Lithium-ion batteries are the most common battery in consumer electronics. They are used in everything from cellphones to power tools to electric cars and more. However, they have well defined characteristics that cause them to wear out, and understanding these characteristics can help you to double the life of your batteries — or more. This is especially useful for products that do not have replaceable batteries.
Battery wear is loss of capacity and/or increased internal resistance. The latter is not a well-known concept, but over time the battery is able to put out less amperage as the battery ages, and eventually the battery is unable to generate power quickly enough to operate the appliance at all even though the battery is not empty.
The standard disclaimers apply, all advice is for informational purposes only, CleanTechnica is not responsible for any damages caused by inaccurate information or following any advice provided. Also, new technology may change the characteristics spoken about, making them less or more relevant in the future or even rendering them obsolete.
Lithium batteries age from the following factors:
These articles explain each facet in detail and are worth reviewing if you’re interested in understanding the logic behind the following recommendations.
Try to buy batteries when you need them, because lithium ion ages from the moment it leaves the assembly line. However, by following the recommendations below you can get a longer lifetime from the batteries you own. If possible, look for the date stamp on any battery powered item you intend to buy and try get the newest one. Often you will find it on there, either on the outside of the package or on the item itself.
One cycle is fully charging the battery and then fully draining it. Lithium-ion batteries are often rated to last from 300-15,000 full cycles. However, often you don’t know which brand/model of battery is in the item you buy.
Partial cycles will give you many more cycles before the battery wears out, so when possible do partial discharges and then recharge. Don’t intentionally drain a battery before recharging for lithium-ion batteries.
For some equipment this is not realistic, in electric lawnmowers and other outdoor tools for example, but the manufacturer will hopefully have selected a battery chemistry designed for this use case.
Try to keep your batteries cool whenever possible. Don’t store a cellphone or other portable lithium battery in a car on a hot day, and keep them cool when not in use (bring your portable tool batteries inside instead of leaving them in an unconditioned shed/garage). Park an electric vehicle in the shade or a reasonable temperature garage when possible. Many EVs have active cooling of batteries so that will take care of this for you, although you still save battery power by parking in the shade or a conditioned garage.
Also, your pocket is about 30ºC, so store your cellphone on a desk and out of direct sunlight if you’re in the office or at home when practical.
Charge your battery at a slow rate when possible. For a cellphone, use a charger that is rated for about 1/4 of the battery capacity if you can. Avoid quick charging except for rare instances when you absolutely need the most juice as quickly as possible. Charging at 1/2 its capacity per hour is acceptable but chargers that can charge a phone in under 1.5 hours from empty can be very hard on the battery.
For power tools, try to get a slow charger instead of the quick chargers many of them come with. This is not always possible, but often is.
Don’t leave any device connected to the charger once charging is complete. In fact, you should aim to charge to a maximum of 80% (more on that below).
Try not to abuse your battery by pulling as much power as quickly from it as possible. For an EV, flooring the acceleration pedal on a regular basis is not good for the battery. Similarly, power hungry games can drain cellphone batteries quite quickly as well. If your phone gets hot from high power use (and not the sun or high room temperature), it is an indication that you are punishing the battery.
Sometimes taking it easy on batteries is not always possible because some products, such as lithium-ion powered tools, are hard on the battery by design (drills, lawnmower, snowblowers, etc.). In these cases, manufacturers will typically use batteries designed for high drain rates (but have lower capacity), but anything you can do to be gentle on even these batteries will pay dividends in longer life. For power banks, try to use the power at a moderate rate. USB models can be tricky to limit your current draw rate as a phone or tablet will draw what it wants up to the bank limit, but for non-USB items you can often try to limit how quickly it’s drawing power.
Also you can “hack” this issue by buying and using a larger capacity battery if your device can handle it. For the same power draw, a larger capacity battery will have a lower percent drain per hour. This also reduces cycle count.
For items you don’t use daily, check on your batteries from time to time in case they are draining themselves when not in use. For EVs and cellphones, this is not a noticeable problem, but for power tools and power banks it is a good idea to check on the battery every few months (or weeks if it drains itself quickly) and top it up to 50%-ish for storage.
Depth Of Charge
Unlike most other battery types (especially lead acid), lithium-ion batteries do not like being stored at high charge levels. Charging and then storing them above 80% hastens capacity loss. So charge the battery to 80% or a bit less if that will get you through the day/week. Most EVs have the ability to select a percentage to charge up to in the software.
Charging above 80% is not a big problem if you intend to draw it down quickly and need the full capacity. Of course, try not to do this regularly if you don’t have to. Avoid overnight charging of your phone unless it has a smart charging feature, such as some Apple phones. For Android phones, use Accubattery software or similar, which will beep at 80% charge as a reminder to unplug the cord. Charge to full in the morning if needed to get through the day.
