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Panasonic Eneloop Pro NiMH Cells: First Charge

The Sony DSC-H5 expects a much higher voltage from its pair of NiMH AA cells than the tired Sanyo Eneloops from 2010 can provide these days.

Eneloop - 8-cell pack - 2010 - 2016 - merged

Eneloop – 8-cell pack – 2010 – 2016 – merged

The two upper curves show the first two charges for those eight cells back in 2010.

The lower curve(s) started out with the wrong endpoint voltage (purple part of the middle curve), so I restarted the test (green curve) and edited the graph image to splice the two curves together into the purple/red curve.

Although the capacity measured in mA·h isn’t much lower, the voltage depression reduces the available energy and trips the “low battery” alarm much earlier. In round numbers, the old cells were good for a few pictures, even hot off the charger, and didn’t have much energy left without being recharged before use.

A quartet of Panasonic Eneloop Pro cells just arrived from BatterySpace, a nominally reputable supplier, all sporting a 14-05 date code suggesting they’re just shy of two years old. The packaging claims 85% charge retention after a year, so they should have a bit more than half of their rated 2.45 A·h “minimum” (or 2.55 mA·h “typical”, depending on whether you trust the label on the cell or the big print on the package) capacity remaining (although we don’t know the original state of charge, done from “solar power”). The lower curves say they arrived with 1 A·h remaining:

Panasonic Eneloop - First Charge

Panasonic Eneloop – First Charge

However, the terminal voltage on those bottom curves would have any reasonable device reporting them as dead flat almost instantly, so you really can’t store Eneloops for two years: no surprise there.

One pass through the 400 mA Sony charger produced the upper curves, with the dotted red curve from Cell A lagging in the middle. After that test, another pass through the charger brought Cell A back (upper solid red line) with the others, so I’ll assume it took a while to wake up.

A pair of these in the camera will produce 2.2 V through 2.2 A·h, far better than the aged-out Sanyo Eneloops.

Charging them at 400 mA = C/6 certainly counts as a slow charge. I’ve been charging the Sanyo cells in slow chargers in the hope that they’ll remain happier over the long term.

The Panasonic Eneloops perform much better than some other cells you’ve seen around here, which may be due to the fact that I paid $5 each for them…

 

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  1. #1 by eriklscott on 2016-03-20 - 14:21

    Per Wikipedia, Sanyo Eneloops were made in Japan. Then Panasonic acquired Sanyo (I didn’t know this) and the next generation of Eneloop-branded products were made in China. Cost optimization, conspiracy theories, whatever… even if there was no malice, simply moving production might be problematic enough. “Eneloop Pro” may still be made in Japan, and gives the impression of being a different design and not just different factories.

    Which may not be correct at all – I have a cell labelled “Sanyo Eneloop” right in front of me. It claims to be Japanese, and a 1900 mAh part at that. Date code is 13-12, so this would have been after the acquisition. Something not right in Wikipedia? Go figure. Anyway, there are two conflicting data points for ya’.

    In any case, I’m still using bright orange Panasonic-branded NiMH AA cells from 2005. No idea of the cycle count – probably in the low hundreds. I’ve mislaid more cells than have failed. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had any outright failures.

    • #2 by Ed on 2016-03-20 - 15:47

      Huh. Learn something new every day …

      Both sets claim a Japanese manufacturing heritage and the Sanyo cells sport a 09-10HF date code that agrees with when I bought ’em.

      So far, the camera seems exactly as happy as I hoped!