How to Care For Your Lithium-Ion Battery (Extending Battery Life)

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Lithium-ion batteries have been our very reliable source of power for a while now for most of our devices and technological gadgets ranging from the smallest of mobile phones, smartphones, laptops, even electric cars because of their numerous advantages. 

These advantages include and are not limited to their lightweight, high capacity and durability, and rechargeability. 

Lithium-ion batteries have been in use since 1991, but how well we use one is an issue to tackle. The recharging ability is a big advantage in the tech world, but if the battery won’t last long enough before it goes bad, what good is it?

So, you need this article to know how best to maintain the battery life and maximize power output.

How Do Li-ion Batteries Work?

Lithium-Ion batteries or otherwise called Li-Ion batteries, operate, like many other batteries, on a system of individual cells connected.

The cells each have three components – a positive electrode called the cathode, a negative electrode called the anode, and a liquid electrolyte that serves as a medium for the transfer of electrons.

The cathode comprises a Lithium-metal component. The anode possesses a Lithium-carbon one that comes to play during the reduction-oxidation reactions in the cell during use.

When the battery is in use (discharging), positively charged lithium ions move from the anode to the positive cathode while negatively charged electrons move from the cathode to the anode. 

An exact opposite reaction occurs when the battery is charging, hence refilling the battery power. There is always a constant flow of electrons providing energy for the device at all times. This process can be repeated countless times; hence we say the battery is rechargeable. 

What Does the Number of Battery Charge Cycles Mean?

When we talk about the Lithium-Ion battery life, we majorly refer to the number of battery charge cycles it can undergo before exhaustion. Once this number of cycles is completed, the battery is all used up.

A complete charge cycle is typically described as charging the battery from a “ground state” of 0% to full 100% and then discharging till it is dead again. This may not necessarily mean that you have to move its battery percentage from 0% to 100% and back to zero again all at once before you can call it a complete charge cycle.

For example, if you discharge your fully charged phone from 100% to about 60% on a Monday, and then recharge it to 100% again when you use the phone again till it is 60% (40% spent now), it totals and counts as a complete charge cycle.

Most batteries have some cycles of about 600 charge cycles, laptops may have about 1000 charge cycles, so when you are purchasing a Lithium-ion battery-powered gadget, you will do well to consider the number of charge cycles you get.

How to Extend Battery Life?

Lithium-ion battery for phones, camera and tablets
Man hand holding lithium-ion battery AA size

 

The first thing to know is that it is always better to buy high-capacity batteries to start with. It’s far better and more productive than buying smaller capacity batteries that use additional power sources or require continuous charging. 

Don’t think that because you can always charge your batteries when down, smaller capacity batteries stand a good chance. This would only run them out of charge cycles faster. 

Batteries are easily and quickly weakened in unfavorable temperature conditions.

Learn to keep batteries under a temperature of about 15 degrees Celsius. The extreme temperature range is about -40 to 50 degrees Celsius.

This also implies that overheating of devices weakens the battery life, so do well to avoid that. 

Li-ion batteries should be stored in a cool, dry place. Note also that they should be stored with at least a 40% charge.

Charging your Lithium-ion battery till it is full during every charge is not a good routine. Same also as allowing a full discharge – using it up till it is dead and down. 

A good rule of thumb is to keep charges within a range of 40% to 80% for best longevity.

It is always best to use the specific charger of the device as it came from the manufacturer’s package as many other chargers may not be compatible with the device or may, in the long term, reduce the battery lifespan. 

Some chargers are labeled “fast chargers” as they claim to drive output voltage from outlets into devices much faster than regular chargers. 

While some of these may work well true enough, others just end up messing up with your battery’s chemistry. As said earlier, it is safer to stick with the original chargers after all.

Batteries lose their capacity and longevity quickly enough through mechanical damage from accidents like falls, forceful impact, or puncture, which causes leakage or deformation. 

Avoid keeping your Li-ion battery and devices on heights from which they may fall eventually, keep out of reach of potential hazards and, of course, out of reach of children.

 

FAQ

Lithium-Ion batteries are bound to always age with – yes, even when properly maintained. The chemical reactions carried out within the cells eventually cause the battery to deplete energy and performance gradually. 

Apart from those mentioned above, poor battery maintenance practices will also quicken aging.

An easy way to check is to use a multimeter or a voltmeter. If the battery voltage is equal to or less than 3.4v, then it is dead. If the battery is bad, then it wouldn’t charge anymore and may swell a little bit.

Yes, Lithium-Ion batteries are engineered to go into sleep mode if drained too much. It is advisable to know your battery voltage and other battery specifications to regulate how it is used.

A lithium-Ion battery that went inactive or dead may be revived. Li-ion batteries typically have a maximum voltage of about 4.2V and at moderation are around 3.7V.  Once the battery hits 3.4V, it goes inactive and practically dead at 3.0V.

The Li-Ion battery may be revived by following some simple procedures (it may or may not be successful, so you may just have to purchase a new battery).

 

Myths About Li-Ion Batteries Debunked

Myth #1

My battery should get to zero levels before I plug in my charger so I can get a perfect full charge.

Lithium-Ions batteries experience a kind of chemical “stress” when drained completely off all power. It is always advisable to plug in your charger before the device goes off due to battery power run out.

Myth #2

Charging my phone overnight kills battery lifespan a whole lot.

The recent technology in most Li-ion batteries has the arrangement to protect them from over-charge. Most Li-ion batteries will automatically stop charging when at maximum charge already.

Myth #3

Storing batteries in the refrigerator will make them last longer.

No, the ideal temperature to store batteries is at room temperature – that is, 20 to 25 degrees Celsius. Extreme temperatures, whether cold or hot, have negative effects on battery life.

Myth #4

Keeping my battery always fully charged is a healthy practice.

Sometimes, you should allow your battery to run down a little for a better battery lifespan. In fact, the Li-on battery is best kept at a power percentage of 40% to 80% – more or less is unhealthy over long periods.

Conclusion

Now, you know possibly all you need to give your Lithium-Ion battery a long lifespan. Great, so put to use and enjoy the best of gadgets. 

Do well to let us know how else you think you can extend battery life, or just leave a reply or question for us in the comment section! 

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