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Old 03-05-2010, 05:06 PM #1
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Batteries and what I've learned

Every once in a while I see some posts or talk to someone who asks "What battery should I use" or says "_____ is the best battery", but they don't really know why. Hopefully this thread can shed some light on the different types of batteries, their benefits and drawbacks. This is mainly geared toward rechargables and will be covering why you should use rechargables, costs and what to look for.

First, let's go over the different battery types. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks.
  • Alkaline - Your standard use-and-toss battery. AA's are 1.5v each, 9v are 9v. This is kind of considered the "standard" and often used as a baseline for other battery comparisons. Little to no self-discharge.
  • Lithium - Much like Alkaline... use-and-toss. Lighter than Alkaline, higher capacity and a bit lighter and noticably more expensive. Little to no self-discharge.
  • Rechargable-Alkaline ... no. Just.... no. There's a reason you probably haven't heard of this.
  • NiCAD - These have a memory and in general just aren't really well suited for this type of use. The memory comes in when the battery isn't fully discharged and is then charged. After a while of this, the battery will start to treat that partially charged point as the drained point. Will self-discharge.
  • NiMH batteries aren't really capable of the discharge rates that NiCAD batteries are, but generally don't have a memory effect. This isn't a problem since we're not doing anything crazy like running an RC car that might *really* put a heavy load on the battery, so we don't need the discharge rate. AA's are generally 1.2v and 9v are generally 7.2v, 8.4 or 9.6v. Will self-discharge.
  • Lithium-Ion batteries are generally produced in odd increments, so you may or may not get the voltage you need, may be unstable, and have their own issues for charging / discharging. The battery should have a circuit to prevent overcharging and overdischarging (both in how fast and how much). Unfortunately, if the battery discharges too quickly (which I've seen happen if a hoppers motor stalls), the circuit will trip, which can generally only be reset by disconnecting the battery. Not something you want to do mid game. Not a horrible battery, but again, not always suited for this type of environment. Low self-discharge.

What you need is a battery that can power your paintball gun and/or hopper consistently and without issue. That last part is immensely important; I really can't stress it enough. It should be most the entire *REASON* you're buying the batteries; so your gear works without issues. Over the life of the battery, each of them should ultimately power the hopper the same. 9v from 6xAA's, a single 9v or a custom made NiMH pack is all the same... 9v.

Battery Life
What matters are the issues I previously mentioned above and the capacity of the battery. Any battery will have an overall lifespan, yes, even rechargable batteries. Rechargable batteries and lithium batteries tend to have a more flat discharge rate and drop off more suddenly at the end, while Alkaline batteries tend to be more linear. The rating used as a measurement for the battery life *per charge* is it's milliamp hour rating or mAh. A typical rechargable NiMH AA battery now might have a rating around 2000-2700; higher is always better. A higher mAh will allow longer runtime per charge and take a bit longer to self-discharge.

Extreme conditions (either way), can reduce a batteries life. Leaving your (otherwise) freshly charged batteries in the car for a few weeks during a hot summer until you use them probably isn't the best idea. Not only will they self-drain due to their nature, the heat that builds up in your car can also weaken them. Always bring them inside if you can. Being that they're rechargable, always try to charge them before you play... no real reason not to.

Chargers
I had an issue doing the next section (Cost) because it overlapped this section... ultimately, this is the section you need to read first. One of the things I've heard people talk about is running out to their local general store and buying a 4 pack of Energizer batteries that come with a charger that will charge them in an hour for $20. This is completely the wrong way to go. Honestly, if you're going to go the rechargable route, prepare to spend some cash. Don't try to save money by penny-pinching; buy quality and save it in the long run. If you're *still* thinking of buying cheap batteries and a cheap charger "just until you can save money for something better", then just stick with Alkalines and use them till the wheels fall off instead of swapping them out so soon or consider swapping out your Halo for a Revi that'll run for what will seem like forever on a pair of 9v's.

Chargers generally work by sending a particular amount of power *to* the battery instead of taking *from* the battery. The amount of power, how fast that power is sent and for how long are all determined by the quality of the charger. There are several types of chargers, among them are: timed, trickle, and "smart".
  • Timed chargers will send power to the batteries for a particular amount of time (an hour for instance), then turn off. What if the battery ultimately needed 20 minutes to be fully charged, what happens during those other 40 minutes? The battery is being blasted with power it can't take which may overvolt the battery causing damage to it or possibly the electronics you put it in. Past that, these kinds of chargers can overheat the battery, further causing damage. One of the first things that attracts people to these chargers is the cost (they're often inexpensive) and how fast they claim to charge batteries ("Fully charged in an hour!"). Not all batteries even *like* being charged quickly, they're just not made for it.
  • Trickle chargers slowly charge the batteries, but charge them slowly and sometimes for an indefinite period of time. You're basically expected to keep an eye on the battery and make sure it doesn't get too warm. If the battery gets too warm or the done light comes on, unplug it.
  • Smart chargers will are a smart hybrid. These chargers generally will determine if the battery can be quick charged, charge it quickly if it can, then automatically switch to a low trickle charge to keep the batteries topped off... all hands free. Drop them in the charger, walk away and grab them when you need them. Higher-end smart chargers will allow you to drain batteries first to try to give them a better charge.