Similarly, for your EV if you have a long driving day planned, setting the software to charge to full by morning (not storing the vehicle overnight at full) and driving until you are below 80% rather quickly will not cause much extra wear to your batteries.
In general, it’s the storage time above 75-80% that causes most of the extra high charge wear.
For storing batteries long term, charge them to about 50% and check on them every now and then.
Depth Of Discharge
According to many sources, lithium-ion doesn’t like being fully discharged. So try to avoid draining your batteries below about 25% when possible. If unavoidable, then charge it back up to above 25% as soon as possible so the time spent near empty is minimized.
Miscellaneous Battery Information
- Lithium-ion batteries have no memory effect. This was a facet of Nickel Cadmium batteries that went out of style decades ago, yet this is a surprisingly common question people ask about any rechargeable battery.
- Most name-brand devices use quality name-brand batteries, but some devices (such as cheap power banks or no-name products) use off-brand or grey market batteries that will not last for years no matter how much you baby them. Try to avoid buying products with these batteries because the money you save buying them translates into reduced product life.
- For some devices, the charge gauge can fall out of calibration and give you incorrect readings. This can typically be fixed by either fully charging or fully discharging then recharging the battery back to full. However this is hard on the battery, so it’s not something you want to do regularly, but in the rare instance that this is the cause of your issues, then a full charge or charge-discharge cycle will solve it. Quickly draw the battery back down to 80% before putting it back in service.
- Everything stated above is quite generalized, and with the various battery chemistries on the market, all of them have slightly different characteristics. Once facet may be stronger in one chemistry vs. another but in general the advice provided is applicable to all lithium battery chemistries.
End Of Life (EOL)
End of life for a lithium-ion battery typically occurs when the battery can no longer perform the function the user requires of it. Commercially, when a battery (pack) has reached 80% of its design capacity it is considered EOL, but for end users, it’s typically looked at as when the device (or battery pack) becomes unusable.
When your battery starts acting funny, it can mean it’s ready to be retired. Some Apple phones have the ability to calculate capacity remaining (it is buried in the settings) and Accubattery for Android can do the same thing if installed and used for at least a week.
These are some of the strange quirks you may run into that can occur with worn out lithium-ion batteries:
- Device shuts down stating low battery even though it should have plenty of runtime left, even if it stated a decent percent charge remaining just minutes before
- The battery percentage meter drops randomly
- Charging finishes prematurely even though the battery did not accept much power
- Sudden capacity drops without warning
- Self-discharge rate soars and is often uneven
- The battery (pack) gets very hot during charging (sometimes the charger shuts down due to this)
- Pouch batteries can start bulging (seen on some cell phones)
Be sure to recycle all batteries at the end of their life as they contain valuable materials that can be recycled into new batteries.
A summary of the terminology used in the battery world:
Charging algorithm = Battery is charged at Constant Current, then near full charge (typically over 80%) the charger switches to Constant Voltage. The charging rate slows until the battery reaches 100% charge. Many EVs modify this algorithm.
C = Capacity of the battery
- Battery ability to output power is measured in 1/C. 1C means the battery drained in one hour, 2C means 30 minutes (1/2 hour), 3C means empty in 20 minutes (1/3 of an hour) and so forth.
- Charging can also be measured in C, 1C means charged in 1 hour, 0.5C charged in 2 hours, 2C charged in 30 minutes and so forth.
Charge rates are not typically linear, the battery is typically charged more rapidly until it reaches the Constant Voltage stage.
Series = Multiple batteries linked in a chain to increase the total voltage of the pack.
Parallel = Multiple batteries linked side by side to increase amperage instead of voltage.
(x)S(x)P configuration = explains how multiple batteries are linked. 4S2P for example means 8 cells, four in Series and two Parallel rows
Volts (V) = Electric potential. Power outlets are measured in volts.
Amps (A)= Number of Coulombs of electrons carrying those volts.
Watts (W)= Volts x Amps. Energy/Power usage is often measured in watts. A kilowatt is 1000 watts. kWh is Kilowatts per hour.
Energy is measured in Joules and is convertible to Watts/second if you have a time component.
Power = Energy over Time. Typically measured in Watts. One Joule per second is 1 watt. The same number of Joules or Watts in half the time is twice the power.
Nominal voltage = Voltage used to calculate Watts of a battery.
Battery capacity = How many Ah of power the battery can output (when new).
Load = Device that uses the power from the battery.
Internal resistance of a battery affects its Power output. Increased internal resistance is the reduction in rate of Power output the battery can deliver. Energy output is affected somewhat by increased internal resistance.
