Though you may forget about them until you need to change them, batteries power many of the things you use every day, from your television remote and your children's toys to your computer and your cell phone. Several factors affect the life of a battery, including the ambient climate and the materials used to make it. You can test these factors to ascertain how to keep your batteries running as long as possible.
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Many battery commercials attest that their batteries last the longest. You can test these claims by performing an experiment with various brands of the same type of battery. Choose a common and relatively small battery size, such as AA or AAA. Find a set of objects to use up the batteries' power, such as three of the same small flashlights. Insert the appropriate number of batteries for each brand into each of the flashlights. So if each flashlight requires two AA batteries, insert two Energizer batteries in one, two Duracell batteries in another, and so on. Turn the objects on and let them run until they burn out. Since this will take a while, you may want to set up a video camera to record which one goes out first, or you could apportion an hour each day for several days to turn them on and watch them. Note the intensity of the beam as the batteries die.
Batteries come in many different sizes. You can test how the size of a battery affects its longevity by collecting different sized batteries and setting up an equivalent number of small light bulbs with wire leads. One by one, connect the leads of each light bulb to the ends of a battery, and time how long it takes each battery to die. To speed up the process, try to find a size of light bulb that isn't too small but can still be powered by the smallest sized battery.
The flow of electrons created inside a battery results from a chemical reaction, and like most chemical reactions, temperature affects its strength. To ascertain the influence of temperature on the life of a battery, find three to five identical flashlights that require only one battery. Fill each of the flashlights with the same brand of battery, and make sure the battery is new. Turn each flashlight on at the same time. Put one flashlight in a cold place, like the refrigerator, and put another one in a warm place, such as under a heat lamp. Keep one at room temperature. Record the temperature of each location, and see how long it takes each one to go out, checking on them periodically and noting when the beam begins to dim.
Batteries can be made from a variety of materials. Commercial batteries are generally made of materials such as lithium, zinc-carbon and manganese dioxide. However, you can also make a battery out of things like lemons, potatoes and salt water. Try creating various batteries from different materials, such as a lemon, an orange, a potato and an apple, by inserting a zinc nail and a copper wire or penny into each one and connecting it to a simple LED light. Time how long it takes each light to go out.
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