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Lithium battery capacity meter

  1. Jun 7, 2014 #1
    Dear Friends

    Is there a good battery capacity measurement device you can recommend?

    I need to measure how much capacity a lithium pack really has.

    Thanks.

    regards
    Ramone
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 7, 2014 #2
    battery capacity is not that easy to measure accurately. It varies by battery, temperature, and rate of discharge, and all those variables interact with each other.
     
  4. Jun 8, 2014 #3

    meBigGuy

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    Are you trying to measure a fully charged battery's capacity under certain discharge conditions, or do you want the state of charge, ie how much charge is left in the battery.

    The first is easy, so I assume that is not what you are asking. The second is hard.

    This addresses state of charge:
    http://www.digikey.com/en/articles/...-charge-measurement-for-lithium-ion-batteries
     
  5. Jul 6, 2014 #4

    Dear meBigGuy

    I am trying to verify a lithium battery pack is as claimed or rated.

    Else we are buying with eyes blinded.
     
  6. Jul 6, 2014 #5
    I found the answer :
    http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Battery-Capacity-Tester-for-Laptop-battery-Power-Bank-18650-Li-ion-Battery-Mobile-Battery-NI-CD/1728618714.html [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  7. Jul 6, 2014 #6

    meBigGuy

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    That looks like a good tool to verify battery rating and performance. You want to graph the discharge voltage over time with different discharge rates. Note that batteries are always rated at a specified fixed discharge rate. Commonly it is 0.1C where C is taken from the Ampere-hour rating.

    I have always just set up a test system consisting of a programmable load (depends on battery and system requirements) and a gpib dvm and control it with a PC. I can then get a automated family of plots based on discharge rate. But that could cost more than the instrument you purchased. But, I have the istrumentation already available (we also need it to verify our li-ion battery charger hardware and firmware).
     
  8. Jul 7, 2014 #7

    NascentOxygen

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    $300 odd?

    Sorry to rain on your parade, but if the answer involves aliexpress or one of the aliexpress sellers, you should prepare to be sorely disappointed. I wouldn't risk even $30 at that site.

    Best course is to do your own testing. That way, you can be confident of the testing protocol and of the results.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  9. Jul 7, 2014 #8

    Borek

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    No idea how to to understand 0.1C, care to elaborate?
     
  10. Jul 7, 2014 #9

    Baluncore

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    0.1C means charge rate of 10% of capacity, C, in amp-hours.
    So a 10 A.hr battery will be charged at 10% of 10 A = 1 amp, for 10 hours.
     
  11. Jul 7, 2014 #10

    Borek

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    So for 0.1C it is always 10 hours, just with different currents? And for 0.05C it would be 20 hours?
     
  12. Jul 7, 2014 #11

    Baluncore

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    I believe so.
     
  13. Jul 7, 2014 #12

    NascentOxygen

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    Not quite right.

    I believe it means (for charging) you would charge at 1A but the duration is not specified. So, in practice, charging would be terminated by sensing the cell's voltage, or if it's a tolerant type and almost flat, simply charge for 15 hrs. In any case, it's still termed a 0.1C charging rate.

    This thread is concerned with discharge rate, though the same principle holds.
     
  14. Jul 7, 2014 #13

    AlephZero

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    Only if (1) it was completely discharged, and (2) the charging was 100% efficient.

    When the chemistry was tolerant of overcharging, batteries were often designed so they could be charged at 0.1C for any length of time without damage. Higher charging rates might overheat the battery, or cause chemical reactions too fast for the battery to process, so water was lost as hydrogen and oxygen gas, etc.

    Of course some modern battery types (like lithium) are NOT tolerant of overcharging under any circumstances.
     
  15. Jul 7, 2014 #14

    Baluncore

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    Obviously the state of discharge or degree of charge required needs to be taken into account.

    I am surprised that no one has pointed out the obvious dimension error in the guideline.
    A scalar, 0.1 or a ratio, multiplied by amp.hour gives amp.hour, not just amp, nor hour.

    For a partial charge, the charging rate guideline of 0.1C seems to specify a charge for only one hour.
    That is clearly not the case.
     
  16. Jul 7, 2014 #15

    AlephZero

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    The "C" in 0.1C is a unit of current. For any given battery, 1C it is the current that will fully charge or discharge the battery in one hour.

    There is no dimension error.
     
  17. Jul 7, 2014 #16

    Baluncore

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    That may be your assumption. I disagree.
    The C is always taken from the data sheet “capacity”, specified in “amp.hours”.
    That has a singular unit amp, but plural hours.
     
  18. Jul 7, 2014 #17

    AlephZero

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  19. Jul 7, 2014 #18

    Baluncore

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    [pedantic] I note that even MIT measure capacity in Amp-hrs. I believe that unit of capacity should be the singular A.h, the amp.h or the amp.hour, never the plural hrs, or capitalised Amp. [/pedantic]

    It can get confusing since the symbol C represents the SI unit of charge, the coulomb.
    1 amp.hour = 1 coulomb per second, for one hour = 3600 coulomb = 3600C.

    I see, 1C = “The current to discharge in one hour” has now been defined somewhere, by the battery industry, which makes it easy to calculate from the capacity in A.h and so eliminates the time dimension problem. But I still wonder where it was ever defined?

    I note that the term “battery”, from “Battery of Cells”, can now also apply to a single cell.
    I wonder if the term “battery” from “Battery of Guns” will ever refer to a single gun?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  20. Jul 7, 2014 #19

    nsaspook

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    It's even more confusing as most people don't use the fractional notation but write something like C20 or C/20 when talking about battery charge/discharge rates in the solar power industry. For instance C20 is the standard discharge rate to qualify the battery Ah capacity for RE and traction types.

    http://www.trojanbatteryre.com/About_Us/Press_Releases/Industrial_Line2VPR.html [Broken]

    So if you are designing a battery monitor that accounts for the Peukert factor in some types of cells, C20 is the baseline for increasing or decreasing the Ah capacity at the current discharge rate.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  21. Jul 7, 2014 #20

    NascentOxygen

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    Throughout 3 years of my studies we had an Indian lecturer who is memorable for his fastidiousness about only one thing, viz., the term "amps". For some reason, he disliked hearing us in the lab giving a current reading in amps. He'd interject with, "Is not 'yamps'! Is 'yamperes'! We grew tired of hearing this, so cured him of this peccadillo by taking on board his exhortation: in the machines lab we began carefully enunciating the units of current as "yamperes". :smile:

    Regarding the battery charging convention, the C has no units. The battery has a capacity of C ampere-hours, and the charging current (in amperes) is related as a fraction of C, e.g., 0.1C amperes.

    In the workshop, engineering vernacular can become a bit sloppy, but when correctly spelt out, there is no conflict in units.
     
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