Synergy Batteries -- Can anyone comment?

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Joel Connor, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. Joel Connor

    Joel Connor Guest

    There's a new type of 1.25v AA battery on the market, using a Lithium
    Polymer configuration (not unlike the flat-pack in my MP3 player, but at a
    different voltage) marketed by a company name of Hahnel.

    A quick cursory search for reviews and discussions seem favorable. With
    good low-temperature performance down to 23° F (-5° C), fast charging
    times, etc.

    Anyone here ever use them and care to comment?

    Comments from the resident role-playing "x-spurts" that don't even own
    cameras are not welcome. Don't worry, we already know who you are.
     
    Joel Connor, Jul 6, 2010
    #1
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  2. Joel Connor

    Pete Guest

    Then, as one poster has already intimated "Never ask a question to
    which you don't already know the answer".

    We are all random Internet posters. Google is statistically more
    definitive, according to the statistics.

    HTH.
     
    Pete, Jul 6, 2010
    #2
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  3. Joel Connor

    Joel Connor Guest

    Thanks for outing yourself.
     
    Joel Connor, Jul 6, 2010
    #3
  4. Joel Connor

    Joel Connor Guest


    Thanks for outing yourself.
     
    Joel Connor, Jul 6, 2010
    #4
  5. Joel Connor

    Mike S. Guest

    No experience, but your teaser sparked me interest and I looked around.
    Unfortunately, the only product under this brand/model I can find is a
    pre-charged NiMH cell ... even at the manufacturer's website
    (http://www.hahnel.ie/index.cfm/page/aamignonbatteries).

    Can you post a reference to a Li-Poly AA product?
     
    Mike S., Jul 6, 2010
    #5
  6. Joel Connor

    SMS Guest

    Well if our favorite troll was really interested in learning about
    camera batteries he could simply type "nimh versus lithium ion" into the
    Google search box and click on "I'm Feeling Lucky."
     
    SMS, Jul 6, 2010
    #6
  7. Joel Connor

    Pete Guest

    No problem, it was predisposed in the question.
     
    Pete, Jul 6, 2010
    #7
  8. Joel Connor

    Joel Connor Guest

    I'm getting conflicting information between ads and posts I've read. Such
    as this one from amazon.co.uk

    <http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hahnel-Syne...?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1278381027&sr=8-2>
    which states:

    "Product Description
    hahnel Synergy batteries offer a number of advantages over traditional
    alkaline batteries, including up to four times more power when used in a
    digital camera, high performance even at low temperatures (down to 23
    degrees F) during your winter holiday, and a vast cost savings in the long
    run. The Synergy advantages are even more glaring when compared to typical
    NiMH batteries: not only are they ready for use right out of the packet,
    but they generally last longer than most NiMH batteries (continuous and
    frequent recharging can destroy other NiMH models) and save both time and
    money (traditional NiMH charging is slow when you're in a hurry, while
    rapid chargers are expensive). All told, you can recharge these batteries
    up to 500 times without experiencing a memory effect; just charge the
    amount you need and you're set."

    Most are claiming a typical NiMH chemistry. One I had read claiming Li-Poly
    (and can't find that thread now). It could be I read that page too fast and
    confused it for a Li-Poly chemistry. Which had me wondering because Lithium
    chemistry will define 3.7v. Though I couldn't figure out how they got 1.25v
    base voltage from HiMH chemistry either.

    Then there's also the "Mignon" (not Synergy) brand name from Hahnel that
    also claims NiMH chemistry.

    Maybe they're just a new NiMH configuration and not Li-Poly.

    In either case, they seem to be an improvement over the more recently
    popular "Eneloop", "Hybrid", and other "pre-charged" NiMHs out there. The
    rated 1.25v strongly suggests a different chemistry. So I was wondering if
    anyone's been using them and if they perform up to their claims.

    I do a lot of near-arctic-temperature photography at times (down to -44F)
    and any improvement in cold weather performance, as well as reliable
    fast-recharge times, intrigues me.
     
    Joel Connor, Jul 6, 2010
    #8
  9. Joel Connor

    Joel Connor Guest

    And if the SMS troll was really interested in being a decent
    pretend-photographer troll, he would know that Li-Ion is not ths same as
    Li-Poly.

