Author Topic: Solar cell watches like Citizen ECO-Drive, Seiko SOLAR etc  (Read 2943 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Koray

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 61
  • Country: tr
Solar cell watches like Citizen ECO-Drive, Seiko SOLAR etc
« on: November 14, 2021, 06:51:36 am »
I got this solar charged Citizen watch for my wife about 5 years ago. She used it actively for 2 years and then tossed it at a dark corner of the drawer. Now it won't charge. I left it under sun for over two months, but no.

Some people mentioned that the "capacitor" in this watch is actually a lithium battery that gets damaged if left uncharged for long time. That battery (a repackaged Panasonic MT516F) costs about 20USD. I normally replace the batteries in my watches myself and I hardly pay more than 1USD for high quality swiss batteries. They last for a minimum of 2 years, sometimes 3-4.

This solar watch thing is definitely a good example for dodgy technology. I probably will replace the movement with a regular one.

K.

 

Offline CatalinaWOW

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4405
  • Country: us
Re: Solar cell watches like Citizen ECO-Drive, Seiko SOLAR etc
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2021, 08:23:58 am »
My Citizen is going strong after fifteen years.  Includes some months long intervals in very dark (but not drawer dark) conditions.  I'd be very happy if this was the dodgiest consumer good I came across.

You may have encountered a dud.  Happens to even the best products.
 

Online Gyro

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 7784
  • Country: gb
Re: Solar cell watches like Citizen ECO-Drive, Seiko SOLAR etc
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2021, 10:43:03 am »
Likewise, my Citizen Eco-drive has been running happily for years.

Yes, it is a rechargeable lithium cell, not a capacitor. If it has been left in the dark for 3 years then it will have discharged to zero volts (even when the battery has discharged to the point where the watch stops, it still has leakage current). No rechargeable Lithium cell, regardless of it's chemistry, will tolerate that. If she had stopped the watch before putting it away (as the manufacturers and jewellers do), it would have survived.

This is a time proven technology, no dodgyness involved.
Regards, Chris

"Victor Meldrew, the Crimson Avenger!"
 

Online Kasper

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 482
  • Country: ca
Re: Solar cell watches like Citizen ECO-Drive, Seiko SOLAR etc
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2021, 05:44:46 am »
I was just thinking about this the other day. At what point should I declare the battery dead and shut the product down?

On one hand, I want the battery to last as long as possible so I don't want to shut down until it is really low.

On the other hand, it should shut down early enough to retain enough energy to survive sitting in a drawer for years.  The battery keeps draining even after shutdown and if it gets too low, it can't be charged.

Also, I think shutting down early can increase the cycle life of the battery.

I'll probably set it plenty early and then my boss will demand a smaller battery with more capacity and then I'll turn it down a bit.
 

Online Gyro

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 7784
  • Country: gb
Re: Solar cell watches like Citizen ECO-Drive, Seiko SOLAR etc
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2021, 10:27:55 am »
Yes, that's a tricky compromise. Just in the case of the OP's wife's watch, it goes into a low battery warning mode, where it alternates one second advances of the second hand with a gap and 2 second advance. This probably drops the power consumption of the stepper a little but there's a limit to what you can do with just a second hand (the other hands being geared from it). I think more expensive models go into hibernation, where the on-chip counters continue to run, but the hand stepper is disabled until more power is received, at that point it re-syncs, clever stuff. With any solar (or battery) powered device, I guess you ultimately have to come to the conclusion that if somebody throws it into the corner of a dark drawer for 3 years, they no longer want it.

In the case of your product, based roughly on the thoughts above, I guess the questions you need to ask yourself are...

1. How critical is it's application? The more critical, the longer you want it to run before shutting down - effectively sacrificing battery life for performing its critical function for as long possible.

2. Can you provide any meaningful warning of low battery that can attract attention? That may allow you to delay shutdown for longer - assuming that the warning doesn't massively increase the current drain!). The watch and smoke alarm technique.

