The complete guide to “Memory Effect” in rechargeable batteries

Very often it happens that after a certain time period of usage the batteries in question do not charge completely to a 100% coupled with the usage time decreasing rapidly. This refers to the usual phenomena in NiCd batteries and doesn’t necessarily exhibit in other battery types. For those who have not heard or experienced such problems in their batteries it could be laid out very simply – that when rechargeable batteries are not fully discharged between their multiple charge cycles that they tend to remember the shortened cycle and are thus reduced in capability. This problem was a very normal occurrence with rechargeable batteries up until about 5 years ago. But with improvements and the big strides in battery development and charging technology this ‘memory effect’ is quite rapidly now becoming a part of history.


Following are certain proven areas which need to be taken special care in order to maximize the life cycle and capacity of your rechargeable batteries:

  • A good charger is your best bet to counter the memory effect. Unless otherwise specified on a charger it should not be used with multiple battery types as both have different configurations. Though there are cheap and expensive chargers, it always imperative to ensure the charger you purchase has got good ratings and is properly made. Chargers with micro-controller chips are usually the best choice.

  • The process of charging and discharging a battery alters the thermodynamic equilibrium of a battery through this equilibrium state can be achieved back after some time. When on a constant charging cycle, occasionally discharging the batteries fully before recharging them should be practiced once a while. But one should be careful not to discharge the batteries too deeply; discharging the battery to absolute zero will render it completely useless. Using a conditioner along with the charger can be helpful in cycling the battery.

  • Proper Storage of batteries helps counter the ill effects of the memory effect. It is always advisable not to leave the batteries in hot, humid conditions such as a closed car. Instead an ideal storage conditions would be a cool and dry place. Refrigerator is also a preferred place, but to keep them dry, batteries if stored in a refrigerator should be kept in a sealed bag along with a pack of silica gel. If you are planning to reuse batteries which have been storage it is always good to first charge them back fully before use.

  • Cordless phones put to use the NiCd batteries which are usually known to fall prey to the dreaded memory effect. In order to therefore maximize you’re the battery life, it always makes sense to leave the phone away from the base once a while till it goes completely dead. Then leave it on the base until it is fully charged.

Due to the prevalent news about memory effect; lithium ion batteries are increasingly being used because they have no memory effect and can be charged at any time.

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