While poking some fun at the figurative versus literal term “unplugging” in the latest GUO comic, we started thinking about proper battery maintenance. Modern lithium-ion (li-on) batteries have a few different rules to ensuring you get the most life from your portable devices. Here are some tips to keep your portable pals in tip-top shape.
Just like anything else associated with electronics, heat kills. Consistently storing your battery powered device in high temperatures lowers the potential capacity of the battery itself. Battery University states that a li-on battery stored at 60°C will lose 40% of its potential capacity after just three months. Sure, this is a pretty absurd scenario, but how many times have you left your phone in the car on a summer day?
Discharge and Recharge a Little at a Time
Li-on batteries don’t like hitting zero capacity, especially all at once. Likewise, they’re not very fond of staying charged up to 100%. Instead, attempt to perform ‘shallow’ or small discharges and recharges. Run a little while, charge a little while. Give yourself about a 20% capacity buffer zone. Try to keep your battery between 20% and 80%.
You should never be charging a battery that is at or near 100%. It is a common practice to charge devices overnight or work off of plugged in laptops for hours on end. This will severely degrade your battery’s capacity. Laptop owners who don’t use their machines wirelessly should get the battery to about half a charge and simply remove it. This will keep the battery in good health for when you do need it in addition to removing one more heat (and weight!) source from the machine.
Fully Discharge and Recharge Once a Month
Sometimes it’s good to break the rules. Modern li-on ‘smart’ batteries can monitor their capacitance to tell you how much more juice is left to power your device. Shallow discharges over a long period of time can cause a miscalibration leading to the battery incorrectly reporting the available up-time of your device. Running the battery all the way down to 0% (or as close as it goes before auto-shutdown) and then recharging it fully to 100% (but not over!) once a month will ensure that your battery can accurately predict its own death.