Test : Pale blue Li-Ion Batteries






Background

Batteries can be expansive and environmentally unfriendly. Of course, alternatives exist but none of them are truly satisfying. Rechargeable batteries are not providing more than 1.2V, they do not last long and require frequent charge cycles. While scrolling my Facebook feed, I found an interesting ad about a company called Pale blue providing Lithium Ion batteries with the standard batteries form factor with 1.5 V and a standard micro USB port to charge them. Is this the Grail ?

History

A bit of history about Pale blue. This company is coming from a successful kickstarter project. It has been founded by 3 men, 2 Americans and 1 French. They realized the need of reusable batteries since most of the traditional alkaline batteries (80%) are not recycled ! Creating a product, easy to use, using the same form factor as existing batteries and rechargeable using a standard USB cable was answering a need. This is where everything started. The kickstarter project was a great success, they collected HK$ 2,055,593 (about USD 265k) from 3,736 backers.

Let's Click & Buy !

Sometimes, ads are efficient, this one was really efficient and I decided to buy 2 kits : 4 x AAA and 4 x AA. This is the most common standard that I'm using at home. I received the parcel in about a week. Delivered from France to Belgium. I used paypal as mean of pay. Very easy.

First surprise, the packaging is great and it feels like a very good quality product. After opening the box, I have confirmation the product is well designed and finished. Great surprise : a specific USB charging cable is provided with 4 ends, so with one cable, you can charge 4 batteries at once. Well done!

I'm suspecting the batteries were delivered half-charged : it took only 10 mins to have them fully loaded. An amber LED is flashing while charging, the LED remain still and green when fully charged. I discovered later on batteries are charging very quickly, so they could be almost or completely drained when I received them.

The build quality is good, the soft plastic finish is nice to the touch. The general impression is great.


As you can see, the micro USB port on the side is well integrated.


One thing that I like a lot is the handy charging cable which provides 4 micro USB port, so you can charge 4 batteries at once. Well seen !

On the left, AA charging, on the right AAA charging

The charging indicator is a circle on the AA format and a small dot on the AAA format. This is not easy to see on the AAA in the picture but when you have it in hand you simply can't miss it.




Batteries on the bench

So, the product is nice and functional, but ... the real test is when you actually use it. So, let's see how they actually work.
First test, the current measured with a multimeter and next, I will measure the battery capacity with a USB power meter.



The promise of these batteries is the 1.5 V, this is really great, because traditional rechargeable batteries usually offer 1.2V and it affects performance of the products they are powering up. Here : no problems, 1.5 V solid confirmed with the multimeter.

To measure capacity, I need to make sure the battery is fully discharged. I have created a little discharger with 4 x 10 Ohms resistors in series, with this, I have 2 Ohms resistor to discharge the batteries. It works great.


(I know, I'm not a soldering master ;) but it works and it is not a commercial product so, who cares ?)

Next, to measure the battery capacity, I'm using a external battery pack, my USB tester in the middle and then the battery I want to charge. I reset the tester counter and let's go.


I measured capacities very close to what is advertised on the website, they are not lying !

Some pictures of the other available models



On the D model, you can choose between micro USB on a side and USB-C on the other side. I would have loved to see this on every battery types. A plan for the future ?



Conclusion

We like

- Battery following the standard form factor, used in any consumer electronic devices;
- 1.5 V !
- Easy USB charging device, clever cable delivered to charge a kit at once;
- Build quality;
- User guide is valid for all products, good for standardization and you only need to keep one;
- Last longer than NiMH 1.2 V
- Charging time is impressive !
- Very lightweight compared to original alkaline batteries

We don't like

- Lack of standardization on the charging port, sometimes vertical, sometimes horizontal, sometimes USB-C, .... a more coherent approach would have been appreciated;
- On the user guide it says : "These batteries are not intended for heavy duty, high current drain applications such as high intensity flashlights. For high current draw / heavy duty applications, our batteries may not be the best choice." Would have been nice to display this on the website before buying. This being said, I did not had any issue so far with the various tested applications.
- This is obvious but : if you wet the batteries, they will die because of the charging port wich of course is not waterproof, so beware.

Cool thing for the end!

To conclude, Pale blue was kind enough to provide a promo code for all the readers. Use this code now : LTAT15 to get 15% discount on their online store (not applicable on promo pack). Code valid from today until 2021-09-23.


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