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Why does a rechargeable battery wear out quickly and how to prevent it?

Updated on January 7, 2014
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Why batteries wear out quickly and how to prevent it


All kinds of rechargable batteries – Nickel Metal Hydride, Lead Acid, Zinc Oxide, Lithium-ion and others are made of chemicals that are volatile – they change. The amount of electrons they hold change and this is how they are able to hold and supply energy.

They also have some maintenance needs that when not met, may cause the battery to wear out quickly. In general, the more often you recharge a rechargeable battery, the faster it is going to wear out. The materials in these batteries degrade over time too and it quickens when these are recharged often. It is often said that once a rechargeable battery leaves the manufacturing plant, it already starts to degrade. So, when you buy batteries be sure to buy newly manufactured batteries.

For NiMH batteries, it is good to cycle charge them every two weeks. By cycle charge I mean that you need to discharge them completely then recharge them to full. It also takes two to three cycles for new NIMH to reach maximum performance, so make sure you discharge them and fully charge them on the first few uses. This practice keeps crystal build-up in the nickel plate of the battery. These crystals form shorts which reduce the voltage output of the battery.

For Lithium-Ions, you should never let them lose charge. When they lose all of their charges, the battery pack becomes unusable. To revive these batteries, just shock them. By shock, I mean force a current through the battery. To do this, find a Direct Current (DC) source and set it to 5 volts then connect the positive(+) and negative(-) terminal of the source to the battery respectively. Disconnect after 5 minutes. If you have an old Li-ion you still want to use but can’t because it’s dead. You can do this technique and see if it gets revived.

If you have acquired alkaline recharging technology, like my article here about how to recharge alkaline batteries, keep this in mind: You can only keep recharging an alkaline battery if it’s voltage does not go below 1 volt. If it does it may become unrechargable.

For all other batteries, it is good practice to always discharge them fully before recharging them. And when you recharge them, do not partially charge them, full charge the batteries. Some batteries like Li-ion can tolerate partial charging but this will wear out the cells quickly than if they were not partially charged.

Update!

A new study was made about Lithium based batteries like Li-ion or Lithium Ion. They found out that it is best recharge them when they are at around 20-50% of their charge. Maintenance charging should be done once a month. To do this, charge the battery from below 20% to full. Stay within the 15-19% range to be safe. And never overcharge a lithium battery.

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    • leakeem profile image
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      leakeem 5 years ago from Earth

      you're welcome!

    • Literary Geisha profile image

      Literary Geisha 5 years ago from Philippines

      very useful information. thanks for sharing!