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Be in charge of your device batteries…

20/06/2017
Be in charge of your device batteries…

Mobile phones and laptops have long been with us and battery life has become an important everyday concern.

Batteries can be the stuff of nightmares too, as we dread the times where we either forget to charge our device or simply use it too much and the battery goes flat. Thankfully we also have power packs to rely on, which have become an everyday must have – look around everywhere you go and you’ll see someone charging their gadgets with either the power pack or connected to an electricity source. 

Batteries have always been an Achilles heel to the development of portable devices and even though there have been big improvements, we might still feel that batteries have a long way to go in their development. When considering how power hungry today’s devices are, one might be more appreciative of the improvement that has been made. But when looking at newer technologies, such as battery powered cars, one must wonder how far battery technology will go and when will the much needed breakthrough will occur.

For the time being we must make do with what we have and what follows are a few tips on how you can take care of your device’s batteries to extend its lifetime and to get the most out of your devices.

Heat is definitely one of the worst enemies of batteries - ideally they should operate at room temperature.  You should avoid using laptops in bed, on your lap or on any other surface that covers the heat vents as this will immediately increase the temperature inside the laptop. Avoid using mobiles and laptops in very high temperatures and if you feel that your device has built up some heat, you can try closing all those apps you have left open or simply switch it off and let it cool down. In the short run, this might not seem to be ideal, but it will definitely help to conserve your battery in the long run.

All batteries have a shelf life and should not be left sitting idle without being used.  In fact, all suppliers keep a low supply of batteries in store as this idle time can damage them. When planning to store a battery for a long stretch never leave it with a very low charge or on the contrary with a full charge, ideally leave it at around 50% charge. It is also important to make the battery work every now and then. There is no need to discharge laptops daily but it is a good idea to let the battery discharge once in a while especially when connected continuously to electricity.

On the other hand, never let the battery discharge completely as this can also damage modern batteries, always plug in the charger when reaching 20%. The old problem with ‘Battery Memory’ is not relevant with modern Lithium Ion batteries so do not be afraid of charging your devices frequently even when they are at 50% or more. Modern batteries are built to handle a number of cycles within their lifetime, normally between 350 – 500 discharge/charge cycles, so the more frequent number of discharges the more the likelihood of your battery service being degraded.

It is a good idea to look at the Eco settings of your devices. Brightness is one of the biggest sources of battery drain so try to keep it as low as possible while you are on the move. You can also conserve battery energy by switching off features that are not needed such as wifi, 3G and Bluetooth. Multitasking while working on your battery might also not be a good idea so try to keep life simple and work on one task at a time. The same goes for smartphones - close those open apps you aren’t using! It is also very helpful to have an app checking for updates continuously so that we are always informed but that also eats into battery life, especially if we have too many apps continuously seeking updates.

No matter what we do, we must still be resigned to the fact that there will be a reduction in performance of our batteries at some point in time. Batteries are not capable of outlasting the lifetime of our laptops or smartphones, so it is a good idea to have them replaced after some time in order to reduce our frustration with our beloved devices.

 

Ryan Mintoff works at Deloitte Malta in Information Technology and Security.