Teledriving mobility service Vay to remotely deliver EVs in Vegas as it expands to US
Europe’s first teledriving (remotely driving) service is entering the US market and intends to setup shop in Sin City to begin. Vay is establishing its new US headquarters in downtown Las Vegas, where it will begin testing its teledriving service by dropping off and picking up rental EVs to customers around the city.
Vay is a German teledriving specialist based in Berlin that has taken a remote-first approach to driverless vehicles in which an operator drives a given EV from a dedicated hub. Vay is aiming to gradually introduce more autonomous driving functions in its system as they become more safe and are permitted to do so.
For now, however, the service relies on teledrivers, whose immediate focus is on the driverless transportation of rental EVs to customers. Those customers can then hop in the EV, drive off and then park whenever they are done, enabling Vay to step back in and remotely drive the vehicle back to base.
After operating a vehicle in Hamburg this past February, Vay declared itself the first and only company to drive a car on European public roads with no one inside. We’ve personally experienced this same approach to rideshare mobility in Las Vegas when we went for a ride with Halo.Car.
With its sights now set on the US, Vay will have to compete with Halo.Car in Vegas – the home of its new headquarters.
Vay to compete in growing driverless EV market in Vegas
Following its plans for expanded certification to operate driverless vehicles in Europe, Vay shared details of its expansion to the US, beginning in Las Vegas. The US entity will be lead by general manager Caleb Varner, who joined Vay in late 2022 after leaving Uber where he was director, global general manager, and co-founder of Uber Rent & Valet. Varner spoke:
I am excited to be a part of Vay and launch our service in the US. Vay’s teledriving technology and innovative approach has the potential to reshape the way people move – not only is that a huge business opportunity, but also a service that we see missing from today’s transportation ecosystem. The broader team at Vay is excited about taking this german-born technology and using it to change the way Americans move and building a future with reduced personal car ownership.
To begin, Varner will work closely with Vay cofounder and CEO Thomas von der Ohe to implement Vay’s teledriving technology in the US market that supports the launch of its own remotely driven mobility service. Von der Ohe also spoke to Vay’s new home in Vegas as a kickoff in the US:
We are excited to enter the US mobility market. Our team is talking to stakeholders in various states and has started to work on launching an initial service. The market is ready and the responses we have received so far from regulators, city governments, and potential customers in the US show that it’s a very dynamic market that we will be exploring in the near future!
Like Europe, the approach will begin with remote deliveries of rental EVs around Vegas, but certain permits and certifications are required. Luckily, Vay has the support of Las Vegas’ International Innovation Center, located in the downtown Arts District. Vay’s new headquarters sits within this office which remains part of an investment in economic development in the city.
I guess I will have to go to Vegas and take a test ride in one of Vay’s driverless cars. Twist my arm!
Here’s where Toyota’s first US-made EV, an electric 3-row SUV, will be built
Toyota’s largest plant globally is going electric. The company revealed Wednesday it would assemble its new three-row electric SUV at its Georgetown, Kentucky, facility starting in 2025. The new SUV will be Toyota’s first US-assembled EV as the market continues to surpass expectations.
Toyota’s first US-assembled EV will be in Kentucky
“Toyota Kentucky set the standard for Toyota vehicle manufacturing in the US and now we’re leading the charge with BEVs,” Susan Elkington, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, explained.
The Toyota Kentucky plant is the company’s largest manufacturing facility globally, with the capability to produce 550,000 vehicles annually, and will now lead Toyota’s vehicle carbon reduction efforts in the US.
Toyota says the batteries for its three-row electric SUV will come from the company’s new battery factory in North Carolina. The plant was initially revealed in late 2021. Today’s announcement from Toyota reveals the plant will receive an additional $2.1 billion investment, bringing the total to nearly $6 billion.
Sean Suggs, president of Toyota Battery Manufacturing at the North Carolina facility, commented on the new funding, saying:
With this proactive infrastructure investment, we will be able to quickly support future expansion opportunities to meet growing customer need.
The NC plant will produce lithium-ion batteries with six production lines (four for hybrids and only two for EVs).
The Governor of Kentucky, Andy Beshear, said through a $591 million investment for future projects in Scott County, Toyota is committed to retaining 700 full-time jobs.
Although Toyota didn’t reveal any new details of its first US-assembled EV coming in 2025, we know it will be a three-row electric SUV as part of ten new electric cars planned to launch globally.
Toyota aims to sell 1.5 million EVs globally with the new models by 2026 as it looks to keep pace in the rapidly expanding electric car market.
Apart from the company’s first global EV, the bZ4X, Toyota has released an electric sedan, the bZ3, in China and teased upcoming models, including a sport crossover and family SUV.
