Wether you are trying to get the most from your cellphone, iPad or laptop battery there are a few things that you can do to squeeze as much life as possible out of them.
Lithium Ion batteries are in most of our devices today, including your laptops, cell phones and tablets. There are some general rules that will help get both the longest use, and longest life out of them.
- When you first use it charge it all the way up and all the way down. This is called conditioning and will help the battery learn it’s limits. You don’t have to do this as it will figure it out over time, but doing so will help jump start the process.
- All batteries have a “life cycle” count. This mean the amount of full charge cycles it does, while still retaining at least 80% of it’s capacity. Most smaller devices run about 400-500 cycles, laptops around 500-700, and some large capacity batteries (such as the one in the new iPad) can run up to 1000 cycles. Typically you can find out how many times your battery has charged on your device.
- If you are not going to use the device for a while (not being used for at least a few days), charge the battery to about 50%. This will give the battery the best shot at extended storage without any ill effects. In fact many manufactures ship the batteries on new products at this level to make sure the battery is in the best condition when you receive it.
- Make sure you battery get’s a 100% cycle once a month. This doesn’t mean you have to charge your device all the way down and back up every month (although that also works), but I mean a full 100%. That could mean 3 33% charges, 10 10% charges, 100 1% charges… you get the idea. In fact chances are just by using the device you will reach this goal. The idea is to let a battery get some exercise. Think of it as a muscle. Leaving it plugged in all the time will make the battery start to (temporarily) lose it’s capacity. It can be gained back over time, but better just to let it work properly.
- Turn down the brightness on your device. This is usually the number 1 item of power drain. The lower your screen brightness, the longer you’ll get out of your battery.
- Turn off services you aren’t using. No bluetooth devices? Turn off bluetooth. Not using wi-fi? Turn it off. Have an iPad with a cell chip? Go into airplane mode (but turn on Wi-fi) when not using your cellular service. All these functions are very useful, but if you aren’t using them they are just a battery drain.
- The temperature effects your battery life. They typically meant to work between 35° to 95°F depending on the device. Leaving it in a cold place or hot area (in the car on a cold night, or hot day) will make the battery not be able to take full advantage of its battery capacity. This also can apply if you have a case around your device that doesn’t let the heat from it escape. Don’t worry, this isn’t permanent, but it will make your device last quite a bit shorter.
- If you are in an area with poor cell coverage, your cellular chip will draw extra power to try to keep a signal. If it’s not too important, try putting in Airplane mode to let the cellular chip get some rest and stop draining your battery.
- Plug in your device when you can. Unlike the old Nickel Ion battery of old cell phones, Lithium Ion batteries don’t have “battery memory”. So you don’t need to worry about plugging in if you haven’t drained your battery. In fact some devices (such as the new iPad) have very large batteries and can take quite a while to charge. Don’t worry about waiting, plug it in when you can.
What to do once your battery isn’t holding a charge
You can try a few things, especially on a laptop (PRAM rest), but eventually a battery will no longer be able to hold a charge. Some devices you can just replace the battery, some you need the manufacture to replace for you (like the iPhone & iPad), and some are just completely built in and can’t be replaced. If you find it’s not holding a charge and you think you haven’t reached the batteries life cycle, it might be defective. In that case check with the manufacture. It might be under warranty.
Also there are a few websites out there that have alot of information if you want to learn more.