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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I don't mean to single anyone's opinions out, especially of those who I highly respect, but I have to chime in about this. Reading this makes me cringe.

Please, please do not do purposefully run your batteries at low State of Charge. The car is good at doing this on it's own. Too good. Especially if you have one of our batteries, since I'm on the hook for replacement if it fails. 🤪

Please do not ever discharge your battery until negative recal for any reason relating to battery health, and if you do, it is imperative that you rev the engine to 3500RPM until the battery gauge is full as soon as possible and/or grid charge. Do not rely on the car charging the battery back up on it's own, especially if you are a "0-50% SoC" driver. This would be good advice for anyone experiencing a negative recal.

I have tested thousands of batteries and tens of thousands of sticks. Low SoC is not associated with "good". It just never is. It's associated with high internal resistance and an inflated, wonky voltage curve. Running NiMH batteries in a depleted state can in some cases forever change the performance of the batteries, and never in a good way. I see it over and over and over again.

There seems to be two different "types" of people - those who keep the SoC gauge at 50-100%, and those who keep it at 0-50%. All else being equal, people who keep their batteries at 50-100% will always see better life compared to the alternative. Always.

Amps * Hours = Amp Hours. I'm sure we're all in agreement there. ;) This means the longer it takes for a stick to get to "high voltage", the better. The longer it takes, the higher the capacity. You can only ever get out of a battery what you can put into it. At it's most basic, the reason a pack fails is because sticks are reaching the positive recal point after less than ~650mAh of input. The root cause may be high internal resistance or self-discharge imbalance, but that is how it actually manifests itself.

"High Voltage" is something around 8.8V. You don't want to be hitting close to ~9V until mAh input is as high as possible. Since I stare at these things all day, I have drawn a red line at ~8.8V and down to the corresponding mAh on the X axis of the charge graphs to illustrate what I'm looking at.

Here are some examples. All of these examples are as removed from the vehicle. In the case of the high SoC packs, I removed the problem stick(s) so as not to be confusing.

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In this graph, we can see that the sticks discharged 1000-1500mAh, and they hit "high voltage" at only ~2500mAh of input. Notice how almost all of the charge curve happens above the "high voltage" point. The car would not ever charge these sticks beyond around 2500-3000mAh due to their "damaged" voltage curve. I'll talk about the strange knee in the charge curve that corresponds with the output later.

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In this example of a High SoC pack, you can see that the sticks discharged ~4500mAh, and took ~5500mAh of charge before hitting "high voltage".

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Another low SoC pack. The worst sticks give less than ~500mAh, and hit "high voltage" at just over 1000mAh of input. You might begin to see a pattern - it is virtually always the lowest SoC sticks that reach "high voltage" first.

87241


Ignoring the network glitch at the beginning, we see the same pattern. 4500mAh on the discharge allows 5500mAh to be put in before "high voltage".

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Garbage out, garbage in.

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~4000mAh out, ~4000mAh in.


Perhaps an even more striking way to show this is to put the two regimes in the same graphs:

87244


The ONLY difference between these two sets sticks are the use that they've seen. The low SoC pack hits "high voltage" corresponding to ~2500mAh, while the higher SoC pack hits it at ~3500mAh, corresponding to their original output of ~3500mAh. I'd bet $1000 that the person who owned the low SoC pack was a 0-50% driver and the pack never saw above ~8.5V/stick. It's the reason for the weird knee at ~1000mAh of input, which corresponds to the ~1000mAh of output.

The pack with the inflated voltage curve is a very good pack by virtually all metrics except it's weird voltage curve. That aspect has been severely damaged by being used at low SoC. I would estimate it was kept at low SoC for 2-3 years. I don't actually know what metric the strange voltage curve would fall under, I've long suspected it had something to do with "polarization resistance", but I'm not sure.

I can come up with countless examples that follow this same pattern. I have several more graphics prepared if anyone wants to see them.

Please keep your batteries at high SoC if you can help it, they will thank you, and so will I. :)

/Soapbox
 

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Perhaps an even more striking way to show this is to put the two regimes in the same graphs:

View attachment 87244

The ONLY difference between these two sets sticks are the use that they've seen...The pack with the inflated voltage curve is a very good pack by virtually all metrics except it's weird voltage curve. That aspect has been severely damaged by being used at low SoC...
Do you have a discharge graph for the sticks with the 'inflated' charge curves? Or do you know what they tend to look like in general - do they remain 'bad' even after charging to full/higher than they had been?

