A flat battery can be a huge hassle, especially if you never seem to have the right size on hand to replace it. But did you know that there are ways that you can extend battery life, meaning that you need to replace them less often? And do you know your AG13 battery from your A76?
In this guide, we’re going to share our top tips for extending battery life, saving you money, and reducing waste.
Storing Batteries Correctly
Batteries can be easily killed by improper storage, so make sure the following rules are followed:
- Store batteries in a cool and dry place (NOT your refrigerator or freezer), such as a closet.
- Before storing new batteries away for any length of time, charge them up all the way first. When you’re going to use them again, fully drain them first before charging a complete cycle.
- Do not drop batteries repeatedly on hard surfaces. This will damage the battery casing, and it could break it open.
Memory Effect [RAM Effect]
In simplified terms, the memory effect is what happens when a battery that has been partially discharged is not fully recharged before being used again. A rechargeable battery controller inside the device “remembers” this partial discharge and decides it needs less of a full charge later on, so it only charges up to this point.
An example is if you listen to an audiobook on your portable MP3 player for an hour with a completely dead battery and then plug it into a charger for three hours. The next time you use your MP3 player, your audio playback will likely only last for about an hour or less.
This is also known as the RAM effect, which stands for ‘Random Access Memory.’ This term was coined by Dell in 1996 when they were describing how their laptop battery drained faster after partial charging cycles.
Many new Lithium-ion batteries have countermeasures designed to reduce or eliminate this memory effect. These kinds of batteries can be charged fully without penalty, but most removable Lithium-ion batteries aren’t built this way, so it pays to do one final full discharge before putting them away again.
See our article on how to keep your laptop battery healthy for more information on these types of rechargeable batteries and ways to negate the memory effect entirely just prolong its duration.
The optimum voltage for a lithium-ion battery while charging is 4.2 volts, meaning the charge current should never exceed this limit, or it could cause damage to the battery’s cells.
Many chargers control the power going into a phone which prevents overcharging. Still, if you’re using a cheap USB charger from an unknown manufacturer, chances are it doesn’t have this built-in safety feature. Many knockoff chargers use cheap parts that look like legitimate components and do not protect against overcharging.
For this reason, always make sure you use only high-quality, name-brand chargers with your devices. These will regulate the voltage coming into your device, keeping it safe from damage.
Wireless charging can cause batteries to overcharge
Wireless charging works because it requires the device to be charged up to be touching the power source, so any phone using wireless charging will inevitably end up in constant contact with a charger.
This isn’t usually a problem when you’re at home or work since phones are rarely moved around during the day, but if your job entails lots of walking, this could pose a problem. The reason for this is that wireless charging typically has an uncontrolled voltage input which may vary depending on how well the transmitter coil is aligned with the receiver coil inside your phone/device and how strong its charge is at any given time.
For example, I have Verizon Wireless which supports wireless charging on some phones but not others. On my Samsung Galaxy S8, I can leave it on the wireless charger even when I’m out of the house all day long. If I need to use its GPS navigation feature, then it first warns me that wireless charging will be turned off after 10 minutes, then off completely half an hour later.
The reason for this is because if your phone is constantly plugged in due to wireless charging, then the battery controller thinks you are always at 100% battery level or very close to it, so it doesn’t need top-ups as often. This continues until the charge drops below 95%, but by this time, it’s already too late since you won’t be able to charge wirelessly anymore.
Our advice? If you need to use wireless charging with your device, then make sure you either put it on a wall charger for an hour every day or only use the feature when you’re at home.
How does overheating affect my battery?
The most apparent effect of overheating is decreased overall battery life, so if you plan on taking your device anywhere warm, then keep an eye on the battery percentage. If it starts dropping rapidly, then this is probably why.
On devices with removable batteries, there’s also a chance that excessive heat could cause the battery to swell up or even explode if you’re unlucky, so try not to leave your phone in an extremely hot environment for too long.
Now that we’ve explained some of the causes of reduced battery life, let’s look at some easy ways to fix them or avoid them in the future.
Avoiding excessive heat is probably one of the easiest things you can do to keep your phone’s battery healthy since all it requires is turning up the A/C before heading out into the summer months.
Using a portable charger might not be the best idea if you spend a lot of time away from home since you’ll have to carry it around with you, but this is definitely the safest option, so if possible, then we recommend keeping one in your bag.
Wireless charging may sound like a convenient feature at first. Still, as we’ve already mentioned, constant contact with a wireless charger can cause your phone to be exposed to uncontrolled voltage input, which can shorten battery life significantly. The good news is that all top brands make a wireless charger capable of delivering a safe, constant charge, so you don’t have to worry about your device being exposed to too much electrical current when using one.
Buy Batteries from Well Known Manufacturers
This is probably the easiest way to increase your chances of getting a battery that will last for several years without significant performance issues. Brand name batteries are usually up to 40-50% more expensive than cheap alternatives, but they’re also far less likely to swell, overheat or leak during the first year of use, so if possible, then always buy OEM parts.
The only reason we mention OEM parts in this article is that third-party batteries can be significantly cheaper. While it’s still up for debate whether or not they’re dangerous, it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between a branded battery and an unbranded one without carefully studying its internal components. For example, some of them have thinner separators between the cells, making them more prone to short-circuiting if they swell up or start leaking inside your phone.