Batteries. You live and deal with them everyday, but do you really know the proper way to use and maintain them for optimal life? We dispel some of the myths and look at a few of the not-so-obvious care techniques so you can keep your gear juiced for the long-run.
We've seen a big shift the past few years as battery technology has transitioned from nickel-cadmium to the lithium-ion batteries you likely use today. This transition is what has caused a lot of confusion, as some people still abide and preach by age-old mantras applicable only to the older nickel-cadmium variety. This post specifically looks at getting the most out of the Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries likely used in all your modern electronics - smartphones, tablets, cordless power tools, electric lawnmowers, etc.
Lesson 1: Don't Fall into the Fully Discharge and Recharge Routine
Lesson 2: Don't Keep Your Battery Fully Charged
For most everyday devices we depend on this isn't an issue — as we often take our tablets, and smartphones mobile and off-grid. Laptops typically have smart chargers or built-in software that prevents over-charging. How well this works or doesn't may depend on the model and manufacturer. In most cases, if you're planning on being plugged-in for a while at the home or office and can remove your laptop battery...do it. This keeps the battery away from the heat of the CPU, and reduces your chance of overcharging if reliable intelligence isn't built in. This can't be done for newer Macs with built-in batteries, but luckily the software is touted as handling prolonged charge routines very well.
Lesson 3: Store at Room Temperatures
Lesson 4: Long-term Storage? Store at 50% Capacity and Recharge every 2 Months
If you plan on storing your batteries for a long period of time, try to store at 50% capacity and give them some juice every couple of months. Storing at full charge again can reduce the battery capacity and life, as well as leaving the batteries dormant for an extended time. I follow this rule now for my lawn-care tool batteries when I pack them away for the winter. Making an effort to partially charge them (not fully) every couple of months to keep the ions active and happy.
• Be sure to check out Battery University for more details, as well as some intrinsic data on Li-ion battery degradation.
Images: Chris Perez