Living LIfe to the Fullest (if you are a Battery).
We’ve all been there. That dreaded moment when you look down on your laptop or hear that frantic warning from your phone, only too late, noticing the red battery symbol, knowing you only have mere moments left until your device powers off….
Cut off from the rest of the world and any communication.
…okay, that may be exaggerating a bit, but it still feels that way, right? Whether it’s a smartphone, laptop, cordless tool or MP3 player, and from the built-in battery packs of your device to the batteries in your TV’s remote control, here’s a few tips to help you avoid falling into that situation and make your batteries last longer.
Use It or Lose It
Batteries work because of a chemical process going on inside of them, so it’s best to remember that they will degrade over time, not only during use, but also when stored away. This applies more towards consumer disposable, especially alkaline & heavy-duty battery, and is why almost all batteries will have a ‘Use By’ date on their packaging.
Just as you would with anything else that has a ‘Use By’ date, you’ll want to get the freshest possible product, and know that those batteries you stored away for an emergency that are now past their date might not be as ready for an emergency anymore. A slightly older product is fine – particularly if you’re offered an outstanding discount – but expect it to expire sooner.
Playing it Cool
In general terms, no matter the type of battery, temperature can have a pretty important part to play. In terms of operating environment, the most important influence on battery life is temperature. Li-ion batteries (the most common rechargeables and most likely the type in your phone or laptop) are typically happiest at around room temperature of 68 to 78°F.
In warmer temperatures, a protective layer inside the batteries breaks and needs to be reconstituted, which sucks up some of the energy capacity the battery has to offer…remember, it’s a chemical reaction inside that’s making the power that comes out, so in colder temperatures that chemical reaction inside the battery slow down. When coupled with significant power draw, this causes a problem similar to roadworks during rush hour traffic: too many cars trying to get through too few roads.
When it comes down to it, cold is usually less harmful than heat, so it’ll always be a better idea to keep your laptop in a cool place instead of leaving it in your car.
Thanks for the Memories
In older rechargeable battery chemistries, such as nickel cadmium
, partial charging and discharging significantly decreases the energy capacity, or ‘memory’ of how much power the battery could hold.
Lithium-ion batteries do not have this same ‘power memory’ (or if they do, it is significantly smaller that the old Ni-Cad’s). However, when not in use and fully charged, they will show degrading, so it’s best to store them in a low-charged state (around 20-25%).
What if you’re one of those people that is constantly cycling your phone/laptop battery? Charging it to full, running it down a bit, but not quite to empty, charging it back up again…To get the maximum life out of your battery, most experts will say it is much better to keep the battery around 50% charge if you do these kind of ‘partial charges’.
Over, Under, In and Out
Again, there is a chemical reaction going on inside that battery that allows you to power that phone when you’re on the road. Even though this can be a fairly reliable occurrence, it is something that can be upset if abused. Forcing too much power in or out of a battery by trying to quick-charge it or connect it to a device it’s not meant for, can damage the battery beyond repair, and may even damage the device, not to mention the safety concerns!
It can also be as bad to charge or use a battery at a lower rate than intended, so using a cheaper cord or damaged charge to power up your phone may damage the battery inside, or worse. This is very important!
…But I Need More Power Now!
While those are all great long-term tips for battery life. there are a few short-term solutions to keep your battery running a bit longer.
Turning off extra apps that are not being used on your phone will help preserve your daily battery life. Do you need GPS running 24/7? Did you know that with Wi-Fi on, your phone is constantly looking for networks to connect to? Do you really need all those notices from Instagram to see what your friends are eating for lunch?
Also, think about the temperature. Too cold or too hot is not good for the device, and really not good for the battery life. Most of the time, standard room temperature will be the ideal range your battery will want to be in.