Author Topic: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.  (Read 60783 times)

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Offline Haenk

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EU will make it mandatory to use customer-replaceable batteries, that is "with standard tools", no hot-glueing etc. on all household items.

https://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/eu-parlament-will-festverklebte-handy-akkus-verbieten-17867864.html

(in German)

This has to be put into effect, requiring a few more details, but it seems all law-making entities will pass this (and more) soon.
Industry is not too happy about this.
Timeframe is not stated, but I assume "really soon".
 
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Offline magic

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2022, 05:39:37 pm »
You still won't be able to buy them other than from dodgy eBay vendors ;)
 

Online ataradov

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2022, 06:36:35 pm »
I don't read German, but if the law does not require them to actually produce those batteries more than what is required for the initial run, then all they will do is come up with a proprietary battery format for every device and never make them. And yes, even if some form factor becomes popular (BL-5C, here we go) only dodgy suppliers would bother making compatibles. And for others you will never see a spare battery in your life.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2022, 06:49:42 pm by ataradov »
Alex
 

Offline Haenk

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2022, 06:43:52 pm »
The law will require the availability of replacement batteries for as long as one expects the device to be usable.

Guess there will be some more lawmaking involved, to define these expected lifetimes.
Also, I'm note sure if this is valid for the pure cells or only for complete battery packs. That would mean "original, but expensive replacement packs".
 

Online ataradov

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2022, 06:52:39 pm »
Well, it is good. But I'll wait to celebrate until something happen. There are so many tricks they can do to make this not work. Including replacement batteries costing 1/2 of the initial device price. I don't think there is a reasonable way to make a generic law limiting all that. A battery may be 1/2 of the device price for real.
Alex
 

Online Cerebus

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2022, 07:31:57 pm »
I don't read German, but if the law does not require them to actually produce those batteries more than what is required for the initial run, then all they will do is come up with a proprietary battery format for every device and never make them. And yes, even if some form factor becomes popular (BL-5C, here we go) only dodgy suppliers would bother making compatibles. And for others you will never see a spare battery in your life.

You don't need to read German, the EU employs a lot of translators. The draft and final regulations will be available in BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, GA, HR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, FI, SV, at: https://ec.europa.eu/

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Online ataradov

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2022, 07:45:45 pm »
I was mostly speaking about the news article. I'm not a lawyer, so reading a law even in English will not do me any good. I'm sure companies will employ real lawyers that will tell them how to sabotage that law.
Alex
 
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Online Cerebus

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2022, 07:55:52 pm »
Sorry, I was being very terse because I got caught mid-comment by the need to serve up dinner. EU documents are usually rather wordy, but are straightforward to understand once you get past the wordiness, law degree not required. As I understand it this is early days for this proposal, so the available documents will be less formal and more oriented towards informing policy makers what the proposals are. I'll see if I can find something later - dessert now.
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Online ataradov

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2022, 08:04:51 pm »
Sure, I get it. But the lawyers will argue the meaning of common words to the death. It is their literal job. Laws like this need to be paired with strict enforcement and amendments to plug the creative ways manufacturers will find around it. And this is where everyone usually moves on and gives up.

Remember all those cookies laws. Did they really help anything? They just made the whole internet experience shittier. I expect this law, if implemented, to have the same effect.  All they need to do is make the whole replaceable battery experience so miserable that people would give up and just get a new device.
Alex
 

Offline twospoons

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2022, 08:06:27 pm »
Very few device manufacturers make their own batteries. So somewhere there always going to be different company making these 'proprietary' batteries, and an enterprising employee skimming the production line and selling cheaper 'OEM' replacements. Probably with management's blessing.
 

Online ataradov

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2022, 08:12:08 pm »
Very few device manufacturers make their own batteries.
But if all of them spec their own unique package dimension and contact placement, then shops would have too carry dozens and hundreds of different batteries or have them permanently out of stock (apart from a few really popular ones).

The real solution would be to have a series of standard sizes, similar to what we have for the regular batteries. But that is not happening in a modern world.
Alex
 
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Offline twospoons

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2022, 09:07:06 pm »
If there's a market then someone will fill it.  Looked at Aliexpress lately? 
There's also the cost of making a different battery for every product. Manufacturing loves economy of scale. Using the same pack in a bunch of products just makes sense economically.
Making custom batteries (and this applies to pretty much every other part too) is only really justified if there is no existing part that meets the design requirements.

I get this all the time: "Why can't we use this chip? - we already use it in products X, Y and Z".
 

