6 Ways You Should Care For and Maintain Your Lithium-ion Batteries
(A care and feeding guide for your electronics' new best friend)
Congratulations on adopting your new lithium-ion battery!
This little dynamo will provide years of companionship to your beloved electronic device – that is, if you provide it the proper care, feeding and shelter.
We asked some of the best battery trainers in the business for their tips on helping your lithium-ion battery live a long, healthy life. Here are their top recommendations:
Give Your Lithium-ion Battery a Safe Place to Live
Your battery will be happiest inside the safe, comfortable habitat of your device's battery compartment. Should you need to take your battery out temporarily (say, to let another battery live in the device for a while), try to keep it cool. The ideal storage temperature for a lithium-ion battery is 59° F. Also, keep the battery's contacts away from metal objects – that could cause a short.
Lithium-ion batteries should stay away from extreme weather conditions—both hot and cold. Extreme cold and high heat reduce its ability to recharge, and if batteries are exposed to extremely high temperatures, they can explode.
Storing a battery for long time without using it? Don't charge it all the way first. Lithium-ion battery manufacturers recommend a storage charge of about 40%.
How to Feed Your Lithium-ion Battery
PRO TIP: Your lithium-ion battery doesn't like to be kept hungry, so it's better to top off the charge when it's only partially drained instead of waiting for it to fully drain. Why? Every full charging cycle wears down the battery by a small amount, so a "top-off" causes less damage than a full charge from empty to 100%.
Don't worry about overfeeding – er, overcharging your lithium-ion battery. If you're using a correctly functioning charger like the one that came with your device, it will automatically discontinue the charge until the battery needs it. So if you're like most people who leave their laptops plugged in while they work, you're OK.
Fun fact: Lithium-ion batteries are usually most efficient when they're between 30% and 80% charged.
Give it Plenty of Fresh Air
Extreme temperatures are a lithium-ion battery's worst enemy. Not only does that mean you need to keep it out of prolonged direct sunlight and bitter cold, it also means you’ve got to watch the air flow around the device it's in.
Most laptops have air vents that keep their lithium-ion batteries from overheating. But running one in bed or on a pillow restricts the airflow. Without airflow, your device just builds up the internal heat. This is a problem for smartphones, too, especially when charging.
So when charging your device, let it breathe!
Let Your Lithium-ion Battery Age Gracefully
Your young lithium-ion battery is vibrant and full of life. For now.
But it will age just like the rest of us. And just like the rest of us, its diet and exercise play a major role in the length of its life – as does its environment.
Diet: Lithium batteries prefer a nice, slow charge. Ultra-fast battery chargers can cause it stress and shorten its overall lifespan.
Exercise: Manufacturers estimate that most lithium-ion batteries have between 300 and 500 charge/discharge cycles. You're unlikely to keep count, of course, so just remember that smaller "top-off" charges are better than big recharges when the battery is empty.
Environment: Lithium-ion batteries prefer cool temperatures, but not too cold. Expect your battery to show signs of aging faster if you repeatedly expose it to extreme cold or extreme heat.
Signs Your Lithium-ion Battery Is Aging
How can you tell if your lithium-ion battery is approaching the end of its life? You'll notice it's missing a step or two. Hey, it happens to all of us.
As a lithium-ion battery ages, it loses some of its capacity. It doesn't last as long between charges as it used to. And, like a human, it may start to get a little wide in the middle. Seriously.
If you have an older lithium-ion battery that's flat, like a phone battery, put it on a flat surface. Give it a light spin. If it rotates more than a few times, it's probably swelled just a bit in the middle and needs to be replaced. (We’re just talking about the battery, not you. If you’re round in the middle too, consider following your doctor's advice and hit the gym.)
If your battery rotates more than a few times, it likely needs replaced.
If your battery does not rotate more than a few times, it is still good.
Give Your Lithium-ion Battery a Proper Send-off
At the end of your lithium-ion battery's life, give it a dignified burial by taking it to a recycling center like an Interstate All Battery Center®. The lithium and other components of the battery can be recycled and used in new products.