I'm not sure what sparked my battery obsession. Perhaps it was the installation of 3,000 lbs of lead-acid batteries used to power my homestead. Shortly after that, I found myself zapping old Ni-CD based battery packs with a welder to bring the once-dead batteries back to life. Then I began repacking the cells of other household items, including my iRobot vac and my Macbook. Now I regularly visit a local auto supply, combing through batteries for signs of life. My office is littered with a hodge-podge of Ni-CD, lead-acid and lithium-based cells that are patiently awaiting repairs and a new purpose.
Here's what I've learned about keeping batteries in shape, and rehabbing old ones from the junk heap.
Whenever I want to learn more about a particular battery chemistry, I refer to this book "Batteries in a Portable World." You can pickup a print version on Amazon for $4.75. The book is also available for free on-line. It contains a wealth of information.
For example, one of the keys to maximizing any battery's potential is maintaining the right charge levels and temperatures. Storing a lithium-ion battery at a too-warm 77°F with a full charge will reduce the capacity by 20 percent in the first year alone. (This has to make you wonder how the lithium-ion battery packs in the new Tesla Roadster will fair over time.)
Here are a few more tips for getting the longest life from the lithium-based batteries in your laptops and power tools:
- Avoid heat
- Remove the battery when using a power supply for a extended duration
- When not in use, store the battery at a 40 percent charge and keep it in the refrigerator (do not freeze)
- Buy fresh batteries from a retailer who sells a lot of batteries (avoid old batteries)
- A full discharge after every 30 charges will help recalibrate the battery
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Regarding your statement about laptop batteries, "Remove the battery when using a power supply for a extended duration." This will slow down MacBooks and MacBook Pros. They work much faster when connected to A/C and the battery is in the computer.
Where can I find information to rebuild the pack on my Compaq laptop so it will last longer?
rickfr: While I have not done to the work to confirm that performance drops when the battery is removed I have seen a related power anomaly on macs.
When the laptop power supply is plugged into the mac the system performance goes up (even if the power supply is not plugged into the wall). Yes, a dead power supply changes performance.
Mikey, Any ideas for the small 1.5 volt Li-ion rechargeable kind from Energizer? Some old units begin blinking in the charge when attempts to re-charge. Very frustrating.
Vertman: At the 1.5V level you might be out of luck.
I use a RC car charger which can charge pretty much any common chemistry (Li-ion, Li-Poly, Ni-CD, NIMH, and Pb. Unfortunately, this sort of charger only recognizes 3.7V li-ion stepping so it can't deal with a 1.5V. I do recommend this kind of charger to deal with batteries that don't behave well in their normal charger. The RC car chargers can be set to charge at very low currents and even do discharges so you can determine the total battery capacity.
That's incredible! Wonder if this type of ingenuity could be applied to battery powered cars as well.
Sorry for the double post didn't think it went through.
Very great post i liked it and comeback often to get more top posts from your web….Thanks
Very great post i liked it and comeback often to get more top posts from your web….Thanks very much
I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work.
That’s some very informative tips about batteries that I’ve never actually really thought of. Can you imagine how much longer they’ll last if you just took care of them. I live in a very warm climate, so it’s pretty hard to keep the batteries cool but you can just put them in the refrigerator like he/she said.
My name is John and I run an online laptop battery store called www.SafeBatteries.com that caters to selling long lasting high powered laptop battery.
First let state that I enjoyed the article and though you had a number of good tips!
As a seller of laptop batteries, we deal very closely with a number of battery manufactures and I thought I could add some additional insights on what make one laptop battery last only 1 year while other laptop batteries can last 3 years or longer.
Each manufacture of Li-ion cells will rate the quality of their cells in terms capacity and how many full charges the cells are designed for before they reach end of life. And for the most part, the numbers of charges they are rated for already assume the most optimistic usage scenarios.
Basically the cheaper the cells that are used the shorter the service life and capacity.
At the lower end of performance are generics which are designed for low cost and will provide around 300 to 400 charging cycles if they are sold shortly are they are made. These cells are the cells that are typically used by discount online resellers. (Cost per cell - about 50 cents to $2 per cell)
At the mid-range of quality are the standard brand name cells made by Sony, Sanyo, Panasonic, Samsung and others. These cells usually provide 500 charging cycles and are the ones used by most OEM’s. These batteries will typically last the average users 2 years. (Cost per cell - about $2 to $5 per cell)
At the high end of the quality scale are some newer Li-ion cell designs made by Panasonic and Samsung. These cells are rated for around 800 charges and will last about 3 years with average use and provide a lot of extra power capacity to run your battery longer (Cost per cell - about $6-$8 per cell). Note: we are very familiar with these high end Panasonic NNP cells as these are the only cells we use in our laptop batteries. I believe Tesla motors use them for their cars as well.
In the end one can use these tips to make the most out of the laptop batteries they have, but if one should not expect that $30-$45 replacement battery to last much longer than it’s designed for.
Side Note: The high end cells also store significantly more power which will enable you to run on battery power for significantly longer as well. A 6 cell laptop battery using these new cells will rate at 5800 mAh vs. 4400 mAh for standard cells with is about 30% more power!