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Video: Extend lithium-ion battery life with these five tips

In today’s mobile world, battery life is precious. Bill Detwiler shares five things you can do to increase Lithium-ion battery longevity.

There is plenty of information out there about how to conserve battery power, but not much about how to take care of your batteries and make them actually last longer. During this week's TR Dojo episode, I share five things you can do to increase Lithium-ion battery longevity.

For those who prefer text to video, you can click the Transcript link that appears below the video player window or check out Michael Kassner's article, "Five tips for extending lithium-ion battery life."

You can also sign up to receive the latest TR Dojo lessons through one or more of the following methods:

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

25 comments
eternal_life
eternal_life

Wire Less Home phones are the most worst when ut comes to batteries, It is UTMOST annoying to have a permanent line and 'holding the line' and after you have been in que and the switchboard do take the call, the wireless phone. is jsut BIIPP. -dead,m due to battery, the lasting time of batteries inb wireless permanent home phones has gone worse in the last 13 year which is as long I have used a wireless permannet homephone, my Samnsung bought -97 lasted for a talk holding 4 (four )hours, the batteries lasted until -03, then I bought a Siemens Gigaset, with a second phone device the most used phone labeled as number one today holds five minutes of waiting/holding the line IBCKUDING talk. I do and have never done anyhing wrong acc. to the usage of batteries

pgit
pgit

Been a few weeks since I ran on batteries for any substantial time. Thanks for the reminder. But it's good to know NOT to discharge this thing too low. I had always let it down to around 12-15% before plugging in. Won't go below 35% anymore.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

This is a very good article. I especially like the follow up references about cold and hot temp discharge. Bill

JCitizen
JCitizen

that the experts still discourage freezing lithium batteries. I have many devices that are lithium powered in the field that require this type of battery precisely because of weather freezing and damaging other types of batteries. The lithium batteries seem to like freezing weather, and last longer in the cold seasons. When I was in the service - we always froze all batteries for storage, as they were like brand new once removed from storage for use in the field. This included some alkaline batteries which have a small amount of water in their chemistry make up.

TheSwabbie
TheSwabbie

Thanks for the Information on the Lithium Ion Batteries Bill. I'm very familiar with other battery technologies but not as much with these. Love the bloopers though.. funny as heck!

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

During this week's TR Dojo episode, I share five things you can do to increase Lithium-ion battery longevity. When it comes to battery life, not all devices are created equal. Which device do end-user complain about the most? Original post and poll: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=2213

JCitizen
JCitizen

it seems like my notebook power settings cut the power off fairly early, so I hope that resets the "battery gauge" sufficiently! :p

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Found the following post from mheslep over on Physics Forum (http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=345524) ----- Cold temperatures will lower the discharge capacity of Lithium Ion laptop batteries (Co based), about 20% at -10C, when discharged at C/5 (i.e. normal) [1]. If the discharge rate is high (C vs C/5) then the low temperature capacity performance seriously collapses - by 50% and more - but only for the duration of the cold temperature operation. The reason for this is the temperature sensitivity of the electrolyte conductivity. Cold temperature discharge does not notably degrade the long term, cycle lifetime of the battery. Hot discharge does degrade the cycle life. Repeated discharge at 45 deg C versus 20C lowers the cycle life by ~30-50%. [2] A major contributor to the loss of capacity life is electrode fatigue brought on by the expansion and contraction of the electrode lattice under charge and discharge; I suspect high temperature extremes accelerate this process. [1]Vehicle batteries use a Fe based chemistry and nano structure which is more temperature stable than laptop chemistry, but still exhibits similar temperature behaviour. [2]Linden, Battery Handbook

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

There is a difference. Lithium-ion batteries will have problems: "At temperatures below 32?F the battery's anode picks up a metallic plating. The plating is non-reversible and cumulative, so after several sub-freezing charge cycles, the pack's safety is compromised. A sharp impact or an aggressive charge (typical of many of today's charging circuits) invites the infamous lithium-ion thermal runaway condition."

