Batteries are basic, right?
But you’d be surprised how often I talk to customers who are confused about why their two‑way radios aren’t working — and it’s a simple issue with the battery.
Because two‑way radios are keeping people safe and connected, it’s essential to make sure that all components of your two‑way radios are working optimally, including the batteries.
Batteries are one of the first things we check when people call in to say their two‑way radios aren’t working, or when radios get shipped into our service department.
If a radio is not powering on, I recommend people take a battery from a working radio and swap it in. That helps us diagnose the problem.
Especially these days, with more people working remotely and some returning to the office, we thought it was a good time to revisit the basics of two way radio maintenance while also giving some tips for understanding the battery code dates.
Breaking the Code
Motorola products manufactured since 2010 have a code on them indicating when they were manufactured. The 4‑digit code starts with the year and then indicates the week. For example, the code 1936 means the product was manufactured in the 36th week of 2019.
Battery chargers have LED lights that indicate the strength of the charge. If it’s blinking back and forth between red and green, or flashing red, that could be an indicator that it needs to be swapped with a new battery.
If your battery is older than 24 months (that’s 2 years), it is past the recommended age for a Motorola product.
How Often Do You Need to Replace Batteries?
Motorola recommends that batteries should be replaced every 18 to 24 months.
We once had a customer that was having a lot of problems with their two‑way radios, including batteries not holding a charge and scratchy audio. Guess what? Their batteries were well past the 24‑month expiration date.
Problems like this could be avoided if people get in the habit of checking those code dates.
Tips for Keeping Batteries Clean and Up‑to‑date
I recommend doing a simple battery inspection every month or two. It could be combined with a basic cleaning. A lot of dust and grime accumulates in batteries, too. You could take the batteries out and clean them with a soft cloth. And while you’re at it, check the code date.
That just might help increase the battery’s life, and keep it working properly.
And it will remind you to look at those 4 important little digits.
Time for a Check‑up?
Some service providers will check in with customers when they notice that they haven’t purchased new batteries in a couple of years. We like to give them a call or send them an email and ask how their radios are doing, and specifically ask about the batteries.
I just hate to think about people missing out on important communications. If your battery is rated 50% for capacity, the radio might only have 4 or 5 hours of communication before the battery needs to charge. But most people are working 8‑ or 9‑hour shifts.
When I talk to customers I’ll ask how long their shifts are: Are they 8, 10, or 12‑hour shifts? We need to make sure the battery is fully operational the whole time they are on duty.
Tips for Maintaining Batteries
Here are a few more tips for keeping your batteries healthy and your two‑way radios working for you. It’s a good idea to share this information with all the team members who use radios.
1. If your batteries are fully charged, take them off the chargers.
When I go to visit customers, I see a lot of portable radios in their charging stands with the LED light indicating the battery is 100% charged. That means it is drawing current and charging at the same time. And it’s really not great for battery life. These devices are similar to cell phones or laptops.
2. Charge new batteries as soon as you receive them.
Another thing I see is customers purchasing spare batteries and storing them, just to have them handy. That’s not great for the batteries. Motorola recommends charging them pretty much right away after you get them, or at least within a month of receiving the batteries. It doesn’t help to just stick it in a drawer and forget about it. The optimal charge for storage of a battery is 30‑50% of its capacity.
3. Charge your new radio overnight before using it.
When you purchase a new two‑way radio, charge it overnight before using it. And use the recommended charger for the battery. Different batteries have different needs. For example, a Motorola IMPRES battery should have its first charge in a desktop, not a vehicle charger.
4. Take the battery out of the radio if you’re not going to use it for a while to avoid draining it.
Removing the battery from an unused radio prevents the battery from draining. This will lengthen the life of the battery.
5. Store batteries properly,
Story two-way radio batteries in well‑ventilated and temperature‑controlled environment — away from flammable materials.
6. Charge the battery only when it needs it.
7. Treat the battery with care.
Avoid exposing the battery to hazardous materials, fire, moisture, or harming the structure of the battery.
8. Always carry a spare battery.