You make a good case, but I'm trying to understand how to square it with what I see with my pack and testing. My pack's performance isn't as good when I use it high versus low, and performance deteriorates when I use it high versus low.

Probably the most stark metric is simply output voltage/character at high power: If I use it low - say 0-35%, and avoid going high - output voltage will stay high, say above 144V at up to about 40 amps, and typically not lower than about 125V at up to 90 amps. And the voltage holds very steady and consistent under these assist loads. If I use it high, say 60-80%? Seems like I do get similar performance for a while, maybe a few weeks?, but it gradually deteriorates. And then, when I do try to go low, voltage is saggy as hell... The only usage that keeps voltage up, steady, consistent, and provides max assist is low SoC usage...

If the low SoC usage sticks you show actually end up performing worse than the others, in an absolute sense - i.e. after you charge them, they actually don't put out power as well as the others, then, I don't know, that's pretty bad.

But if the low SoC usage 'simply' makes them perform differently - like with a charge profile that's higher than the others - yet they actually perform better, then I'd say the battery management's at fault, not the usage or the cells themselves. I guess since we can't really change the management, especially if you're Joe Insight, it's kind of a moot point. But still, whatever makes the cells perform better in the car - that's what I'd be after...

And I guess what's better performance can depend: I want enough capacity to cover most of my day-to-day usage, but at outputs and inputs that max-out the system. Around 2-3000mAh usable capacity is plenty. And as long as the pack continues to last - that's the other main factor. So, max assist and regen, 2-3000mAh usable capacity, minimal deterioration, longest life possible. Over the past three years I haven't been able to get there - unless I use low charge state (edit: and I think it's use it exclusively, not just the occasional foray down low).

One other thought: I'm thinking maybe most of your graphs/presentation doesn't really show/demonstrate what you think it's supposed to be showing/demonstrating?

You show us graphs of sticks being discharged out of the car and call it 'low charge state usage'. But really, there's probably only 1 or 2 cells in the whole pack that are actually being used at 'low charge state' - that's the empty cells in the stick that discharges first. All the rest are being used all over the charge state range - and within very narrow windows at that. I don't think I would equate that usage with low charge state usage.

Your last graph though seems to show low charge state usage, more or less...
 

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@Eli
I read this post with quite a bit of interest when I saw it last month. I thought, "what's going on that's making the cells fail earlier if they are operated mostly empty vs mostly full?"

Tonight I stumbled across the following paper in which they cycled LTO cells to understand how they behave over their lifetime (something I'm sure the manufacturers have done and treat as proprietary info).

Noteworthy was the finding that cells cycled to the same depth but at a higher rate (3C or 2C) lasted significantly longer than those cycled at a lower rate (2C or 1C). This surprised me because it seemed counterintuitive!

They also found that the cells last a long longer ("Full Equivalent Cycles") if discharged only 10% vs deeper discharges. (I've seen this reported on lead acid batteries).

It made me wonder if the explanation for the low SOC cell degradation is "deeper cycle depth" because the car is going to try to charge the pack back up only for the owner to hammer it down again.

Here is the LTO article. Thank you for the discussion and for posting those charts.

 

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View attachment 87244


The pack with the inflated voltage curve is a very good pack by virtually all metrics except it's weird voltage curve. That aspect has been severely damaged by being used at low SoC. I would estimate it was kept at low SoC for 2-3 years. I don't actually know what metric the strange voltage curve would fall under, I've long suspected it had something to do with "polarization resistance", but I'm not sure.

I can come up with countless examples that follow this same pattern. I have several more graphics prepared if anyone wants to see them...
I'd still like to see discharge graphs of, say, the two sets of sticks above - after those graphed cycles. Does performance for the set with the "inflated" charge curve lag performance of the other set?

I used to think it was obvious something was awry with 'high charge curves' such as this, but over the last few years of me doing almost exclusively low charge state usage and seeing how performance holds-up and improves, I've started to seriously question that. The high charge voltages wouldn't work right with the car's management, but I question whether that's a problem with the cells/usage or a problem with the management...