3. Can you implement any sort of hibernate mode as an interim step between operation and shutdown? - retaining timekeeping, volatile data etc. for instance.

4. How long, and how likely is it to get put away for a long time (presumably that makes it non critical)? If it's a long time then you obviously want to shut down earlier.

5. What battery chemistry (you're presumably talking Lithium)? Some are a little better at withstanding deeper discharge than others. Typically the ideal long term storage capacity is 40%. If you want absolute resistance against long periods of disuse this might be a guide, leaving a reasonable margin before battery minimum capacity is reached.

Without knowing something about the product, it's difficult to say more. You might want to start a thread on it in the Products and Design section (or Power and Renewable) as I suspect that this one is destined to sink into the mire of forgotten ones.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2021, 01:55:59 pm by Gyro »
Regards, Chris

"Victor Meldrew, the Crimson Avenger!"
 
The following users thanked this post: Kasper

Online Kasper

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 482
  • Country: ca
Re: Solar cell watches like Citizen ECO-Drive, Seiko SOLAR etc
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2021, 04:27:42 pm »
Thanks Gyro, I'll sort something out for my product. I don't wanna hijack this thread, was just trying to show the op an example of why their watch died while discussing some of the compromises involved.
 

Online Gyro

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 7784
  • Country: gb
Re: Solar cell watches like Citizen ECO-Drive, Seiko SOLAR etc
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2021, 08:37:19 pm »
Ah ok. I'm with you now.
Regards, Chris

"Victor Meldrew, the Crimson Avenger!"
 

Offline ogden

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3686
  • Country: lv
Re: Solar cell watches like Citizen ECO-Drive, Seiko SOLAR etc
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2021, 08:57:40 pm »
I got this solar charged Citizen watch for my wife about 5 years ago. She used it actively for 2 years and then tossed it at a dark corner of the drawer. Now it won't charge.
This story is more about your wife tossing your gift in the dark corner, right? Well, as already said - any tech has it's limitations. If you carefully read user manual, most likely it will say "do not toss this watch in the dark corner for more than ___ months". But who does backups or read manuals nowadays? ;)
 

Offline Koray

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 61
  • Country: tr
Re: Solar cell watches like Citizen ECO-Drive, Seiko SOLAR etc
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2021, 07:39:28 pm »
I got this solar charged Citizen watch for my wife about 5 years ago. She used it actively for 2 years and then tossed it at a dark corner of the drawer. Now it won't charge.
This story is more about your wife tossing your gift in the dark corner, right? Well, as already said - any tech has it's limitations. If you carefully read user manual, most likely it will say "do not toss this watch in the dark corner for more than ___ months". But who does backups or read manuals nowadays? ;)

Thanks for your reply. Here is the user manual for this watch. Please show me where it warns about complete discharge?

https://www.citizenwatch-global.com/support/pdf/b023/e.pdf

By the way, the watch has just two hands.

Kind regards.

K.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2021, 07:48:17 pm by Koray »
 

Offline Koray

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 61
  • Country: tr
Re: Solar cell watches like Citizen ECO-Drive, Seiko SOLAR etc
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2021, 07:44:33 pm »
I was just thinking about this the other day. At what point should I declare the battery dead and shut the product down?

On one hand, I want the battery to last as long as possible so I don't want to shut down until it is really low.

On the other hand, it should shut down early enough to retain enough energy to survive sitting in a drawer for years.  The battery keeps draining even after shutdown and if it gets too low, it can't be charged.

Also, I think shutting down early can increase the cycle life of the battery.

I'll probably set it plenty early and then my boss will demand a smaller battery with more capacity and then I'll turn it down a bit.

Sony MP-CL1 pico projector was notorious for going dead between long period of discharges due to li-ion battery voltage going below safe level. The only solution was to disassemble, remove battery by desoldering, charge separately and reassemble. Sounds like what you tell here.

