Killing Batteries

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Dudley Hanks, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. Dudley Hanks

    Dudley Hanks Guest

    Back when I used my Canon A2, I went through a ton of batteries,
    especially in cold weather.

    It seemed like the batteries would die everytime I took the cam
    out in temps below about -15, or somewheres around that temp.
    And, the age of the battery didn't seem to matter. Even if I
    purchased a new one, stuck it in the cam and went out to shoot
    some winter pics, the battery would die.

    Now, I purchased one of those Canon wireless controllers, the
    STE2, which seems to use the same battery as the A2, or one very
    similar (I don't have one of the old A2 batteries around to
    compare, and am too lazy to look up the number).

    I'm just wondering if other photogs have had similar experience
    with Li batteries, especially those used in A2's and the

    Thanks, and Take Care,
    Dudley Hanks, Feb 13, 2014
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  2. Dudley Hanks

    philo  Guest

    Cold temperatures will reduce the capacity of many batteries
    but it should not harm them. Once they are warmed up , their capacity
    should return.

    If you want a little reserve capacity, just do what I do:
    philo , Feb 13, 2014
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  3. Dudley Hanks

    Dudley Hanks Guest

    Well, not only have I experienced difficulty with the Li
    battery in my A2, but the Li battery in my GPS unit has also
    died a cold death.

    I wish they would come back to life when warmed up. I could
    work with that. But, when I pay out roughly $100 on a battery
    for my GPS and take it out on a cold day only to have it die,
    it gets a bit frustrating.

    Actually, it's not really the GPS battery; it's the battery
    for the HP PDA that processes the interface to the GPS.

    Regardless, I've definitely had batteries die in cold weather,
    never to be revived.

    Take Care,
    Dudley Hanks, Feb 14, 2014
  4. LiPo batteries do lose some capacity while they're below 0C. An
    additional factor could be that grease is hardening so that autofocus,
    stabilization, and loading the shutter spring consume a lot more power.
    Kevin McMurtrie, Feb 14, 2014
  5. The above is quite correct.
    Lithium Ion batteries do very well in cold temperatures.
    They are not damaged by serious freezing. They still work
    at lower temperatures than most types of batteries, and of
    course they do continue to work when rewarmed.
    I've never, not even once, seen a healthy fully charged
    battery die just from being cold. The significance of
    where I live should not be missed. At 71 degrees North
    latitude, it tends to be what you think of as cold
    fairly often. Today it has been fairly warm for
    February, and the temperature has ranged from -25F to
    -30F during the day. That doesn't hurt batteries a bit.

    Batteries use a chemical reaction to generate electricity.
    Chemical reactions virtually all slow down at lower
    temperatures and speed up with higher temperatures.
    Hence a battery that can deliver any given amount of
    charge at +70F might not be able to deliver even 1
    percent of that at -70F. Different types work better or
    worse at cooler temperatures. (Li-Ion batteries are very
    good in cold temps. Incidentally, lead acid batteries such
    as are used in cars and trucks are even better at low

    A totally discharged lead acid battery is an example of
    one where a battery can be damaged by cold. The
    electrolyte in a fully charged battery is an acid, and
    it won't freeze (until something like -90F). But when it
    has been totally discharged the electrolyte has turned
    to mostly just water, and if it gets moderately cold it
    will freeze. Unless the battery is designed to deal
    with the expansion of the liquid as it freezes (car
    batteries are not), the result will very likely be a
    cracked case, with a weak acid leaking out.

    It sounds as if you are throwing away perfectly good
    batteries. I have two DSLR cameras that use the same
    model of Lithium Ion battery. I have three of those
    batteries, and when shooting outside while it is cold I
    tend to keep the spare battery inside my coat close to
    my body to keep it warm. When the battery in the camera
    gets cold, it is swapped with the spare. Over a few
    hours that might happen several times.
    Floyd L. Davidson, Feb 14, 2014
  6. Dudley Hanks

    Dudley Hanks Guest

    I'm not talking about lead acid batteries, just Li batteries.
    And, no, I'm not throwing away good batteries.

    Each battery that has died, I have kept and repeatedly tried
    for a couple of weeks, inside, where it is warm. And, no,
    they have not come back to life.

    Floyd, you and I both live in cold parts of the world, but do
    you spend as much time outside as I do? For the same lengths
    of time?

    The batteries haven't died after just stepping outside to take
    a quick pic or two; they have died after working for 30 mins
    or more, sometimes for around 45 mins in temps as cold as -35C.

    Take Care,
    Dudley Hanks, Feb 14, 2014
  7. Dudley Hanks

    Dudley Hanks Guest

    I should clarify that I'm not saying all Li batteries die as
    soon as they hit -15C; my own experience tells me that is far
    from the truth of the matter.