If what's "weird" and what's "high" (as in voltage) are judgments based simply on what the management accommodates - yet the cells themselves would continue to perform fine or even better, if the management accommodated them - I could not say that was a problem with the cells or the type of usage they've seen. If of course high charge curves, low charge state usage, etc. did in fact stunt an objective measurement of performance - that'd be proof of bad usage patterns leading to bad cells...

I use my pack almost exclusively in the true 0% to about 40% range. I occasionally charge up higher, mostly just to see what happens. I get premature pos recal on the first cycle up - exactly what your graphs show. But with some finagling it's pretty easy to charge higher...

I see 'high' voltages upon charge probably within about 5% input - from near zero charge state. Then, voltage stays almost completely flat - most of the charge takes place between 1.4V per cell and 1.47V per cell. I've come to see this as a good indicator, not a bad one...

The 'old way' of thinking would have higher charge voltages being bad, but I don't think that's necessarily the case. I don't know this for sure, but it seems like you can have higher voltages due to 'high IR', but you can also have higher voltages because the cells are actually charging better, faster, higher quicker. The 'active materials' are like a water wheel and the current is like the water: given a fixed amount of 'water flow' (current), one water wheel turns faster, maybe we can say there's a pump attached to that wheel and it ends up pushing more water higher, creating a higher potential - i.e. one cell gets charged better, easier...

If after my low charge state usage I were seeing lagging performance I'd surely be honest about that. But I don't. It's true there could be degradation that I'm just not noticing, as this kind of stuff could take a long long time to develop. But, it's been something like 3 years now. I routinely go full-on full assist, at like a true 15% charge state, and I get that full-on full assist - like up to 90 amps without pack voltage dropping below about 120V (it's probably more typically a solid 70 amps and no less than 125V). I absolutely hammer on this pack, day in and day out.

I am constantly monitoring and measuring things, doing occasional 'tap discharges' to assess exactly where things stand (i.e. gauge tap balance), etc., so, I'm not saying everyone could hammer on their packs at low charge state and expect the same results.

But, I am saying that I see no signs of low charge state usage impacting performance negatively in any way - except that it will produce a higher charge curve that doesn't work correctly with the stock management - it will become more difficult to charge more than about 3200mAh. I don't really see that as a problem though, because that's plenty of charge to drive on. As long as that input provides output that's consistently high quality - little voltage sag, stable voltages, max output (and input) power, consistent performance every day - that's what matters to me.

Using low charge state, I also don't need to charge the pack as much as I used to to provide the same output energy - probably something like 3 pack's worth of charge over 6 months less... That's actually what got me started down this path - I couldn't help but think that charging less but getting the same amount of output was a good thing. Made me think that 'all that charge' I had been doing - what was it for? what did it do? - if it didn't contribute to useful energy output?
 

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@Eli,

This is a fascinating observation. A couple of thoughts come to mind:

- Someone who maintains a low SoC probably has a heavy foot. The car is also going to be constantly background charging. And the current will be higher with low SoC than with higher voltages. Basically, a triple whammy - the combination of these things may be consuming the pack in 1/2 to 1/3 of the time, compared to a pack driven more lightly and kept where background charging is a rare event. Thoughts?

Second,
In the case of the high SoC packs, I removed the problem stick(s) so as not to be confusing.
Can you speak to the kind of failures you are seeing in the bad stick on these otherwise good packs? Are they exhibiting OK capacity but excessive self-discharge? Has one cell failed in a way that capacity is gone? Developed very high series resistance? Are they recoverable by cycling the sticks? If not, do they simply show no improvement, or show an improvement in one area (capacity) but degradation in another (rate of self-discharge)?
 

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Early results from a stick conditioner I'm building suggest that the closer you get to zero SoC, the less current it takes to damage create issues with* cells (significantly increased internal resistance and self-discharge). Gotta wonder if you allow assist to reach the point where the car is backing off the current to maintain a minimum cell voltage, if the pack is being insulted.

I wonder, if one fabricated an indicator that lit up if one is in that region, how often it would light in normal operation.

*Edit: "create issues with", as I was able to make a cell resistant to low current charging but reversed that behavior with a deep discharge of that cell. This was only one cell, so perhaps nothing should be inferred from my observation.
 

