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Battery Life

3/23/2008 - Author: Felicia

Batteries in our daily life: There are three types of batteries in your technology-related life. Cell phone, laptop and UPS (uninterruptable power supply).  It is important that you understand some things about the batteries in your daily life so you can get the most use out of them.

 

 

Factors that affect battery life

Laptops

There are two factors to consider with laptop batteries.

·         Duration of supply

·         Length of service

Duration of supply refers to how many hours you can utilize the laptop while on battery. This varies greatly with power consumption settings, processors, and laptop manufacturer. However, there is one big factor you can directly control. When you purchase a laptop, opt for the battery with the most cells. E.g., a nine cell battery will deliver longer supply to the laptop than a six or four cell battery. And the price difference may only be $20.

Length of service refers to how many years the battery will provide usable supply. Laptop batteries that are overcharged regularly will have a significantly shorter length of service than a battery that was never overcharged. So what is overcharging?

Overcharging occurs when a laptop is powered off and the battery is fully charged, yet AC power is still supplied to the laptop. How can this be avoided? Simply remove the AC power cord from your laptop when it is not powered on. If you have a laptop that goes into standby regularly, I recommend you disable the automatic standby. Not only will it cause overcharging of the battery, but it will likely corrupt the hard drive in a couple of years. It is perfectly fine to leave your laptop plugged into AC power all the time as long as the laptop is powered up and running (not in standby or hibernation).

Cell phones

If you use your cell phone a lot, I recommend charging it throughout the day instead of just at the end of the day. It is much better to charge it only when it needs it and not leave it on the charger over night.

For example, you use the cell phone in the morning and then it has 90% life. Charge it. However, remove the charger after it indicates that the battery is fully charged. If you leave your cell phone charging overnight, every night, the battery will have a shorter life than if you did not OVERCHARGE it regularly.

Lithium ion vs. lead acid

Ni-Cad batteries have mostly gone by the wayside. This is good because cadmium is VERY bad in the water supply and people still throw away batteries with their regular refuse instead of recycling them properly.

Most cell phones use Li-ion (lithium ion) batteries these days. These batteries have much less battery memory than other types used in the past. Some folks will even argue that Li-ion batteries have no memory. My opinion is that if they are kept charged regularly and fully, they will provided many years of use.

Lead acid batteries in UPSs are meant to last 3 to 5 years. If you have a UPS that is more than 3 years old, you can test the battery’s function by unplugging the UPS from AC power and finding out if it keeps your systems online. APC is the world’s largest manufacturer of UPSs. They have an upgrade and recycling program available on their website. You can also get replacement batteries there. In many cases, it is less expensive to buy a new battery than to replace the whole unit.

Disposal

All batteries must be properly recycled when a device comes to the end of its useful life. Many places like Batteries Plus and Home Depot have battery recycling centers. You can take your old laptop battery or cell phone battery into those places to get the battery recycled properly. The only cost to you is to physically go there and drop it off.

Lead acid batteries in UPSs must also be recycled. These also can be recycled at Batteries Plus or any metal recycling center. The metal recycling centers will even give you money for your recycled battery.

Please do your part to keep these items out of landfills and out of our water supply.

Last updated: 1/2/2014