    Try again.
     
    Joel Connor, Jul 6, 2010
    #9
  10. We all know you are incapable of judging photographs.

    http://www.arumes.com/temp/nimh.jpg
     
    Robert Spanjaard, Jul 6, 2010
    #10
  11. Oh, and Mignon is not a brand name.
    It's just another name for "AA battery".
     
    Robert Spanjaard, Jul 6, 2010
    #11
  12. Joel Connor

    J. Clarke Guest

    There appear to be two "Synergy" battery product lines, one produced by
    Hahnel in Germany and the other by Synergy Digital in Brooklyn, NY. The
    Hahnel product appears to be an Eneloop clone while Synergy appears to
    be importing Chinese-clone OEM-replacement camera batteries.
     
    J. Clarke, Jul 6, 2010
    #12
  13. The Sanyo Eneloop low-discharge NiMH battery technology is being
    licenced more widely nowadays. Initially such cells were sold by
    name-brand battery manufacturers such as Rayovac's "Hybrio" or
    Panasonic's "Infinium". Nowadays I'm seeing more and more online
    suppliers of tech gear such as the British-based Maplin stores offering
    similar low-discharge cells with their own branding (in Maplin's case
    they're called Camelion). I'm guessing that the Synergy cells mentioned
    are the same as everybody else's, run off a single production line and
    only labelled at the end to differentiate them from the other people
    selling such batteries.
     
    Robert Sneddon, Jul 6, 2010
    #13
  14. Joel Connor

    SMS Guest

    On 06/07/10 3:53 AM, Robert Spanjaard wrote:

    I prefer to call the rechargeable AA's HR6 and the non-rechargeable AA's
    LR6. Mignon (which is the French term for an AA battery) is too vague.

    While there are rechargeable Li-Po and Li-Ion cells that are the
    physical size of an R6 cell, (14500), the chemistry yields 3.6-3.7
    volts. There are some devices that can use them because they have a
    DC-DC converter with a very wide input range, but I've never known a
    digital camera that could use them. Even "regular" AA batteries vary
    significantly based on chemistry, from 1.2V to 1.7V, so there has to be
    some accommodation built in.

    There's no real advantage in terms of WH capacity of the 14500 Li-Ion
    and Li-Po cells (versus NiMH), and when sold as an end-user product each
    cell needs it's own protection circuitry built in (as opposed to one set
    of protection circuitry for a multi-cell Li-Ion/Li-Po battery pack). You
    do get the advantage of the low-temperature performance. Of course you
    need a charger that's capable of charging them as well, since a NiMH
    charger won't work.

    The issue is rather moot these days as so few cameras still use AA
    batteries, only the very low end P&S models and a few super-zoom P&S
    models. You can use AA batteries in a lot of D-SLR battery grips, but
    the performance of Li-Ion batteries is so much better that you'd rarely
    do such a thing. Even the "ITMONW" rationalization is rather moot
    because when you come across that 7-11 in the middle of nowhere and buy
    R6 manganese batteries, they work poorly in digital cameras because of
    their high internal resistance.

    I suppose someone could make a 14500 lithium based cell than had an
    internal buck-boost converter/charger so it could have a 1.5V output and
    be chargeable in a NiMH charger, but that would be a pretty ridiculous
    project.
     
    SMS, Jul 6, 2010
    #14
  15. Joel Connor

    Mike S. Guest

    My interest in this type of product is for electronic flash. For instance,
    the external flash for my Olympus uses two AA cells. It also takes CR-V3
    primary packs, which deliver much better performance. Unfortunately the
    RCR-V3 (which is basically two 14500's in parallel with special circuit to
    make it look like two AA's in series) are disappointing. Not only do
    reviewers say they last no longer than NiMH, but they can't deliver the
    current necessary to charge a flash and end up dying after the first shot.

    I was hopnig the product described here might be better, but it seems they
    are not what they were described as being.
     
    Mike S., Jul 6, 2010
    #15
  16. Joel Connor

    SMS Guest

    On 06/07/10 7:37 AM, Mike S. wrote:

    Unfortunately there's no such animal as li-ion or li-po R6 battery, and
    unlikely to be one.

