Life after death for AA batteries in a digital camera

Did you know that your AA batteries still have life left in them even after your digital camera shuts down and orders you to change them? It’s true, they are not dead yet so don’t toss them!

I have been reading about batteries this morning- for HOURS! I’m no electronics expert or even know the slightest thing about batteries so I’m serious when I say that this morning has been a confusing maze for me. My head hurts.

This all started when I swore to my husband that when my camera says to change the batteries, I can still take many more shots by opening the hatch, taking them out, rubbing my fingers across the ends, replacing them, closing the hatch and continuing to shoot photos. I said that maybe running my fingers gave the batteries a little charge off my own electrical field. He said that’s not possible and that I must just be resetting a loose contact point at the camera hatch. camera with batteries

Since some readers get all in your face about stuff that maybe you just innocently don’t understand, I thought that I’d better do some research to more fully understand what is happening when my batteries magically recharge after I play with them a bit. I mean, before I tell you that you can recharge them with the energy from your hands and all that stuff.

After searching the net I found that many people do believe that their own electrical filed can recharge a AA and many say that is pure bunk. Naturally, I was curious and wanted to get to the bottom of this subject. After hours of reading about  batteries, my eyes are bleeding, but I did learn a few things that I thought I’d pass on to you..

For a while there, I was stupidly tossing my AA Alkaline batteries when my camera said to “change batteries”. I thought that they were dead. Not so, they simply didn’t have enough voltage left to power my camera, but they still had life in them. They just needed to be switched to lower drain electronics that require AA batteries.

So to break it down:

My new 1.5 volt batteries go into my high drain devices like my digital camera, MP3 player, my sonic toothbrush, portable gaming device, wireless mouse and wireless controllers for items such as those little remote control planes and cars and medium weight toys. Generally, you know it’s a high drain device if it has moving parts and especially if it has an LED viewing screen.

New batteries should always be used in flashlights for the strongest beam. You can put weaker batteries into flashlights, but the effectiveness diminishes as I’m sure that you’ve noticed already.

When my high-drain gadget says that it is time to change the batteries, I typically have 70-80 percent more power left in the battery. Don’t get me wrong, I found out in my research that you can NOT access all of a battery’s voltage, but you can definitely extend it’s usage.

I now have two bins set up for my used batteries. They are labeled “less than 1.30V” and “less than .99V”

“Less than 1.30v” will still work in lightweight toys and TV, radio or fan remotes and some wireless mouses. Works in my mouse and TV remote.

Typically, the “less than 0.99v” batteries can still be used in clocks and a few remotes.

As a matter of fact, as I was typing this out, my curser started jumping all around my computer screen. Yep, time to change the batteries in the wireless mouse. I took the old batteries from the mouse out and dropped them into the “less than .99v” bin. The “dead” batteries from my camera then went into my mouse where they will continue to be useful for some time to come. So that drops the batteries that WERE in my mouse down to the less than .99v bin which will go into my clock or TV remote when the time is right to change them.

battery volt meterOK, back to the myriad ways that are posted on the internet as “tried and true” methods to extend the life of a battery. Spin them, heat them with your hands, drop them from shoulder height, lightly hit them with a hammer, stick them in lemon juice…and on and on. I tried them all, but none of these tactics actually raised the voltage in the batteries. Yep, I’m using a battery tester for my little experiments.

Most of the non-believers posted replies that were actually kind of rude and way too technical for me. FINALLY, I ran across a reply that sounded really sensible and I’m buying this explanation as to why I can get more life out of my batteries when I run my fingers across the ends. It turns out that my husband was right. (GAWD! I hate it when that happens! Just kidding…sort of…)

A very small amount of corrosion forms between the contacts, and this increases the electrical resistance by a small amount, which lowers the delivered voltage (according to Ohm’s law). When you spin the batteries in the compartment, it removes a bit of this corrosion, which also removes a bit of electrical resistance, and slightly improves the voltage of the batteries.

On a side note, I just went and bought rechargeable batteries for my camera. I’m ancient so I come from an age where we were suspicious of rechargeable batteries. After all of my reading on the subject, it seems as if the new rechargeables really do deliver, especially for digital cameras. We’ll see. Hopefully, I will be saving some money on batteries from here on out.

Why don’t I just trade up for a camera that does not use AAs? Because I LOVE my camera and don’t want to learn how to use a new one again. (grin)

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