Nickel-Cadmium batteries are often shortened as NiCd batteries are the secondary or rechargeable batteries. These batteries contain the chemicals Nickel ( Ni ) and Cadmium ( Cd ) in various compositions and forms. Generally, the positive electrode is made of Nickel Hydroxide, and the negative electrode is made up of Cadmium Hydroxide with the electrolyte being Potassium Hydroxide.
NiCd batteries are unique in a way that these batteries are different from other alkaline batteries or lead-acid batteries in several ways. The NiCd batteries have the ability to deliver full power output up until the end of its discharge cycle. One of the most practical applications for NiCd batteries is in the cordless power tools because the power tools demand a high amount of power delivery throughout the entire time of use.
As you get to know about what NiCd batteries are, now let's move further to read more about the NiCd battery charging methods and the best buy.
Can you charge a NiCd battery with a NiMH charger
The unique feature of NiCd battery lies in the way they are charged. Unlike the other batteries that take significant voltage and amperage variations while charging, the NiCd batteries require constant and steady amperage with just slight and little variations in the voltage. NiCd batteries can receive a much higher rate of charge up to 115% of their overall capacity with minimal reduction in life span, making these batteries the ideal battery for power tools.
Now, if we talk about the question that can you charge NiCd battery with NiMH charger, then here is the answer.
The charging algorithm for NiCd batteries is similar to that of NiMH but with the exception that NiMH is more complex to charge. Since both of these batteries' charging algorithms are the same, and therefore, the NiCd batteries can be easily charged with NiMH chargers. A well-designed NiMH charger includes voltage plateau, NDV, delta temperature, time out timers into the full charge detection algorithm, and temperature threshold.
The NiCd batteries are more rugged, so it is not that dangerous to charge them with NiMH charger. But it is crucial and necessary to keep an eye on the time spent undercharge because the end of charge circuit might not detect that the NiCd battery is fully charged, so it might also overcharge them, which might severely damage the batteries. Therefore, a NiMH charger can charge the NiCd batteries, but a NiCd charger would overcharge NiMH.
The NiCd batteries are more tolerant and rugged than NiMH batteries of the same capacity, and therefore, if the charger is designed for NiMH batteries, it will work for NiCd batteries and the trickle charge mode.
How do you charge a NiCd battery
NiCd batteries are one of the cells that are hard to charge. The charging in NiCd batteries is based on forcing current through the batteries. Like other batteries, the voltage to do this is not fixed in stone. This makes the NiCd batteries challenging to charge, especially in parallel, the reason being that you cannot be sure that each cell is of the same resistance, and therefore, some of the NiCd batteries will take more current even if they are full.
NiCd batteries' coulometric charging efficiency is about 83% for a fast charge (C/1 to C/0.24) and about 63% for a C/5 charge. This means that for C/1, you must put in 120 amp-hours in for every 100 amp hours you will get in return. At C/10, it is 55%, and at C/20, it will get less than 50%.
If you opt forovernight battery charging, then the cheapest way to charge NiCd batteries is to charge at C/10 for about 16 hours. In such a case, a 100mAH battery would be charged at 10 mA for 16 hours. This method of charging ensures full charge and does not require an end of charge sensor.
If you opt forfaster charging, then some NiCd batteries are designed to be quickly chargeable. In such a case, the NiCd batteries must be charged at C/3 for about 5 hours or at C/5 for about 8 hours. This is quite risky because the battery must be completely discharged before charging.
If you opt forthe fastest charging, then in that case, if the voltage or temperature monitor is used, NiCd batteries can be charged at the rates up to 1C, which means that 100% of the battery capacity in amp-hours for 1.5 hours.
How do you buy a good NiCd battery charger
Recharging any battery requires care, and therefore all the rechargeable batteries must be charged in the correct fashion; otherwise, they may get damaged. Similar is the case with NiCd batteries. If NiCd batteries are charged correctly, then these batteries will last longer, retaining and accepting a full level of charge. Incorrect charging of these batteries can result in shortened life and can even cause fire or explosion. Therefore it is a must to buy a good charger for NiCd batteries.
While buying a NiCd charger, whether used for slow or fast charging, it is essential to ensure that NiCd batteries are not overcharged, which in turn makes it necessary to detect the end of charge. The good NiCd chargers or techniques are as follows:
Elapsed time/timer chargers
Voltage signature NiCd Chargers
One should always remember that if NiCd batteries are charged carefully and correctly, then they will perform well for a longer span by being operational for a more extended period, providing excellent service.
The Bottom Line
Though NiCd batteries are limited in application but these batteries are an exceptional choice for all your cordless power tools. These batteries are somewhat unique, which offers you three modes of charging: Overnight charging, Faster Charging, and the Fastest Charging. Another thing that makes these batteries unique is that you can even use a NiMH charger to charge these batteries, but you must always go for a proper charger to charge these batteries to avoid any risks.
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