Don’t over-charge or under-charge it. Keep it powered at anything from 20 per cent to 80 per cent
In the past year, I had to replace my cellphone and laptop primarily on account of a dead battery. Perhaps I should have gone in for a new battery, but Moore’s Law being what it is, the temptation to get a new device was too hard to resist. That said, batteries tend to be troublesome things. They are an old-school technology. What we know about them today is not much more than what we knew about them back then. (This is why we still have batteries that turn laptops into desktops and otherwise slim cellphones into bricks.)
Can we do anything about our problematic batteries? People with time to care do one of these two things in order to extend the life of their batteries: a) charge it as often as possible; b) charge it as few times as possible. The former, because they belong to the camp that believes it’s best to keep a battery well-fed, always. The latter, because they believe batteries last longer when they’re exhausted every once in a while. Which is better, you ask? Answer: no matter what you do, your battery will become a piece of junk one day, way before the device it powers is ready to pack up. There are ways, though, to soften the blow.
Let’s start with laptops: The typical lifespan of your laptop battery is about 18 months to two years. The main stresses include undercharging, overcharging, heat and dust. High temperatures inside a laptop combine with the environment outside to make life a living hell for your poor battery. You should always try to keep your battery powered at anything from 20 to 80 per cent.
Avoid charging your machine all the time. Once a week, let your battery run all the way to zero. Try to keep your laptop as cool as possible. Charge your battery when the computer is turned off. And never keep your laptop plugged in when the battery is full (like I invariably do).
Coming to batteries for phones, cameras and other gadgets: The advice is pretty much the same, which means, follow the 20/80 rule and keep the phone cool.
Finally, since batteries also ‘self-deplete’, the best way to store one you won’t be needing for a while, is to charge it before putting it away. This ensures it won’t get too down on itself when not in use.
Remember these simple tips to improve the quality of life of your battery. It’ll still let you down, but later.