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rechargeable batteries w/ wireless

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by Oobleck1441, Jun 1, 2008.

  1. Oobleck1441

    Oobleck1441 Member

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    Hello, Hello. Just a quick question...
    My budget will open up in exactly one month, and ive started a list of things I would like to have for next year...Searching through a catologue, i saw rechargeable batteries.

    My question: Has, or does anyone use rechargeable batteries with their wireless handhelds? Not for musical, or production. Just lecture settings or ceremonies.
    Thanks, oobleck1441
     
  2. mbenonis

    mbenonis Wireless Guy Administrator Premium Member

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    I haven't used the in handhelds, but our new wireless mics do use them for bodypacks. We have Sanyo 2700mAh AA batteries for them - I should know how they'll perform in the next few weeks.
     
  3. BNBSound

    BNBSound Active Member

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    I've had very good results with the Ni-MH rechargeables from Home Depot (the brand escapes me at the moment). I use them in everything from flashlights to radios, meters, hanging mics that can't get phantom power. While I haven't had a chance to use them in wireless packs yet due to scale (purchasing for a fleet of 16 isn't so much a problem as getting the fleet of chargers) I don't see any reason why they wouldn't work out great. I just wish they fit in my AA Mag, the diameter is just a hair too large.

    The initial voltage on a rechargeable is a little lower than from an alkaline right out of the package, but the discharge curve is smoother. With twice as many mAh in them, you should still see extended life out of them before they drop below the low voltage threshold. This would be for packs that take AAs though, 9v Ni-MH aren't available that I know of and Ni-Cads would just be a waste of your time.
     
  4. jkowtko

    jkowtko Active Member

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    I would be interested in knowing how this works out. We're interested in rechargables too, but in a prior post the general experience wasn't great ... maybe the newer NiMh batteries are doing better?

    Fyi, we run 2 Duracell AAs per pack and run them for two shows. Battery check before the second show is usually 1.44-1.45v, between 1.40 and 1.43 I may keep for an ensemble unit, and anything below 1.40 I will definitely replace. I hand out the packs around 60-75 min before curtain, so they run for about 4 hours a show.
     
  5. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Why on earth so early? Most AEA contracts only require actors to be at the theatre at half-hour.
     
  6. Raktor

    Raktor Active Member

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    Half hour? I wish. It's generally about an hour and a half - two hours here.
     
  7. Hughesie

    Hughesie Well-Known Member

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    3 hours for me,

    my sound checks take ages :mrgreen:

    but back to the topic,

    i have always loved using non rechargeable because i had bad experiences with rechargeable :(
     
  8. jkowtko

    jkowtko Active Member

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    1/2 hr vs. 2+? Sounds like equity vs community theater :)

    In our community theater (with no equity positions) our "official" call is 90 minutes before curtain, to give the actors enough time for hair, makeup, wireless, costume, and maybe rehearse a challenging scene or two on stage before the house opens (at 30 min prior). After a handful of shows our call slackens a bit and people start showing up closer to 75-60 min before curtain.

    If equity theaters really don't have to turn on the packs until 30 minutes prior, then you should for sure be able to get two full shows out of a pair of Duracells or equivalent ... which makes the economics of rechargeables a bit more challenging.
     
  9. Anonymous067

    Anonymous067 BANNED USER

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    Well, I use nothing but Duracell Procells in my handhelds and packs. I find the rechargeable, while cheaper in the long run they may be, fail over time, give a weaker initial voltage, and drop much faster. They only last half as long as alkaline (again, my observations).

    The first time I used rechargers was at church once. Our Priest thought it would be a money-saving idea. He had been on the same batteries all day long (well...afternoon). He popped a "freshly charged" one in his pack (without telling me). It started chopping out horribly about an hour into Easter Sunday mass. Never have I used rechargeables again. I was embarrassed enough to have to change a battery during a service in front of 1200 plus. We deemed it would be too much of a hassle, confusion, and more annoyance than it was worth. We went straight back to buying Duracell Procells in bulk (500 at a time) and we go through about 6-10 per week. 9 volts too.

    Again, my opinion. Don't use if you want reliable results.
     
  10. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    We use rechargeable when the presentation/speaker is less than an hour or two - never for theatre shows.

    Hey, we should make a rechargeable thread a "sticky" thread seeing as how many people ask about it.
     
  11. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

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    We use rechargeable in our wireless comms. We have twice as many as we need so we always have spares on the charger. The batteries are two years old now and are starting to fade if not used straight off the charger, but economics still seems to lean in favor of rechargeable NiMH. 24 batteries per show gets pricey.
    9 volts in wireless mics are still alkaline. I tried NiCad battereis once and had to replace them after a single semester. Until they make a high capacity NiMH 9 volt I'm going to stay with alkaline. Ni Cads just don't seem to take as many charges as NiMH and I can't afford to replace rechargeable once a semester.
    That being said, my new budget season is coming in July and I would be interested to know where people get batteries in bulk. I'm always needing to shave $$ off our budget and cutting down on battery expenses is as good a place as any.
     
  12. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    We did a lot of testing with rechargeable batteries when I was in College. We tested a bunch of different brands and chargers. We put them in mics in different noise level environments to test how long they lasted, and all that. The conclusions that we came to were basically like this:

    9V rechargeables were not reliable enough to use in wireless mics. They don't come in high enough capacities. We did find that they were reliable enough for the older wireless Clear-Com that we used, so they went to that, and all the wireless mics that used 9V batters still got alkaline.

    For mics using AA batteries we found that with a good brand, high capacity rechargeable we got great performance. We certainly had enough usage time to do a sound check and then deploy the mics at half hour. If I remember correctly we got an average of at least 4 hours on the 2700mAh batteries.