Cost
Some people buy Alkaline batteries and just play until they die or just doesn't perform to their standards and swap them out. Hopefully you're able to swap them out when you want to (during a break or at the start/end of the day) rather than when you *have* to (in the middle of practice). You also hopefully have extras on you and can find them rolling in the bottom of your gear bag. Many fields will have a pro-shop, but they can take advantage of the fact that you need batteries *now* and charge more for them. With rechargables, you pay the cost for the batteries once and if you take care of them, you're good all season (or longer).

Although the upfront cost of rechargables can be expensive, if you play on a frequent basis it's possible to save a lot of money, even over the course of just a season. For example, let's say you play 4 times a month, play April through October (7 months), and own a single electro marker (1 9v battery) and a Halo (6AA's). We'll also assume you're not buying extra batteries. Using round numbers, a single 9v will be ~$10 and an 8 pack of batteries (they generally come in multiples of 4) is ~$24. So far, you're in for $34; not too bad for something that can last you at *least* one season if you take care of it. What many people skimp out on here is the charger. A decent smart charger will set you back about $30ea for AA's or 9v ($60 total). Some people will freak at the idea of almost tripling the budget by adding in the chargers. Keep in mind, unless the charger breaks, it's something you won't have to replace... I've had the same charger for years; hasn't given me a single issue. I've since bought more chargers, but that was due to the first charger I purchased only charging 4 AA's at once... when you have a Halo that requires 6 batteries to operate and 16+ batteries, you *literally* have to start charging days in advance due to not being around to swap out the batteries as soon as their done and only checking on them once, maybe twice a day.

So, so far you're looking at $60 for the chargers and another $34 for batteries. $60 + $34 + tax + fines + levies + tariffs + surchargers and a few dollars shipping should bring you up to around $100 or so. 4 more AA's (keep in mind you already have 8, bringing the total to 12) and an extra 9v might bring the total to $130 or so. So long as you aren't dropping the batteries, over charging them and abusing them in general, they'll last you for several seasons.

Brands and places to buy
Honestly, I've always gone with PowerEx / Maha for both the charger and batteries. I've done a bit of research some time ago and they were generally leading the pack as far as battery life and charger quality. The cost difference between Maha and other brands is a few dollars, this may or may not be important to you and can add up. The cost of Maha batteries are ~$12 for 4 AA's whereas I've seen other brands for $9-10. Assuming a $3 difference @ 4AA's, that's a $12 difference for 12 batteries; if you're spending $100+ dollars, is $12 going to make or break the deal? Only you can determine that. As far as where to buy, there's several battery shops I've dealt with but have always had a good experience with http://www.thomasdistributing.com
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Last edited by FallNAngel : 03-15-2011 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 03-05-2010, 05:35 PM #2
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I'd say sticky, but we'll have to wait for a mod see this.........

No really though good work assembling this data and it should be stickied.
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Old 03-05-2010, 06:28 PM #3
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Keep in mind I'm not a mod of this section, so I can't sticky it myself
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Old 03-05-2010, 07:20 PM #4
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Very informative. You've got my vote for a sticky.
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Old 03-05-2010, 09:52 PM #5
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dang great info
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Old 03-19-2010, 06:22 PM #6
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Just saw this thread too. Thought id add my personal take.

Batteries, ahh batteries. I have been involved in Paintball since 1991 i have used just about every product out there. I also spent many many years racing rc cars. Employment wise I have worked in the 2way radio and cellular markets for many years, all of these have taught me a thing or two about batteries.

Good alkaline'a are the best battery out there period. (duracell or energizer). If you have the cash and the means go ahead.

Batteries that state they especially made for the pb industry are a complete joke. All they are is repackaged/rebranded crap from china.

The powerex batteries are not bad but they weigh allmost the exact same as 2 alkaline's. My newest personal preferance is a new battery i found its a 8.4volt litium-ion rechargable thats a 400mah which kick the crap out of any of the ni-mh that i have ever been able to find. PLUS they are half the weight of a alkaline or a ni-mh. so the top heaviness/swing weight of your loader is drastically reduced. for 2 batteries and a charger its about $47usd. so they dont come cheap but they are the best thing out there.

