Rechargeable Batteries Without a Separate Charger?

Before there were NiCad and NiMH batteries for consumer electronics, disposable alkaline batteries were the only game in town. They powered our transistor radios and hand-held calculators. And when they died, we threw them away and bought new ones. That is, of course, unless you had a charger.

Even though it is extremely dangerous to recharge alkaline batteries, people did it back in the 1970s and 80s. Then came NiCad and NiMH products. With them came brand-new chargers. Those who wanted rechargeable batteries tended to buy them bundled with a charging station.

That paradigm remained largely unchanged until just a few years ago. What happened? A few companies began introducing rechargeable batteries that don’t require a separate charger. Before you gasp, check out the products at Pale Blue Earth.

It is USB

Buy Pale Blue Earth rechargeable batteries and you won’t need a separate charging station. Why? Because it is USB. You can recharge the batteries by plugging them into any standard USB port or charging cable. It is as convenient as convenient can be.

USB charging is almost universal in the mobile phone age. Just visit your local airport and take a walk through the terminal. You will find literally thousands of USB charging ports – most of them being used at the busiest times.

At home, we have USB ports built into our bedside lamps. We have countertop charging stations offering multiple USB ports for so many phones and tablets. Well, now you can use any or all of those ports to charge lithium-ion batteries. You just need to have a product that accommodates USB charging.

Harnessing the Power of USB

The interesting thing about USB is that it wasn’t originally developed to be a power source. Its intended purpose was to facilitate standardized computer peripherals. The introduction of the USB port made it possible to do away with a whole bunch of proprietary ports no one wanted to use anymore.

In developing USB, someone got the bright idea of running current through the port in order to power a device connected to it. That way, devices didn’t need separate power sources. It was just a short step from there to the idea of turning USB into a dedicated charging option.

The USB ports on your computer can be used for both charging and peripheral connection. But take any one of your peripherals with you to the airport, and you will discover they do nothing when plugged into a USB port at the bar. Those ports are for charging only.

Fast and Safe

Charging lithium-ion batteries via USB isn’t just convenient, it is also fast and safe. It is fast because modern lithium-ion batteries are better designed than previous generations. They have higher energy density and absorb energy faster.

In terms of safety, USB is a comparatively low-power technology. Combine that with built-in circuitry that prevents lithium-ion batteries from overheating, and you have a very safe charging environment. This is not to say that accidents don’t happen, but rather, to say that such accidents are rare.

Of course, it is important that you follow all manufacturer instructions to the letter. Do not charge lithium-ion batteries in any other way. Even though accidents are rare, they can be devastating when lithium-ion batteries are allowed to overheat. A hot battery is one that could explode or start a fire.

You can continue using rechargeable batteries that require a separate charger. You can continue taking that charger with you when you leave home. But if you want something more convenient and easier to use, go with USB rechargeable batteries. They are where it’s at.

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