Ng: Battery life

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Thursday, May 15, 2014


I HAVE written several times on the issue of batteries. With today’s mobile technology, one of the most important things you need to understand is the batteries.

They are present in your cellphones, tablets, notebook computers and practically all Internet devices. The proper management on how to maintain them, or prolong their useful life is important. In many forums, I always find that some still believe the myths about batteries.

Most batteries now are lithium ion batteries, an improvement of the previous nickel cadmium batteries prevalent over 10 years ago. Lithium ion batteries are lighter, retain their charge longer and have longer life spans. But their main advantage is that they do not have a memory effect and partial charging will prolong its life. Let me explain.

The main drawback of NiCd is that you need to drain it fully. The battery has a discharge/charge of probably around 300 to 500 cycles. The trick was that you had to use it fully because if you used only 20% and charged it, that counted as one cycle.

That was not the worst part. They say that if you kept using only 20% and recharged it, what happened was that it would not only use its cycles faster, but in the future, the battery would start to malfunction when you used only 20%. Constant recharging significantly shortened its life.

The lithium ion is reversed. If it has a discharge cycle of 300, it is counted as full discharges. So if you drain 20% and recharge it five times, that counts as one discharge cycle. This means that if the battery is rated at 300 cycles and you use only 30% a day, and recharge it, theoretically the battery can actually last up to 1,000 days (three years or more). However if you drain and use it fully everyday, then it may last only a year or two.

The way to use a lithium ion battery is not to drain it fully, but to use it in small parts and recharge it immediately.

Here are other tips to prolong the life of a lithium ion:

a.) A Lithium ion battery has a life span whether used or not. In fact, an unused battery may have a shorter lifespan than one that is used frequently. The best way to ensure that you will have long battery life is to buy a fresh battery. If you buy a battery that is already on stock for a year, it may not last as long as you want it to. Storing it for a long time without using it fully-drained is one of the ways to kill the battery fast. So if you have an old model cellphone and buy an old model battery that is on the shelf (or second-hand, even if unusued), it might only last half as long. One way to prolong life is that it must be stored fully or substantially charged.

b.) Keep batteries in a cool place. The worst thing is to put it in hot places like inside a car for a prolonged period.

c.) Slow charging at lower voltage will prolong the battery compared to high voltage quick charging. The best tip is to use the charger that came with the equipment to be sure.

I hope this helps!

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 16, 2014.

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