Rechargeable Batteries for SpeedLights

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by dinsdale, Dec 23, 2017.

  1. I'm getting tired of replacing my AA batteries for my two speedlights. I never had any luck with rechargables in the past but now I noticed a new line of Eneloop Ni-MH batteries available. These must be a better quality battery, similar to what's used in DSLR cameras?

    Does anyone use these rechargeable batteries in their speedlights?

    Or, while I'm on the subject, does anyone measure the actual voltage of their standard, disposable batteries? What voltage is too low to bother with? We can't wait around too long for your speedlight to recycle during an event.

  2. "similar to what's used in DSLR cameras?"
    - No, they use Lithium Ion cells.

    What makes Eneloops different is that they use a hybrid Nickel-metal-hydride technology that reduces self-discharge and allows them to sit for several weeks without losing power.

    However there are many other brands that use the same technology: GP, Uniross and Energizer to name but 3. In fact I believe Uniross were first to market with these 'ready to use' cells.

    Anyway, long story short. These cells are perfect for speedlights. I haven't used alkalines for years, as their life in this application is pretty short and they're expensive for a disposable item.
  3. Now that's the answer I was looking for! Thanks so much.

    Tired of buying four packs of alkaline batteries, shooting an event and wondering if I should dump them or if they'll be any good for another shoot. I started thinking I could measure the voltages and either dump them or keep them if they above or below a certain voltage.

    I just ordered a set of four Pioneer AA batteries and a charger;

    Hopefully this will makes things easier for me and I'll stop wasting money on batteries. Wish they could have come up with this technology years ago.

    Thanks again!
  4. AJG


    As RJ says, the Eneloops are perfect for small flash units, and hold their charge for a long time. They also recycle faster than even brand new alkalines in the flashes that I have used.
  5. More good news!

    Thank you, guys.
  6. I use Eneloops, the plain white ones. - Did you mean the more expensive black ones with "new"?
    Anything Ni-whatever provides faster flash recycle time than alkalines. I recommend buying a luxury smart charger in the long run, that is able to display the capacity of each individual cell. - One in each pack of 4 dies first i.e. is down to 25% capacity while the others seem to be still going strong. - With enough sets in use you can probably just bin bad cells and continue consuming the still usable ones. - And knowing capacity is a good thing in general compared to "I recharged 4 sets of old NiMhs".
    What would luck with rechargeables mean? - During the 80s I used Sanyo NiCds. They worked not too badly, lasted a few years. - Ordinary NiMhs sucked. -They seemed to die faster and self discharged rapidly during less than a month. Discharging and recharging such batteries before every event got annoying. But over their reasonable service life they worked quite well. 11 years ago I was mainly angry that electronics manufacturers suddenly built stuff like cameras or MP3 players demanding the latest high capacity cells instead of traditional ones.
    Batteries unfortunately want to get used regularly and tend not to last forever. - But I seem to have some 5 to 7 year old Eneloops that are still doing well enough. I have no clue at which voltage an alkaline is considered 50%. - I usually just notice that they must be really dead way below 1V.
    1 problem with today's chargers: If you keep a flash on and one cell's Voltage drops way too deep the charger might not recognize it later. - In such cases it is helpful to have an old dumb charger to bring the Voltage back up (during 2 of over 10 needed hours) and continue charging in the modern smart one.
  7. I've been on camera forums for many years and Eneloops are by far the most mentioned, and used, batteries for Speedlights. I use them in my flash for macro work and they've been going strong for years. Be sure to get a good (well rated) smart charger, as I think that may be the key to their long and healthy life.
  8. Thanks, everyone.

    I just ordered a smart charger from Amazon, which should greatly help in managing AA battery condition. Why didn't I pick up on these new rechargables sooner? My last experience with rechargable AA batteries was probably over 30 years ago.

    Thanks, everyone.
  9. I'd tried a few rechargeable options over the years with Powerex (2200 mAh NiMH) the best at the time. It didn't take long for me to go back to Alkaline though. Too many instances of dead batteries, short usage times, poor life, etc. So, following from my rock & roll days, I've been buying Duracell Procell in boxes of 288. Biggest issue is leakage/corrosion in speedlights or other things that aren't used very often. Perhaps it's time to revisit rechargeables.

    I assume the Eneloops and other Nixxx are free from leakage problems so they can be left in devices for months or even years without worry? Are there some types that I should watch out for?

    Recommendations for best batteries and chargers?

    Thanks all,
  10. SOP should be to remove the batteries from the device after a gig, charge them, then put in a battery box for the next gig.
    Before the next gig, I would recharge the batteries, to top off the charge.
    I see little reason to keep batteries in the device for a LONG period of time. Many of the times that I have done so, I found the batteries leaked, creating a mess :(

    Alkaline batteries do not recycle my electronic flashes fast enough. So I use them as my last choice.
  11. AJG


    I've been using Eneloops for 6 or 7 years now and I leave them in flashes until I recharge them again for the next job. So far, no leaks or other problems. With auto flash units they last through hundreds of shots at fairly close range (under 10'), so I rarely have to change to spare batteries even though I always bring them. Compared to NiCads from the 1980's with their memory problems and sudden deaths on the job that I experienced, the Eneloops are vastly superior.
  12. Best test for whether or not you should dump the alkaline batteries in your flash is when it takes too long to recycle. Normally if I measure the voltage of the AA alkaline without load and would dump them if the voltage is less than 1.5V.
  13. There used to be some flash models that couldn't take the current supplied by NiCd, but hopefully those are gone now.

    (NiCd have a low internal resistance, so can supply more current even at the lower (1.2V) voltage.

    It is sort of usual to use alkalines until the recycle time is double the fresh time, as an indication that they are getting too low.

    NiCd, and to some extent NiMH, have a flat enough discharge curve that it is hard to use as an indication of charge level.
  14. Do you label your rechargeable battery sets? When I last used rechargeables we'd label sets w/ letters and then each battery within a set with a number. Most were four battery sets so A1, A2, A3 and A4 might be in a speedlight while B1, B2, B3 and B4 were charging and C1, C2, C3 and C4 were charged and ready to use. If one of the batteries declined below usability then we'd replace it with the next number so set B might be B1, B2, B4 and B5 after B3 was put out of our misery.

    We'd sort of keep track of what was happening so we knew who made good (or barely acceptable) and who not. Theoretically this also produced more even use of the batteries and so better performance and longer life.

    BTW, I've purchased 10 trial sets (1 Ansmann 2850, 1 Ansmann MaxEpro 2100, and 8 Panasonic Eneloop 1900) along with Ansmann chargers (PL 6+2, PL8 and PL4Pro). Hopefully rechargeable is much improved from our last attempt at using them. The PL6+2 is supposed to have a good refresh cycle and it's recommended that batteries go through it about once every 10-20 charge cycles. The 2850's should provide much faster cycle times, at least when new.
  15. @gary, have you experienced leaks with rechargeable NiMH?

    My very strong preference is to leave batteries in. My speedlight usage is quite sporadic and I much prefer grab&go. I might have 3 or 4 days in a row where I'll use a bunch of speedlights and then a month not using any and then a day using one, a week without any and then a day using a gob of them. I don't always know going in to a shoot what I'll want so needs change constantly and unexpectedly.
  16. I did have a couple NiMH batteries leaking "something" out of them.

    I keep my charged batteries in a small box next to the flashes.
    I have several flashes, and don't always use the same one, so the box of batteries works better in this situation.
    SOP is to select a flash, then grab a 4-pack or 8-pack of batteries out of my box, insert the batteries into the flash and test the flash.
  17. Really dead NiCDs and probably NiMhs too can leak some white salt like stuff around their + pole. It sems easier to remove than the brown mess out of alkalines.
    I don't worry about removing batteries for moderate time like 1.5 years. Maybe I am happy go lucky? But since 3 of my oldest cameras run on Eneloops too, I really fancy having batteries in them to avoid setting internal clock & calendar before I shoot them again.
    Labeling: IMHO *year of acquisition*, (*set*) + *dot of shame* for the weakest battery inside, makes sense.
    As told before: I do not advocate uninformed recharging. get at least 25% of your chargers capable to tell you the starting Voltage of your cells, measuring the capacity they might hold and at least able to tell you what they managed to squeeze into a cell during a charge cycle. Based upon that info I'd try to mark the faultiest cell with a dot of shame.
    I am not sure what is most desirable for flashes (beyond ideal infinite capacity and zero internal resistance for faster recharging). A perfectly matched set of cells means: it will die suddenly. RC car racers like their packs that way. A race lasts 8/6/4 minutes and the motor and power train are picked to just make it home with the full charge.
    Maybe there is hope to squeeze 5 very last flashes out of a set where just one cell is finished? Seems maybe better than a sudden show stopper to me.
    A next and IMHO most important step in battery monitoring and labeling would be another dot marking a cell "lightest duty only" 400mAh remaining capacity would be still good enough to power a clock on your wall or maybe some (grand?) kid's toy. or a less needed electric torch.
    I thrive to get enough Eneloops for all my devices together. At least I don't want to bring a makeshift backup flash and depend on the suddenly died regular one's batteries for it.
  18. That all sounds like major work! I have enough trouble just keeping a dozen sets of cells recharged, without faffing about keeping a log of their condition.

    Just use 'em and abuse 'em. Then chuck 'em away when they no longer hold a charge.

    By "chuck 'em away" I mean "recycle them responsibly at your local collection station" of course.
  19. I can imagine. - I usually don't label mine. But: I rather attend an event with a dozen cells likely to get me through it, than with a dozen fishy sets. That's why I accumulated a few chargers that provide info about my cells condition.
    I think what earned rechargeables their bad reputation was the fact that we weren't able to pick & weed out the faulty ones. Its a tad easier with camera batteries, where we sense that we don't get enough shots out of them and have no chance to replace single cells inside.

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