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01-11-2018, 08:58 AM   #1
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Li109 batteries won't charge

I have two third party Li109 batteries for my K30, which I use as backup batteries since I prefer to use Eneloop rechargeable AA cells in the camera. Last night, I realized it had been several months since I'd used either of those battery packs so I pulled them out and popped them into the camera to check their condition. One battery was stone dead and would not power up the camera while the other registered in the 'yellow' zone on the camera's battery meter. I attempted to charge both batteries on the OEM Pentax charger that came with the camera but it didn't work. For both batteries, the green LED came on as normal when I first plugged the charger in with a battery in place but it only stayed lit for about five minutes and the battery didn't charge; in fact, the one that had a small amount of charge is now stone dead and won't power up the camera. The fact that this behavior is the same on both batteries leads me to suspect the problem may be with the charger, especially since one battery is only about nine months old and has been charged exactly once since I got it. The best way to test this theory would be to attempt to charge both batteries with another compatible charger, which I don't have. A third party charger is around $7 on eBay, but for such a paltry sum, part of me thinks why even bother when I have plenty of Eneloops on hand already and they greatly outperform the Li109 batteries in my K30. I guess I'm just mainly irritated at losing the inherent flexibility of being able to use two different battery types.

01-11-2018, 09:33 AM   #2
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It's possible that they died simply due to being empty for so long. Rechargeable batteries hate that - it's best to store them with a charge.

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01-11-2018, 09:40 AM   #3
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The batteries were put away fully charged and I'm sure they self-discharged sitting in my camera bag but I find it curious that the older of the two batteries went from partially charged to completely dead after five minutes on the charger. Right now, I'm just debating whether it's even worthwhile to fool with the Li109 batteries any further at all or just stick with the Eneloops.
01-11-2018, 09:51 AM   #4
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If the voltage dropped down too far due to self discharge, then the build in safety circuit might have kicked in and disabled them to prevent anything nasty from happening.
I bought some Wasabi Dli-90 equivalents, not sure if I like them, they do not seem to have the same low temperature tolerance as the OEM ones.
Might end up getting the genuine Pentax batteries.

01-11-2018, 11:48 AM   #5
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Some of the mishaps that occur with lithium batteries are from chargers attempting to charge fully dead batteries so better chargers have a safety circuit built in (and some lithium batteries have a self-destruct mechanism built in). Any chance you have a voltmeter and can make a measurement on the terminal voltages of those batteries??

The recommended storage charge for lithiums is 50%. Putting away fully charged batteries can encourage internal corrosion and shorten their life. Still, 50% doesn't negate the effects of storage leakage and those batteries will self-discharge so periodic refreshing should be done. Cooler (above 0 degrees C) storage will reduce self-discharging.

If you can measure the terminal voltage, you can determine if the batteries are really "dead" of if the charger is malfunctioning. I would doubt the latter if that charger is working with other batteries.

Last edited by Bob 256; 01-11-2018 at 11:55 AM.
01-11-2018, 12:37 PM   #6
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The comments above are all pertinent and the take-away for me is to keep ones batteries in active rotation through the camera and charger. Whether to keep Li-ion batteries topped-up is a matter of discussion. I have been using them for many years and the doctrine has typically been to keep the charge up, avoid "fast" charge, and avoid full discharge. That has been my practice and so far, I have done pretty well. I sold my K10D with the original battery with 7+ years of with reasonable reduced capacity (i.e. still quite usable). I got four years out of my most recent set of Wasabi (not too bad considering the price) and the OEM li-90 in the K-3 is still working well after four years.

Still though, @Bob_256 's comment above set me to doing some research on the Web and what I found was an amazing number of conflicting examples of theory and practice. I liked what I read on the Battery University site, though I am sure there are probably opinions and advice contrary to what they published.
How to Prolong Lithium-based Batteries - Battery University

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Last edited by stevebrot; 01-11-2018 at 12:40 PM. Reason: Removed last sentence
01-11-2018, 01:09 PM   #7
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Perhaps pertinent to the OP's completely dead battery...how to wake up a sleeping li-ion battery...

How to Awaken Sleeping Li-ion - Battery University


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01-11-2018, 01:48 PM   #8
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It has been a long time since I've used rechargeable AA's. I just bought some and a charger, because I figure I'll be doing more indoor shooting and will be needing flash more often, so they will be useful for that. From what I've heard, Eneloops and other rechargeables don't last forever either. I don't know what their storage quirks are. I have some I have not used in at least 8 years.

