Photo (cc) by Matthias Rhomberg
If you own an iPhone, laptop, digital camera, or almost any rechargeable device, it probably runs on a lithium ion battery. They pack a ton of power into a small space and do a great job of holding on to that power when not in use. But without proper care, your battery won’t keep its charge as well as it used to.
That’s perfectly normal. The capacity of all lithium ion batteries declines over time. When maintained properly, an iPhone 4 battery will keep 80 percent of its original capacity after 400 full charge-and-discharge cycles. But there are things you can do improve the lifespan of your battery…
1. Stop running it down
First, stop running it all the way down. In fact, try not to drop below 20 percent. Think of your battery like a muscle. Working out at a gym for 20 minutes a day will get you into shape, but doing it for 20 hours a day isn’t something you can keep up for very long.
2. Use it or lose it
But you also shouldn’t leave your battery fully charged all the time. Like a muscle, your battery will atrophy if you never use it. So unplug it every once in a while and try to run it down by at least 10 percent.
Some manufacturers may also recommend that you fully charge your battery, then completely drain it once a month. This is typically done to recalibrate the device’s internal counter, which is used when estimating how much power you have left. But don’t do it more often than necessary.
3. Remember: heat = death
Stay away from heat. Heat is the natural enemy of lithium ion batteries. Even at room temperature, one year of use can permanently reduce your battery’s capacity by as much as 20 percent – and something like a laptop will run much warmer than room temperature.
If you’re going to put a laptop through a period of heavy use, a good suggestion is to plug it in and remove the battery, storing it separately from your laptop in a cooler location.
You may also want to invest in an inexpensive cooling pad. It’ll put an extra fan or two underneath your laptop to suck excess heat way. Here’s a listing of cooling pads available at Amazon.
If you use a case with your iPhone, iPad, or other device, make sure that it’s breathable. Long periods of use, especially never-ending cell calls, can generate a lot of extra heat. While a thick, airtight case may offer protection from the elements, it’ll come at the cost of battery life.
For iPhone users, Apple has posted a list of tips to optimize your battery life with some great suggestions for any phone – like keeping it out of the sun or a hot car – as well as some specific to iPhones: Read those tips here.
RIM has done the same for BlackBerry users, recommending, among other things, that you charge your BlackBerry as much as possible. These tips should help maximize your battery’s short- and long-term life, no matter what phone you use.
4. Think long-term storage
If you’ve got an extra battery that you rarely use, or have decided to run your laptop off its charger and store your battery somewhere else until needed, many manufacturers recommend keeping it in a refrigerator with a 50-percent charge.
The refrigerator is a nice, cool place – ideal for longer-term battery storage. But don’t put it in the freezer. Anything below freezing is too cold and will hasten your battery’s demise.
No battery will last forever, and all will eventually have to be replaced. But with proper care, your battery should be able to enjoy a long, healthy life.