Best Battery Wiring Practices
Let’s review the best practices for wiring up batteries to your robot.
- On batteries with more than 1200- to 1500-mAh capacity, insert a small inline fuse in the positive (+) terminal line.
- Use polarized connectors from your battery holders or battery packs. Naturally, the connector on the holder/pack must match the one on the battery line to your robot. Being polarized, there is less chance of connecting the battery backward.
- The ideal polarized connector fully insulates both the positive (+) and negative (–) sides of the power line. In this way, the battery will not short out when the connector is unplugged. Coaxial barrel connectors are a good example of this design.
- Use two-color wiring to denote the polarity of the terminal. The most common color coding is red for the + terminal, and black for the – terminal. Of course, you can use any wire color you wish, but strive to be consistent.
And two more suggestions while we’re on the subject:
- Use stranded wire for battery connections. Stranded wire is more flexible and is less prone to break over time. The strands of the wire also improve the current-carrying abilities of the wire.
- Use cable tie wraps to keep wiring together. This helps protect the wiring from snagging on objects as the robot travels across the room.
Batteries are sturdy little critters, but you should follow some simple guidelines when using them. You’ll find that your batteries will last much longer, and you’ll save yourself some money.
- Avoid using or storing batteries in temperatures above 85°F. The life of the battery will be severely shortened otherwise. Using a battery above 100°F to 125°F causes rapid deterioration.
- Never short out the terminals of a battery. Besides possibly igniting fumes exhausted by the battery, the sudden and intense current output can produce intense heat. It also shortens the life of the cell considerably.
- Keep rechargeable batteries charged. Make a note when the battery was last charged.
- Try to fully discharge NiCds before charging them again. This prevents memory effect, should the battery be susceptible to it. Other rechargeable battery types don’t exhibit this problem and can be recharged at your convenience.