Rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are the most widely used batteries. Compared to other rechargeable batteries, they have a higher energy density, low self-discharge, and a higher cell voltage.
Because of the better capabilities, Li-ion is taking over markets previously dominated by acid.
However, unlike other types of batteries, Lithium-ion technology isn’t mature yet. Research is underway to produce new batteries with even better capacities, improved performance, and longer life.
Speaking of longer life, Lion-batteries have a life-cycle. There are things you can do, though, to increase the battery life. But first, you’ll know what causes lithium-ion to “age.”
Factors Affecting the Li-ion Battery Life
There are several reasons lithium-ion batteries degrade over time, including:
A charge cycle refers to the complete draining and recharge of a battery.
Draining your battery to 0% and recharging it to 100% is equivalent to one charge cycle. Similarly, you can complete a charge cycle by using 50% of your battery then recharging it to 100%.
Learn more about charging:
The more cycles your battery completes, the more it degrades, reducing its life.
The cycle count may vary from one Li-ion battery to another depending on the battery’s depth of discharge (DOD).
A battery with a low DOD will last longer and vice versa. So, to protect your battery-life you can avoid letting or battery drain to low levels.
High and low temperatures affect battery life differently. Here’s what you should know about temperature and its relation to a battery’s lifespan.
Contrary to a common misconception, cold temperatures don’t diminish the Li-ion battery life.
Sure, smartphones “die” relatively quickly in cold temperatures. However, this has no damaging effect on the overall battery life.
In reality, cold temperatures slow down the movement of Li-ions between electrodes. Essentially, this implies that the battery is generating a low current, failing to keep up with the demand. The ripple effect is that your phone runs out of charge quickly.
When the surroundings warm up to ambient temperature, the battery functions normally again, with no lasting damage.
High temperatures have a negative impact on Li-ion battery life.
In high temps, the electrolytes sitting between electrodes break down quickly. As a result, the battery loses its capacity to shuttle Li-ions.
Also, high temperatures cause permanent damage to the battery’s internal component, reducing its life even further.
Voltage is one of the basic components of charging. It is the speed or strength, or speed of the current.
While you may not have control over voltage, you can choose a charger that optimally charges your battery without harming its lifespan.
A good charger features high-quality chips and components to control surges. That way, you can fast-charge your battery many times over for months or years.
What Can You Do to Extend a Li-ion Battery Life?
Implementing a combination of factors can help increase battery life. For extended cycle life:
Use Partial-discharge Cycles
Normalize using 20 or 30% of your battery capacity before recharging. Five to ten shallow discharge cycles are equivalent to one full discharge.
Whenever possible, avoid full discharge cycles – down to 2.5V or 3V.
Avoid Charging to 100% Capacity
Choosing a lower flat voltage can allow you to do this. By reducing the float voltage, you will increase battery life at the expense of reduced battery capacity.
For instance, a 100-mV to 300-mV float voltage drop can increase battery life five times or more.
Limit the Battery Temperature
Avoid extremely low or high temperatures.
Whenever possible, keep your batteries at room temperature, typically between 20 and 25 degrees.
Also, you want to limit exposing your Li-ion battery to elevated temperatures at full charge. Heat is by far the most damaging factor when it comes to reducing the Lithium-ion battery life.
Choose the Correct Charge Termination Method
Using a charger that supports minimum charge-current termination – typically C/10 or C/x – can increase battery life by not charging to full capacity.
For instance, if you terminate a charge cycle when the current drops to C/5, you will be reducing the charge to 4.1V. In both cases, your battery will charge at about 85% capacity, a crucial factor in battery life.
Avoid Deep Dischargers
As stated earlier, extremely deep discharges – below 2V or 2.5 V – will quickly and permanently damage your Li-ion battery.
Most lithium-ion batteries feature protection circuitry within their battery packs. This circuitry opens the battery connection if the voltage is less than 2.5V or more than 4.3V or if the current is more than the predefined threshold level when discharging or charging.
Deep discharges can cause internal metal plating, leading to a short circuit and, by extension, making the battery unsafe or unstable.
The Future of Batteries
While Li-ion batteries can meet the power demands of most consumer devices, there’s a need for batteries that offer improved performance.
Sodium-ion (Na-ion) batteries, for instance, are a valid alternative to Li-ion batteries. For starters, Na-ion batteries have a greater potential to represent next-generation environmentally-friendly and low-cost energy storage solutions.
Besides, the various key performance indicators required by different applications and the need for market diversification bring us closer to the use of Na-ion technology.
Li-ion batteries offer better performance than most rechargeable batteries.
Even so, they aren’t without their shortcomings.
As the future of batteries edges toward other technologies such as sodium, you can still make the most out of your Li-ion battery by learning how to increase its lifespan.
It starts with understanding how a Li-ion battery works.