Easy Techniques To Improve Battery Life!
All batteries will fail at some point, when they have been in use for longer periods of time. But premature battery failure is one of the main frustrations people face.
Common thinking is that turning devices off extends battery life, but what happens is the opposite. Devices consume more power when they are starting up, so turning them off is not such a good idea if they are going to be switched on frequently.
Cars and Other Automobiles
It is important to protect the car battery from high under the hood temperatures with the use of a case or a heat shield. The battery life can be extended by keeping the battery charged at all times. Electrolyte levels will have to be checked frequently during the hot months. A recent study revealed that relocating the battery outside the engine compartment has increased its life by almost eight months. Car manufacturers are relocating the starting battery to the passenger compartment or the trunk to avoid under the hood temperatures. It also helps to use wet batteries vented to the outside or cells that do not produce gas when recharged. Based on the driving of each individual, some batteries are undercharged and this leads to sulfation, where lead sulfate gets accumulated, reducing the battery capacity. An external battery can be used for charging.
For any battery, the most important factor to consider is the temperature. Ensuring they are not exposed to too much heat can extend the life of a battery. It is common sense that high temperatures lead to faster chemical reactions. They need to be watered more often with only deionized or demineralized water. However, rain water is a good substitute in an emergency. In addition to the temperature, a reduction in the number of discharge/charge cycles significantly improves battery service life. In extremely cold climates, the car battery needs to be continuously kept fully charged when not in use.
Portable Electronic Devices
Battery life can be increased for iPods, cell phones, laptops etc. by lowering the brightness when not necessary. For example, when using these devices in a dark room, it is not necessary to set the brightness to 100%. The brightness can be lowered enough so that the screen can be seen without exerting any strain on the eyes can be done. The amount of time the backlight stays on can also be decreased. For iPods it doesn’t have to stay on for 10 seconds, 2 seconds should be good enough. Laptops can be set in hibernate mode when not in use.
One most important point that not many people are aware of is that turning down the volume increases battery life. Use headphones that are louder and leave the volume at 50%.
Background applications are power hungry monsters. Stop everything that is not being used. Defragmenting the hard drive once in a while helps decrease file scatter on the hard drive and uses up less power. Send the computer into standby mode after a certain period of inactivity as it conserves battery. Although, standby resume also uses some power but not as much as starting up. Interestingly, leaving a CD or DVD in the drive can decrease battery life, as it hogs power whenever the drive spins up.
In Wi-Fi Applications
Battery life in Wi-Fi apps can be prolonged by either increasing battery capacity or reducing Wi-Fi product power consumption and through control methods. It is easy to increase battery capacity; however, due to technological limits, it may lead to an increase in cost and size of the battery. That brings us to the option of reducing power consumption, which can be done by prolonging the standby time and shortening the time of the active cycle. You can also turn off the WiFi on the iPod when not in use as it consumes a large amount of life.
These techniques of low power consumption can improve battery life dramatically. Most of them are common sense usage techniques and can easily be made part of our daily lives.
Li-ion: The Battery Of Choice!
The trend of battery-powered laptops and other portable equipment becoming smaller and more power hungry led to the creation of lithium-ion (Li-ion) rechargeable batteries. The electrodes used in these batteries are made of lightweight lithium and carbon, making them compact and lightweight. They offer a far better performance when compared to the more traditional rechargeable batteries.
Lithium-ion batteries often used in laptops are different from primary lithium batteries used in cameras. Li-ion technology was introduced in 1990 and has over the years emerged as a superior source of power for a variety of applications. With the demand and growth of the electronic consumer market, Li-ion batteries have witnessed unprecedented popularity, and are used in laptops, iPhones, iPods, PDAs and other electronic equipment.
It is energy density that determines the size and weight of batteries. The idea is to minimize both the weight and size of the portable equipment for today’s market, and Li-ion batteries give designers this ability, with their significantly better volumetric energy density. These batteries are not only used in consumer electronics, but also in aerospace, defense and automotive applications were high energy density is used.