Offline Someone

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2022, 09:22:46 pm »
Japan had had something more complex in place for a long time:
https://www.oecd.org/environment/waste/EPR_Japan_battery.pdf
Quote
manufacturers of compact rechargeable batteries are required to use designs which make it easy to remove compact rechargeable batteries from equipment which contains compact rechargeable batteries
Thankfully that was from a prior era when batteries weren't serial coded/paired and you could just swap them out, which was the intent of the legislation making "specified reuse-promoted products".

But, as an odd instance of reverse globalisation, these superior products were not sold outside Japan. You could by the "exact" same item in another country where the battery access was glued/welded shut to prevent reuse, requiring the casing to be damaged to remove the battery. Still meeting the recycling/disassembly laws of some other countries mandating separation of components with hand tools, but preventing reuse.

Shavers, bicycle lights, electric toothbrushes, anything with rechargeable batteries and waterproofing: order Japanese domestic models!
« Last Edit: March 12, 2022, 09:27:21 pm by Someone »
 

Offline Someone

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2022, 09:26:31 pm »
Very few device manufacturers make their own batteries.
But if all of them spec their own unique package dimension and contact placement, then shops would have too carry dozens and hundreds of different batteries or have them permanently out of stock (apart from a few really popular ones).

The real solution would be to have a series of standard sizes, similar to what we have for the regular batteries. But that is not happening in a modern world.
Prior to the uptake of prismatic lithium cells, this worked out ok. You could find all the odd 4/5th or 3/2rd "standard" length cylindrical batteries without too much trouble, even lithium rechargeable coin cells weren't difficult to source (10, 20 years after the original manufacturing). The system can work.
 

Online SiliconWizard

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2022, 12:36:05 am »
The law will require the availability of replacement batteries for as long as one expects the device to be usable.

What's the definition of this?
 

Offline amyk

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2022, 04:47:06 am »
Very few device manufacturers make their own batteries.
But if all of them spec their own unique package dimension and contact placement, then shops would have too carry dozens and hundreds of different batteries or have them permanently out of stock (apart from a few really popular ones).

The real solution would be to have a series of standard sizes, similar to what we have for the regular batteries. But that is not happening in a modern world.
Prior to the uptake of prismatic lithium cells, this worked out ok. You could find all the odd 4/5th or 3/2rd "standard" length cylindrical batteries without too much trouble, even lithium rechargeable coin cells weren't difficult to source (10, 20 years after the original manufacturing). The system can work.
Lots of things still use 18650s. As for prismatics, I believe L x W x H is still how they are specified, and obviously if the manufacturer decides to specify some odd size there is likely to be a "close enough" standard size to fit.
 

Offline sokoloff

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2022, 01:57:18 pm »
I replaced the battery in my wife’s iPhone X last weekend with a <$20 battery from Amazon. Though it took around 45 minutes, none of it was particularly challenging nor required exotic tools. (The screwdriver and plastic wedge needed came in the kit; I used her hair dryer and a spring clip suction cup thing to open it.)

Would it be nice if it was easier? Sure, but this was already not difficult and if I threw away the suction cup thing, I’d still have been under $35. Apple would have done it for $70. I’m not convinced this is a major problem.
 

Online ataradov

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2022, 06:44:20 pm »
Though it took around 45 minutes, none of it was particularly challenging nor required exotic tools.
Don't worry Apple is working on a better design with no screws and ID chips in the batteries.

Also, Apple is a bad example, due to popularity there will be an incredible amount of spare parts supply. But even if you look at the second and third vendor, it is already much harder. And if your thing is not a phone, then forget about it.
Alex
 

Offline Quirrelmort

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2022, 01:07:38 am »
Quote
Making custom batteries (and this applies to pretty much every other part too) is only really justified if there is no existing part that meets the design requirements.

Bah, depending on the product, they go out of their way to make batteries incompatible with other manufacturers.  Power tools are the worst, but cameras are similar, and mobile phones went to sealed batteries some years back.  Power tool companies are always trying to lock you into their brand by burdening you with piles of batteries that don't fit other brands of tools.

With phones, part of the problem is the phones going obsolete too damn fast, and the worldwide web getting more and more demanding of phone cpus, keeping the constant hardware upgrade cycle running.  In the 1990s it was Wintel and Microsoft Word getting slower with every release.  Now it's web browsers, but it's deja vu all over again.  Except this time the web itself drives the upgrades.  At least with Word you could stay on the old version and still format your documents.
 

Offline MrMobodies

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #19 on: March 19, 2022, 08:10:49 pm »
I once brought this fancy expensive electronic  toothbrush in 2008 that I found uncomfortable as a toothbrush and abandoned it for about 5 years.
It had a little lcd screen that would display the charge rate and other details and button to adjust the speed and an induction base to charge it up.
 
