Battery Pack Use

9:01 a.m. on June 9, 2016 (EDT)
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Is there an electrical engineer in the house?


I recently acquired an Anker battery pack, primarily to recharge an inReach device on longer trips. Testing here at home leads me to believe I've got enough power to keep that and an old iPhone4 I use for GPS/camera purposes for about two weeks, but I'd like to see if I can squeeze three weeks out of it.

As someone who isn't an electrical engineer I'm wondering if how I recharge the devices makes any difference. Is it better to run a device down and then recharge or to top it off each night? Which method would get more from the battery pack?

That might be a stupid question if you know the answer, but I'd still appreciate any insight after you stop laughing :)

9:06 a.m. on June 9, 2016 (EDT)
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Ls I use an anker battery...How many Mah does your anker have? I typically recharge each night...

9:44 a.m. on June 9, 2016 (EDT)
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I got the PowerCore 20100 denis. It is listed as being 20000 mAh and weighs about 13oz with its little bag.

4:34 p.m. on June 9, 2016 (EDT)
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Not an electrical engineer here, but here's what I've learned on the issue:

If the battery is new then running it down then recharging vs. topping off each night won't make a difference now. But, over the long run, running it down then recharging will preserve more of the available charge as the battery gets older.

5:43 p.m. on June 9, 2016 (EDT)
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not an engineer either but I've always heard the term referred to as battery memory. To my understanding this is related to certain types of batteries:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory_effect

6:30 p.m. on June 9, 2016 (EDT)
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I'm familiar with the concept you folks are referring to. As it applies here I'm only charging the battery pack when it is empty with that in mind. Normally I do the same with the phone and inReach, but for the rare trip where I'd be playing this game I don't think I'd worry about short charging them if it extended the utility of the Anker battery pack.

That really is the question I'm asking here. Does short or full charging get you a better return from the source battery or does it make no difference? I'm not worried about the memory thing here, just how many charges I can get out of the brick.

I'm trying to avoid lengthening the GPS ping on the inReach to save power or having to carry more battery weight in order to keep operating for three weeks. I guess this upcoming 15 day trip will give me a real world test to see how much I use up and how much is left. Bringing electronics other than cameras out there is new to me which is why I posted in this forum :)

3:17 a.m. on June 10, 2016 (EDT)
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LS I have a 10000 mah and I get 5 fullcharges for my phone when I use my apps and deplete the battery..You'll find out how often you use your inreach after the 15 days and what the battery life of your inreach is...I thought I would give you an idea (Ballpark)....

6:52 a.m. on June 10, 2016 (EDT)
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I configured both devices to run down their batteries unattended in order to run a test here at home when the Anker pack arrived last month. I was able to get 4 full iP4 charges and roughly 3.25 inReach charges over a 13 day period. This will be my first trip relying solely on the phone to take pics so I'm not sure how much that will use, but I set it up to use almost no power when not in use so most of the charging will be for the inReach.

10:57 a.m. on June 10, 2016 (EDT)
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I am interested in what you'll get from your inreach..I been thinking about adding one for a trip I want to take...So be great if you post after your trip and how it went...I would appreciate it...

12:12 p.m. on June 10, 2016 (EDT)
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I've been using it for a while with ten minute pings, turning it on when I leave camp and off shortly after making camp. Sending/receiving a few messages a day along with the pinging seems to give me plenty of juice for 4 or 5 days, maybe more. I've never run it dry on trail. Patrick told me he uses his for messaging only and a charge lasts forever so it really comes down to how you use it.

It was and continues to be an investment, but it has made my family happy and I enjoy it as well. Not a big fan of technology on trail, but staying in touch with them makes it worth carrying to me. I'll be keeping track of power use along the way so it will show up around here on the forums or in a review before too long.

9:24 p.m. on June 10, 2016 (EDT)
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I am not familiar with the Anker battery packs that you refer to. But I do have several storage batteries of different brands and capacities that I use in the field for recharging my inReaches, camera batteries, and flashlight batteries. For those devices with rechargeable lithium batteries, I have no problems even though I often put the devices on trickle re-charge overnight.

Note that your inReach internal batteries (the Inreach SE and Explorer, not the older "Green" and "Blue" removable AA cell versions) are rechargeable lithium batteries.

All types of batteries, including lithium rechargeable and non-rechargeable, do have a life-time of recycles. Energizer is very good about providing details on their products in their on-line company site. A non-engineer can understand the most critical information on that site.

Some problems I have had, which are mentioned in the Wikipedia link that Patrick gave, are temperature effects (yes, lithiums, both the rechargeable and the AA, AAA, and "button" cell types, do lose power and total energy at sufficiently low temperatures I often deal with in places like Antarctica and above 15-20 thousand feet om the Andes), too cold and too hot. I keep the recharge units protected from the extreme hot and cold temperatures (sticking them inside the pack full of your down gear works for cold, and in a cool, sheltered place for hot).

I am in month-long situations a couple times a year, and have had no problems. I have over-charged the back-up battery packs a couple times. That, as the article Pat links, is well known (if you pay attention). If you have a wall charger that you can use with your recharge unit for your battery pack that has an overcharge limiter, that will do you well. Also, some of the solar setups (which I use in the field) have limiters on them. The one we use most on the American Climber Science expeditions is by a company called "Voltaics". Goal Zero has some units as well, though most of their units are for bigger applications than you would want to backpack. I have one of their "7" panels and the "10" battery holder (which apparently uses NiCads, so not what you want, though it has worked for me on short trips.)

