Lithium battery capacity claims (e.g. Canon NB-2L)

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Lithium batteries for digital cameras and other applications can be expensive if you buy the original manufacturer's version.  On the other hand, Ebay sellers offer clones of these batteries at much lower prices.

My particular experience has been with Canon's NB-2L and NB-2LH batteries, as used by some of the Digital EOS cameras.  I expect that the situation is similar for other manufacturers' products.

The original Canon NB-2LH battery claims a capacity of 720 mAh.  Apparently the NB-2L is a lower capacity version of the NB-2LH.  Some of the clones sold by Ebay sellers claim much higher capacities.  I bought a pair of batteries that claimed 1200 mAh from a U.S.-based seller.  The batteries are marked "Cell from Japan, Made in China".

I decided to measure the capacity of these clones compared to the original Canon battery, and have written up the results in detail, with graphs, on a web page.  I'm not allowed to link to the page from here, but you should be able to copy-and-paste this URL: http://chezphil.org/lithium_battery_exageration/

In summary, the cloned battery has a noticeably lower capacity than the original Canon model.  I believe that it probably has a nominal capacity of 600 mAh, not the claimed 1200 mAh.

It is possible that this is a deliberate fraudulent exageration, but another explanation is that the manufacturers have misunderstood how battery capacities should be calculated: this battery contains two cells, and they may have doubled the cell capacity to get a figure for the battery as a whole.  This would be correct if the cells were in parallel but they are actually in series, so the voltage should be doubled but not the mAh capacity.

My advice to anyone looking for cheap batteries of this type is to ignore any capacity claims that are significantly above what the original manufacturer advertises.  Then, don't leave positive feedback until you've actually measured the capacity of the battery, e.g. by seeing how many photos you can take between charges, compared to the original.

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