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How to differentiate
Portable Power Solutions
by Martyn Sly-Jex
I n today’s marketplace, there seems to
be a disparity in cost when it comes to
batteries. What should the professional
consider when purchasing new batteries?
There are three key considerations: What value do I place
on reliability—is my reputation at stake? Secondly, am I
looking for long-term cost efficiency? Finally, how intense
is my battery use? All these factors depend on the type
of production you are involved in and the nature of your
organization. A typical rental house for example, would tick
all boxes; as they tend to work batteries extremely hard—a
scenario where higher cost is more than justified by long-
term cost of ownership and reliable product.
Customers should consider the battery design and
construction, its capacity and longevity and the kind of
customer support the manufacturer offers. While generic
batteries are usually significantly cheaper than name-brand
ones, they often lack features and technology that will help
your production run safely and reliably. In the long run, you
may have to purchase many more batteries and chargers.
The poor design of generic batteries and chargers means
they may malfunction and are unlikely to last as long.
How can you tell if a battery from a
particular manufacturer is a worthwhile
investment? Battery technology is often underestimated, as a recent
experience of a well-known manufacturer with “dreams
grounded,” attests to. The reality is that you, as the
consumer, can’t see what’s inside the battery. Even if you
could, most battery cells look very much the same. In fact,
manufacturers of cheap generic batteries can purchase
them inexpensively in large, uncontrolled lower-quality
batches. The result is that some battery brands on sale in
the UK, are actually on sale in the Far East for as little as
60 USD. The cells in these batteries are rarely premium,
and have not been balanced or matched with one another.
How do we know this? Simple, the price for premium cells
and matched cell packs are much, much higher. There are
batteries on the market in the UK where the cell-tolerance
matching is as high as -20% to +10%, which can be
disastrous, since as all battery industry insiders know,
it’s cell balance, that determines battery performance.
In comparison, Anton/Bauer is matching Li-Ion cells to 5
millivolts, or 0.125%—a challenging specification, that leads
to a reliable, long-life battery. Repeated tests demonstrate
the improved life cycle performance on cell packs using
exactly the same premium cells, but differing in balance
criteria; we consistently see a two to threefold improvement
in cycle life under lab conditions.
A further differential is that our cells are made in factories
with the highest precision tooling capability available today,
in clean room manufacturing environments; again this
results in higher costs, but more safety and more reliability.
The same choices are made in regards to quality housings,
onboard electronics, weld tabs, etc., all of which can
enhance or reduce reliability and service life.
So how can you tell? Products sold on price alone are
unlikely to be high quality. In the end, you need to look at
the reputation and track record of the battery supplier.
Is there a distinction in the exterior
of different batteries, too?
The casing of a high-quality battery sets it apart from
cheaper batteries using standard plastic housings. One has
to understand that a battery cell is actually very delicate;
in a production environment batteries are subject to
multiple impacts. Without durable casing, when a battery is
dropped or thrown in a bag with other equipment, the force
of the impact can go through the housing, through the cells
forming an electro-chemical weak point, leading on to cell
imbalance and failure. At Anton/Bauer, we’ve developed an
IMPAC® case design made from high-impact polymer, the
same material used in motorcycle helmets, so if a battery
is dropped, the impact spreads out over the housing
without affecting the cells inside. This attention to detail by
a manufacturer should not be overlooked. It is so important
that Anton/Bauer has now moved to the next stage, with
internal honeycomb housings protecting each individual
cell. 60 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 78 JUNE 2013