Are You Charging Batteries The Wrong Way?
“My phone is dead.” How many times have you said or heard that one? Running out of juice in the middle of the day is frustrating. But maybe you're part of the problem, without even knowing it. Now, here is a different approach to charging the battery in your mobile devices…
A Better Way to Charge
Part of the problem is that each generation of mobile devices has more features that consume battery power. GPS, accelerometers for fitness tracking, sensors for this and that, brighter and bigger screens, etc., all take their tolls on batteries.
I discussed several ways in Boost Cell Phone Battery Life to reduce power consumption. Those tips concerned how your usage habits affect battery life. But today, we'll look at what happens when you plug in to the charger, and reveal a method to optimize both the runtime and the lifespan of your battery.
The manner in which you re-charge a Lithium ion (Li-ion) battery affects both the amount of power it can hold over the long run and how long the battery will last before it must be replaced. It turns out that many users re-charge batteries in ways that are suboptimal.
The battery engineers at Cadex Corp. host a site called “Battery University” where the insatiably geeky can explore the wonders of electrochemistry in great detail. Much of the information I present here is distilled from their page on charging Li-ion batteries. I’ve tried to keep it simple.
Many users have the mistaken notion that a Li-ion battery should be fully discharged before it is re-charged. This myth may be a carry-over from older nickel-cadmium batteries, where so-called “deep discharge” does have some uses. It may also be simply a rationalization of our forgetfulness towards plugging in a charger.
Sip, Don't Binge...
In any case, a Li-ion battery should be re-charged in small bursts or “sips” of electricity, not one long binge feeding. The latter method puts a lot of “stress” on the battery and diminishes its capacity over time.
Leaving a Li-ion battery plugged into its charger after it is fully charged is also wrong, yet it’s the most natural thing to do at the end of the day. Just plug your phone in when you go to bed and unplug it in the morning, right? But the battery doesn’t just go to sleep when it’s fully charged.
Batteries lose tiny amounts of power just sitting there. When a plugged-in battery loses charge, it replaces it by drawing brief “trickle charges” from the source of electricity. This frequent on-off cycle stresses the battery and reduces the number of times it can be re-charged.
So the ideal method is to unplug the charger when the device indicates it is fully charged, right? It turns out that’s wrong, too.
“Li-ion does not need to be fully charged, nor is it desirable to do so,” says Battery University. “In fact, it is better not to fully charge, because a high voltage stresses the battery" and reduces its lifespan.
Happily, the right charging strategy is not difficult to follow. Just plug in your device whenever you can throughout the day and you’ll be fine, say the Cadex experts. Ideally, a Li-ion battery should be plugged in when it loses 10 per cent of its charge, but that’s not practical for most of us.
Most people are too busy to constantly monitor the state of the battery in their phone or laptop. Even those who have the time and patience to do so may not have convenient access to a charger at all times. But whenever it's possible to implement, the charge-when-you-can strategy is close enough to ideal and will preserve your battery’s capacity as well as its lifespan.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 28 Jul 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Are You Charging Batteries The Wrong Way? (Posted: 28 Jul 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved