The Trouble with Aftermarket Batteries

by Cory on

aftermarket battery

Just like politicians, aftermarket batteries aren’t all bad; it’s just difficult to tell which ones are faulty until it’s too late. Especially frustrating is when you’re out and about, you pull out your camera to take some photos, and the brand new battery you just purchased fails. Either you forgot to charge it up, or you may have bought a bogus aftermarket battery. In order to help you the next time you’re thinking about replacement or backup batteries, here are some tips to consider that will keep you out of trouble.

Some things that typically go wrong with inferior aftermarket batteries are: bloat, excessive voltage, inadequate voltage, and charger incompatibility. Bloat usually occurs when the battery is being used a lot under high temperatures; the battery expands and it is incredibly difficult to remove from the camera’s battery compartment. Despite the printed voltage on aftermarket batteries, the true voltage may be a little higher or lower. When a battery is used inside electronics like your camera, too high a voltage can overload the circuit and blow a fuse; this generally prevents the camera from turning on until someone gets inside and replaces it (although if used with the same battery, it will fail again). When the voltage is too low, a couple things can happen; the battery generally won’t last as long as expected and you may get a constant low battery warning (even right out of the battery charger).  Aftermarket batteries sometimes are not manufactured correctly and lack the mechanism that signals the charger when the battery is full. This feature may be defective or not even be built in and causes the battery to constantly charge, which will ruin a batteries capacity after an extended session.

This may go without saying, but it could greatly benefit you to have your camera and an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) battery for comparison when looking for another replacement or backup. The first thing to consider is weight. If the aftermarket battery you are considering purchasing is lighter than the OEM battery be very cautious before you purchase.  This indicates a lower capacity. Another point to consider is how things line up. The most obvious are the wedges, notches and grooves that prevent users from putting the battery in the wrong way. If these are off or out of balance, it will not insert in to the camera easily (and you should never force it). Not as obvious is the way in which the contacts themselves line up; when they don’t line up correctly it can cause the power to be interrupted when jostled or in some cases damage the contacts by bending them out of place making it so no other batteries will function right either.

As stated at the beginning, not all aftermarket batteries are bad; it is simply hard to compare the quality between them and the OEM battery.  A good old adage to keep in mind when purchasing any item is “if it seems too good to be true, it usually is”.

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