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Getting the Most Out of Your Lithium-Ion Batteries for Trimble Positioning Products

We field a lot of questions from surveyors and contractors regarding lithium-ion batteries for Trimble GNSS & GPS equipment.  Popular topics include:

  • Charging & discharging Li-ion battery myths
  • Performance in hot vs cold weather
  • How long batteries should operate an RTK receiver in the field
  • How generic / aftermarket batteries compare to genuine Trimble batteries? 

Trimble Li-ion Batteries Best Practices for GPS / GNSS

# 1 Question: Should You Fully Discharge Trimble Li-ion Batteries?

Li-ion batteries do not retain a "memory" like Ni-Cd and older rechargeable battery technologies, so there's no reason to drain or intentionally discharge a li-ion battery before charging them again.  In fact, completely depleting Li-ion batteries can cause the cells to enter a protection mode or even damage them permanently.  Frequent short discharges are preferable to consistently fully discharging the battery.  When charging a Li-ion battery, it's not necessary to "top it off" and in fact, charging cells below 80% of full charger will greatly prolong the life of the battery.

How to Store Trimble Li-ion Batteries:

It's best to store your Trimble Li-ion batteries partially charged (40% or more).  It's also recommended to check or charge them every 90 days.  For optimal performance, store them at room temperature. 

Storing Trimble TSC3 Battery

For Trimble data collectors like the TSC3, TSC7 and tablets, we highly recommend removing the battery while storing for long periods of time (14 days or more).  It is not recommended to store filed controllers plugged into AC power.

 # 2 Question: How Long Should A Battery Last in Your Trimble GNSS receiver?

Each Trimble GPS / GNSS receiver consumes power at different rates in different scenarios.  On average you should expect 2.5 to 3 hours when transmitting as a base station (using internal radio) and 3 to 4 hours when as a rover (with Bluetooth).

Here are some examples per Trimble's specification sheets using genuine Trimble batteries:

Trimble R10:

R10 power consumption is 5.1 W in RTK rover mode using internal radio.  Battery tested is 7.4 V 3.7Ah (P/N: 89840-00) R10 Datasheet >

  • 450 MHz and 900 MHz receive only option . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.5 hours
  • 450 MHz and 900 MHz receive/transmit option (0.5 W). . . . . . . . 4.5 hours
  • 450 MHz receive/transmit option (2.0 W) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.7 hours
  • Cellular receive option. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.0 hours

SPS985:

SPS985 power consumption is 3.7 W in RTK rover mode with internal radio.  Battery tested is 7.4V 2.6 Ah (P/N: 92670-00) SPS985 Datasheet >

  • 450 MHz and 900 MHz receive only option . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.6 hours
  • 450 MHz and 900 MHz receive/transmit option (0.5 W). . . . . . . . 3.5 hours
  • Cellular receive option. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.0 hours

Trimble R8s:

R8s power consumption is 3.2 W in RTK rover mode with internal radio.  Battery tested is 7.4V 2.8 Ah  (P/N: 92670-00) R8s Datasheet >

  • 450 MHz receive only option . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.0 hours
  • 450 MHz receive/transmit option (0.5 W). . . . . . . . 2.5 hours
  • Cellular receive option . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.0 hours

Trimble R8 GNSS Model 4

R8 GNSS Model 4 power consumption is 3.2 W in RTK rover mode with internal radio.  Battery tested is 7.4V 2.6 Ah (P/N: 92670-00) R8-4 GNSS Datasheet >

  • 450 MHz receive only option . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.0 hours
  • 450 MHz receive/transmit option (0.5 W). . . . . . . . 2.5 hours
  • Cellular receive option . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.7 hours

# 3 Question: Trimble Li-ion Batteries vs Generic / Aftermarket

Due to their high cost, we are often asked to compare genuine Trimble Li-ion battery packs to aftermarket packs that can be found on eBay and Amazon. Like the other equipment manufacturers, Trimble battery packs are manufactured specifically for Trimble in China with very high standards using high-quality cells and protection control circuits.  This controlled manufacturing process produces batteries that are safe and reliable which will provide users with hundreds of charge / discharge cycles before they need to be replaced.  

From our research and experience, you simply can't beat the performance and longevity of a genuine Trimble battery.  Yes they are expensive, but not as expensive as loosing a day of work due to dead batteries.

Good cells make good battery packs:

Battery packs have multiple cells inside.  The popular 18650 Li-Ion cell is about the size of the AA battery -  and there are over 7,000 combined to power a Tesla Model 3.

There are several battery pack and battery cell manufacturers out there with varying performance and safety standards. Panasonic / Sanyo, LG and Samsung produce high-quality 18650 Li-Ion cells.  Better performing cells command higher prices. So much so, that counterfeiters purchase blank 18650 steel tubes and only fill them partially with lower capacity, low cost internals  - which results in inferior battery performance, reduce battery life, disregarding safety and environmental standards.

Panasonic 18650 Li-ion Cell

Panasonic 18650B Li-Ion cell (pictured) 

Trimble uses high-quality battery cells in all of their battery packs.  You can often feel the weight difference between a genuine Trimble battery and a counterfeit or aftermarket battery which suggest inferior cells are used in the latter.

