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How Long do Lithium-ion Batteries Last-Average Life, Degradation and Reasons

How Long do Lithium-ion Batteries Last-Average Life, Degradation and Reasons

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Just like any other battery technology, Lithium-ion batteries do not last forever. After sometime of usage, they lose their original capacity and eventually lose the ability to hold energy for long. How long the battery lasts largely depends on your usage habits, handling and many other factors that we are going to discuss in this article.

Lithium-ion batteries are mainly used in mobile electronic devices thanks to their high energy density that makes it possible to compress a huge battery capacity into a small battery shell. On the other hand, this high energy density is what makes phones to easily overheat while being charged. However, battery manufacturers are slowly phasing out this problem

What is the average life of a lithium battery?

The average life time of most Lithium-ion batteries is between 2 to 3 years depending on how mush you use the device having the battery. Most batteries are designed to give peak performance when charge cycles are between 300 to 500. Beyond 500 charge cycles, most of the batteries will not be able to hold their charge for long.

Some of the reasons that affect the battery life span include the following

  • Battery charging habits: The way you charge your battery has a lot of impact on how long it lasts. One of the bad battery charging habits is charging your battery only when it drains till 0% and always charging it beyond 80%. To get more charge cycles always make sure your battery is within the range of 20% and 80%. Only charge beyond 80% if you have to.
  • The way you handle the devices with the battery: Leaving your phone in a hot environment will make the battery to overheat which in the end has negative effects on its overall battery life。 To get the best out of your battery, always make sure you keep your devices in places that are within room temperature。 For instance, there’s no reason for you to leave your phone in your car during a sunny day。
  • How much you use your battery per day. Using the device non stop for many hours will often lead to overheating. Remember high temperatures are an enemy to battery life. If you want to increase your device’s battery, only use it when you have to. In case you have to do a lot of power demanding tasks, which always create an interval between such tasks to prevent your device battery from being over stressed that in the end leads to heating up.
  • Using habits: For instance, using your device while charging it leads to rapid movement of electrons in different directions that in the end leads to high internal pressure and overheating。 In most cases high internal temperatures of the battery are what reduces the overall capacity of the battery to hold power。

Do lithium batteries degrade over time?

Yes, lithium batteries degrade over time even while you’re not using them. For instance, if you switched off your phone and kept it somewhere for about 5 years. You will find when the battery has lost a significant amount of its capacity. If it had a battery health of say 95%, after 5 years you could find it with about 90% or less even without using it. Batteries automatically start to lose their capacity from the moment they are manufactured.

To ensure your lithium-ion battery doesn’t lose life, avoid storing it when it’s fully charged。 A fully charged battery creates a lot of internal pressure that in turn damages the cathode and other internal parts hence leading to reduced capacity overtime。 Studies show that a lithium battery stored with 100% charge will lose up to 20% of its capacity after one year。

The best way to store your battery is when it’s at 50% or maximum 60%. With such a charge, your battery will have moderately low pressure inside that in the end reduces the rate of damage of its internal parts. At 50%, your battery will lose some of its capacity, but the loss is negligible compared to what you lose when the battery is stored at 100%

Why do lithium batteries go bad?

Batteries wear out with time as they are being used. Here is the scientific reason behind this

While charging the battery, lithium ions are forced to move from the cathode (positive electrode) to the anode (negative electrode) to create a voltage difference. During usage, these lithium ions move in the opposite direction that is; from the anode to the cathode due to the voltage difference that was created by the charge.

The constant movement of these ions forms a film on the anode plate of the battery called the solid electrolyte interface. This film contains lithium atoms. Another type of film known as the electrolyte oxidation film also forms on the side of the cathode the more you charge your battery.

As the battery undergoes more and more charge cycles, these two films keep growing and hence blocking the movement of some of lithium ions between the cathode and the anode。 As less and less lithium ions are able to move between the cathode and the anode, the capacity of the battery also reduces。 This is when you start seeing a battery that used to last you a day starting to last less than 6 hours。

How to reduce the rate of formation of these two films?

Electrolyte oxidation on the cathode occurs more when the battery is kept at a high voltage (above 4.1V) which is normally when the battery is above 95% charge. On the other hand, the formation of the solid electrolyte interface film on the anode happens more when the battery is kept at very low voltage (below 3V) which is normally when the battery is below 20%.

To ensure more life for your battery, make sure it is always above 20% and below 80% most of the time to reduce the rate at which these films form on the cathode and the anode. You may not see the impact of this in the short term, but keeping your battery within that range will help your battery have at least 10% more charge cycles than one who stresses their battery to the limits most of the time.

 

 

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