How to Maximize Battery Life In Laptops, Smartphones and Tablets
Every modern battery can be recharged a specific amount of times. When you this limit is passed, the battery's capacity begins to decrease sharply.
In this guide we’ll show you how to charge and discharge properly your devices, as well as recommend some applications that will help to ensure longer battery life in your laptop, smartphone and tablet.
- Proper charging and discharging for battery maintenance in portable devices
- Maximizing Battery Life in Laptops
- Improving Battery Life in Smartphones and Tablets
Every battery has a certain number of charge cycles, determined by its manufacturer. A complete charging cycle consists of battery usage and a full recharge at 100% of its capacity, but this does not mean that a charging cycle also consists of one charge. In other words, we can use half of the mobile’s, laptop’s or tablet’s energy (i.e. let the battery reach 50%), fully charge it, and then do the same the next day. All this would count as one charge cycle, and not two.
So, every time that a charge cycle is completed, the battery’s capacity decreases by a little. Of course, we can charge our devices a lot of times, until the decrease in our battery’s capacity is noticeable, but it’s certain that we’ll need to buy a new battery at some point in the future.
According to studies by Batteryuniversity, modern lithium batteries retain their maximum capacity usually until the first 250 charge cycles, after which their performance begins to decrease gradually.
Note that the blue line (2A) begins to drop after 250 charging cycles
Of course, the performance of a battery is affected by many other factors- one of the major factors that affect battery life is temperature. Batteries are like people in this case- they work best at room temperature.
Studies have shown that if you store your battery fully charged at 25°C, in 3 months it will have lost 20% of its capacity. On the other hand, if you store it at 40°C instead, the capacity may fall up to 65% (35% decrease). Also, note that if we store the battery charged at about 40% (instead of storing it fully charged), its loss through time will be smaller.
Temperatures above 30°C are considered high for batteries, while their extended use at temperatures above 40°C for long periods can be detrimental to the battery life.
Low temperatures also affect the battery function, but their effects are temporary. Furthermore, permanent damage can be caused by some chargers which produce high temperatures, such as wireless chargers or quick chargers.
Another factor that affects the battery life is the way of charging. Formerly, for Nickel batteries technicians recommended to perform complete charges and discharges. For modern batteries however, studies have shown that a battery which is fully discharged before it’s recharged needs 300-500 charge cycles to fall to 70% of its original capacity. On the other hand, if the same battery is recharged when it is at 50% (half-discharged), it needs 1200 to 1500 cycles needed to drop to 70% of its original capacity. Therefore, to maintain your battery at optimal levels, you need to charge it often, ideally when it is between 40% and 80%.
Most lithium batteries use quick charging, so that the battery is charged quickly to 80%, and then changes to a more conservative charging.
However, it a full charge and discharge cycle is recommended for the first time you use a new battery, or if the battery hasn’t been used for a long time.
Many people leave their devices to be charged during the night, and as it seems, this habit is not so catastrophic for the devices’ battery life, after all.
The devices’ software, in combination with modern chargers, makes sure that, once the device is fully charged, terminate charging and select the charger as the sole power source. Therefore the battery does not overheat or waste charging cycles, and is full in the next morning. Of course, this is not very environmentally friendly, since energy is wasted this way.
Many of us use laptops for our everyday digital needs. But with time, battery life begins to fall substantially, especially if we are constantly travelling and have no direct access to electricity, in which case we are either doomed to buy a new battery, or a new laptop at worst.
The cause of this decrease in the battery’s duration is that you usually have your laptop connected to the charger for too many hours. Even though the battery is supposed to stop charging when it reaches 100%, in practice it is slightly overloaded, which ultimately destroys it.
Another factor which damages a laptop’s battery is high temperatures produced close to it, since usually it is near the processor. Don’t forget that laptops have fewer cooling capabilities compared to desktop computers, and substantially a greater risk of overheating.
