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NiZn rechargeable batteries for headlamps and digi cameras?
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Michael Meiser
(mmeiser) - F

Locale: Michigan
NiZn rechargeable batteries for headlamps and digi cameras? on 01/30/2010 05:58:33 MST Print View

Did a google search. Can't believe there's only one reference as of yet to NiZn rechargeable batteries on, and what's more I'm the one who mentioned them.

Well since this is the first post here on the subject I feel obligated to give a little background on them. (further below)

However they're a hot topic and you can read up on them anywhere and everywhere these days. What I'm really curious about is if anyone on this forum has tried them and what their practical experience is with them.

Specifically practical experience in headlamps and digital cameras.

More specifically still what percent of increased bat life people are getting over other battery types like standard energizer, energizer ultimate (lithium ion), Duracell, NiMH and other rechargeable types in their headlamps and digital cameras.

== background: why NiZn? ==

As usual wikipedia does a good job of summing up the technology.

"The nickel-zinc battery (sometimes abbreviated NiZn) is a type of rechargeable battery...

While nickel-zinc battery systems have been known for over 100 years, advancements have only recently made this technology viable and competitive with other commercially available rechargeable battery systems."

== practical considerations ==

Right now they only come in AA form.

There's only one brand on the market.

They started selling in digital camera shops a year or two ago and have now gone global selling everywhere.

An entire kit of batteries and recharger generally only runs about $20

== Advantages in short ==

1) longer lasting

designed for high demand applications like digital cameras... they have a higher voltage 1.6 volt that has a much more robust power curve theoretically lasting much longer in these devices

2) a little lighter

Anyone weigh them?

3) no toxic metals

4) non-flameable

== advantages at length ==

from wikipedia:

1) longer lasting

"Nickel Zinc cells have an open circuit voltage of 1.6 volts. This makes NiZn an excellent replacement for electronic products that were designed to use alkaline primary cells (1.5V). NiCd and NiMH both have open circuit voltages of 1.2v, which may cause some electronic equipment to shut off prior to a complete discharge of the battery because the minimal operating voltage is not provided. Li Ion cells have a much higher open circuit voltage (3.6-3.7v) and are not a suitable replacement for alkaline primary cells; however having resistors in the AA shell with Li-ion cells may approximate the correct cell voltage."

2) lighter

"Due to their higher voltage, fewer cells are required (compared to NiCd and NiMH)to achieve battery pack voltage reducing pack weight, size and improving pack reliability. They also have low internal impedance (typ. 5 milliohm) which allows for high battery discharge rates."

3) No toxic metals

NiZn batteries use no heavy/toxic metals (mercury, lead or cadmium), or metal hydrides (rare earth metals) that are difficult to recycle. Both nickel and zinc are commonly occurring elements in nature and are not very hazardous. Zinc and nickel can be fully recycled.

4) non flameable

"NiZn cells use no flammable active material or organic electrolyte."

== potential disadvantages ==

Really the only big disadvantage I see is that they have a higher peak voltage and which some devices can't handle.

From what I've read cases of them burning out devices by overdriving them is rare.

Edited by mmeiser on 01/30/2010 05:59:32 MST.

John A
(JohnA) - F

Locale: Great Lakes State
NiZn Cold Weather? on 01/30/2010 06:11:21 MST Print View

I'm curious about cold weather performance. I can't seem to find any information about it yet. Anyone?

Don Selesky
(backslacker) - M
Re: NiZn rechargeable batteries for headlamps and digi cameras? on 01/30/2010 07:44:09 MST Print View

I found the possibilities for this battery type interesting, so I purchased a set of 4 AA batteries and a charger from Ritz Camera. Out of the box, 3 of the 4 batteries were defective, according to the charger's LED lights. When I rechecked them the next morning, the charger wouldn't work. Fortunately, Ritz took them back.

I also Googled the battery type, and found numerous reports of batteries of several brands DOA. Apparently they have some QC issues to deal with first.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

NiZn on 01/30/2010 11:01:34 MST Print View

It sounds like these would be heavier than lithium, which is way lighter than NiMH & Alkaline.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: NiZn - Holding a Charge on 01/30/2010 11:26:10 MST Print View

Good to know they have higher power to meet demanding gadgets. But what about power retainage? How long can they sit unused and still retain their charge? To me, suboptimal power retainage is THE annoying thing about NiMH's.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
battery specs on 01/30/2010 11:33:17 MST Print View

You'll probably find that specification called "self discharge rate." All batteries will self-discharge to some extent, but some are very bad about it.

Another good battery spec is the discharge curve. Some batteries will hold their rated voltage, like 1.5 volts, right out to the bitter end when they go dead. This is called a "sharp knee." Other batteries will just slowly degrade their voltage from 1.5 to 1.4 to 1.3, or whatever. This is called a "soft knee."

Each battery chemistry has its own strengths and weaknesses, so different ones get used in different devices.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Bob the Battery Geek on 01/30/2010 11:49:58 MST Print View

Wow, so much about battery terms! Good to learn something new every day, and thanks, Bob! Oh, and I really meant Guru up above! :)

Curious, within the realm of NiMH -- which ones in your opinion are the high performers? Mine are mostly Energizer brand (2650 mh). Are there better ones (whatever that means maybe you can help me out there as well)? I use mine to power clocks and remotes at home; camera, mp3 and LED light while on the road or trail. I would like to minimize the frequency of recharging.

