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Extending Lithium Ion Battery Life & Value Performance in your Mobile Devices

There are a few simple things to remember in order to maximize the value performance of your lithium ion batteries.

1. Format the battery on its first cycle with a deep cycle (to calibrate the battery computers)

2. Avoid charging the battery to full, do not leave it camped on the charger

3. Avoid discharging the battery to empty or to very low states of charge

4. Store the battery at 50deg F and half charged

5. Regularly use and cycle the battery, exercise it

6. Keep the battery cool, avoid direct sun
Lithium Ion batteries are used in phones, cameras, laptop computer, tablets and other portable electronics. Lithium Ion batteries like to be shallow cycled. Shallow cycling means you only use a small portion of the batteries total energy storage potential. Lithium ion batteries also must be initially formatted in order to maximize their performance in your devices. Lithium ion battery also dislike being heated, so keeping them cool maximizes their performance. Lets examine the ideas that can extend the life of your mobile batteries in more detail.

The First Charge/ Discharge Cycle is Very Important 

Your first charge discharge cycle will format the lithium ion battery and give it much greater performance than if you did not format the battery with a deep initial conditioning cycle. To format your mobile battery follow these instructions:

1. On the first use, charge the battery to full over the course of several hours.

2. When you first run the batteries down in the device let them run down until they are low, where the indicated state of charge is around %20.

3. Charge the battery back to full for a few hours and then try to use the battery in a way where you never fully charge or discharge the battery. The goal is to shallow cycle the battery between 30% and %80 full.

Online literature about Lithium Ion and Lithium Polymer batteries will suggest that a formatting cycle is not needed. This ignores the fact that the battery has a management computer that needs to be calibrated with a single deep cycle. Furthermore most lithium batteries you end up using will have been sitting in a package for a few months. Cycling the battery to "prime" it after this "shelf storage" period is essential. Most scientific and technical literature ignores these real world aspects of battery distribution and end user application realities.

Aim for ~ %60 State of Charge Average

1. The goal is to keep the lithium ion between 80% and 30% state of charge, where you are effectively using %50 of the batteries net nominal energy storage capacity during each charge and discharge cycle.

2. The average state of Charge should be approximately %55 to %60, where you avoid ever charging more than %85 and avoid ever discharging lower than 30%. Shallow cycling the battery will make it last far longer than deep cycling it from %100 full to %0.

3. Deep cycles from full to empty are hard on the battery. If you leave the batteries on the charger for prolonged periods of time, over-charging will slowly destroy the battery.

Store the batteries half charged, 50% State of Charge

1. Storing a Lithium Ion battery fully charge or fully discharge will damage the battery. Lithium batteries like to be stored with approximate half of a full charge remaining. At %50 state of charge a lithium battery can be stored for approximately 6 months without damage.

2. Lithium Ion batteries like to be stored at about 50 degrees F, similar to red wine. Storing Lithium Ion batteries at higher temperatures will reduce their overall life-cycle performance and longevity.

Lithium Ion Batteries like Exercise

Constantly fully charged Lithium Ion batteries break down more rapidly as well. Regularly cycling the batteries will keep them in good working order. Shallow cycling them regularly will maximize your cost performance and value.

Lithium Ion Batteries Dislike Heat 

Leaving electronics with Lithium Ion batteries in direct sunlight is never a good idea. The LCD or screen of the device can be damaged, and the thermal load will negative affect the lithium ion batteries as well.

In laptop computers that are used as desktops, as in plugged in constantly. It is good to discharge the laptop battery in battery mode until is is about %50 charged, then shut the computer down. Remove the battery and place it into cool storage with your red wine. Plug the laptop back in and turn it back on. Most laptops can be used this way.

Be aware than leaving the battery out of laptop can be a hazard in the sense that you can experience a problem if the cord is unplugged while the laptop is on. Without the battery as a backup, the cord becomes critical for the laptops operation. Operating a laptop is only appropriate for adults with the maturity to do this safely. If you have children or pets that might accidentally unplug the laptop, you should never remove the battery. Battery free laptop operation should only be done where the laptop is being used like a desktop.

In summary

1. Format the battery on its first cycle with a deep cycle

2. Avoid charging the battery to full, do not leave it camped on the charger

3. Avoid discharging the battery to empty or to very low states of charge

4. Store the battery at 50deg F and half charged

5. Regularly use and cycle the battery

6. Keep the battery cool

We can delve deeper into lithium batteries by understanding that many different chemistry combinations exit within the lithium battery class. There are different anode and cathode and material combinations that give different cycle life, cost and operational performance characteristics.

After every 500 hours of operation a lithium ion/ polymer battery likes to be deeply cycled once or twice. These periodic deep cycles help to "reformat" the cell.

Lithium batteries also degrade when stored. In mobile devices in warm environments, lithium batteries start to fail after 2 years when treated harshly, and after 4 years when they are treated gently.

Lithium Iron Phosphate is the only truly durable chemistry within the lithium battery technologies. Most phones, computers and tablet devices do not use Iron Phosphate.

The type of batteries used in our Phones and Tablets and Phablets and Computers are Lithium Cobalt Oxides or Lithium Manganese Oxide types. These types of lithium batteries are fragile and heat sensitive. The fragile cell types used in phones break down rapidly if they are overcharged repeatedly. Heat increases the chemical decomposition of cell phone batteries, so does deeply discharging them. They are so fragile that almost all lithium ion cells have several safety systems and a digital control circuit, without which they would easily fail, and potentially catastrophically. When Lithium Cobalt Oxide batteries fail they swell up and can rupture and catch fire. Many lithium battery chemistries are dangerous chemically and thus are illegal to ship on Aircraft.

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