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@Eli

Thanks for this. I have one of your 8.0 batteries with 4+ years of warranty left. I drive for mileage, lots of coasting. My SOC stays between 40-50% most of the time. I don't grid charge. I treat the battery as Honda intended - I do nothing to it aside from driving the car and letting it do its thing. When it gets into the low 40% range the car does the 4-bar self-recharge cycle thing and it starts getting full again. Problem is, I rarely drive for more than 20 minutes at a time so it never "tops off" but usually makes it to 60%, I turn the car off, and when I drive again it depletes rather than continue to charge the battery in the background. Repeat, repeat.

When you speak of "keeping the battery at 50-100%", what do you mean aside from grid charging? Is there something I should be doing? If it stays around 40-50% most of the time is that a problem? If it is, is it because of my driving style or could it simply be related to my commute/driving pattern as described above?
 

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Eli thanks for the great detailed information - Iv been instinctively doing this since Iv learned a little about NiMH's,

Jeff if i may offer a suggestion --- it's actually easy to keep the pack in the more "topped off" state, it does take closer monitoring and also "initial charge" but once the fiddler has been paid it's still about the same "tit for tat" ratio,,, so if it betters the pack then do it...

here's the next thing that helps,,, there is tons of programming already written into your honda's ECU and also the hybrid motor/gen/battery systems... lot's of people think "well that's it honda's already done everything for me" not so --- you have to intervene, in fact -------- your job (should you choose to accept) is to become the "program enabler" all kinds of ways to do this to achieve maximum results,,, and OMG it's fun!

I wish all cars were this interactive - but what do we got? cars doing a 180, driving themselves - don't worry about a thing - just turn into a turnip and opt out on life... nice choice... I love my 1st G insight ...
 

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Eli thanks for the great detailed information - Iv been instinctively doing this since Iv learned a little about NiMH's,

Jeff if i may offer a suggestion --- it's actually easy to keep the pack in the more "topped off" state, it does take closer monitoring and also "initial charge" but once the fiddler has been paid it's still about the same "tit for tat" ratio,,, so if it betters the pack then do it...

here's the next thing that helps,,, there is tons of programming already written into your honda's ECU and also the hybrid motor/gen/battery systems... lot's of people think "well that's it honda's already done everything for me" not so --- you have to intervene, in fact -------- your job (should you choose to accept) is to become the "program enabler" all kinds of ways to do this to achieve maximum results,,, and OMG it's fun!

I wish all cars were this interactive - but what do we got? cars doing a 180, driving themselves - don't worry about a thing - just turn into a turnip and opt out on life... nice choice... I love my 1st G insight ...
I appreciate this, can you tell me in the real world what this means? In other words, how practically does one keep their pack mostly or fully charged without a grid charger?
 

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OBDII C&C

Try not drive with a lead foot.
Work hard to maximize regen braking. Even though the regen bars disappear at around 20 MPH, the Insight will regen down to 15 MPH in 3rd gear.
Take it out on the highway for 10-20 miles. At higher speeds, the MCM will generally try background charge the pack.
 

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I appreciate this, can you tell me in the real world what this means? In other words, how practically does one keep their pack mostly or fully charged without a grid charger?
Yes it's a good question - and I would actually say "mostly" is the ideal not "fully" You see, if your fully charged you have now lost the advantage of the car exchanging braking energies for accelerating --- so that 61mpg city rating? nope - not gonna happen --- if you cannot recharge during braking you cannot get the tit for tat exchange,,, so really - you also want to use your assist when taking off as much as possible --- so you can get your regen braking --- typically you want your average of your pack to be around 75%,,, and use that as your guide - this ensures youv got ample storage on descents and still ample power available for climbs (i live in the mountains so you may be able to run a pack at a slightly different level,,,

Ok Jeff, now --- how to get the pack there in the first place? and no you do not need a grid charger at all - just use the car - if pulling a mild grade DO NOT tap into the battery pack - drop it down a gear or two and use the engine at mild to mid throttle - you see the assist kick in immediately back things off, then on the descents still use mild throttle to "overshoot" your speed mark - then apply brakes mildly in the correct gearing and watch the charge scale do its thing... again, once youve topped off now your in control of the situation - and it's a direct exchange tit for tat with charge and assist like it always was --- your just running the pack at a higher level,,,

