All batteries wear out. In your laptop, your tablet, your e-reader, or your phone – there’s only so many times they can be recharged before they have to be replaced. Replacing batteries can be straightforward – just open up the device and snap in a new battery, just like a flashlight – but it isn’t always that simple. Some devices can be tricky to open, and doing so may void your warranty. For older devices that are no longer supported by the manufacturers, you may not be able to find the right battery easily, and third party products aren’t always good quality.
Even before your battery actually gives out, you’ll find you get less life out of each charge – a laptop that could run all day now needs to be recharged after an hour or two, and your phone barely lasts through a conversation.
We’ve compiled a few tips for making your battery last longer. This isn’t the same as getting more run time from each charge – we’ll cover that in a future post. This is about looking after your battery so, with luck, you’ll upgrade the device before you have to replace the battery.
READ THIS FIRST – What sort of battery is it?
There are two main sorts of batteries, and they need to be looked after in completely opposite ways. Newer batteries tend to be Lithium-Ion (Li-On). Older batteries tend to be Nickel-Cadmium (NiCad). Check which type you have by inspecting the battery or looking at the specification for your device, and take the appropriate action. You could end up accidentally shortening your battery’s life instead!
Charge and discharge it all the way (NiCad ONLY)
Older batteries suffer from what’s called the “memory effect”. If you only charge it part-way, it gets “used to” only holding a small charge at a time. If you have a NiCad battery, try to avoid giving it small “booster” charges. Charge it up all the way, and then use it until it’s practically flat before recharging it. Every few weeks, let it discharge completely so you’re giving it the maximum possible charge.
DON’T charge and discharge it all the way (Li-On ONLY)
Newer batteries actually last much longer if you only charge them partially. When you’re charging them, stop when you’ve got to 80%-90% charge, and recharge them when you’re down to about 30%. Don’t let Li-On batteries go completely flat if you can possibly avoid it. Some laptops support power management software that allow you to control how much you want the battery to charge, and give you custom alerts telling you when to recharge.
Don’t keep it plugged in
It may seem sensible to work with your laptop plugged into the wall socket, but it’s not good for the battery. The constant trickle of power keeps it hot and makes it work inefficiently. It’s much better to charge the battery, then unplug it once you’ve reached your target charging level.
Keep it cool
As mentioned above, heat damages the internal structure of batteries. Make sure your computer is properly cooled. In the case of laptops, using them on your lap can block the vents. This not only increases your risk of a crash, but it’s shortening your battery life too. See our tips on keeping your computer cool.
Use the device
Fully charged and empty batteries both degrade with disuse. If you leave a device lying around with a dead battery, after a couple of months, that battery will have lost much of its ability to hold a charge. Surprisingly, it’s the same with charged batteries: when you come back, there may well be plenty of power, but the battery will drain fast and won’t work as well. Just using the device for a short while every few weeks will prolong battery life.
Clean the contacts
Batteries physically degrade due to humidity and corrosion. Keeping the contacts clean helps them last longer. This may involve opening your device – check with a professional if you’re not sure how to do this.
When your battery is dead…
Give us a call if you need assistance replacing a battery. And please recycle the old one!