Thanks to some unfortunate manufacturing flaws laptop batteries have been in the news recently, however, for the most part these unsung heroes of portable computing lead rather dull and uneventful lives, until they start to wear out (or catch fire…). The fact is the Lithium Ion (Li-ion) battery packs used in most laptops, and pretty well all portable widgets these days, are by their very nature self-destructive and start to deteriorate from the day they roll off the production line, almost regardless of how many times they are charged.
They’re expensive to replace so it makes sense to look after them so here’s a couple of tips from Propellerhead. The number one Li-ion killer is heat. For example, a well maintained Li-ion battery pack, stored and used at a chilly 0 degrees centigrade would only lose 2% of its capacity in the first year and 6% in year two. In the real world a battery used and stored at 20 to 25 degrees loses just 4 percent of capacity in year one but this leaps to 20% in the second year and subsequent years.
Deep discharging (i.e. constantly running the battery flat) also shortens their lives and as few as 100 deep charge/discharge cycles can reduce a Li-ion pack’s capacity by as much as 75 percent.
In short the best you can expect from a Li-ion pack is a useful life of 3 to 5 years, after which the reduction in capacity will make it virtually useless. If you want your batteries to reach their retirement in good condition keep them cool. Don’t leave them in cars in summer, and try to maintain a constant charge of 40 to 50%. If you have a spare swap it regularly with your other battery, and when not in use keep it topped up and store it in the fridge (but not the freezer, and warm it to room temperature before using). If you need to buy a new battery take note of the manufacturing date, and avoid old stock. There’s scores of great freeware links and more PC tips than you can shake a stick at PCTopTips, so why not pop over and have a look?