Many of us are so connected to our phones, tablets and laptops that we panic when batteries near the dreaded zero percent.
We want our batteries to perform well for as long as possible. But doing what we need to care for them can conflict with why we have our electronics in the first place. The point isn’t to fret about battery life. It’s to do such things as read and send emails, scroll on social media and take photos.
If you ever worry about your device’s power levels, here are a few tips on striking the right balance between battery health and how you work and play.
Keep Your Battery Between 20% and 80%
There’s a lot of practical advice around the internet to keep your phone charged between 20% and 80%. To understand those recommendations—and why you might want to follow them or ignore them—it helps to know how rechargeable batteries work.
Up until about 20 years ago, batteries benefited from occasional deep discharges—running the battery down until the device shuts off. Because of different materials used in batteries today, that’s not true anymore.
Rechargeable batteries contain two different materials that produce electricity when particles flow from one to the other. They flow in the other direction when being recharged. That process degrades any battery over time. Keeping both sides of the battery in balance—with the device charged at about 50%—puts the least stress on the battery and makes it last longer.
But that’s unrealistic. No one keeps their phone half-charged all the time. For optimal battery life, experts try to make it easier by recommending your phone never go below 20% or above 80%.
Overnight Charging Adds Stress to Some Batteries
Charging your device up to 100% or letting it completely drain until it shuts down puts extra strain on the battery and can shorten its life. That’s why charging your devices occasionally throughout the day can make sense, rather than keeping them plugged in while you sleep.
Newer electronics stop charging at 100%. But each time the charge drops to 99%, charging resumes.
Keep Cool But Not Cold
One absolute in battery care is not letting your device get warmer than 95 degrees. Keep it out of the sun, and never leave it in a hot vehicle. If the device gets hot, don’t go to the other extreme and put it in the freezer. Place it in the shade or take off the cover for a while.
Use Less Power
It sounds simple, but one of the easiest ways to put less stress on the battery is to use less power. You can close energy-draining apps and functions when you are not using them and activate energy-saving settings, such as putting the device to sleep sooner.
Another easy way to reduce battery use is to engage airplane mode occasionally. You may be inconvenienced by a temporary pause on receiving emails or phone calls, but it might help you focus on a movie you are watching, a trail you are hiking or the conversation with your dinner companions.
If you like to exchange electronics every few years for the latest versions, these recommendations likely won’t apply. But if you want your devices to last longer, these suggestions can help prolong battery life.