I am not sure what you mean by "ten-minute pings". The inReach track point and logging rates are variable, which means they can be set to send track points a intervals of 2, 5, and 10 minutes, or 1 hour or 4 hours (4 hours is the "standstill" rate if the device detects it is not moving). The "log" interval is the rate at which position is stored internally, although after a certain point, there is an internal "culling" as the memory gets too full - this can be set to anything from a second to 10 minutes, depending on which inReach and whether you have kept all the updates up to date. I assume you actually mean the tracking rate, which is how frequently track points are sent to your account in Delorme's server (in case you haven't heard, Garmin now owns Delorme, so things will probably change with time, as they always do when a big company gobbles up a smaller company). If you want to save battery, lengthen the track and/or logging interval.

"Ping" for the inReaches actually refers to the messaging listen rate. The system listens via the satellites over your part of the Earth (where you last were on line) at 20-minute intervals by default (your device's IMEI number determines when your turn comes). On some versions of the software, this interval can be shortened to "continuous" (which drains the batteries faster) or set to "right now". In each case, the inReach sends a "Ping" to the Iridium Satellite Constellation (I worked on this back when I was working for pay). If you are willing to just get an update once a day (or 4 times a day), you can just leave your device turned off, then turn it on when you want to check and click "Check now!" That saves a lot of battery. That's what I usually do, and I think what Bill Heiser used when he did the JMT (haven't seen Bill on here since he moved to a cabin up in the Sierra a couple years ago).

I find that using the "Check Now!" works quite well if Barb sends at scheduled times, and if she checks on a schedule we agree on to pick up my occasional messages. (remember that each message counts). Whenever you send a message or a bunch of track or log points (you can send them in a "bundle" one or two times a day), this triggers a dump of waiting messages for you.

Now if you want instantaneous comunications with both ends of the link listening 24 hours a day, you are going to gobble down battery power in short order. Scheduled transfers can work well, if you set a schedule and stick to it.

7:34 a.m. on June 11, 2016 (EDT)
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Sounds like you understood what I meant just fine Bill even if it meant something else to you. I use the term ping incorrectly in this case because my wife jokingly refers to the inReach as "the device that goes ping" and I'm starting to think of it in those terms as well.

As I mentioned, Patrick has told me he gets great battery life using it as you describe; off except when checking for messages twice a day. My use is very different for a reason. I spent all this money so my family could stop worrying about where I was and I could stop worrying about them. I was finding it harder and harder to stay out because of my worrying about them and worrying about them worrying about me. That is why I update my position so frequently and am listening for messages during the day when the device is turned on.

They can follow my progress which has become entertaining as well as reassuring for them and I can let go of my natural concern for their well being in my absence. Using it this way also has the advantage of giving a pretty good idea of where to look for the body if I fall off a mountain or stroke out trying to climb it. I worry about the SR crews too :) This is why I said that I was trying to avoid using a longer time period for position updates, despite being well aware that it would provide longer battery life.

Now with all that being said on both our parts; none of that is why I started this thread. I'm just curious if I can get more charges out of a battery pack by topping off my devices daily or if I should wait until I've run them down more first. Like I said, probably a stupid question, but I tend to over think everything in the last few days before heading out on a big trip :)

8:03 a.m. on August 15, 2016 (EDT)
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Nice Tread.. lots of tips here.. Thanks and more power

1:09 p.m. on August 15, 2016 (EDT)
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I am an electrical engineer. All I do is work on batteries, though mostly much bigger ones. I didn't read the entire thread but For the most part it doesn't matter. Recharge in whatever manner you see fit. Battery memory doesn't apply to most battery packs which are made of lithium ion batteries.

However, it can matter for certain devices. what I am getting at is as a battery discharges its voltage drops. Some devices have a voltage cutoff where even if the battery pack doing the charging still has capacity left if the voltage is below the limit set on the device being charged then it will not accept it as a qualified source and will not charge.

In general it is better for a batteries overall lifespan to have a bunch of small to moderate discharges, than a bunch of complete/end of discharge cycles.

So really the only advice I have is to recharge only when you need to or when the device is 50% or less. This will give you best battery lifespan. And to charge your iphone first.

I use a 9900 mah battey pack often and use it to charge headlamps, an ihpone 5, and sometimes a garmin rhino. The headlamp and gps don't care and will charge as long as the battery has something to give. However the Iphone can stop charging if the battery pack capacity is below 20% or so remaining.

all of my batteries in my devices are all roughly the same capacity, so I can get about 4-5 charges from my battery pack. My iphone being kept on airplane mode and only switched out of to get a gps fix a couple times a day, and normal use of my headlamp. I can expect my battery pack to keep everything charged for about a week and a half to three weeks depending on how much I am using the headlamp. I often go on week long trips and never charge my headlamp or my iphone, and my iphone is usually around 50% after a week of using it in that fashion.

 Edit: Oh, and cold weather can cause battery voltage to drop even further, which further exasperates the problem with the iphone charging, which is why I recommend charging the phone first if it requires it.

 

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