Since Li-ion cells have a much higher operating voltage than others, fewer cells are needed to build a pack, thus reducing the battery assembly costs and increasing reliability.
There is no one reason for their huge acceptance in the rapidly growing market. The numerous benefits include higher energy density, better cycle life, higher voltage per cell, great low temperature performance, simple battery management, slower self discharge when not in use – about 5% in a month, easy to charge as well as being environmental friendly too.
One of the main benefits of lithium-ion batteries is the fact that they have no “memory effect,” which means they do not have to be completely discharged before they are recharged, like so many other batteries. The batteries also stay new for a long time and can take hundreds of charge and discharge cycles.
Li-ion batteries are also easy to use in all sorts of devices because they can be created in different shapes and sizes.
Having talked about all the positive features about Li-ion batteries, one cannot help but wonder if anything can be so perfect. Well, the only flaw that has been found is their ability to burst into flames – very rarely, perhaps a couple of battery packs in a million.
Li-ion batteries are the most energetic and powerful batteries around, and one cannot go wrong using them, and the lack of memory effect makes them all the more attractive to consumers.
What Makes Ni-Cd Rechargeable Battery Popular!
Nickel-Cadmium or the Ni-Cd rechargeable batteries are a type of alkaline storage battery, classified as a secondary battery. As the name suggests, they are made from two chemical elements, nickel hydroxide, cadmium and an alkaline electrolyte, which is usually a solution of Potassium Hydroxide.
Invented in I899 by Waldemar Jungner of Sweden, their practical application was only made possible after 50 years, with the development of the sealed battery by Frenchman, Neumann.
The Ni-Cd batteries are used in a variety of applications all over the world. They comprise of a positive electrode plate that uses nickel hydroxide as the main material, and a negative electrode plate that uses cadmium compound as the main active material.
There are two varieties of Ni-Cd batteries: sealed and vented. The smaller sealed variety is used in toys and other portable electronics. Specialty Ni-Cd batteries are used in wireless and cordless telephones, old motherboards, laptops cell phones and other applications. These batteries can supply high surge currents making them perfect for use in remote-controlled cars, boats, airplanes, camera flash units etc.
When compared to other rechargeable batteries, Ni-Cd is beneficial in many ways. They are strong and cannot be damaged easily, with the ability to withstand deep discharges for longer periods. They also have more endurance to the charge and discharge cycles. These batteries are lightweight and smaller even when compared to the lead-acid battery, making them a preferred choice in aircrafts where size and weight are crucial factors.
However, there is one drawback, if you can call it that. Ni-Cd are known for their “memory effect.” Memory effect is when batteries “think” that they are fully charged even when they are not. If your battery is about 80% charged, it thinks it is 100% charged, and due to this thinking, does not charge any further even when placed on the charger. The problem is that when gadgets with Ni-Cd batteries are used, they last for a shorter time because of being charged less. This problem mostly affects older batteries and not the brand new ones. However, there is a solution to this memory effect – that of performing a “full recharge cycle,” which is to let the gadget discharge completely before recharging it again. For example, recharge only when your cell phone starts beeping.
Now that the memory effect has been taken care of, let us look at some more benefits of Ni-Cd rechargeable batteries. They can be used for as many as 500 full recharge cycles, which is on the higher side. The charge is also retained for a longer time when not in use. Losing only 1% of charge per day takes almost four months for the battery to be completely discharged.
In spite of the Ni-Cd batteries costing more, having slightly lower voltage and the memory effect; their demand has not diminished because they have a significantly longer total lifetime than alkaline cells, which is what consumers look for when buying batteries – a long lasting battery.
Ni-MH: The Long Life Battery!
For today’s lifestyles, the most important attribute to consider is mobility. Advanced electronic devices such as portable computers and cell phones allow people to perform much more effectively than ever before. With mobility comes the increased need for portable power sources.
Fortunately, this advancement in electronics is matched with improvements in batteries that power these devices. Ni-MH batteries provide much more power than the Ni-Cd batteries and also eliminate any concerns on the usage of heavy metals in the making of these cells. The exciting new technology used in the sealed Ni-MH rechargeable batteries provides optimum results for battery-powered devices, in terms of performance and environmental friendliness.
