Battery Life: Urban Myths Explained
This entry was posted on September 24, 2013.
These days, it seems like just about everything we use requires a battery. Many people attempt to save money by trying various "tricks" to make the life of batteries last longer. Some of these ideas may sound familiar and others might sound a bit unusual. Of course, there a few tricks that can be helpful in preserving battery life, but there are also some tips that could actually harm your batteries, damage electronics or even cause injuries. It's vital to separate facts from myths before trying any of these techniques on your valued devices.
Some battery users believe that they should fully discharge all batteries before every charging cycle. This remains true for nickel-cadmium units; some older chargers even have an automatic discharge function. However, most modern rechargeables last longer when devices don't consume all of their energy. It could potentially dramatically shorten the life of a nickel-metal hydride or lithium ion battery if you fully discharge it on a regular basis. Instead, it is a good idea to keep your battery as close to fully charged as possible. Having a portable charger on hand at all times will ensure that your device is kept at its full capacity.
People often believe that storing batteries in cold areas, such as their refrigerators or freezers, can prolong the life of the battery. Unfortunately, this technique does little to improve battery life. The risks are far more consequential than the small amount of energy discharge that it prevents. Very cold temperatures can ruin batteries or promote corrosion. Even if the freezer doesn't damage them, they won't function optimally until they warm up. Corrosion and condensation may also cause battery compartments to rust.
A number of websites recommend that cellphone users maximize battery life by avoiding temperatures above 32 F. There is probably some truth to this advice; heat harms most kinds of batteries. Nonetheless, it's important to keep cellphones out of sub-freezing temperatures. Reports show that most phones work well at 32 degrees, but they tend to malfunction in colder weather.
Another common battery life tip urges notebook computer owners to remove their batteries when they use AC power. This technique can truly boost the longevity of a laptop battery; leaving it in place may add unnecessary charge cycles. Furthermore, the heat produced by a laptop computer makes its battery age faster. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that users should remove batteries if they plan to run their computers on AC power for at least seven days.
Many battery myths contain at least a shred of truth. However, some of them are left over from old technologies that few people continue to use and it's important to recognize that these tricks may no longer apply. It is crucial to read the instructions for different batteries and electronics; most battery life tips do not relate to every device. To avoid costly mistakes, always remember to conduct your own research from well-trusted sources when someone gives you advice on batteries.