We’ve all had it happen to us at one time or another: working away on our laptop, talking on the cell phone, listening to our iPod, and suddenly, poof. The battery goes dead.
Most of us live our digital lives with one eye on the battery life indicator, trying to avoid that instance where we lose our work or drop an important call because our gadget’s battery dies.
The technology and science of battery construction has changed very little over the years. While manufacturers have succeeded in creating batteries that last longer than they did 30 years ago, the long and the short of it is that batteries – all of them – are destined to eventually die.
Most people are concerned about battery life in their devices, and there are varying theories about how to prolong battery life. There are two schools of thought when it comes to charging your battery. One line of reasoning argues you should charge your battery with every chance you get, no matter how much battery power is left. The other side of this argument is that you don’t need to charge your battery unless it’s dead or nearly dead. It doesn’t matter which theory you subscribe to, just remember that all batteries eventually outlive their ability to hold a charge.
However, you can still get a good run out of your batteries, and extend their lives by following a few simple steps.
Typically, a lithium-ion battery in a laptop, regardless of brand, will last 18 to 24 months. However, these stressors will greatly impact the life of a laptop battery:
- Exposure to high heat
Yes. The internal temperature of a laptop can reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit, which is damaging to the life of a battery. If you’re the sort of person who works off a laptop that’s plugged in to an electrical outlet most of the time, your best bet to save your battery is to remove it when it’s not being used as the sole power for your machine. Yes, that’s a little more trouble than you might want to go to, but if you don’t want to take the chance of battery failure when you’re working unplugged, it’s worth the trouble.
Be mindful of overcharging or undercharging a battery, as well.
Both practices can dramatically shorten the charge life of a battery, rendering it unusable much sooner. The ideal charge range for a laptop battery is between 20 and 80 percent of a full charge. Continuing to charge a battery after it reaches 100%, or allowing the charge to drop to zero will send you to the battery store a lot sooner.
And by the way, the same philosophy applies to batteries used in cell phones, digital cameras, and mp3 players – keep them in the charge range of 20 to 80 percent, and don’t expose them to high heat. In other words, don’t leave your laptop, cell phone, camera, or iPod in your hot car.
But what about the battery meter on your laptop?
How do you know it’s accurate? Battery meters in most electronics use an algorithm that monitors how long you charge your device and how long you use it, factoring in the age of your battery and the rate of degradation. Over time, this algorithm becomes inaccurate, giving you a false reading of battery life. In order to “reset” your charge meter, let your battery deplete completely, then charge it fully. This will reset your machine’s charge meter algorithm and give you a more accurate reading on your battery life, at least for a while.
Knowing how to properly care for the batteries in your laptop and other electronic gadgets will help to extend their useful life. However, don’t overlook the importance of backing up your files regularly. Regular backups will greatly reduce your stress level should your battery die while you’re working on a project. Just remember, all batteries have a definite lifespan, and once they’ve been totally depleted, a new battery is the only thing that will get you up and running again.