    I've run rechargeable Li batteries in devices like my XSi for
    extended periods, at temps as low as -30C to -35C and had no
    trouble. Well, almost no trouble. The output drops off, of
    course, but they haven't outright died on me.

    I've only had this trouble with the Canon A2 and the HP device
    I use as a GPS. Hence, my question to others as to whether
    they've experienced similar problems.
    Dudley Hanks, Feb 14, 2014
  8. But, as I pointed out, lead acid batteries are the ones
    that might display what you say you are experiencing,
    and then in a way that is rather specific.

    I've *never* seen a Lithium battery damaged by cold.
    Apparantly I spend more time outside, and in much colder
    temps that you do. I'm a getting too old to spend days
    at a time anymore, but hours at a time still happens.

    We don't think -35C here is all that cold. -40C is
    where "cold" starts.
    Typically that is about how long a Lithium battery takes
    to get cold enough to not work. And typically all it
    needs is to be warmed up again to allow it to work
    again. I've had two Lithium batteries, swapped between
    a camera and a warm pocket, work literally all day long
    at that temperature.
    Floyd L. Davidson, Feb 14, 2014
  9. Dudley Hanks

    Whisky-dave Guest

    Do you really mean an A2 I have an A1 which uses a silver oxide 6V battery.
    something like a PX28, I don't think lithium were around then.

    I've never ventured out in those sorts of temeratures so have no experince of them. But I know electronic circuits have specific minium temeratures at whic they are spected at.
    Whisky-dave, Feb 14, 2014
  10. Dudley Hanks

    philo  Guest

    That's correct...if a lead-acid battery is /discharged/ and subjected to
    freezing temperatures, the (mostly water) electrolyte can freeze and
    cause permanent damage. I've not see any other type of battery suffer
    permanent damage if subjected to cold.
    philo , Feb 14, 2014
  11. Dudley Hanks

    Dudley Hanks Guest

    But, have you ever heard of a Canon A2 or HP PDA that is
    powered by a lead acid battery? Your observation is
    irrelevant to the issue.
    I have.

    Really? I just checked your forecast and compared it to

    Current temp for Anchorage: -11C
    Current temp for Edmonton: -10C
    Expected low for Anchorage: -12C
    Expected low for Edmonton: -11C

    Our climates aren't all that different. Here in Edmonton, we'
    ve been known to clock lower temps than you, or even Siberia
    for that matter. Every now and then, we even go on record as
    having a temp that rates in the bottom 2 or 3 for the globe.

    That's great, and so have I. But not in my Canon A2 or in my
    HP-based GPS.

    In those devices, if the temp falls below about -15C to -20C,
    the battery dies, permanently, and no amount of warming brings
    it back to life.

    Of note, the battery in the A2 is a non-rechargeable Li
    battery and the Li battery in the HP is rechargeable, so it
    doesn't seem to be related to charging.

    That's why I'm wondering if the problem has something to do
    with the battery device configuration (i.e. how much current
    is drawn, voltage used, even physical construction of the
    battery itself).

    But, I guess, if you've never experienced this problem, then
    you have little info that will be of use.

    BTW, it has been my experience that Li batteries last longer
    in cold weather when working in a digital cam than in a film
    cam. For instance, I took a pic of Mich at the end of a 45
    min walk in about -25C weather, and the EXIF info for the pic
    showed that the camera recorded the camera temp as being +2C.
    The cam had been hanging around my neck for the whole walk,
    and not buried under my coat. I would have thought it would
    have been quite a bit colder.

    This leads me to wonder if the battery dies in the A2 because
    it doesn't have any heat from a sensor to keep the camera body
    warm. Ditto for the HP device as it does not have a noteably
    warm operating temp.

    Take Care,
    Dudley Hanks, Feb 14, 2014
  12. Dudley Hanks

    Dudley Hanks Guest

    Yep, it's an actual A2, probably the best 35mm wedding cam
    ever built, at least as far as film is concerned.

    I also had an A1 cam, as well as an AE1. But, that's really
    going back...

    And, yes, I used and abused my A2, taking it out in temps far
    colder than what it was rated for. I don't remember what
    Canon's recommendation was, but I'd imagine it to be around +
    2C to +4C.

    In spite of its insatiable hunger for electricity, I had a lot
    of fun with that model.
    Dudley Hanks, Feb 14, 2014
  13. Dudley Hanks

    Dudley Hanks Guest

    My apologies, Floyd, in another post, I compared Edmonton
    temps to those of Anchorage because I'm not all that familiar
    with Alaskan geography. I thought Barrow was a bit farther
    south than it actually is.

    After posting the msg, I got curious and checked the wikipedia
    article for your part of the country, and then I checked the
    forecast for Barrow.

    Indeed, you are a fair bit colder than Edmonton, today,
    clocking in at -31C. That's -21C colder than we are here.

