Baby Your Batteries… and Save Money


Does your laptop battery die out halfway through a meeting?  (I just spent over $100 to replace a laptop battery that was only good for twenty minutes!)

Today, I’ll share some tips to keep your camera, phone, tablet, and laptop batteries running longer and at “full capacity,” saving you money.  (To understand batteries better, read this entire post and the recommended reading at the end.)

All Batteries

The “low” indicator doesn’t mean low power.  It’s more of a “time left” indicator.

Avoid draining your battery ALL the way down or you’ll damage your battery. Just go to a low level. ( I recharge at about 15%.)

If your charger doesn’t shut off when it’s done, charge your battery during the day so you don’t overcharge your battery.  Otherwise, leaving the battery on your charger overnight is okay.

Camera Batteries

If you know you’ll be taking a lot of pictures, or are really depending on your camera to make it through the whole event, or the whole day, be sure to charge your camera battery ahead of time, or like us, have two batteries, one for backup, just in case.

Phone Batteries

When I bought my cell phone, I purposely chose a phone with a good battery that lasts for several days.  I wait until my battery goes down to 15% before I charge my phone.   Of course, if I were leaving on a camping trip, for instance, and wanted my phone to last, I might charge it before I normally would. I’ll explain in “Why?” (Also see LifeHacker’s “How to Improve Your iPhone’s Battery Life”.)

Laptop Batteries

I prefer to keep my laptop plugged in, not using the battery at all, but if I’m heading to a meeting  (or I’m going somewhere without an electrical outlet), I’ll use  battery mode, of course, and then, after the meeting, I don’t plug my laptop back in until my battery indicator has gone down to about 15%.

For instance, it’s better to keep your laptop running on a battery for several hours one day than to plug and unplug it three different times for meetings or classes.  Definitely don’t plug it back into an outlet just because you returned to your desk.  I realize this may not matter if you have a docking station for your laptop at your desk.  In that case, it’s probably better to go for convenience instead of thrift.  (I think this is what happened to the battery on my second-hand laptop.  By the time I inherited it, the battery was useless.)

I try to plan my battery use for about three hours. If my laptop was in battery mode when I turned it off, I’ll stay in battery mode when I turn it back on. (Does anyone know if turning the power on or off is hard on a battery?)

Also, if I need to charge my laptop I allow enough time for it to be fully charged before I unplug it. I never partially re-charge a battery.

Why?

  • Batteries will slowly lose their CHARGE even when unused.
  • If your device has been idle for two weeks or so, charge your battery anyway.
  • Overcharging damages batteries.  (See Can you OVER charge a battery?)
  • It may even be better to UNDER charge to extend battery life.  Source: Mashable’s Did Apple Tell The New iPad’s Battery Meter to Lie on Purpose?
  • Batteries seem to have less and less CAPACITY over time.  Imagine that you can charge your battery about 1000 times.   Once you begin charging your battery after that, the battery seems to give out sooner.  (There’s some disagreement about this “battery memory.”  Besides internet research, my sources include my son, a mechanical engineer, and some of my tech friends.)
  • Also, the amount of processes running on your laptop will draw more from your battery.  (see recommended reading below).

What do you do to keep your batteries running longer?

Recommended reading:

Image of laptop battery courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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