    The real kicker was figuring out how to deploy rechargeable batteries. We knew we needed the batteries and chargers, and all that jazz. We settled on needing to have a minimum of three sets of batteries. This meant we could have one set in the mics, one set as a backup and one set on charge. It is a little bit of an organization hassle for the techs, but after a while it becomes routine. It is imperative to have everything clearly labeled. You need to have good chargers, they don't have to be super fancy, but it is good to have chargers that condition the batteries every so often. Then of course you have to have space to set up all the chargers and store the batteries. Also, make sure you have some regular alkaline batteries sitting standby for when something goes wrong.

    It is a great way to go, and in the end it will save you money, but deploying the system costs as much as a years worth of batteries.
     
  13. airkarol

    airkarol Member

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    IMO, the rechargeable cost much more than they're worth. They also cost more in time. The first time you use them, the life usually still isn't as great as a new Duracell Procell, and after than they just go downhill.
     
  14. Hughesie

    Hughesie Well-Known Member

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    What i think most of us are saying is,

    that won't be your final solution and will require replacement eventually

    especially in high power demand devices such as radio mics
     
  15. satriasound

    satriasound Member

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    just thought I'd add my 2 cents regarding rechargeables. I've had experience with sanyo 2500mh NiMh, and duracell 2500mh NiMh rechargeables. (and a few stronger than that but yeah). I did a stress comparison in our shure UR-1 packs and our old sony (forget the designations) packs. they're lasting between 6 and 11 hours (yes 11. lol..) it's fairly typical to reach an 8 hour use. enough to get through any of our tech days for the most part. do not use any battery rated under 2500mh at least not the rechargeables.

    regarding the duracells... interestingly there appears to be something fishy going on with their chargers. we've noticed their chargers almost appear to "break" the batteries. the chargers begin to report the batteries are failing to charge. but we throw them in the sanyo chargers and they recharge and all is well (we can even put them back in the duracell chargers). charger slots seem fine. I figure it's something to do with the 15 minute quick charge units.

    we've now used them in all our shows for about 2 years (same sets of batteries) and have not had any issues with battery memory as long as the batteries are in chargers the night before their use. sometimes the duracells get strange if you pull them fresh off the charge (i suspect their overheat detection circuitry sucks.)

    I don't know about everyone else, but NiMh batteries pay themselves off in about 3 days worth of 16 mic shows for us. after that it's all gravy.
     
  16. jkowtko

    jkowtko Active Member

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    I live in the SF Bay Area and get them from the local Costco:
    * AA 36-pak Duracell is about $13 ... two batteries last two shows in our AKG PT80 transmitters
    * AAA 48-pak Kirkland Signature (house brand) cost about $12 ... surprisingly, one battery lasts two shows in our Samson AL1 micro clip-on transmitters, and the house brand holds up.

    At prices like this it makes the economics more demanding on the rechargeable route ... but ultimately it seems like the rechargeables will work if you buy the right ones and take care of them ...
     
  17. FMEng

    FMEng Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    I don't think it would be wise to mix different brands of batteries and chargers. The charger's characteristics should be tailored to the battery chemistry.

    Also, I suspect that the faster the charge is, you'll get fewer charge/discharge cycles out of the battery. Slower charging produces less heat, which means less damage to the battery lifespan.

    As for me, I'd rather have the certainty of an alkaline fresh out of the wrapper for wireless mics. It's hard to beat Costco for buying batteries in quantities.
     
  18. mbenonis

    mbenonis Wireless Guy Administrator Premium Member

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    Well, it seems like a good time for a status update on our rechargeable AA's.

    We bought (with our new mics) the Sanyo 2700 mAh rechargeables, along with LaCrosse Technology chargers. We've used the batteries for all of the shows this summer, and not a single battery has failed to perform for us. Mics are 100 mW models, and run for ~4-5 hours a night. We have two sets of batteries, and batteries are charged on their day off with a 200 mA charge current (the lowest possible), though occasionally we bump it to 500 mA if we know we need to use the batteries again soon.

    It is worth noting that the batteries definitely needed to be worked before they performed to spec. The LaCrosse chargers feature a refresh option which essentially charges and discharges the batteries until they won't charge up any more. Most batteries started off with a capacity of 1300-1500 mAh, and refreshing them brought many up to over 3 Ah of capacity. I'm curious to see at the end of the summer how much capacity they will read - I will post once I do a test.

    So the bottom line is that, in my opinion, if you use AA mics and do a lot of shows in a short period of time, the rechargeables are by far the best option. If you don't do many shows, or use 9V mics, you're probably best getting lots of ProCells cheap.

    For price comparison, we paid $4/battery. The cheapest price online I can find for a ProCell AA battery is $0.30/battery - that comes out to 13 charge cycles on the rechargeables - way below the number of uses we had this summer alone, and the batteries will hopefully last a few years.

    FWIW, the chargers we bought (LaCrosse BC-700) were $35/ea - not too bad IMO, especially for the features they offer.
     
  19. jb595

    jb595 Member

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    FYI.!!! AKG have brought out a new radio mic with recharger connections on it so all you have to do is drop the mic into the charger and hey presto it will decide automatically whether to top up the charge or drain the battery and charge again. awesome for lectures how you put the charger out, give them the mic and tell em when not in use stick it here. did i mention it had 8 HOURS!! of runtime o yea and it is a SINGLE AA BATTERY!!!. there are lots of other cool features so definetly check it out.

    Jake
     
  20. satriasound

    satriasound Member

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    I agree with that statement. it actually wasn't me that discovered it, it was my board operator who did it without asking me. however, it *did* seem to erase whatever problems the duracell chargers were creating for themselves in the duracell batteries.
     

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