01-11-2018, 01:54 PM   #9
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I had this happen to two cheap 3rd party Li109 batteries purchased on ebay. I was carrying around my K50 in my car to catch some cotton fields at sunset. I went to turn my camera on and the battery was dead, replaced that battery with another in my bag and it also was dead. When i tried to charge them they did like E-man's. Never had this happen with OEM Pentax batteries!
01-11-2018, 02:37 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikesbike Quote
It has been a long time since I've used rechargeable AA's. I just bought some and a charger, because I figure I'll be doing more indoor shooting and will be needing flash more often, so they will be useful for that. From what I've heard, Eneloops and other rechargeables don't last forever either. I don't know what their storage quirks are. I have some I have not used in at least 8 years.
Don't confuse lithium ion batteries with Nickel Cadmium or Metal Hydride. All three types have different characteristics and advantages and disadvantages. Whereas NiCd and NMH can be fully discharged and left there indefinitely, lithium is just the opposite (as is lead acid). A lithium has lower self-discharge than the others but will eventually go flat and is difficult or impossible to revive (lead acid is similar but won't usually self-destruct violently in that process like lithium can).

Those are excellent resources that stevebrot pointed out. Everyone with a lithium powered camera should read through that material so they know their battery better and get the best life out of it (one of the downsides of lithium is cost). It's also important to know that there are risks involved with trying to resuscitate a lithium. Anyone who's seen a lithium cell self-destruct will gain an appreciation for that. It just might be less of a gamble to purchase a replacement cell unless one has the right equipment and experience to attempt revival.

In any case, the OPs original issue was a question of battery or charger. A voltage reading can determine if a lithium battery has gone flat and if it has, most chargers will refuse to attempt a charge cycle.

The one other possibility which I ran into is degradation of the battery contacts. I had a relatively new Pentax battery quit in my camera (half charged and recently used). I put it in the charger which wouldn't charge it and was about to request a replacement when I decided to clean the battery terminals (99% IPA wipe with a slightly abrasive cloth). That fixed the issue to present. The residue couldn't be seen but something was there which was preventing a good contact and that kept the battery from working in the camera and prevented charging. I left a comment in the suggestion area of the forum that manufactures consider a gold flash on the battery terminals (a lot of electronics connectors use it - even cheap ones) which paired with the gold flashed camera terminals, should avoid such issues. That might be worth a shot in the OPs case (cleaning the termninals that is).
01-11-2018, 02:53 PM   #11
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This gets curiouser and curiouser, as Alice would say. I tested both batteries with a volt meter and the older of the two shows a shade over 8 volts and the newer one, which has been acting stone dead reads at 7.9 volts. The older one will now power up the camera and reads 3/4 charged on the rear display. The newer one still won't power up the camera at all. After reading the other posts, I'm thinking more and more that relying on my stock of Eneloops is going to be the way to go, although I will try cleaning the contacts on the two Li109 batteries with alcohol and see if that helps. I just find it odd that this problem only manifests itself with this particular type of battery and not the Li50 batteries for my K10D and Samsung GX20, nor the ones for my Panasonic Lumix cameras. I have always had very good service from Eneloop batteries. The oldest ones I've got are around ten years old and are still going strong.
01-11-2018, 07:27 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by E-man Quote
try cleaning the contacts on the two Li109 batteries with alcohol and see if that helps.
Alcohol will dissolve a wide range of contaminants, but won't touch contact oxidation. I use a pencil eraser (preferably the "gray" kind) as a mild abrasive to the contact face. FWIW, my last batch of Wasabi had light surface oxidation, but it cleaned up quite nicely.

As for being puzzled about your third-party Li109, the key term is "third-party". Quality of other than true OEM Li-ion batteries is traditionally sketchy. I have been happy with Wasabi (generally well-regarded) and I have heard similar good things about the Watson product sold by B&H. I would have less confidence in "Nixxell" from Amazon for $5.99 USD.


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01-14-2018, 05:42 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by E-man Quote
........ I tested both batteries with a volt meter and the older of the two shows a shade over 8 volts and the newer one, which has been acting stone dead reads at 7.9 volts................
My fully charged lithium reads 8.31 Volts. Below 8 volts is getting pretty well depleted so the 7.9 volt reading could well be a discharged battery, but those readings unto themselves don't seem to indicate a bad or dead battery and I'm surprised either won't take a charge. It would be more indicative if you could put them under a load and measure their voltages, but that's probably not practical in your case. Sometimes the internal resistance of a battery will go up and while the open circuit terminal voltage looks good, a load will drop that to a very low value indicating the battery has an internal problem.

I'm not sure what to suggest at this point other than to try charging them again and see if you can get it to take. Since you are switching to an alternate battery, that might be academic and not worth the bother.
01-14-2018, 06:35 PM   #14
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Rechargeable batteries need to be recharged before they go flat or they won't remember how much charge they need. I used to lose batteries all the time till I heard this thought it was nonsense but I haven't lost a single battery since I stopped allowing them to go flat it must be 5 or more years now my batteries have lasted with out requiring replacements.
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