Trimble 79400 Li-Ion battery pack opened showing Sanyo 18650 cells

Trimble 79400 pack opened - exposing Sanyo 18650 Li-Ion cells inside

Battery Safety:

We've all heard of Li-ion batteries exploding or causing fires, so it's important to consider the SAFTEY of a battery ahead of its cost.  

In this article from Battery University: What Everyone Should Know About Aftermarket Batteries >>, they point out: "Manufacturers do not object to aftermarket batteries - as long as they are well built and conform to safety standards". 

It's also important to note that an aftermarket battery is very different from a counterfeit battery.  We strongly recommend AVOIDING counterfeit Trimble batteries and chargers commonly found on eBay and Alibaba.  Only purchase Trimble batteries from a reputable source. 

Best aftermarket / generic battery for Trimble R8 and SPS series GPS / GNSS:

Kaster Li-ion Battery for Trimble GPS

For the R8 and SPS series receivers, we've found success with Kastar brand batteries. The Kastar battery specifications are the same as the older Trimble battery (92600) 7.4V 2.6 Ah, and can be charged with the Trimble dual bay charger (PN: 53018030) as well as Kastars dual bay charger.

Kastar USA's website states the company has passed ISO9001 quality system certification and ISO 14001 environmental management system certification.

Kastar 92600 - available on Amazon >>

From our experience - genuine Trimble brand batteries last longer in the field and over time, but at one-tenth of the price - the Kastar batteries and chargers seem to be a solid economical choice. However - we do not recommend using the Kastar charger on genuine Trimble batteries as it's not clear if the Kastar charger includes an overcharge protection circuit. 

Best aftermarket battery for Trimble R10 and R12 GNSS receivers:

Cameron Sino produces a replacement battery for the Trimble R10 and R12 receivers at roughly one-third of Trimble's price. We've compared Cameron Sino's TRR100SL battery (PN: 76767 and 990373) against Trimble's 89840-00 and were very happy with the results. 

Replacement battery for Trimble R10 and R12

The TRR100SL is a 3600mAh vs Trimble's 3700mAh.  We tested both batteries in an R10 receiver, which was set up as an RTK base station, tracking all available constellations, transmitting CMRx corrections at .5 Watts (TT450S@4800 bps) through the receivers internal UHF radio.  The TR100SL delivered 4.5 hours of uninterrupted runtime while the Trimble battery only provided an additional 15 minutes. 

We recommend using Trimble's latest dual bay charger (PN:109000) for the TR100SL.

Cameron Sino's website states the company has passed ISO9001 quality system certification and ISO 14001 environmental management system certification.

Buy CS-TR100SL (2-pack) on our store >>

Buy Trimble 89840-00 (single) on our store >>

Aftermarket / generic battery for Trimble Total Stations:

Cameron Sino 800XL

For the S, RTS and SPS series instruments, we've had mixed success with Cameron Sino batteries.  We've field tested both the TRS800SL and TRS800XL versions.  50% work great but 50% don't work at all. 

So why bother?  With a 2021 price increase, Trimble's 99511-30 is now $320 compared to only $70 for the Cameron Sino TRS800.  Additionally Cameron Sino does stand behind their batteries and have quickly replaced the defective units that we received.  They have also been very responsive to our feedback, providing access directly to their engineering team. 

Before selling, we test all TRS800 battery packs by running each through two complete charge / discharge cycles.  It's extra effort, but it allows us to find defective batteries up front and get them replaced before they end up in our customers hands. 

One thing to note about charging the TRS800; Even when fully charged and healthy, the charger displays the "Conditioning Required" status. Per conversations with the manufacturer - "This is normal and conditioning is only required when degraded performance is experienced".

Additionally - we recommend using the Trimble dual bay charger PN: 109000

Cameron Sino's website states the TRS800 uses Panasonic 18650 cells and the company has passed ISO9001 quality system certification and ISO 14001 environmental management system certification.

Buy CS-TRS800XL on our store >>

Buying Used / Pre-owned Trimble Li-Ion Batteries:

While we do include used Trimble batteries in some of our GPS systems, we don't recommend buying used batteries. This is because battery capacity decreases slightly with each charge & discharge cycle.  Most Li-ion batteries for Trimble products (as well as most consumer products) have a usable life between 300 to 500 charge / discharge cycles.  A typical survey crew may charge their batteries every shift.  For a normal work week - that's five charge / discharge cycles each week, so depending on use, that could be as many as 260 cycles in a given year ( 5 cycles per week x 52 weeks).  

The only way to test a used Li-ion battery is to put it in the field and see how long it will last.  For this reason, we do not warranty used Trimble batteries. 

Trimble Support Bulletin - Best Practices For Getting The Most Out Of Your Lithium-ion Batteries

For additional reading, check out this support bulletin produced by Trimble that outlines the factors that affect battery performance - as well as offering best practices to enable Trimble batteries to perform to their designed specification: Download Support Bulletin >>

We hope this information is useful to you. Leave your comments below and let us know your experience with genuine vs generic batteries.

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