The simplest thought that crosses our minds to extend our laptop’s battery life is to remove it. But the thing is, that this is a controversial solution.
Acer, for example, recommends removing the battery from our laptop when it the adapter is connected. However, in the past Apple recommended not to remove the batteries, while in modern Macbooks the batteries cannot be removed. Of course, removing the battery is not the best solution, since in the case of a power failure we will lose unsaved data, and in the worst case scenario our laptop might be destroyed. One solution is to buy a UPS, but it’s a solution that costs (and it’s not very practical either).
So, the option of disconnecting the laptop from the charger once it’s fully charged is not the best one, since some laptops do not even supply maximum power when in battery mode, but most importantly, charge cycles are consumed. In these cases, the solution is one: use the laptop in any way you want, but make sure that once a month you disconnect it from the charger and let it drain its battery until it reaches 20-30% of its original value, so as to keep battery cells working. At the same time it is advisable to use a cooling base, which ensure a smoother functioning of the laptop, while protecting the battery from overheating.
Also, if you’re thinking of storing the battery, always make sure to leave it in a cool place, and about 50% full. Note that you should use it once per month in this case as well.
However, some notebook manufacturers have provided the ideal solution. With a combination of software and hardware, they give the ability to the user to stop battery charging manually, without disconnecting the laptop from the adapter. For example, in some Dell notebooks you can stop charging at any time (even when it’s not fully charged), protecting your battery in the best possible way.
But not all laptops this feature, and since special firmware in the battery is required, this feature can’t be added in every laptop. In this case, third party manufacturers are here to provide us with a partial solution, since with the right software they can inform us about the charging percentage of our battery. They can’t stop charging automatically, but by informing us about important battery levels we can take our precautions.
Battery limiter is a simple, small program that notifies you with a beep when the battery is almost fully charged, so as to never forget to disconnect the laptop from the power grid. The default limit is 90%, but the maximum limit is 96%. Once the alarm starts, the only thing we have do is disconnect the laptop from the adapter- this will stop the alarm.
BatteryCare is another software which was created with the purpose of optimizing the usage, performance and durability of modern notebook batteries. It monitors the battery’s discharge and helps increase its autonomy and prolong its life.
The app has many features, such as start with Windows, notify the user when the charging reaches a certain point, after how many charge cycles we need to calibrate the battery, CPU and HDD indications, etc.
Battery Health is the respective app for Mac laptops, and is the most popular one actually.
With Battery Health, you can easily see all the important information about the battery in the MacBook, such as the current charging level, capacity, power consumption, the number of times it has been charged and more. It also has a Tips tab that includes various suggestions on improving your MacBook’s battery life.
Some ways that contribute to your battery’s proper maintenance are:
- Disable anything feature when not used (Wi-Fi, Mobile Data, apps, bluetooth etc.)
- Reduce the brightness of the screen.
- Disable alerts, vibration, data sync, etc.
- Use a low-power consumption wallpaper (usually, screens consume less energy when a black background is used)
- Use Greenify (or other similar apps) to block apps from running in the background
All of the above methods help the battery discharge with a slower rate, and subsequently spend fewer charge cycles.
Below we present two apps, Battery Life (iOS) and Ampere (Android), which can inform you of your battery’s current status:
Among the information that is available, Battery Life can display battery runtimes as well as raw data (battery charge, capacity, voltage, cycles, etc.).
Ampere is a noteworthy app for Android that measures the charge/discharge current of the device’s battery. If your phone is not connected to a charger, you can see the current discharge, which appears as a “negative charging”.
Ampere also displays information regarding the battery’s status.
In conclusion, battery life is affected by several factors, but by following a few simple practices you can maximize the battery’s performance and prolong its life. Also, keep in mind that different devices make different use of their batteries, so it’s always recommended that you look for specific guidelines given by manufacturers regarding battery use.
If you have any comments, questions or problems, then don’t hesitate to post in the comments section below!