I use them in vl vlocity's which are notorious for killing 9v's and i can go multiple days of tourney use with out worry. Anyone who may be interested in this option is free to pm me for more details.
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:43 AM #7
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Old 04-15-2010, 02:54 AM #8
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what about NiZn?
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Old 05-13-2010, 02:48 PM #9
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Have anybody tried LiPo accus in PB equipment ???
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Old 06-11-2010, 04:05 PM #10
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Quote:
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what about NiZn?
Honestly, never heard of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasse View Post
Have anybody tried LiPo accus in PB equipment ???
I've looked at using LiPo batteries, but part of the issue is a standard form factor and proper voltage. Always seems like you can get batteries that are the right size, but getting the right voltage is an issue or the other way around.
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Old 07-15-2010, 02:43 PM #11
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Simple test to do at home....

Try the Lithiums!

If you've ever got just a little extra cash purchase a set of those Blue/Silver Energizer Lithiums. Put one loader with the Lithiums next to the same kind of loader with regular batteries and feel the difference in your hands. The difference is really noticeable. The guys I showed this to on my team were astounded.

Plus they last almost twice as long as say, a mid-low quality brand alkaline.

When I played tournaments id purchase a fresh set for my Empire B just before a tourny. Id play the whole tournament, usually played past semis all the way to sunday. That means (2) small pick up truck loads of paint for the team Then, id still use the same set of batteries during all the practices up to the next tourney. Then.... Id buy a fresh set.

It worked out really well and my position required alot of paint to be used. Fwd/center but I was one of the main shooters off the break usually.

Those batts and That loader never let me down. Besides the loader shell necks cracking haha!.

Nowdays, I purchased a bunch of Sanyo Eneloop rechargeables and Sanyo charger. I also own Powerex AAA rechargeables.

Where I grew up I saw rotting Alkalines on the sidewalks crushed and rusting all sharp and stuff. Anyway just trying to do my part with the rechargeables! But those Energizer Lithiums (blue/silver, not the green/silver) are the ****!

Last edited by DarkEarth : 07-15-2010 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 07-17-2010, 06:02 AM #12
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Have anybody tried LiPo accus in PB equipment ???
This type of cell comes with the vanguard creed marker.
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Old 08-21-2010, 09:48 AM #13
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Great post. Question though. I haven't been around the boards in awhile.... but how come nobody seems to use the BOOST or BONE! batteries anymore? Think I paid like 40 bucks for my BONE! and it's given me decent service.
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Old 10-26-2010, 10:12 AM #14
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As it pertains to rechargable batteries, I've gotta say: I agree with FallNAngel about the Powerex/ Maha brand.
If you do your research, you'll find a Maha/ Powerex 4 9v charder with car adapter and 4 Tenergy 9v 250mAh batteries on Amazon. All together you'll spend about $50 after shipping for the kit.

The Maha charger is fast and dependable. The energy rechargables have a slightly hight mAh rating than most rechargable 9v batteries.

I used the above setup for a year and I always had enough power.


However, as an endorser of Energy Paintball, I always recommend Energy Paintball Special Forces 9v batteries. Though not rechargable, they have high mAh ratings of 1100mAh and last a LONG time. The standard battery included in all Planet Eclipse markers can't be wrong!
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Old 10-27-2010, 09:25 AM #15
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i bought a duracell charger and AA's and iv been using them in my halo for about a year now (now theyre in my rotor) and had no issues, i play about once a month, maybe twice (shoot about a case every tie i play) and i charge them every 6-8 months..
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Old 10-27-2010, 06:24 PM #16
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so im wondering, "the bone pack" is a rechargable battery pack that i know alot of paint ballers use. what type of battery is that? and my second question would be what type of charger does it come with?
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Old 11-01-2010, 04:55 PM #17
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Bone packs (IIRC) are NiMH batteries. Boost batteries were definitely Lithium. Honestly, not sure what caused Boost to go out of business, but I'm rather sure there were issues with the battery packs frying boards (at least very potentially) as well as the cost. It's kind of an issue when the board really expects 9v input and the closest you get is ~11v or ~7v; you're either giving it too much, or not enough. Combine that with the fact that Lithiums tend to put out the same voltage through much of their charge until the very end (where it drops off sharply), and it's just not so hot. Bone packs, being NiMH, are able to get much closer to the appropriate 9v.
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Old 11-28-2010, 04:19 PM #18
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Last time i went PBing I was 1 vs 1 a d2 guy and my halo b loader was blinking red and green. I had to snap shoot at that kid. (no rip drive) Every 5 shots i had to turn off and back on my hopper.

It was still a good chalenge.
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Old 12-19-2010, 05:07 PM #19
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Quote:
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Try the Lithiums!

If you've ever got just a little extra cash purchase a set of those Blue/Silver Energizer Lithiums.
Agreed.

That's all I've ever run in my Halos. Much lighter, and last considerably longer than alkalines. I always disconnect the battery pack after use, and keep checking them with a volt meter to determine when its time to throw them out.

Lithium.
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Old 07-18-2011, 09:08 PM #20
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For the military members out there, the commisary is the cheapest place to buy batteries out there by far.
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Old 09-04-2011, 06:45 PM #21
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Thanks some great info here
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