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6 mistakes you make that shorten the life of your gadgets

6 mistakes you make that shorten the life of your gadgets

Ever notice that a year after you get your new tablet, laptop, or phone the battery tends to mysteriously start dying at an alarming rate? The batteries on these mobile devices do not last forever, but there are ways to make them last longer.

There are many techniques that you can use to improve the battery life of your mobile gadgets. We broke them down into the top six for your convenience.

Let's take a look at some of the best techniques for preserving your batteries.

1. When to charge

Battery manufacturers measure the charge of a battery by its number of full discharge cycles. This means the number of times that the battery can go from a full charge to no charge. In order to increase the number of discharge cycles we recommend that you charge your battery before it gets below 10 percent to 20 percent battery life.

The ideal charge level for a stable battery is in the upper mid-range. Keeping a battery between 40 percent and 80 percent charged as often as possible will help you get the most out of its lifespan. This is because a battery containing a higher voltage is under considerably more stress, and stress can potentially have degrading effects of the overall battery life by wearing down the battery's internal chemistry.

The myth that overcharging  the battery once it is already at 100 percent will damage it is only partially true. Modern Batteries have mechanisms in place that prevent additional voltage once a battery has reached its maximum charge. However, there are what is known as "trickle charges," which continually seep into the battery to maintain its 100 percent charge level. Holding a battery at 100 percent all of the time does place more stress on the battery overall, so it still may impact its overall lifespan.

Verdict - Charge the battery frequently throughout the day, rather than all night while you sleep. This will allow you to maintain a charge of 40-80 percent, which is the battery life sweet spot.

2. Which Chargers to use

You may see a lot of secondhand deals on chargers that claim to charge the battery much faster than the standard. There are two problems here.

First off, secondhand or "off-brand" chargers often (not always) lack voltage control mechanisms designed for your particular device. The charger that comes with your device will have been optimized for the chemistry of the device's battery, so the proper voltage control measures will be in place. This is important because without the proper mechanisms in place to control the voltage, more than ideal stress can be placed on the battery.

Next, faster chargers inherently stress the battery more, whether made by the manufacturer or not. Just like a human, as the battery gets older, the chemistry on the inside begins to degrade and have a harder time handling stress. While a newer battery should have no problems utilizing a fast charger, older batteries may end up decaying even quicker from the use of these products.

Verdict -  Use the charger that came with the device, or an alternate charger that has been certified by the device manufacturer.

3. Temperature Control

Since you should understand the concept of "stress" in batteries by now, it is time to bring up one of the biggest battery killing culprits of all time. Temperature. High-temperatures are literally the worst enemy to lithium-ion batteries. These types of batteries can easily overheat, destroying them entirely, or the added stress of the heat can cause damage on its own.

On top of heat being a problem, cold can also be an issue. The cold itself will not harm the battery, but heating up quickly can. Because of this, it is recommended that you do not immediately power on a device after bringing it out of extreme cold situations.

We should add that storing batteries in chilled areas like a fridge is actually recommended to promote their longevity. Even more ideal is to store them at about 40 percent capacity.

Verdict - Maintain a normal temperature environment for your battery when it is in use. If it is comfortable for you, it is comfortable for the battery. Avoid extreme heat and direct sunlight whenever possible.

4. Brightness

The brightness of your laptop screen or mobile phone screen has a great impact on your battery life, as well as your overall device's longevity. It is common for users to crank up the brightness on a laptop or mobile screen that has become damaged, or blurred enough to obscure the image. Cranking up the brightness will obviously harm your battery life, so let's think of ways to avoid having to do this.

One way to completely destroy any screen is to leave it open to direct sunlight. Since doing that will also destroy your battery, as stated above, just make sure your device avoids the direct sun, especially the screen.

You should also be reminded to clean your screen often. Make sure you do not use window cleaning products, they contain ammonia, which will irrecoverably damage the screen. Avoid touching the screen with your fingers, as the skin oils can leave permanent dark spots.

Finally, make sure you clean the keyboard of any food or other small objects before shutting the laptop.

Verdict - Using a lower brightness level will drain your battery slowly, and keeping your screen clear and clean is the best way to avoid having to crank up the brightness. Keep your screen as clean as possible and out of the sun to subsequently increase overall battery life.

5. Avoid voltage fluctuations

Power surges can send huge amounts of energy into the electronic appliances that are plugged in nearby. Network filters and batteries are designed to protect against over-voltage, but they cannot withstand a lightning strike whose power can generate thousands of gigavolts.

Verdict - unplug your devices before a thunderstorm, and use an uninterruptible power supply device to protect your equipment.

6. Keep your device clean

This advice relates to the above advice to keep your device below extreme temperatures. A laptop that is constantly running in a dusty room with take in a lot of that dust. It will coat the entire inside motherboard and processor heatsink with dust and severely restrict the flow of air through the device.

The restricted airflow will cause the average running temperature of your device to rise above normal, damaging the battery life.

A good way to clean out a computer is to use compressed air. Blow it into any openings in the computer and along the keyboard (always tilted right side up) to clean out settled dust.

Mobile devices also get clogged with lint, hair and other gunk. Try to keep your phone stored in areas where it is less likely to be exposed to an unclean environment.

Verdict - Keep your device clean and dust free to allow for proper airflow. This will keep your device running at a proper temperature for prolonged battery life.

Summary

Preserving the battery life on your gadgets is all about keeping the battery under low stress. Uncomfortable temperatures, direct sunlight, dirty environments, and power surges are all huge stressors on a device that will have negative effects on its lifespan. Follow this advice and your device is guaranteed to last longer.

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