All About Batteries: Myths, Tips & Tricks


Lithium-ion batteries are present in most of our electronics. Laptop, smartphone through the tablet, they are everywhere. This relatively old technology is still poorly known by the general public. Let’s study with this file the myths about lithium-ion, tips to preserve the best battery and finally look at the future of this technology.

LI-ion battery

Technology for all: Lithium-ion

All smartphones and tablets currently use the same technology for batteries: the lithium-ion or Li-ion for intimates. Exit the NiCd and NiMH that could be found in the very first smartphones and in DECT landline phones.

Does it ring a bell? But if you know, those who stay at home and can not go on the Internet. You are given the details of the chemical reaction taking place inside the accumulator. This is what makes it possible to power a device is electrically connected to the battery.

Li-ion has several advantages over older technologies: better capacity, slower discharge, and suppression of the memory effect. However, Li-ion is more expensive to produce and batteries are more prone to aging. Even if you do not use it for a few years, the battery will still have lost much of its capacity.

The operation of Li-Ion has changed a lot compared to old technologies. Myths such as “you should never recharge your battery if it is not empty” have a hard time and we will approach them to confirm or dismount for the most part. But first, let’s go back to the principles of Li-ion.

Some reminders about Lithium-Ion batteries

Battery cycles
Li-ion batteries have a maximum number of cycles before which their autonomy will collapse. One cycle represents a complete discharge followed by a complete recharge of the battery. The advantage of Li-ion is its flexibility: if you discharge your battery at 50% and then recharge it 100%, it will be equivalent to ½ cycle. Current Li-ion batteries have a lifetime of between 500 and 1000 recharge cycles.

battery cycle graph

The Memory Effect:

The memory effect of Li-ion batteries has been completely removed. The latter could intervene on the NiCd and NiMH batteries. They had to be discharged regularly to a certain percentage (for example 25%) before being reloaded again.

The battery then thought that the point at which the discharge used to stop (25%) was the zero level of its capacity. But this is no longer the case for Li-ion.

So you can charge your battery any time without worrying about the remaining capacity. Since a cycle is counted only when a full discharge/recharge is performed, the battery will not be affected by small reloads.

Deep discharge
Moreover, it is better to recharge the battery before it goes below the threshold of 5% capacity. When the battery reaches the deep discharge threshold many times, an inversion process occurs within the battery and one of the cells may become inoperative and no longer recharge.

Even if the manufacturers do not indicate the number of cells, there is a good chance that the smartphone batteries include 3. A missing cell, therefore, means a loss of autonomy of 33%. Avoid as much as possible to go below the 5% load.

dead batteries

Recalibrate the battery
If you often recharge your mobile device briefly without giving it a full discharge/charge, remember to recalibrate the battery every month. To calibrate the internal battery management system, simply discharge it completely (without exceeding 5% discharge) and then recharge it completely.

Some tips about Li-Ion batteries

Is it necessary to leave a charged battery connected to the mains?
Another old myth that dates from old technologies. We were then told to leave the battery connected to the charger a few hours after it reached 100%. But it is useless and can be harmful in some cases.

In most cases, using the original charger or European compliant products, a mechanism cuts off the battery charging once it is full.

The energy delivered by the charger is only used to power the smartphone so that it does not have to use the battery. Beware therefore of counterfeit chargers and accumulators that often come from Asia without respecting European regulations. These products rarely integrate the components that are supposed to protect the equipment and the people in case of problems. In the best case, your battery will reduce its capacity. But in the worst case, the battery may catch fire and explode.

mobile battery life cycle

battery iPhone if it charges the battery when first use?

The answer is short: no. The battery knows its maximum capacity and it is useless to recharge it from the first use. So you can unpack your new HTC One M8 and use it directly without having to wait for it to recharge. Be careful, however, to avoid using mobile devices when they recharge because of the heat released.

Heat, the worst enemy of batteries

The heat is harmful to the batteries. And they heat up a lot when they are charging. Again, it is more interesting to make short recharges rather than a full charge.