BearH
BearH

Are there any negative effects on partially RECHARGING Lithium-ions? My wife tends to do this with her cell phone occasionally when she's in a hurry (plug in for 5 min. then unplug and go) - does it affect the battery life also? Also, I've heard that car chargers for cell phones are not as good for the batteries as wall chargers - is this true?

janis.sejans
janis.sejans

Thanks, this was subject I was looking for. The problem is that I can`t understand why after half year work the battery works 50% time less, and now after month it is like 20min :) The one thing I understood is the heat - possibly problem in my case. Even if I was keeping a laptop on book (underneath), which was on bed-spread...So my second try is taking out battery (another laptop) while i`m using laptop like tower-pc, i mean not moving it and working from power supply. Some time ago there was a problem with mobiles, you could overcharge and damage battery, so I try this method to laptop, using full charge and discharge, but now (after video) charge-discharge seems to be managed by battery itself and isn`t required. My question to other IT spec. is how you are working on laptop, and is there any tips to not damage the battery, if you need it to be switched on 8h non-stop (like home PC)? How long in this case is battery life and if I take out the battery does it extends it`s life?

nickyA
nickyA

Interseting article, If battery does not heat much,How the pluged in in AC most of the time, affects battery life? When fully charged what happens? When laptop is Shut down or Hybernates is it bad for the battery life if left on charger? Thanks

JCitizen
JCitizen

none of my weather instruments catches fire, as they all use lithium with solar charging. :O

JCitizen
JCitizen

on either count. Way back in the NiCad days it might have made a difference, but no more!

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

Lithium Ion cells are voltage sensitive. These kind of batteries have what is called a BMS or Battery Management System onboard to insure proper cell voltage limits (upper & lower) and guard against overheating. Really pretty sophisticated. The depletion cycle you mention to reset battery charge level applies to NiCad and to a much lesser extent NiMH. We called it "memory effect" on NiCad. Has no bearing on LIONs. Heat is the number one culprit in reducing battery longevity and charge cycle. Make certain you aren't covering up battery/fans.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I've experienced very long battery life by simply leaving the battery in the notebook while using it on AC. If the battery gets depleted the controller tops it off automatically. I get 3years or more out of a battery using this habit. Of course the machine I used was taken off AC quite often for use in the field. I always recharged it as soon as I returned. I've only had two batteries with this unit since 2006. I still have the original battery stored in the refrigerator charged at 40% - for use as a spare. There is a site online called [i]battery university[/i], if you want the latest accurate information. Battery technology is changing rapidly.

nbsc
nbsc

These are very good questions & should really be answered by someone with a good knowledge of the subject. I would venture to respond to the question about what happens when the system is left plugged into the AC, as best as I can recall. I seem to remember that it has to do with the simplicity of the general laptop charging systems. While they do a good job on the depleted batteries, they just don?t know when to say when. In other words, they continue to force (allow might be a better word) a charge on the full battery & this results in unnecessary heat build-up. While it may not be much, I guess the long term effect is similar to continuing to fill a gas tank once it is full? jmk-nbsc

pgit
pgit

especially what consequence form leaving the power hooked up most of the time.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Michael reminded me that I did read an article on that at one of my EV blogs. I wouldn't doubt if this is what caused that fire at a famous entertainers garage(warehouse) a couple of days ago. He had a complete electric conversion of his Caddy done in Wichita recently. Seems it did a lot of damage to his property and collections. I can't remember the guys name, I have noun senility pretty bad; along with several other brain disorders! :p (edited)Yup, it was Neil Young - did over 800,000 dollars damage to music, guitars, etc. Guess that cad has one wheel in the ditch, like his home Alabamy!

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I wonder... since lithium is in the group with Sodium and Potassium... will moisture too ignite the metal plating? Or maybe the plating appears on the inner surface?

JCitizen
JCitizen

Imagine how long it might have lasted had I not did it that way? I never knew when I might need to take off; so I left it in to assure it stayed topped off. Stored batteries used to have recommendations of partial discharge for storage. I needed full charge, so I ignored the storage idea and ran it in the notebook all the time. Battery technology changes so rapidly, I doubt any of this will be accurate within just 6 months. You can thank all the research in the field to improve EV batteries for that.

aphorist
aphorist

When it is often recommended to store the battery if the laptop is going to be used on mains power for an extended period, why don't the laptop makers supply a battery compartment cover? Margins can't be that thin!

nbsc
nbsc

I probably shouldn't talk about the good luck that I have had with the majority of my batteries, in case that damn coyote is listening. However I too have had very good luck with not only my laptop batteries, but with my cell phones too. One of the suggestions that I did read a while back regarding using laptops on AC said that you should remove the battery from the system in order to lessen heat build up while working on AC. It seems that while running on AC the battery receives a trickle charge, & when it gets full, the unneeded further charging just subjects it to unecessary harmful heat. What makes it difficult for me to stay on top of, is that I often times go for a long while before using one or more of my laptops. I just try to remember to top their charges off every so often to, just to keep them ready for when needed. jmk-nbsc

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