Since passing last August, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has attracted well over $100 billion in private-sector investment in EVs, batteries, and manufacturing. Toyota is one of many automakers and suppliers that have revealed plans to build on US soil.
That being said, with its first US-assembled EV arriving in 2025, will it still be too little too late for the automaker?
Either way, Toyota is doing what it should have done years ago. It’s building its EV supply chain capabilities with battery factories while retooling manufacturing facilities. In addition, Toyota is developing a dedicated EV platform that will help streamline production and double the range of future electric models with more efficient batteries, according to the company.
With the latest slew of announcements from Toyota, the company is noticeably accelerating the pace of EV development. Perhaps, after watching EV makers like Tesla and BYD steal market share, Toyota is looking toward the future rather than the past.
Former footballer Drogba is E1’s newest team owner ahead of first electric boat racing season
The UIM E1 World Championship electric boat racing league has found its latest team as it prepares to launch its inaugural season later this year. Former Chelsea and Ivory Coast footballer Didier Drogba and his partner Gabrielle LeMaire have signed on as owners of the fourth E1 racing team to join the growing league.
The UIM E1 World Championship is a nascent electric boat racing league created by Formula E and Extreme E founder, Alejandro Agag, and Rodi Basso – a former director of Motorsport at McLaren with a background in Formula 1 engineering.
We’ve been following the new sport’s progress for over a year as it has evolved from testing its all-electric RaceBird boats, to a growing league of teams led by some familiar names. Venice emerged as the inaugural E1 race team in April of 2022, and was soon followed by team Mexico owned by Formula 1 driver Sergio Perez.
Early this year, we shared news that tennis great Rafael Nadal had signed on as E1’s next team owner, bringing his native Spain into the fold to compete on the water. As the young championship series continues to develop (and tries) to fill all ten of its initial team slots this year, it has found its latest team owner in soccer (or football) legend Didier Drogba.
Team Drogba joins E1 donning the Ivory Coast flag
E1 announced the addition of Team Drogba to the UIM Championship this morning, which will be co-owned and managed with the footballer’s partner, Gabrielle LeMaire – a successful businesswoman and marketing expert. E1 cofounder and CEO Rodi Basso spoke about what the new Team Drogba owners bring to the league:
This team is so exciting for the E1 Series, blending diversity, inclusion and sustainability with a fire to compete and win. They are a dynamic duo that show how important it is to have equal representation and opportunities for men and women in motorsport, from the boardroom to the cockpit. And their commitment to ocean health and technological change will help take E1’s message further and wider. It’s exciting to see the fleet take shape and there’s more big announcements in the pipeline.
Similar to his new rival “Rafa” Nadal, Drogba’s foundation supports sustainable developments outside of the competitive arenas to make a positive impact on the planet. The former footballer and his partner also help provide a positive impact on the lives of African children living in poverty.
Together, the new E1 owners hope Team Drogba can help the new E1 series reach a global audience and inspire it to join the race to create a more sustainable world. Drogba spoke to the ownership opportunity and the people that have inspired him:
Sport and sustainability together, it’s a winning combination. Gabrielle and I are both fierce competitors so we’re going to build a strong team. We’re inspired by legends such as Senna and Schumacher, but most especially by Lewis Hamilton, winning F1 championships, breaking barriers and acting as a leader for a new generation of pilots.
Pollution has caused the destruction and loss of coastal habitats around the world. The degradation of our underwater eco-systems poses a series threat to marine life and livelihoods of coastal communities. So we want to have a positive impact through the accelerated development of clean technologies and inspiring change. But we’re also going to have fun for a great cause. Rafa and Checo, get ready! We are coming for you. And we’re here to win!
The inaugural UIM E1 World Championship is scheduled to begin later this year as race
organizers state they will continue to accelerate preparations, promising more teams and confirmed race venues soon. Better hurry.
This is another big get by E1 as it looks to bring as much hype to season 1 as possible… whenever that may be. The original schedule was originally anticipated to begin this past spring, but we still seem to be a ways away as E1 is now saying “late 2023” for a championship series kickoff.
The nascent series now has four teams, but has always hoped to begin racing with at least ten, so it’s going to have to hustle to find more owners quickly to get a viable competition together.
Although I do want to see E1 racing begin sooner rather than later, I don’t mind waiting because I’m genuinely unsure what I’m waiting for, meaning I’m not even sure what to expect in electric boat racing. The prospect of it looks promising, and the adjacent focus on foundations and the environment is a big plus – similar to Formula E. People love a brand with a positive cause.
I’m looking forward to seeing what countries/teams/owners join in next and how well season one goes. I’d very much like to see a competition in person, but E1 has to get there first. I’ll be watching!
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