December 2012

Maximizing Rechargeable Battery Life

A DOZEN DO’S AND DON’TS TO MAXIMIZE THE LIFE OF RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES

By: Carl Smith, Call2Recycle.org

The number of mobile devices worldwide is expected to hit 8 billion by 2016. 

These devices, as well as others used at home, in the workplace and in the car, are all powered by rechargeable batteries. These dynamic power sources offer consumers up to 1,000 charges before they need to be replaced and are often a lifeline in a natural disaster or other emergency, when hardwired electronics are knocked for a loop. Like many technology products, rechargeables require proper handling, storage and disposal in order to reach optimum usefulness.

Here is a guide to the types of rechargeable batteries available today:

  • Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) performs well in high-drain devices and can be recharged up to 1,000 times before it needs to be recycled. Ni-MH batteries are typically found in cordless power tools, digital cameras, two-way radios and cordless phones.
  • Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd) has a long shelf life and is considered one of the most rugged and durable rechargeable batteries. It can be recharged up to 1,000 times before it needs to be recycled. Ni-Cd is typically found in cordless power tools, digital cameras, two-way radios and cordless phones.
  • Small Sealed Lead Acid (SSLA/Pb) batteries are simple to manufacture and have one of the lowest discharge rates of any rechargeable battery. SSLA/Pb can typically be found in emergency devices, emergency exit signs, security systems, mobility scooters and UPS back-ups.
  • Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) is a smaller, lighter battery technology that can hold its charge for long periods of time. Li-Ion is found in cellphones, laptops, two-way radios, and cordless power tools.

Depending on the frequency of use and how well it is handled, a rechargeable battery could last for up to five years – which means less consumption and less household waste production. When rechargeable batteries no longer hold a charge, Call2Recycle®, the nation’s most comprehensive battery and cellphone recycling solution, provides a no-cost and convenient way to properly dispose of them.

“Smartphones, tablets and other portable electronics help us stay connected day and night,” says Carl Smith, CEO and President, Call2Recycle. “The battery life of these devices can be maximized by proper care, following specific charging instructions for the rechargeable batteries, and responsibly recycling them.”

Call2Recycle offers consumers the following “do’s and don’ts” to help maximize the life of rechargeable batteries and help you incorporate proper battery usage and disposal habits into your life.

RECHARGEABLE BATTERY “DO’S”

  • Always follow the charging guidelines provided by the manufacturer. There are specific recommended charging times for each individual product that should be followed before the product is used for the first time.
  • Let a discharged battery cool to room temperature before recharging.
  • Recharge batteries only when they are close to being fully discharged.
  • Keep your laptop off your lap! Near the battery is a small fan that runs to avoid overheating the computer. When this fan gets dusty, it has to run harder, using more battery life. Laptops actually perform best when used on a desk.
  • New batteries come in a discharged state and must be charged (conditioned) prior to use. Condition new rechargeable batteries 3-4 times so they can achieve maximum capacity.
  • Select a charger that prevents overcharging and is designed specifically for your battery’s chemistry.
  • Keep batteries neatly organized, and do not let the ends touch. A short circuit can cause severe damage to the battery, or even lead to a fire.
  • Remove a rechargeable battery from the charger when it is not charging.
  • Set up a regular reminder on your smartphone or computer to gather up your rechargeable batteries to take to your local retailer or community recycling center.
  • Regularly clean out the junk drawer. Task a family member with going through the junk drawer for spent rechargeable batteries
  • Replace rechargeable batteries in bulk – If you have just dropped off six batteries for recycling, buy a dozen. You will likely save money and time as well as prevent family member complaints
  • Keep a “4th Bin.” Set up a bin or bag (ideally near your front or back door) for your family to leave batteries to be recycled.

RECHARGEABLE BATTERY “DON’TS”

  • Return a fully charged battery to the charger for an extra boost. This will shorten the life of the battery.
  • Place a non-rechargeable battery in a battery charger.
  • Forget to turn off devices. This will probably be the most effective and simple way of conserving your battery’s power. If you don’t plan on answering the phone while you’re sleeping or after business hours, just turn it off.
  • Keep searching for a signal. When you are in an area with poor or no signal, your phone will constantly look for a better connection, and will use up all your power doing so. Patience will preserve power.
  • Overheat or incinerate your batteries. Batteries that are exposed to extreme heat or fire can explode. Locations that are too warm will reduce a battery’s life.
  • Mix and match batteries. Always use the same chemistry, capacity, and brand. Never mix rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries.
  • Run it all the way down – try not to drop below 20 percent.
  • Carry rechargeable batteries loosely in your pocket. Coins or other items could cause them to short, potentially causing severe burns and fire.
  • Drop, knock or misusebatteries, theycontaincorrosive substances.
  • Doubt the efficacy of a fast-charger – today’s properly designed chargers can fully power up a battery in under two hours.
  • Wait until an emergency to test flashlight and other devices needing rechargeable batteries. Check them out a few times a year to stay prepared.
  • Throw away rechargeable batteries in the regular trash! Every battery you properly dispose of helps keep the solid waste stream free of harmful chemicals.

By incorporating these simple practices into everyday life, you will help devices and appliances work better and longer. You’ll also have the additional peace-of-mind that you’ve taken steps to help preserve the environment.

To learn even more, visit www.call2recycle.org. Call2Recycle maintains a network of over 30,000 collection locations across North America providing a no-cost and convenient way to recycle cellphones and rechargeable batteries found in electronic products, such as laptop computers, tablets, digital cameras, cordless power tools and two-way radios.  For more information and to find local drop-off locations, visit www.call2recycle.org.

About Call2Recycle®

Call2Recycle is the only free rechargeable battery and cellphone collection program in North America. Since 1996, Call2Recycle has diverted over 70 million pounds of rechargeable batteries from the solid waste stream and established a network of 30,000 collection sites. Advancing green business practices and environmental sustainability, Call2Recycle is the most active voice promoting eco-safe reclamation and recycling of rechargeable batteries and cellphones. It is the first program of its kind to receive the Responsible Recycling Practices Standard (R2) certification. Learn more at call2recycle.org or 877.723.1297. Become a follower or fan at twitter.com/call2recycle or facebook.com/call2recycle

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