    To me it's annoying to have to use AA batteries for the flash, and BP511
    Li-Ion packs for the camera. I could use AA batteries in the grip, but
    AA NiMH performance is much worse than BP511 performance, and in reality
    the NiMH batteries are no cheaper because BP511 packs are so widely
    available at such low prics. I wish Canon had made their later flashes
    able to use a BP511 or four AA cells. If it can work with four Lithium
    non-rechargeables at 4 x 1.7V = 6.8V then it could certainly have been
    made to work at the 7.4V of a BP511.

    I don't know what they did to the the RCR-V3 to limit the current to the
    point that it can't deliver enough current to charge the flash since
    there's no inherent reason that a 14500 could not deliver enough
    current. I use eneloops in my flash, but it's rather annoying to have to
    carry two different chargers. OTOH I would have an AA charger along for
    other devices anyway on most trips.
     
    SMS, Jul 6, 2010
    #16
  17. Joel Connor

    Joel Connor Guest

    Now that we've gotten all of pretend-photographer troll SMS's vibrator
    power-source information out of the way ...

    Has anyone used these particular batteries in their cameras and do they
    live up to their claims?
     
    Joel Connor, Jul 6, 2010
    #17
  18. Joel Connor

    SMS Guest

    Is it being licensed or are other companies just building their
    batteries in a similar manner? What Sanyo did with the eneloop product
    is not rocket science--the technology for reducing self-discharge in
    Nickel based batteries is not new.

    The problem is that same design changes that reduce self-discharge also
    reduce capacity, and we were seeing something similar to megapixel wars
    with mAH wars. People just got fed up enough with self-discharge that
    they were willing to go with eneloop AA cells at 2000mAH versus regular
    NiMH AA cells which have up to 50% greater capacity.

    While the eneloop, and other low self-discharge cells, solve one of the
    major problems with NiMH cells, they still have most of the drawbacks of
    AA cells in general, and NiMH cells in particular.

    More information is available at "http://batterydata.com/".
     
    SMS, Jul 6, 2010
    #18
  19. AFAIK Sanyo has patents on the methods of making the electrodes and
    internal support structures that reduce the self-discharge rate
    significantly. Unless the other manufacturers have arranged licencing
    then they are open to lawsuits for infringement or they have twiddled
    their designs sufficiently to avoid the legal problems. I've not heard
    anything one way or another.
    Patent lifespan is 19 years as I recall -- I don't remember seeing low
    -discharge-rate Ni-chemistry cells on the market before much before
    2005.
    I've used high-capacity Ni-chemistry cells in the past but I noticed
    that their self-discharge tended to obviate the claimed extra capacity
    unless I was incredibly diligent about charging them immediately before
    use. In addition the increased capacity never seemed to survive more
    than a dozen or two dozen recharge cycles. I used (and still use) simple
    Ni-battery chargers with limited intelligence which probably didn't
    help. The charge retention of the Eneloops and their successors are a
    great convenience and I make up for the more limited capacity by
    carrying a spare set of similar low-discharge cells along with me. Maybe
    higher-capacity versions of the 1st-gen technology will appear in the
    future, who knows?
    Still better than Li-chemistry cells with their high self-discharge
    rate, generally limited operating lifespan and their finicky charging
    and temperature requirements. They also don't store well -- I bought a
    laptop once, surplus but still sealed in its box and unopened. The
    brand-new Li battery pack was dead on arrival, failing to take a charge.
    The battery pack had a date code on the case indicating it had been
    built only two years before. Conversely low-discharge N-MH cells come
    precharged and work well even after being stored for over a year as
    tests have proved, with (as I recall) 70% of measured capacity.

    As a data point my first set of Eneloops AA cells are at least three
    years old and still doing sterling service regardless of what kind of
    cheap Ni-chemistry charger I put them in. I have a plethora of
    Li-chemistry batteries for my phone, laptop, one of my cameras etc. and
    they all need their own special charging units since there is no
    "universal" Li-ion battery pack for such commodity devices. Worst case
    out in the field I can swap out my AA and AAA Ni-MH batteries for
    alkalines from a local store, something that is not possible with most
    units powered by Li-chemistry cells.
    That's your vanity website, yes?
     