Using your smartphone while it is charging is also a bad idea, as the heat emitted by the phone’s components will be added to that emitted by the battery and will therefore increase the heat of the battery. In the same way, wireless charging technologies are not very good for batteries.

Some of the energy used to recharge the device is turned into heat because of the energy losses inherent in wireless charging technology like the Qi. For example, a battery stored for one year at 0 ° C will lose 2% of its capacity while at 40 ° C, it will have lost 15%. Stored at 60 ° C, it will lack 25% of battery capacity.

How to keep a battery that is not used?

If you do not intend to use a battery for a while, you need to prepare it. A battery will retain the majority of its capacity if it is charged at 40% before being kept.

It should be known that the battery discharges itself without being used. If it is kept around 0%, it may enter a state of deep discharge and thus risk destroying the cells. If it is kept in a state close to 100%, the voltage in the battery is too strong and its capacity will degrade with time.

It is also necessary to keep the battery at the lowest temperature, 0 ° C not being not risky as the components begin to freeze around -30 ° C. For example, a battery kept for one year at 0 ° C and charged at 40% will have lost only 2% of its capacity while the one loaded at 100% will have lost 4% of capacity. The same battery stored at 25 ° C will have lost 4% capacity by being stored at 40%. If it is stored when it was 100% charged, it would lose 20% of its quantity.

If your smartphone does not want to load anymore, you can always consult our dedicated tutorial. This may allow you to fix it.

Fast Charging Technologies

There are ultra-fast chargers, which offer to charge the battery in a few tens of minutes. In recent years, there has been a slew of new technologies. Whether Quick Charge, VOOC, Dash Charge, they all follow the same principle.The fast charge is therefore to send a very large power on the first half of the load, then to finely regulate this power on the second half. This last exercise is the most delicate, so as not to damage the battery. In order to find out more about the different fast charging technologies, we invite you to read our file dedicated to these technologies.

The future of batteries

The future of batteries Year after year, batteries manage to increase their capacity despite a size of more and more reduced. But the power and the uses of our mobile devices are no longer suitable for current batteries. I’m sure you regret your Nokia 3310 and its battery life of almost a week. Scientists and engineers have been working for several years on the successor to Li-ion. Several tracks are envisaged.

Lithium evolutions

Researchers succeeded, last year, to create a micro battery able to recharge 1000 times faster than the current ones.

What for example to insert one in a smartphone to have a reserve of energy able to recharge in seconds when needed. Lithium-air would eventually replace the lithium-ion. This would allow a very high energy density, but a lower power.

BMW and Toyota have already announced work on this technology for the next electric cars. At the end of last year, MIT researchers managed to integrate viruses that significantly increase battery power.

But there is still the problem of filtering the air entering the battery so that it can the purest possible. Lithium-phosphate is also known to be safer, less toxic and cheaper than Li-ion.

Researchers have also recently developed batteries that would be incombustible.

Other technologies?

Researchers are also eyeing the side of other metals than lithium, with a higher energy density. This is the case for example zinc, very abundant and cheap, mixed in the air, gives very good results.

The wood could also appear in the batteries with a mixture of sodium and cellulose, the natural fiber found in plants.

Sugar is also studied by some researchers. The latter succeeded in transforming sucrose into carbon fiber to replace lithium.

Finally, for some years now, graphene has been in fashion. Huawei had also announced its intention to integrate in its batteries a few weeks ago.

The technology that will prevail will be the one that will succeed in making the least possible concessions on capacity and power while having a minimal cost . In the future, it will be necessary to abandon lithium, which is rare. Maybe a track is also taking shape towards the solar collectors.

solar charging batteries

Think about the planet, recycle!

What to do with a battery at the end of life?

Do not throw it in the trash, lithium batteries -It have hazardous metals that need to be recycled. In France, there are two official bodies whose mission is to recycle used batteries. This is Scarlet and Corepile. Do not hesitate to go to their website to find out where the collection point closest to you is.

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