Most Radio Systems in use in Camps today use some form of rechargeable batteries . They are either Nickel Cadmium, Nickel Metal Hydride, or Lithium Ion in their chemical makeup. Each type have their advantage and disadvantages when it comes to their operation in radios.


Nickel Cadmium Batteries have been around for many years this form of energy storage pioneered the use of Portable Radios.The advantage of NICAD batteries is their ruggedness. No other form of battery can stand up to the riggers of constant charging and discharging . NICADS like to be completely discharged and then charged to their rated capacity time and time again. They can be dropped and handled roughly and still come back to their rated capacity. The problem starts when they are not completely discharged and put in the charger to charge. This type of cycling causes the Battery to develop a “memory” that only allows it to charge to a percentage of its rated capacity and therefore giving poor service with shorter service times and generally poor Radio performance. Professional Radio shops can “zap” a NICAD and eliminate the memory. The Battery then comes back to, or gets close to , it’s original capacity.

Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries were invented to essentially eliminate the “memory effect” associated with Nickel Cadmium Batteries explained above. The formulation was able to do this but at compromise. That compromise was ruggedness. NMH batteries do not like to be dropped and do not like to be discharged to zero. These batteries also do not like to be overcharged. Special chargers are required that charge the unit to its rated capacity and shut down once this level is reached. These smart chargers are expensive and may not activate with a battery that is at zero


Lithium Ion Batteries are relatively new on the Market. They combine the positive attributes of both Nickel Cadmium and Nickel Metal Hydride .They are light in weight and rugged enough for use in Portable Radios. Again they must use smart chargers and do not like to be totally discharged or over charged. The ideal charge cycle is to charge to 90% of their capacity and discharge to 10% of their capacity Their chief disadvantage is the cost. LION batteries can be one and one half the cost of comparable batteries for similar use.


All rechargeable Batteries have one big Enemy. HEAT. Batteries left on charge to long or in the wrong charger start to heat up. If you feel the battery and it is warm to the tough ,take it out of the charger. Heat accelerates the chemical reaction in the battery and shortens it’s life. Another enemy of batteries is the Radio that is left “on” with the battery attached. Many times we will receive radios back from rental with the battery attached and the radio tuned on. It might be from jostling in the box or someone just left it on by mistake. Regardless the battery is trying to do its job and is being robbed of all of its reserve of power for however long it takes for some one to find the error. The useful life of the battery is seriously diminished under this scenario. When transporting radios take the battery off and wrap separatly.

All rechargeable batteries contain dangerous chemicals. Do not dispose of any batteries in the normal trash. If you can not find a recycling depot ,please get them to us here at Dialcom and we will dispose of them properly.

If you have any further questions about any of the above please contact me or call me in Barrie at 705-737-2337

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