How to make your electronics batteries last longer
Taking good care of your electronics batteries can pay off. The financial rewards of longer lasting batteries are obvious: You won't be forced to render a perfectly good gadget obsolete before its time or have to shell out money for a replacement battery.
It's also better for the planet since disposing of electronic waste is a growing problem.
Experts say there are plenty of easy things you can do to prolong the life of electronics batteries. They also dispel some common myths.
Here is general advice from Dell, Nokia, and Apple that can be applied to other brands:
- Avoid extreme heat. It's the single-most important thing you can do to protect your battery. For example, don't leave your laptop in the car on a really hot day, says a Dell spokesperson. If you must leave electronics in the car, then don't leave them on the dashboard. Also don't close them up in the trunk or glove compartment -- the coolest place is probably under a seat. Apple recommends that you remove your iPod or iPhone from any extra case if it gets hot while you charge it.
- Take precautions in cold weather. Bring your battery up to room temperature before turning it on if it's been exposed to very cold temperatures, recommends a Dell spokesperson.
- You don't need to totally discharge your battery periodically to make it last longer. That was true of older batteries, but not for today's lithium-based models. In some systems, it does help with how accurately the battery reports how much energy it has left, says a Dell spokesperson. Apple suggests that you go through at least one charge cycle per month for laptops, iPhones, and iPods. (It's also no longer necessary to charge your battery for an extra long time for the first charge, says Petri Vuori of Nokia.)
- Unplug your cell phone from the charger when the battery is fully charged. This saves energy and protects the battery, according to Vouri. Don't forget to unplug the charger from the wall. There's absolutely no difference between car and wall chargers, according to Vuori. The only potential problem with car charging is if you leave your cell phone in the car on a hot day (as noted above).
- Leave your battery in your laptop. Some websites recommend taking your battery out of your laptop when you're using it as a desktop computer so that your battery doesn't get worn out. That's not such a good idea, according to a Dell spokesperson, because your battery is more likely to be damaged if you take it out. Besides, he says, it's not necessary since the microprocessor inside the battery manages the charge automatically. So the battery will stop charging on its own when it's fully charged.
Looking for ways to extend the life of your battery between charges? Change your settings, turn off anything you don't use, switch your cell phone off when you're in low coverage areas, update your software, and follow the specific tips from Dell, Nokia, and Apple.