    But, my point still stands, that regardless of whether most
    people have never experienced a cold weather failure of a Li
    battery, the batteries I've put in my A2 and HP die when the
    cold dips below about -15C to -20C, depending on how much time
    I spend at that temp.

    And, my question still is open to anybody who HAS experienced
    such a failure. I'm interested to learn what types of devices
    experience this difficulty, and what conditions it occurs.

    Those who have not experienced the issue, obviously, would
    have little to contribute to better understanding where, when
    or why it happens.

    Take Care,
    Dudley Hanks, Feb 14, 2014
  14. Dudley Hanks

    Pablo Guest

    Now you see there's your problem. You should stay in front of the roaring
    fire with a good book. Or a fit young burd.


    Pablo, Feb 14, 2014
  15. You are totally missing the point, which is why it seems irrelevant.

    There is a mechanism by which batteries are damaged by cold temperatures.
    Your batteries do not and cannot have water in the battery. Therefore
    they are not damaged by cold temperatures.
    It is being suggested that something else is in fact causing
    any damage.
    Ohhhhh... Edmonton and Anchorage are about the same! Whoopee.

    But, I live in Barrow. That is 725 miles north of
    Anchorage, with two of the tallest mountain ranges in
    North America between. Anchorage is relatively the
    tropics, being affected by the warm currents of the
    North Pacific. Barrow is a point of land sticking out
    into the Arctic Ocean.

    The current temperature here is -31C, and the predicted
    low for today is -34C. That is with a fairly typical
    wind of 15 MPH, giving a Wind Chill of -46C.

    Another significant difference is that Edmonton get 3 or
    4 times as much precipitation as Barrow, and in fact has
    had more rain in a single day that Barrow sometimes gets
    in an entire year.
    First, your average temperature is way way higher than
    Barrow. The lowest recorded temperature in both places
    does happen to be the same, at -49C. Barrow's highest
    ever temperature was only 26C, while Edmonton's high
    record is 38C

    The climates are *vastly* different.
    Floyd L. Davidson, Feb 14, 2014
  16. Dudley Hanks

    Guest Guest

    he doesn't have a lead acid battery in his camera, so what a lead acid
    battery does in cold weather (or any weather, for that matter), is not
    relevant. why even bring it up?

    something *else* is causing the problem.
    Guest, Feb 14, 2014
  17. Dudley Hanks

    Dudley Hanks Guest

    Is water the only part of a battery that cold impacts? I
    think not...
    Why does something else have to cause the problem?

    The Li batteries die when used in my Canon A2 or HP PDA
    devices when those devices are used at temps of -15C to -20 C.
    The "KISS Principle" (Keep It Simple, Stupid) suggests that
    the cause is the battery, since it is the variable that most
    closely relates to the observable event.

    Just because the Li chemical process is not known to result in
    widespread failure at low temps does not mean that cold temps
    are not the culprit.

    After all, batteries are made of materials. Most materials
    expand or contract as they warm and chill. Perhaps, the
    conductive path within the battery has some undocumented
    defect which can result in a breakage at prolonged exposure to
    temps below a certain point. If so, that could be the reason
    why the battery dies, even though the chemical process goes
    along its merry way. Right?

    Kind of like Apple's accessibility app Voice Over. At least 2
    bugs escaped Apple's notice prior to the launch of the system.
    The bugs, though only manifesting themselves on iPads and
    iPad mini's, renders the devices all but useless when using
    the Apple "Numbers" app, and cause considerable confusion to
    any blind user who puts more than 9 icons in a folder on the
    home screen.

    So, even though Apple has a fairly good reputation for being
    accessible, there are problems only those users who use /
    configure their device in a fairly specific manner. Perhaps,
    there are properties to Li batteries that you are not aware of
    because you have not been exposed to situations in which they
    manifest themselves.

    NS, I'm surprised you have already formed your conclusion
    without fully appreciating the nature of the issue.

    Take Care,
    Dudley Hanks, Feb 14, 2014
  18. Dudley Hanks

    Dudley Hanks Guest

    So, the bottom line is that Edmonton and Barrow aren't that
    much different during winter, the time in question...
    Dudley Hanks, Feb 14, 2014
  19. Dudley Hanks

    Dudley Hanks Guest

    Sorry, NS, the above response was a bit on the snarky side, as
    I read posts using a text editor that doesn't always do a good
    job of pointing out where one post starts and another ends.

    You were pointing out Floyd's inappropriate observation with
    respect to this issue, and I incorrectly read his latter
    comments as yours.

    My apologies... And, my thanks for pointing out so concisely
    that lead acid battery performance does not impact this issue.

    Dudley Hanks, Feb 14, 2014
  20. Sheesh. Day and night different.
    Floyd L. Davidson, Feb 14, 2014
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