I love testing the limits of my tools — it means knowing how long my battery will last. Some manufacturers specify one year, others three years, here are some lithium-ion battery charging tips to help keep your battery pack in tip-top shape. We're talking about the maintenance and storage of lithium-ion batteries, and what to expect when using them with power tools on a regular basis. Specifically, we want to help you avoid the things that can damage your battery pack so you can optimize the life of your Li-ion battery.
Cordless power tools have come a long way since their inception. They're more powerful, run longer, and some are getting their money's worth with corded tools. Technology has improved the cordless tool itself, perhaps most notably the lithium-ion battery that powers it. Wireless convenience always comes at a price, so it's important to protect your or your business' investment in its tools. This includes making sure you are using the correct Li-ion battery charging technology. On that note, let's look at 5 things that affect the performance of Li-ion batteries.
Li-Ion Battery Charging Tips: Top 5 Factors Affecting Runtime, Power, and Life
1. Manage heat
Heat is the number one battery killer and the biggest tip we can give you about charging your Li-ion battery pack. The chemicals inside a battery generate heat when they are charged or discharged. When the reaction is stable, the package is allowed to cool down. The highest temperatures are generated during aggressive discharges of more powerful tools. It's not a linear curve of more power = less run time. A 4.0 amp-hour battery might reach 99% of its run-time potential on a work light, 95% on a drill, and only 90% on a hammer. It's just a result of heat buildup.
2. Avoid extreme cold
On the other hand, insufficient heat can also negatively affect the battery's runtime. Our next lithium-ion battery charging tip involves avoiding extreme cold as much as possible. Users who work in cold climates often don't get the same runtime or power as those who work in warmer weather. Check out our 12V Impact Driver Shootout, where we did a cold weather test. The drivers we tested were limited to 60 to 80 percent of their normal speed after prolonged exposure to -10-degree temperatures.
3. Manage Vibration
If you open up a cordless tool battery pack, you'll find what looks like a bunch of oversized AA batteries inside. These are the cells that power the battery pack. They mainly consist of a lithium-ion coating, a cathode and an anode. Vibration from these batteries can negatively impact battery life.
Using really aggressive tools like reciprocating saws and hammers creates a lot of vibration, and the battery life of those tools tends to be reduced. One of our Li-Ion battery charging tips involves changing the batteries in these tools so the same battery pack doesn't take all the abuse.
4. Control moisture exposure
We all know that water and electricity don't mix. The same goes for the inside of the battery. While most batteries can tolerate some humidity, direct exposure to moisture can be a major concern. Once in the battery pack, battery packs made with inferior materials can easily corrode quickly, rendering your battery dead in a matter of days. Still, even the best batteries aren't waterproof forever.
Submerging certain packages in water can actually be dangerous in some cases. However, most tools can be used in the rain for a while. Others have an IP56 rating (or similar) for better water resistance.
5. The last lithium-ion battery charging tips – look at the discharge depth
While lithium-ion batteries don't have a "battery memory" like their predecessors, the level of discharge does affect lifespan. A study published by Cadex Electronics showed that a typical Li-ion battery would last 50% longer if it was charged after being discharged 50% instead of fully discharged. Recharging after only 25% discharge increases lifespan by 67% over full discharge.
As part of your Li-ion battery maintenance, be sure to follow these practical Li-ion battery charging tips to extend the life of your investment.
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*Note: This study was conducted on laptop batteries. While the laptops and tools both run on the same technology, the builds are different. I don't expect lifespan to fully reflect the laptop study, but it does show how much Li-ion batteries vary Battery Discharge in maintenance affects lifetime Battery .