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Batteries: Rechargeable vs. Non-Rechargeable

Aug
30
2017

Beyond battery-powered construction equipment: Who wins out for your power needs?

For the majority of users and devices, there doesn’t seem to be much competition between chargeable batteries (CBs) and non-rechargeable batteries (NRBs). Cell phone users favor the former, but there’s still a huge consumer base for NRBs. The prevailing mindset seems to be that as long as it produces the power, who cares which type of battery gets used?

There are positives and negatives to each kind of battery, but ultimately they reveal a picture that everybody should be caring about. Let’s take a look at today’s situation for batteries and where they’ll be going tomorrow.

How they work

Both types of battery produce their power via cathode (positive) and anode (negative) terminals. They differ in their composition, with CBs being nickel-cadmium, nickel metal hydride, lithium-ion and small-sealed lead where non-rechargeables are typically alkaline and zinc-carbon. They differ in their ability to utilize an electrical charge to reverse the traditional electron flow between the positive and negative. Only CBs can do this and so they are able to re-energize their charge for repeated use. NRBs can’t and thus can only be used once before requiring disposal.

Pros and cons of NRBs

The biggest pro for NRBs is that they cost less than their rechargeable counterparts. Their stored energy also depletes at a lesser rate than CBs so they can be kept in storage for a longer period of time before being brought into active and immediate use. They’re tougher when it comes to temperature, too. Low temperatures won’t trouble NRBs as much as they would a rechargeable.

NRBs are also handy standbys in a crisis. During power cuts, they can be taken out of the package and immediately used in radios or flashlights. This immediacy (along with their portability) sees NRBs favored by the American military although even they find their use ultimately wasteful and have been moving steadily toward the rechargeable option.

The benefit of being cheaper is also a long-term disadvantage. They wear out fast with continuous use which means users have to buy more, more often. NRBs can’t compete when it comes to powering heavy-drain items like cell phones, power tools, automobiles, or construction equipment.

Pros and cons of CBs

The higher price point of rechargeable batteries is actually an indicator of savings. They’re a fine option for providing power and offer a cost-effective alternative in a range of applications. After the initial purchase, they will stand up to recharging for hundreds of cycles (or many more, depending on battery size and care) and provide a solid return on investment.

Eventually, even the most energy-efficient battery will wear out. When they do, there’s the expense of buying a new one coupled with the responsibility of sensible disposal. Other than those two common-sense facts, consumers tend to be discouraged by the higher price point of rechargeable batteries. It’s also necessary to be more care-focused with CB’s. Users must know that it’s important to take steps such as not overcharging them or keeping a fully-charged battery at too high a temperature (temperature can impact both the lifespan and the performance of a CB).

Some may see the downtime necessary to recharge as a disadvantage, but if you’re operating construction equipment, for example, there’s plenty of time overnight to get back to full power in time for the next shift. If charged, used, and stored responsibly, a CB will provide solid performance and provide huge cost savings when its lifecycle moves into thousands of charges.

Which battery will suit you?

If you’re working with a small device for short periods of time, then NRB’s may be a good idea. Alarm clocks, remote controls, smoke alarms and flash lights are good examples of small scale, light use devices that are only intended to be activated for very short bursts. Having to keep an eye on recharging for these purposes would be time-consuming and unnecessary. If your requirements are small and infrequent, NRB’s will suit your needs.

If you’re operating something with more power consumption, then CB’s are a more cost-efficient and effective choice. They can stand up to prolonged power demand and are also a sounder option for protecting the environment.

The modern level of battery waste

Whichever choice you make, it’s best to regard the long-term impact of your decision. Figures from the Environmental Protection Agency reveal some sobering statistics. Americans discard over 3 billion batteries every year: enough to circle the planet six times and weighing in at around 180,000 tons. The majority of these are NRBs but there’s still a minority of that tonnage made up by CBs. Both types can pose a serious danger to public health, safety and the environment if not properly disposed of.

It’s a fact that switching to CBs will automatically reduce the level of battery waste. CB usage helps to delay the inevitable disposal and saves you money along the way. Whichever of the two you use, make sure you pick the right power source for your needs.

Of course, when it comes to large, advanced vehicles and battery-powered construction equipment, rechargeable is the name of the game. Advances in technology have made modern rechargeable batteries more durable, more powerful, and able to maintain a charge and an extended lifecycle much longer than their predecessors. With today’s rechargeable battery-powered equipment, there are literally no downsides.

As battery power and the construction industry move forward, Triple E Equipment keeps pace. Affordable, efficient, and green are what we stand for and we’re here to empower your site. You can reach us at (954)-978 3440 or send us a message detailing your needs.

August 30, 2017 By Alex Berg in Blog