Introduced to the commercial market in 1988, the Ni-MH battery is still at an early stage of maturity, but has already proven to be an attractive power source for today’s devices.
There are several benefits of Ni-MH batteries, such as a higher energy density, which is almost 40% more than the nickel-cadmium batteries. This increase in energy density helps with providing longer run times, which means longer service life than ordinary batteries of the same size. They also charge much faster, in approximately one hour. They are safe to use and designed to withstand a variety of abusive conditions in consumer devices. Unlike the Ni-Cd batteries and other battery systems, they are environmental friendly, as there is no fear of cadmium, mercury or lead toxicity.
Today, the Ni-MH battery is hugely popular with high-end portable electronic devices where the performance of the battery translates into run-time, which is a major consideration for a consumer and influences their decision in the purchase of product. The reduced weight and volume also play an important role.
Ni-MH batteries are similar to Ni-Cd batteries as they use the same technology. The only difference is that they use hydrogen-absorbing negative electrode instead of the cadmium-based electrode used in Ni-Cd. This small change increases the electrical capacity of the battery as well as eliminates the toxicity problem. The problem of “memory” does not exist in the Ni-MH batteries, as there is no cadmium used.
These batteries are designed to ensure maximum safety with a safety vent, to avoid build up of pressure in case of being exposed to high temperature, charged excessively or abused in other ways. They can also be used in any position and the only maintenance that is needed is to keep them dry and clean while in use as well as in storage. Whether stored when charged or discharged, nothing happens to these batteries.
The Benefits Of Lead-Acid Batteries!
Lead-acid batteries or “starting batteries,” as they are also called, are the oldest rechargeable batteries in existence and the first used for commercial use. They have dominated the market for over 100 years, ever since their invention in the 1850s by Gaston Plante, a French engineer, and continue to weave their magic to this day. The surge of new batteries in the market has not lessened their importance.
Today, lead-acid are cost-effective and their ability to supply high surge currents, makes them the most viable option for use in cars and other motor vehicles, as they meet the requirement of the high current that automobile starter motors need.
Car batteries are used to start diesel or gasoline engines, as they provide the electricity needed for starter motors, ignition, lights and other electronic features. Most of the car batteries are lead-acid batteries and the energy is produced through a chemical process that involves lead, lead oxide and a liquid electrolyte solution. Plates of lead and lead oxide sit in the electrolyte solution that is made up of a small percentage of sulfuric acid and more of water. This causes a chemical reaction and electrons are released, which are all routed through conductors in the battery to generate the electricity needed for the car.
When lead batteries are discharged, sulfuric acid forms on the lead plates, and when they are recharged again, this sulfuric acid on the plates breaks back into its constituent lead and lead oxide.
Some car batteries need maintenance in the form of adding water. It was during the 1970s that maintenance-free sealed lead-acid batteries were developed and they can be used in any position, sideways or upside down without the risk of acid leakage. The liquid electrolyte is gelled into separators and sealed. Safety valves are used to allow venting during charging, discharging and other atmospheric pressure changes.
Currently, there are two lead-acid systems used, the small sealed lead-acid (SLA) and the larger valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA).
The newer type of sealed lead-acid batteries are the Absorbed Glass Mat batteries (AGM) that are maintenance free and the plates are mounted in such a way that they can withstand extensive vibration and shock. The hydrogen emission from cars using these batteries is less than 4% and self-discharge is extremely low at 1-3% per month. This gives them long storage before the need to recharge. These batteries are more expensive than the flooded lead-acid batteries (liquid electrolyte), but because of their durability, they are the preferred version for high performance cars rather than the flooded variety.
One of the best things about lead-acid batteries is their self-discharge, which is one of the best on rechargeable batteries at about 40% per year, in comparison with nickel-cadmium that self-discharges in three months.
In conclusion, lead-acid batteries are a perfect choice for cars as they are inexpensive, reliable and provide dependable service, durable when used appropriately, and they have the lowest self-discharge rate among rechargeable batteries.