K.
 

Offline ogden

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3686
  • Country: lv
Re: Solar cell watches like Citizen ECO-Drive, Seiko SOLAR etc
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2021, 08:10:34 pm »
Thanks for your reply. Here is the user manual for this watch. Please show me where it warns about complete discharge?

Well, I can't find any promise for watch to be perpetuum mobile either. One is clear: "*Specifications are subject to change without prior notice." and " From fully charged to stop: Approx. 5 months (two-hand model)". That should ring (some) bells.
 

Online Gyro

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 7784
  • Country: gb
Re: Solar cell watches like Citizen ECO-Drive, Seiko SOLAR etc
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2021, 01:08:56 pm »
Btw, the watches use Lithium Titanium batteries, aka Lithium Titanate. These are characterised as having very high cycle life compared to other chemistries and very fast charge acceptance - handy for making use of occasional sunshine exposure. They do have lower energy density and cell voltage (2.4V) than other types.

I haven't found any specific data, but I suspect they are as susceptible to total discharge damage as any other Lithium cell. It's just not something you do to them, especially for very long periods.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium-titanate_battery
« Last Edit: November 17, 2021, 01:10:30 pm by Gyro »
Regards, Chris

"Victor Meldrew, the Crimson Avenger!"
 

Offline gardner

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 146
  • Country: ca
Re: Solar cell watches like Citizen ECO-Drive, Seiko SOLAR etc
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2021, 08:51:19 pm »
The Panasonic part I've seen put in EcoDrive watches is a Manganese Titanium Lithium chemistry with a nominal cell voltage of 1.5V and charging voltage of 1.8V to 2V or so.

https://industrial.panasonic.com/cdbs/www-data/pdf2/AAF4000/AAF4000C38.pdf
--- Gardner
 
The following users thanked this post: Gyro

Offline thm_w

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3651
  • Country: ca
  • Non-expert
Re: Solar cell watches like Citizen ECO-Drive, Seiko SOLAR etc
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2021, 10:11:41 pm »
Yes, it is a rechargeable lithium cell, not a capacitor. If it has been left in the dark for 3 years then it will have discharged to zero volts (even when the battery has discharged to the point where the watch stops, it still has leakage current). No rechargeable Lithium cell, regardless of it's chemistry, will tolerate that. If she had stopped the watch before putting it away (as the manufacturers and jewellers do), it would have survived.

This page says: " it only has a 10% a year self-discharge rate, and so is used in solar charged watches with expected life of 15+ years with shallow discharging."
https://www.chealwatch.com/instructions/Panasonicmangtit.pdf

So, would the battery circuitry really discharge it down to 0V and kill the cell. Seems unlikely, unless its a poor design, or bad cell no? I think OP needs to open it up and measure the actual voltage, see if it can be recharged.

Datasheet itself only goes down to 1uA/30 days: https://datasheetspdf.com/pdf-file/917585/Panasonic/MT516/1
 

Offline Slartibartfast

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 34
  • Country: de
Re: Solar cell watches like Citizen ECO-Drive, Seiko SOLAR etc
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2021, 03:44:25 pm »

My Citizen Eco-Drive watch is over 22 years old, and I cannot detect any deterioration of the storage cell. If it is lithium based chemistry indeed, it broke all the limits that the datasheets specify. Ain't I lucky that watch storage cells do not read datasheets ...

Cheers  Peter
 

Offline Scottie

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 15
  • Country: ca
Re: Solar cell watches like Citizen ECO-Drive, Seiko SOLAR etc
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2021, 04:33:02 pm »
I too have a 20+ year old Citizen ECO-Drive. Its not my style today but periodically I try to power it up. What I have noticed is the POR circuitry seems to like an abrupt change in light to power up. Many times I have struggled to get it to power on from dead in full sun.

It did just power up for once, yay!
 


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf