While I agree that charge/discharge cycles do impact the life of a battery, I'd argue that how you charge and discharge the cells matters more.
If you charge too fast (or too long on a charger that doesn't know when to stop), you'll boil off the water in them. Once that happens, the battery, she is dead. Unsealed Lead-Acid batteries are cooler (pun not intended) in this regard. You simply add more distilled water, and the battery works again (I own an electric car with 16 deep-cycle unsealed Lead-Acids).
The documentation on the battery should list the maximum charge power, and the chargers that FIRST gives us charge at a reasonable rate (IMO). In terms of envrionmental concerns, I believe that Lead-Acids have wide-spread recycling programs. There are a number of threads on here that discuss at length all kinds of battery woe, you might want to check those out if you haven't already.
In terms of lighter batteries, I think it would be hard to beat the Power VS Weight of the Lithium Ion type. I have no idea what recycling for these is like. Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) is also light, but takes a lot longer to charge than Li-Ion. Nickel-Cadmium batteries have been around forever, and are great if you want to get the power out of them in a *HURRY*. (Short across a small one with two wires, and watch them glow red). I think these are recycled, but people often complain about some kind of "memory effect". FIRST used to use these. Anyways... just some ideas. Hope they are of some use.
Last edited by Jon Lawton : 06-30-2002 at 03:35 PM.