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Important battery terms

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Confused woman When learning about rechargeable batteries, you may come across some of the following phrases.

Although they may sound confusing, don’t be put off, there is always a simple explanation, and WONKEE DONKEE is here to provide it.

Amp hours

Clock and cordless screwdriver Battery capacity is measured in amp hours.

A battery with a 1 amp hour capacity can deliver an electrical current of 1 amp for the duration of 1 hour, (or 2 amps for 30 minutes, 3 amps for 15 minutes and so on…)

Battery capacity

Battery holding voltage bolt Battery capacity is how much electrical charge a battery can store.

Battery life

Grave stone with RIP battery engraved Battery life is how many full charge cycles a battery can complete before it needs to be replaced.

Battery voltage

Voltage symbol Voltage is the electrical pressure inside the battery.

Charge cycle

Battery charge cycle If a battery is at full power and it runs out completely and then is charged up to full power again, that is 1 full charge cycle.

Memory effect

Memory effect The term ‘memory effect’ is used when a battery does not perform as well as it could.

This can happen when batteries get old, as they don’t last forever, but more commonly it is the result of the battery being charged incorrectly.

Battery Memory effect only occurs with certain types of battery. If you have a battery that can suffer from ‘memory effect’, only recharge it when the tool runs out of power and comes to a stop.

If a battery is put on charge while it still has a lot of power remaining, then the battery will ‘remember’ this, and the next time, will not charge fully.

For more information, see our section: What are the different battery materials?

Recharge time

Plug in wall The time it takes for a battery to reach full power when it’s placed on charge.

Self-discharge rate

Box and battery Discharge simply means ‘to lose charge’.

All batteries lose charge naturally when they are not being used and for some types of  battery, this happens a lot quicker. For example, nickel-based batteries have a higher self-discharge rate than lithium-ion ones, meaning they lose their charge quicker when not in use.