Edited by ben2world on 01/30/2010 11:50:50 MST.

Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
Low self-discharge on 01/30/2010 12:05:51 MST Print View

Low self discharge nimh have been available for a couple of years now. Wikipedia has some info, including some brands. I have not tried these personally but plan to when my current nimh batts die.


Edited by swearingen on 01/30/2010 12:07:12 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
geek? on 01/30/2010 12:11:15 MST Print View

I won't claim to be a battery geek. However, I have spent most of my adult life dealing with electronic products, many of which are strictly battery-operated. So, I've had to learn the hard way what is important and what is not.

In general, you will get totally different performance from rechargeable batteries versus primary batteries (one use). For some products, one makes better sense than the other. Some products don't care.

I've used probably six or eight different brands of AA-size NiMH batteries recently, and I don't see any big difference in performance. One might have a few more mA-hours than another. Some have a little higher self-discharge (which is bad). However, for how I use them, self-discharge is a non-issue, because I use them up within 24 hours of recharging. Some batteries have better cold performance than others.

I have a camera external strobe flash which takes 4 AA batteries. Then there is an extra battery pack that holds another 8 AA batteries. This is intended to supply a maximum of current for quicker strobe cycling. I have maybe three entire sets of 12 batteries, so there are about 36+ batteries lined up for the charger sometimes. The important thing is that some batteries can be recharged quickly, and some are quite slow. Some chargers can handle the quicker charge rate, but some batteries will overheat when you do that. In general, you will get a longer life out of a rechargeable battery if you recharge it slowly, like at 1/10th of the maximum discharge rate.

Then for an emergency or high-priority device, I always keep one or two sets of lithium primary batteries on hand. They are a little pricey (one-time use) but they have very good specifications.

I thought that you would get a charge out of this message. :-)


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
NiMH on 01/30/2010 12:13:50 MST Print View

As I look over my entire working collection of AA batteries, I see that I get my best results out of Sanyo brand, but not much better than the others.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: NiMH on 01/30/2010 12:16:25 MST Print View

OK, I'm all charged up! Thanks for the info.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Low self-discharge on 01/30/2010 12:18:22 MST Print View


Thanks for the link. I've seen the "hybrids" at Target but have never tried them. Would love to get some feedback from users.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
hybrids or hydrides? on 01/30/2010 12:23:39 MST Print View

These are two radically different words.


Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: hybrids or hydrides? on 01/30/2010 12:30:51 MST Print View

I was referring to hybrids.

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Re: hybrids or hydrides? on 01/30/2010 12:54:42 MST Print View

Looks like the Rayovacs are equivalent to Sanyo eneloops...

>> Bender <<
(Bender) - MLife

Locale: NEO
Re: Re: Re: hybrids or hydrides? on 01/30/2010 18:50:01 MST Print View

FYI don't be deceived by the Quantaray Ni-Zn advertising. They list 2500 mWh instead of the typical amperage! This post at should be very helpful for NiMh.

Edited by Bender on 01/30/2010 18:50:43 MST.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Low self-discharge on 04/14/2010 16:05:50 MDT Print View

Off the original topic (NiZn rechargeble batteries), which I would like to hear more about.

The discussion seems to have evolved to include low self-discharge NiMH batteries, and some questions were raised. It might be helpful to take a look at this report on several brands of low self-discharge batteries. Unfortunately, it fails to cover some name-brands, such as Kodak and Tenergy.

-- MV

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: NiZn rechargeable batteries for headlamps and digi cameras? on 04/14/2010 16:42:39 MDT Print View

Check out the reviews at

Most are very favorable. The first review, by NLee, is middling (3 *s) -- he is a very reliable source of information about batteries and chargers, so take what he says into account. Be sure to read the comments thread from his review -- that is where a lot of the information is.

Here is his comparison of NiZn to the Sanyo Eneloop low self-discharge NiMH battery. Again, follow the comments on that review. One of the follow-up comments says (anecdotal, no proof) that cold weather performance is comparable to lithium batteries. If true, that would be interesting -- a good rechargeable cold weather battery.

-- MV

Edited by blean on 04/14/2010 18:34:10 MDT.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Very promising on 04/14/2010 18:51:55 MDT Print View

These batteries hold lots of promise, but the high voltage gives me pause . I use some old equipment for a number of reasons including 3rd world travel-a Nikon 990, Digislave Flashes, Chinese LED flashlights, etc. I'm wondering about compatibility with the LaCrosse charger, still my favorite. Roger Caffin here at BPL just lamented the loss of a camera with AA capability. I am wondering about Steripen potential for recharging of CR123s from these from these as well . Nikon flashes as well as cheap AA flashlights. They need evaluation, testing

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Very promising on 04/14/2010 19:10:02 MDT Print View

I'm wondering about compatibility with the LaCrosse charger, still my favorite.

I was wondering that, too. Sorry, but no go. NLee explains why. At this time, you must use the manufacturer's charger.


Edited by blean on 04/14/2010 19:10:57 MDT.