You can however avoid even driving the car to top off the pack (not very good for overall mileage but is a more controlled better type of charging)
start the car up and rev to 3,000 RPM's --- you will notice the charge graph kick in at a mild level --- just hold it there till the battery scale goes full, you've got an on demand battery charger anytime you want it...

you will most likely throw an epc light on the dash --- this is your electric power steering and you will no longer have Power steering assist -- mine cleared the second I started rolling again - some on here stated just pull the 40 amp EPS fuse under the hood whilst charging and you will not get the light - at any rate - there's ways to get the light off and your power steering back... hope this helps....

but keep this in mind --- if your only using half your pack right now there's no reason you cannot swap that for the upper half - same amount of power/charge transfer basically - just you making the initial decision to treat half full as the empty mark instead of using it as your full mark...
 

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Yes it's a good question - and I would actually say "mostly" is the ideal not "fully" You see, if your fully charged you have now lost the advantage of the car exchanging braking energies for accelerating --- so that 61mpg city rating? nope - not gonna happen --- if you cannot recharge during braking you cannot get the tit for tat exchange,,, so really - you also want to use your assist when taking off as much as possible --- so you can get your regen braking --- typically you want your average of your pack to be around 75%,,, and use that as your guide - this ensures youv got ample storage on descents and still ample power available for climbs (i live in the mountains so you may be able to run a pack at a slightly different level,,,

Ok Jeff, now --- how to get the pack there in the first place? and no you do not need a grid charger at all - just use the car - if pulling a mild grade DO NOT tap into the battery pack - drop it down a gear or two and use the engine at mild to mid throttle - you see the assist kick in immediately back things off, then on the descents still use mild throttle to "overshoot" your speed mark - then apply brakes mildly in the correct gearing and watch the charge scale do its thing... again, once youve topped off now your in control of the situation - and it's a direct exchange tit for tat with charge and assist like it always was --- your just running the pack at a higher level,,,

You can however avoid even driving the car to top off the pack (not very good for overall mileage but is a more controlled better type of charging)
start the car up and rev to 3,000 RPM's --- you will notice the charge graph kick in at a mild level --- just hold it there till the battery scale goes full, you've got an on demand battery charger anytime you want it...

you will most likely throw an epc light on the dash --- this is your electric power steering and you will no longer have Power steering assist -- mine cleared the second I started rolling again - some on here stated just pull the 40 amp EPS fuse under the hood whilst charging and you will not get the light - at any rate - there's ways to get the light off and your power steering back... hope this helps....

but keep this in mind --- if your only using half your pack right now there's no reason you cannot swap that for the upper half - same amount of power/charge transfer basically - just you making the initial decision to treat half full as the empty mark instead of using it as your full mark...
Thanks. I understand exactly what you were saying and the principal in your final paragraph.

however in order to do what you were saying it would mean I would have to modify my driving style and compromise fuel economy. I am averaging 70 miles per gallon in my mostly city commute right now and would not want to compromise that. However, if the health of my battery pack is at stake maybe I need to. Looking forward to reading more replies on this.

The other part for me is that I enjoy driving the car the way I want without having to think about the battery but maybe I need to rethink that.

I appreciate your help.
 

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Jeff --- technically you do not have to change anything - just top off your pack (ok that will cost you initially) and then drive like you have always been driving --- just use half as your empty and full as your full, still ten increments in the battery level display, same as what your doing right now - which is using half as your full and empty as your empty... I think it's a 20 increment scale...
 

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Jeff --- technically you do not have to change anything - just top off your pack (ok that will cost you initially) and then drive like you have always been driving --- just use half as your empty and full as your full, still ten increments in the battery level display, same as what your doing right now - which is using half as your full and empty as your empty... I think it's a 20 increment scale...
thank you. That makes sense, I will purpose to get the pack fully charged in whatever manner and then see if that becomes my new normal. I suppose my bigger question is how did the 40 or 50% I am running on become my normal if I am driving it correctly and was at completely full charge a few months ago....I don’t recall any drag racing as I always drive for economy.
 

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thank you. That makes sense, I will purpose to get the pack fully charged in whatever manner and then see if that becomes my new normal. I suppose my bigger question is how did the 40 or 50% I am running on become my normal if I am driving it correctly and was at completely full charge a few months ago....I don’t recall any drag racing as I always drive for economy.
I think it's normal behavior to "rob the cookie jar" when you know there's ample enough to do so, your limiter has been don't rob too much cuz there's not a whole lot there --- it's good practice for efficiency, you just need to act like there's not that many cookies even when its showing there is...