    Robert Sneddon, Jul 6, 2010
    #19
  20. Joel Connor

    SMS Guest

    Li-Ion and Li-Po packs are only a little worse than eneloops in terms of
    self-discharge. I.e. in 100 days, the eneloop cells will be around 90%
    and the Li-Ion will be at around 80%. ANiMH would be at around 10%.

    The lifespan of a Li-Ion pack is a little less in terms of time, but you
    get far more cycles from each cell. The charging is more complex, but
    the complexity is taken care of for you in the charger and the
    protection circuit, temp sensor (and sometimes the micro-controller) in
    the battery pack.

    The list of advantages and disadvantages is as follows:

    20 Advantages of Li-Ion Batteries over NiMH Batteries

    1. Much lower self-discharge rate (except for newer Hybrio and eneloop
    NiMH cells, which trade low self-discharge for lower capacity)
    2. More charge/discharge cycles
    3. Usage pattern and charge regimen is better suited to digital cameras
    (and other devices where the usual pattern is partial discharge/full charge)
    4. Self-Discharge rate is constant during the life of the battery (NiMH
    batteries steadily increase in self-discharge over the life of the battery)
    5. Greater energy density by weight
    6. Greater energy density by volume (AA batteries are not practical for
    sub-compact and ultra-compact cameras because of size, and AAA batteries
    are not practical because of capacity)
    7. Greater number of shots per WH
    8. Faster shot to shot times, especially when using flash
    9. More convenient to swap and charge than AA cells (no fumbling with
    multiple cells, and keeping track of which battery is in which set)*
    10. Far better cold weather performance
    11. Far better performance at high temperatures
    12. Devices using Li-Ion batteries are more reliable than devices using
    AA batteries (unlikely to have a battery door flip open and have the
    batteries scatter all over)*
    13. Li-Ion batteries can be left in devices that are not used for long
    periods of time
    14. Li-Ion batteries have protection circuitry built into the pack and
    do not rely on the charger for this protection
    15. Accurate charge level gauge is included in most Li-Ion powered
    cameras, but is not possible in NiMH powered cameras (low-battery
    indicator only)
    16. Li-Ion batteries do not suffer from polarity reversal
    17. Li-Ion batteries do not suffer from the "dud" cell problem
    18. No need to "Battery Match" cells of similar capacity
    19. Rechargeable battery and charger come with the camera, versus buying
    a charger and batteries for an AA powered camera
    20. Smaller and lighter chargers

    * This advantage is over AA batteries in general, not specifically NiMH
    AA batteries. The advantage applies to AA batteries of other types as
    well (Alkaline, Lithium, etc.).

    8 Advantages of NiMH Batteries over Li-Ion Batteries

    1. Li-Ion packs are proprietary, you can't substitute disposable AA
    cells if your battery goes dead in the middle of nowhere, and you have
    no spare battery, and no AC or DC power for charging*
    2. Longer shelf life*
    3. Faster charging (though high-rate charging significantly reduces
    battery life)
    4. AA cells will always be available, while less popular Li-Ion packs
    may be discontinued*
    5. Multiple devices that use AA or AAA cells can share batteries and
    chargers (though there are Li-Ion chargers that can charge many
    different battery types by the use of adapter plates)*
    6. NiMH AA cells can be charged from a 5 volt USB port, while larger
    Li-Ion packs (7.4V) cannot.
    7. You can buy NiMH batteries at a good price from stores like Wal-Mart
    and Fry's but for Li-Ion you must order the battery packs from an
    on-line retailer that specializes in batteries in order to obtain good
    quality packs at good prices.
    8. Hot Shoe Flash and Camera Can Use the Same Type of Battery

    generally limited operating lifespan and their finicky charging
    Two years of unused storage is an eternity for a Li-Ion battery, and
    also for a NiMH battery. I have some non eneloop NiMH cells that I
    bought and was not religious about keeping charged. I tried to use them
    last month. They are all now bad. They were in storage for about two
    years. My fault. I have an AA trickle charger that I built and I didn't
    have the batteries on it.
    No. Every statement on that site has been fact-checked nine ways to
    Sunday. Early-on there were a few corrections that I made after people
    e-mailed me, but no one has found any errors in the site for more than a
    year. Some of the costs may have changed a bit, but that's about it.
     
    SMS, Jul 7, 2010
    #20
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