It seems that every device we use, be it an electric toothbrush, mobile phone, car! They all have that wonderful device – a rechargeable battery.  As IT specialists, we are most interested of course in the batteries within our laptops – what are they made of? What is the lifespan? Can they be over-charged? Can I make the life longer?  Well – I have done my research and present you with the following – get a cuppa, a biscuit, and a comfy seat this may take a while!

The first battery was invented way back in 1800 by Alessandro Volta believe it or not as a direct result of a tiff with his best buddy Luigi Galvani!  Volta was an Italian Physicist and Chemist who researched electricity and power with his achievements gaining him so much fame that Napoleon invited him to France and even made him a Count! (NatMagLab source).  Volta also discovered methane but that just caused a different sort of stink! 

It was not until 1859 that another Physicist, this time a French man Gaston Plantè, took the idea of Volta’s battery and ran with it, creating the first rechargeable battery.  This in turn would be improved further by Camille Alphonse Faure and have serious success in the earliest electric cars.

So, how does the above relate to the battery we now see in our smart devices today – let’s throw some more names into the mix – Daniell and his Daniell Pile that replaced elements of the Volta Pile to achieve more stability, Gassner who was able to extend the ‘shelf life’ of these batteries with the inclusion of plaster of Paris and then the National Carbon Company (Eveready) who replaced the Plaster of Paris with coiled cardboard! And what about Junge, Edison, G N Lewis, and Asahi Chemical all of whom have contributed to the design and development of the
Lithium-Ion battery, which is what we find in all smart devices these days. 

In 2019 John B Goodenough, M Stanley Whittingham, and Akira Yoshino won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry with their version of the battery which is quite possibly the best thing to ever happen to computing and our ability to use our devices anywhere at any time as long as there is, of course, charge.

Various reports have given us the ‘Best of …’ value for money, weight, and running time but I want you to think about the ‘housekeeping’ if you will of your device. 

Most new batteries have a ‘charging cycle’ of between 300 and 500 over their lifetime, this means a full charge from 0% to 100% however, it is not recommended to drain your battery completely as the actual process of charging wears the battery.  The applications that are running also drain the battery and are not always necessary for the operation of programs that are being used.  Of course, gaming apps are notorious for depleting the battery life of your device and it is recommended that leaving the laptop plugged in during the use of these activities is the best way of getting optimum satisfaction from both game and machine.  It is also possible to activate various battery-saving modes, one being Hibernation Mode which activates before total drain takes place, Windows 11 has a Battery Saver Mode and MacOS has Power Nap.  These can be accessed via the settings button and will help to maintain the health of your battery. 

The other important factor for the maintenance of your laptop is temperature, although most of us call them laptops, they are not in fact ‘happy’ to sit on your lap for any length of time as the fans that keep the device and in turn the battery cool are usually located on the bottom of the machine and need to be obstruction free to work efficiently.  Leaving the device in direct sunlight, in the car on a hot day or near a heat source is going to be detrimental to the health of both the machine and the battery.  The same can be said for extreme cold although not many of us sit outside with our computers on a freezing day in January.

It has to be said that all batteries, regardless of the care, will degrade over time, and of course, changing them is not usually straightforward.  Indeed, many devices have sealed batteries that require specialist tools just to open the case let alone remove and replace any components.  IT support companies usually have dedicated staff with up-to-date training to carry out these upgrades and any parts are usually covered by a manufacturer’s warranty.  So, if your device is not holding a charge, is used regularly but needs to remain plugged into the mains, or is just getting a little old it may be that you need a battery replacement.  Check the health of your battery regularly is our advice and use a recommended service provider to carry out any repairs or replacements that may be required.

We are your IT department.

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