I live in the mountains - I have to rob the cookie jar just to get up a grade sometimes but I still try not to dip below 1/3rd scale --- if that means dropping down a gear (or two) and having to burn some fuel then so be it. just means I will be able to totally top the pack off on the descent, while saving my brakes doing it...

also - keep this in mind --- assist mode is awesome for sure and it adds a huge punch, but 13 horsepower don't get a car up a hill in high gear... it does help but you can deplete your pack in no time doing it, it's not how the pack is meant to be used as in comparison to taking off from a stop light or sign -- 13 ponies makes a huge diff at low speeds with gearing --- that's why this car has such a great city rating,,, stopping and going is tit for tat... perfect situation to make this system work for itself...

don't get me wrong this gets used elsewhere but not with the same efficiencies - and any way you use it - you need to monitor it - remember your the program enabler... you do really call the shots...

has to be one of the most interactive vehicles ever built - the G-1 manual....
 

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...but keep this in mind --- if you're only using half your pack right now there's no reason you cannot swap that for the upper half - same amount of power/charge transfer basically...
This (bold type) is actually an interesting issue. Over the past few years of...logging data and stuff, I've found that I don't see the "same amount of power/charge transfer." I gather it's a pretty complicated issue, but in general, I think there's at least 2 things that make low charge state usage more efficient and more powerful than high charge state...

One, the easier one, is that, at high charge state a lot of energy gets 'wasted'.* Some cells still charge while others slow down and waste more. In the past I measured something like 3 pack's worth of charge lost over about a 6 month period, maintaining a given high charge state level vs. a low one. I imagine this could vary quite a bit depending on the condition of the pack, how old, etc.

Two - and the more difficult one - has to do with the nature of NiMH. It doesn't have a single 'charge state' at any given voltage, or vice versa, it's called "vario-stoichiometry" or "voltage hysteresis."

In a nut shell, as best as I understand it, what voltage the cells end up at depend on how they're used. They can operate around an equilibrium voltage I think as high as 1.37V, or as low as, I think, 1.26V. A more conservative range might be 1.31 to 1.34. Higher equilibrium voltage is better - and that's what I see when I operate my pack at low charge state (a very carefully managed low charge state, not just willy-nilly using the pack with the 'bar gauge' down low).

Using those voltages to calculate power or maybe energy difference, the higher equilibrium amounts to something like 2-8% more power and/or energy input/output capability... The actual calculation would have to be more complex, but it's probably something like this.

Basically, when I use the pack at high charge state, I end up with a lower operating voltage and a shrinking usable charge-state window. If I operate at low charge state, I have a higher operating voltage, it's pretty consistent/flat, and it's across a larger usable charge-state window...

Not sure how much of what I see is behavior of old cells or behavior of NiMH in general, or Insight NiMH in general. I've never had a new pack so never seen how they behave. But, based on stuff around here I've seen/read, I don't imagine that new cells are or could be much different. They'd at least have the same or similar 'vario-stoichiometry' and thus exhibit the same weird voltage behavior as any NiMH cell... On the other hand, with old or older cells, there's probably a lot of other forms of degradation/mismatch that settle in and complicate the picture.


* this could be debatable. I think Eli/Sean might argue that 'charging high' balances cells, so if what you get from charging high is more balanced cells with some waste, then so be it.
 

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Eq1 I believe you are correct with that - I do believe they take more to charge and don't give the same percentage back,,, once charged i believe they would give more back then a low pack though would they not?

so I was kinda thinking yeah it takes more - but you do get a bigger punch back when taking off and such - although the percentage is not as efficient like your saying,,, still if it keeps the pack alive longer then it's worth it although Im aware some don't feel that way...

I am learning allot from both you and Eli and others on this stuff - mechanical's I can do in my sleep but batteries are a huge learning curve for me --- can have a pack out and taken apart in about 15 to 20 minutes though lol thanks for the info
 

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Question for Eli if you happen to read, on your bumblebee packs that are brand new not refurbed, and the high output 8amh --- what is the country of origin that makes those sticks? thank you.
 
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