Taking care of your batteries

Pop quiz: do you own a lithium-ion battery?

battery charging

Answer: YES! In fact, you are probably reading this blog post on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop (all of which contain these batteries).

By nature, all lithium-ion batteries have a limited lifespan – typically 2-4 years. But the actual lifespan depends a lot on how the battery is used.

So that’s what we’re going to look at today: how can you use your batteries so they last as long as possible before needing to be replaced?

Almost all portable gadgets are powered with lithium-ion batteries. Basically, if it doesn’t run on AA, AAA, or the like, it runs on a lithium-ion battery: cameras, cordless drills, electric cars, etc.

The batteries used by most people most of the time are the ones in cell phones, tablets, and laptops. But the following tips apply to all lithium-ion batteries[1].

DON’T use the battery all the way to 0% regularly. 

It’s best to recharge the battery before the device turns itself off. For example, use your computer to write some emails, then plug it back in to charge.

DO fully discharge the device about once a month.

This helps the device give you an accurate estimate of how much longer it will run before needing to be recharged. Every now and then just run the device on battery power until it gives you a low battery warning and powers down.

DON’T use it plugged in while the device is fully charged. 

I’m looking at you, person-who-owns-a-laptop-but-uses-it-like-a-desktop! Your laptop has a battery for a reason; if you use it you’ll help it last longer.

DO store the device long-term at around 50% charged.

If you plan to store the battery unused for months at a time (think power tools put away for the winter), don’t store them fully charged or fully depleted. Aim for about half-charged, more or less.

DON’T store the device in extreme temperatures.

Extreme temperatures are a very bad thing for lithium-ion batteries, particularly heat. So hot cars and attics are not good places for batteries or devices with batteries. Also, if you have your phone in a case and notice it getting it warm/hot while charging, removing it from the case to charge will help keep it healthy.

DO charge it fully before using it for the first time.

When you buy a new device with a lithium-ion battery, start by completely charging the device before you turn it on for the first time.

In short, if your gadget has a battery, use it. Try to keep it around room temperature when possible.

Fill out the form below to give me an idea or ask a question. Thanks!

1 – Sources: Ars Technica, Apple, and Battery University

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