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Motorola Two Way Radios in the Desert

Action Communications
Two-Way Radio Battery Care

NiCd Batteries

Work 'em ''til they drop.

Everyone has a theory about how to take care of rechargeable batteries ranging from neglect to pampering. The reality is they will tolerate all kinds of work situations and last about a year to a year-and-a-half. If you care about extending their performance, thereby saving a few dollars, there are a few preventive measures you can take -- or leave, depending on your work load and how much effort you want to put into battery preservation.

Hard work never hurt anyone, or any battery

Don't worry about the problem of "memory". In normal daily use, batteries are nearly completely discharged by the end of the day and recharged overnight. Memory is prevented by significant discharge and full recharge on a regular basis. If this is not your normal cycle, then you should schedule a full discharge once a week. 

Once a week, leave the radios on until the batteries are discharged. The radio should shut off, lose its display or give you a low battery warning. The battery should then be recharged immediately. Don't allow the battery to continue discharging and don't let them remain discharged for more than two days. This beneficial discharge will cause the memory effect to disappear.

Most radios are designed to turn off when the battery voltage reaches one volt per cell. Deliberately over-discharging below one volt per cell is fatal.

Other causes of premature death are:

  • Submerging a battery in water or letting it get wet in the rain. They will be D.O.A. when you get them to our shop.
  • Allowing office staff to use the charger as a radio stand. Our battery coroner lists "continuous charging" as the cause of death in an astounding number of cases. (This enhances the memory effect).
  • Dropping radios usually splits the battery case and destroys the internal circuitry. Carrying radios in holsters prevents a great deal of damage -- a $15 to $45 investment to protect an expensive battery.
The normal life cycle of a NiCd battery is approximately 400 to 500 charge/discharge cycles. This is why we say that if you are using them all day every day, you will get a little more than a year from a battery. They can last up to three years or more if you are not working them every day.

All the batteries we sell are warranted against any defects for one year. We further warrant they will test at 80 percent of their capacity in normal use for up to a year or we will replace the battery. The top of any battery purchased from Action Communications is date engraved so you can reference the purchase date.

We have special battery analyzers that tell us when batteries drop below 80 percent. Any of your older batteries that test below 80 percent of capacity should be replaced. They can be used a while longer as a spare since they won't perform more than a few hours.

To avoid abuses which are guaranteed to shorten the useful life of a NiCd take the following steps:

  • Stabilize batteries in the summer to room temperature before charging. Do not charge when battery temperature is less than 40 degrees F or greater than 110 degrees F.
  • Use only chargers specifically designed for your radio.
  • Turn your radio off while it's in the charger.

"Memory" is a condition where the capacity (milliampere hours) is lower than it should be. It is caused by the changes in the negative, or cadmium plate, due to the formation of cadmium crystals. You can prevent the formation of these crystals by:

  • Not leaving the cells in the charger for long periods (more than a weekend).
  • Scheduling a full discharge once a week if you are only partially discharging the battery in a normal work shift.
  • Protecting the battery from temperatures greater than 110 degrees F
  • Not operating the radio while it is in the charger.

Batteries may become warm while charging due to the chemical reactions occurring within the battery. If a battery gets too hot to touch, remove it immediately from the charger and unplug the charger. Return both to Action Communications for testing.

Don't return fully charged batteries to the charger for an extra boost. This significantly shortens the life cycle.


When batteries are not in normal service:

  • Fully discharge and then recharge all batteries at least once every 30 days.
  • Remove the radio from batteries and store them separately.
  • Store them only in a charged state. Store in a cool place. Storing in a refrigerator is good since cold slows the self-discharge rate.
  • If stored more than 30 days take the following precautions to revitalize:
  1. Return the battery to room temperature.
  2. Trickle charge the first time, not rapid charge.
  3. Cycle the battery once more prior to use.

NiCds must be disposed of in accordance with local laws. You can take them to the Tucson/Pima County Hazardous Waste Disposal site at 2440 W. Sweetwater Drive (I-10 and Prince Road, Fri and Sat 8-noon).

 For maximum battery life, pay as much attention to how you discharge them as you do to charging them.

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Action Communications - Two way radio sales and service

Action Communications, Inc.
2816 North Stone Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85705


(8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST)
Fax: 520-792-2709

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