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Get More Life From Your Rechargeable Batteries

My shiny new Dell Inspiron E1405 arrived last week. I’ve spent the last few days getting everything set to my liking. Needless to say, I like it.

However, the point of this post is to share something quite fascinating that I learned this evening. You see, I ordered a spare battery for my laptop. I foresee travel in the near future, so I thought the extra juice would be quite handy at times. But I want to get the most life possible out of both batteries. So I set out to learn how to prolong the life of a laptop battery.

In a nutshell, I learned that there is a best way to store a laptop battery. Charge it to 40% and stick it in the fridge. Yep, it sounds crazy, but that’s what every source I found said. However, you’re supposed to let the battery cool to room temperature (up to 24 hours) before refrigerating it.

So tomorrow morning (ample time to cool), mine will go in a zip lock bag (protection from spills) and into the fridge. I already warned my wife, so she’ll know that it’s supposed to be in there and that I’m not going crazy. I’m already crazy.

Here is the best page I found on the subject. It’s a bit dense and technical, but the end has a great summary of battery life tips (reproduced in brief):

Avoid frequent full discharges because this puts additional strain on the battery. . . .

Batteries with fuel gauge (laptops) should be calibrated by applying a deliberate full discharge once every 30 charges. . . .

Keep the lithium-ion battery cool. Avoid a hot car. For prolonged storage, keep the battery at a 40% charge level.

Consider removing the battery from a laptop when running on fixed power. . . .

Avoid purchasing spare lithium-ion batteries for later use. . . .

If you have a spare lithium-ion battery, use one to the fullest and keep the other cool by placing it in the refrigerator. . . .

Wikipedia also has a good list of tips on this subject (although they’re virtually identical to the list above).


I’m definitely not going to be removing my laptop battery every time I plug the machine in. I need more mobility than that. But if your laptop sits on the desk all week, only moving occasionally, you might think about it.

Finally, please note that these tips apply to all lithium-ion batteries. I think that covers most rechargeable batteries currently on the market. You’re probably not going to store your cell phone in the fridge [1] at a 40% charge but you might do that for the store-bought rechargeable batteries for your digital camera / CD player / etc (you know, the AA kind that recharge in the wall unit). Just a thought. Definitely another reason to have a garage refrigerator: battery storage. I need a garage first.

[1] – You might want to stick your cell phone in the microwave. This can test if your microwave is properly insulated. Put your cell phone in, close the door, and call your cell. If it rings, trash the microwave. They said it, not me: Whistler Wellness, Lanka Newspapers. We don’t have a cell phone (I can hear you gasping), but our microwave is pretty new; I think we’re safe.

[tags]legal andrew, battery, lithium-ion[/tags]

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