come out of the charger in the same direction. Simple, easy effective.

  7. @cyrus

    I’d imagine that it’s good to do this because rechargeable batteries lose capacity over time, so you’d want to keep the capacity matched in a pair that’s to be used together; otherwise one could run out before the other, possibly damaging both batteries.

  8. @cyrus

    Devin has pretty much got it. At the end of life for the “pack” one of the cells will drop to zero and refuse to accept a charge. The remainder are one their last leg. Chuck out the group of them.

    Picking jay random cell out of a box means some may see more wear that the others and you throw nothing away for fear of squandering useful life. It wouldn’t make sense to grab a “low self discharge” cell on it’s 12th cycle and a 5 year old cell on it’s 165th cycle and expect them to preform well together.

    You also want the cells in the group to reach the recharge point (usually 1.0 v for NiMH) at the same time. Otherwise the stronger cells can reverse the polarity of the weak cell and damage it.

  9. I use a box with multiple compartments for my batteries I use for the RC remotes and receivers. Some compartments are for fully charged batteries, one for half used ones and a big one for dead ones.

    Whenever I buy a set of battery, it is always in multiples of four, and even after one month from my last purchase, there is a more powerful set and I go for it. So the batteries group themselves without me needing to label them or so.

    Works fine!

    Works fine!

  10. I have all my batteries numbered and I keep track in a spreadsheet of their mAh so I can tell when one is going bad. I have been surprised at the number of single batteries out of a package of 4 or 8 that have started going south. /uber nerd

  11. I use boxes for 4 batteries. each box gets a snippet of paper when it’s filled with fresh

    When i change batteries of the camera (4) the snippet is removed from the box.

    When i change batteries of the GPS (2) the snipped is first placed over the 2 fresh batteries, then taken out of the box when the other 2 batteries are used.

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