Originally Posted by roidspop
Charles, what I've been seeing is the imbalance dropping to near zero at the end of a normal charge cycle. To me, this pack would be "balanced". If this isn't correct, then what is the actual case? I think you have a more rigorous definition of what "balance" is than I do and I'd like to know what your thinking is. I've used balancers with my packs, and I can't see that they have any more effect than this natural "floating" process that I've seen. I suspect that perhaps the difference in voltage drops between cells is what you're referring to. If that's the case, then no balancer will correct a situation in which one cell has much higher internal resistance than its mates. A balancer can give you a final charge in which the unloaded voltages are very close, but one cell may sag badly under load. Is this what you're referring to?
Please take a read of the Li Po Handbook re unbalance and how it occurs.
I believe that will answer your questions. Obviously unbalance is only a problem if it occurs. If you stay out of the "zone of temptation" that is less likely. However, as a pack begins to deteriorate with age or abuse, unbalance becomes very likely. Running a pack to cut-off all the time also exacerbates unbalance.