If you’re a gadget lover, then batteries are probably the bane of your existence. Charging batteries, replacing dead ones and trying to coax a few more minutes of life out of a fading camera battery or an under-charged phone at a crucial moment of the day are all experiences that we can live without and yet battery technology seems to have stagnated. Our gadgets are getting more sophisticated – and more indispensible – but the batteries that power them are as unreliable as ever. Here are a few tips to help you get a little more life out of your batteries.
Don’t Refrigerate Batteries Unless There Is a Heat Wave
One battery myth that refuses to die is that refrigerating batteries makes them last longer. There is some truth to this myth, as a battery that is exposed to temperatures in excess of 100 degrees will lose a lot of its charge, but under normal conditions an alkaline battery loses just two per cent of its charge every year. Refrigerating your batteries will slow that charge loss, but the battery will need to be allowed to warm back up to room temperature if you want it to operate at full efficiency. For most people, refrigerating batteries is a waste of time
Don’t Mix Batteries
Don’t use worn-out batteries and fresh batteries in the same appliance. Purchase a battery tester and use it so that you keep batteries “paired up” correctly. Mixing batteries with different charge levels causes the fresh ones to wear out more quickly.
Choose the Right Battery for the Job
Lithium batteries are the best bet if you want disposable, long-life batteries, while Ni-MH is the best bet for rechargeable batteries. Stay away from Ni-Cd batteries — they do not hold a charge well, and they can damage the environment if they are not disposed of properly. Instead of buying unknown batteries from a discount store, you can buy batteries online here or from your favourite specialist electronics retailer.
Don’t Worry About Battery Memory
Old fashioned Ni-Cd batteries had a memory effect, which meant that they had to be completely discharged before you recharged them, to stop them from receiving only a partial charge and running down quickly. Modern Ni-MH batteries do not suffer from that memory effect, so you can top up their charge levels at will without having to worry about damaging the battery. It is a good idea to keep sets of common sizes, such as AA and AAA, on charge at all times, so that you’re never caught out with a flat handheld device.
Hopefully, we will not need to spend too much time worrying about charging our batteries. The BBC recently revealed that researchers at the University of Illinois have announced a breakthrough in the form of microbatteries that are far smaller and more powerful than current batteries, and recharge 1,000 times faster too. If those batteries become commercially available, we may be free from the endless quest to find an available plug socket.
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