Then I found an excellent use for it which is to clean my glasses which it did very well at getting the grime out of the edges between the glass and frame and I used another head just to clean the case fans and many other uses.

A couple of years later the battery wasn't holding enough charge so I took it apart which I think it was glued at the bottom and had to break a few things off to get it out and it seemed very flimsy.

It had a NiMH round cell battery that was soldered on and I think the circuit board and stuff was hanging off it. As I attempted to disconnect the battery I accidentally snapped/broke stuff off it so I gave up and binned it.

I thought well what a waste of money.

Now I use a sonic scrubber that takes 4 aa batteries that I can replace at any time.
 

Online tszaboo

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #20 on: March 19, 2022, 10:02:57 pm »
The law will require the availability of replacement batteries for as long as one expects the device to be usable.

What's the definition of this?
Considering the 2-5 year warranty on devices in the EU, at least that much, possibly more.
Others outside the EU will benefit from this. EU also mandated Type C or micro USB charging, that all but one companies were able to solve.
 

Online NiHaoMike

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2022, 11:37:30 pm »
I don't think there is a reasonable way to make a generic law limiting all that. A battery may be 1/2 of the device price for real.
That can be done based on the capacity of the battery. For example, $1/Wh would be reasonable for consumer electronics but still a lot more than the raw cost of the cells. For really small batteries, something like a $10 limit can apply.
Cryptocurrency has taught me to love math and at the same time be baffled by it.

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Online SiliconWizard

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #22 on: March 20, 2022, 11:13:08 pm »
The law will require the availability of replacement batteries for as long as one expects the device to be usable.

What's the definition of this?
Considering the 2-5 year warranty on devices in the EU, at least that much, possibly more.

Uh. Between 2 and 5 years is a pretty wide range.

And then, if the battery fails while the product is still under warranty, the warranty should apply anyway? So linking that to the warranty period doesn't add anything much to it. The real problems for consumers start when the warranty is over.

Defining the usable lifetime of a product, especially something as "technological" as a mobile phone, is going to be a rabbit hole. Vendors would extremely easily circumvent that.

The only sure way of solving the issue would be to *standardize* batteries and force vendors to make them replaceable with simple tools. Standardized batteries would make it possible to have a ton of third-party manufacturers sell them in quantities even years after the products are not even supported anymore. Of course, that would "hinder" "innovation", so it's pretty unlikely to happen.
 

Offline Rick Law

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #23 on: March 25, 2022, 01:32:06 am »
I an using a non-battery example here - since I am thinking in the larger whole-machine warranty context rather than just battery.

Problem with forcing duration-based warranty is balancing user abuse vs manufacturer abuse.

The user could have been punishing the device (say a phone) by extreme disregard (say hitting it with a baseball bat) and then go back for warranty repair/replacement.

So perhaps the law can add in a limitation such as "unless damage is due to user fault" or whatever.  Then, the manufacturer would abuse it and say it is a user fault regardless of how improbable that would be (say for example for the user to crack a PCB inside the phone without leaving any external sign).

Arbitration can work, but that would be very costly to implement.  Either way, all that added cost would be passed right back on to the user's shoulder.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2022, 01:34:57 am by Rick Law »
 

Online AVGresponding

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Re: Not dodgy at all and long overdue - user replaceable batteries.
« Reply #24 on: March 25, 2022, 10:50:06 am »
I an using a non-battery example here - since I am thinking in the larger whole-machine warranty context rather than just battery.

Problem with forcing duration-based warranty is balancing user abuse vs manufacturer abuse.

The user could have been punishing the device (say a phone) by extreme disregard (say hitting it with a baseball bat) and then go back for warranty repair/replacement.

So perhaps the law can add in a limitation such as "unless damage is due to user fault" or whatever.  Then, the manufacturer would abuse it and say it is a user fault regardless of how improbable that would be (say for example for the user to crack a PCB inside the phone without leaving any external sign).

Arbitration can work, but that would be very costly to implement.  Either way, all that added cost would be passed right back on to the user's shoulder.

afaik consumer law already includes these kinds of limitations, and it's been abused many times, no doubt.

The only definite example I can bring to mind immediately, was with iPod thumbwheels; when Apple released a new, bigger memory version, loads of people deliberately damaged the thumbwheels in order to get the bigger memory ones under a warranty claim (not me, I have always disliked Apple products and never owned any until a recent iPod nano purchase on ebay) but I know a number of people that did this and witnessed them doing it.
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