Thursday, October 10, 2019

How I organize my rechargeable batteries to get the most out of them

We are currently having rolling blackouts here in California due to high winds and fire danger. This means that many homes and businesses may be without power for days. Yesterday, knowing we still had power, I charged a bunch of my batteries in preparation for an upcoming event. I posted this photo (below) and had a bunch people write to me and ask me about my labeling system.

Instead of responding to everyone individually, and knowing that this was a common question, I thought it would be good to share my technique here on the blog. is my system for managing all my rechargeable batteries.

I typically label all of my equipment with labels from my Dymo label maker. The bigger and more expensive equipment has a label with my name and email address. But I also mark almost all of my batteries with a label to help me identify their age and grouping.

These are the Canon LP-E6N batteries which are used in all of Canon's 5D cameras. I currently have 5 of these batteries in my rotation. I have labeled them based on when I got them. So that "B" battery that you see has been in use for a really long time, probably since the Canon 5D Mark II. The "F" battery came with the Canon 5D Mark IV and is the newest. The original "A" battery has been recycled already, but lasted through many years of shooting.

When do I recycle one of these batteries? I take them out of my rotation when they give me errors in the recharge process or they do not last long in the camera.

The camera batteries are easy to keep track of since I only have 5 of the LP-E6N batteries and 3 of the LP-E19 batteries (for the Canon 1D X Mark II), but keeping track of all my rechargeable AA batteries is a different story.

I have labeled my Canon flashes to keep track of my oldest to newest as well

I literally have hundreds of Powerex Pro AA batteries in my arsenal, with 40 being used in my Canon 600EX-RT flashes in a typical day. I wanted to devise a plan to use them as efficiently as possible, and came up with this strategy:

1. I always keep a group of 4 batteries together throughout their life (which means that they are used together in a flash and charged together in the Powerex C980 charger).
2. I always label the sets of batteries with the date I put them into use.
3. Since I start using many batteries at the same time, I position the labels (even though they have the same month and year printed on them) in different places on the batteries to identify their grouping.

I just entered these eight batteries into my rotation, hence the Oct 2019 labels. As you can see, I have one set labels high and on the back and another set labeled low and on the front. This system allows me to enter many sets at the same time, but still easily identify them by their own group.

You may be wondering why I want all these batteries to be grouped together. The reason is this: some of my flashes get used more than others, and I do not want to mix a newer battery with full power with an older one which is at the end of its life.

The Powerex Pro AA batteries hold 2700mAh which is awesome and they can be recharged hundreds of times. I typically use a set for up to 2 years before retiring them to my household battery drawer. Even though they might be less than optimal for my professional use, they are still very good for household appliances like remote controls and other things.

I hope this all makes sense to you and helps you be more efficient with your batteries and charging.

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Doug Crist said...


Great article about batteries. I also use the PowerEx Pro AAs, but don't label them as well as yours. I'd be interested to know which Dymo label maker you use since there are a bunch of them available.


Veronica said...

This is great information, Jeff! I need to switch to recyclable batteries, but have been feeling overwhelmed with how to know what's charged and not charged. Do you have a system for that as well? Thank you!


Doug Crist said...

I use 4-battery cases rather than the 8-battery case shown in the blog. At the + end of each battery is a silver band of about 1/4 inch. I put all of these together if the batteries are charged. If they have been used I flip every other battery so they are +, -, +, -. This is very easy to see at a glance just by looking at the silver bands.

PG said...

I use a similar system to Doug. I like Storacell Cases. When the + end of the battery is inserted first it fits in a dimple in the case... this means it's charged. If I can't see the positive nipple in the the dimple it needs charging. For Cases like Jeff uses I label the case to indicate which direction the + nipple is when charged. I also use a Brother labeler to indicate the mo/yr the batteries went into service. I love Jeff's idea about placing the label differently to indicate the group.

The Meijers said...

I appreciate this article. I was thinking of using my Dymo label-maker and/or a system that involves the use of fingernail polish being applied as dots or lines on the battery and then having a Google Sheets document to keep track of the symbology (dots,lines,colors) and the date they were used.

My Dymo uses 1/2-inch labels. I'm not sure if it will do multiple lines as yours does.