How Long Does A Lithium Battery Last?

How Long Does A Lithium Battery Last?

How Long Does A Lithium Battery Last?

Battery-powered tools have come a long way in the last decade. Moving to lithium-ion as an energy storage medium, instead of the older nickel-cadmium batteries, improves performance and runtimes. It does so to a point that cutting the cord has become a viable option for many professional applications.

Pros can now do away with lugging around extension cords and generators to the job site. However, because Li-ion batteries are expensive, the move to cordless convenience can prove to be an investment. Naturally, before jumping into a cordless tool line, the discerning Pro will consider how big an investment cordlessness requires in the long-term.

How long can a battery sit unused? How many charging cycles can you expect from a battery? What's different about Li-ion batteries? How long do lithium-ion batteries last?

How Long Do Lithium-ion Batteries Last in Storage?

A number of external factors affect a battery pack's lifespan on the shelf. What was the state of the pack's charge when it was stored? Will the user store the battery in hotter or colder temperatures? Will it be stored on the tool, on the shelf, or on the charger? Who made the internal electronics, and how well do those electronics control the current within the pack?

Of course, if a battery pack drops below a certain charge capacity, the pack will cease charging at all. That signals the end of its usable life, though it's possible to resurrect some dead batteries. The time it takes for this to occur depends, again, on manufacturing processes and components as well as those external factors.

All of that having been said, there seems to be a consensus regarding the average battery pack shelf life. If you take care to store your batteries correctly, you can expect your batteries to last anywhere between 36 years on a shelf. The biggest takeaway? Keep your batteries out of the heat. Extreme heat is the biggest enemy to the overall lifespan of Li-ion batteries.

How Many Charging Cycles Can We Expect to Get?

Again, the answer to this question largely depends on a number of variables. Battery configuration and capacity play a part, as do ambient storage temperatures.

User behavior also affects how many charging cycles a battery can go through before it craps out. Believe it or not, you really shouldn't use your battery packs in place of a hammer. Blunt force trauma will adversely affect the lifespan of your Li-ion batteries.

So, in terms of charging cycles, how long do Lithium-ion batteries last? Despite the aforementioned variables, most of our manufactures claim that users should expect to get over 1,000 charge cycles out of any given battery. Now, some of that depends on how a manufacturer defines what a charging cycle is.

Typically, one charging cycle equals running a battery down and charging it up again. However, most batteries count one full charging cycle every time you throw your battery on the charger. That occurs regardless of how much charge the battery actually needed.

Some Lithium battery brands developed and use a system to account for this. Their chargers and batteries use a communication system that recognizes a battery's current charge level and temperature. Then, the charger regulates the optimal current, voltage, and temperature to recharge the battery.

This process extends the life of the battery. It also extends the amount of charging cycles the battery can go through. That's just one example of why you should stick with the manufacturer's original batteries and chargers.

Most of our batteries can last up to 2000 charging cycles.

How Long Do Lithium-ion Batteries Last Compared to NiCad Batteries?

We know NiCad batteries have been long gone for over a decade now. Still, it serves as a sort of baseline in some people's thinking. Because Li-ion has the superior energy density, a comparable NiCad battery will be larger and heavier. From a functional standpoint, Li-ion also doesn't experience voltage drops as it depletes. So what about shelf life?

Both varieties of the battery will self-discharge in storage. However, NiCad self-discharges at a rate of about 13% per day. Because of this, it wasn't uncommon for an unused NiCad battery to require a recharge every four days or soeven if you never used it! Li-ion batteries self-discharge much more slowly. Almost imperceptibly, in fact. The rate at which this discharge occurs largely revolves around the quality of the pack design.

Li-ion batteries also have a lot more technology at work than NiCad batteries ever did. Really, the comparison seems a little unfair and dated. Many manufacturers employ overload, over-discharge, and overheating protection for their Li-ion batteries. All of these technologies protect the battery. They also extend the expected life cycle. NiCad and NiMH batteries typically didn't have these protections in place.

So, while some may claim that NiCad batteries were also expected to last through 1000 charging cyclesyou had to charge those packs many more times during their use. You also had to deal with the dreaded battery memory effect. OK, that's the last time we'll talk about old technologywe promise!

Lithium-Ion Battery Maintenance Tips

Lithium-ion Battery Maintenance: Heat

Heat is the number one killer of battery performance. Most heat is generated by tool use and charging, but there are a few things we can do to minimize it.

Take your battery off the charger and let it cool for a few minutes before putting it back in use.

Most chargers have an auto shut off to stop the charging process when it reaches full. If you pull the battery off right at the end of the cycle, there will be some leftover heat. Even just sitting on a plugged in charger generates a little bit of additional heat. Give it the benefit of cooling down for just a couple of minutes before putting it back under load.

Our batteries are weather-proof and will work from anywhere between 0-45 degrees celcius!

In hot weather conditions, keep your batteries in a cool, shaded area.

Temperatures is the bed of your truck and inside your truck can skyrocket compared to the ambient temperature of the air. Storing your batteries there will have temperatures at over 100 degrees before you even turn the tool on. While not as extreme as being inside a vehicle, simply sitting in the sunshine will elevate the temperature as well. Likewise, if you're taking even a short break from using the tool, set it in the shade until it's needed again.

Take a break.

You'll feel the temperature rising on the tool as it gets to the auto shut off point. Help maintain productivity by giving the tool frequent breaks in aggressive applications like demo work and concrete drilling.

Store them inside.

Where I live, you start sweating as soon as you step foot in the garage. Opening the garage door helps some, but it's not as nice as being in the air conditioned house. Find a place to store and charge those batteries inside if your wife will let you.

Lithium-ion Battery Maintenance: Cold Temperatures

Batteries need to be not too hot, but also not too cold to perform at their best. When the temperatures drop, here are a few maintenance tips to warm them up some.

Let your batteries ride shotgun.

I know you're running the heat in your truck on the way to the job site. Bring the batteries you'll be using inside and point a vent near them. Allowing them to warm up on the way will help them deliver additional power and run time.

Set them in the sun.

Exactly the opposite of what you do in high temperatures, but setting the battery and charger where it gets direct sunlight will raise the temperature more than sitting in the shade.

If you're doing outdoor work on a heated building, go ahead and put your batteries and charger inside. It's a little more inconvenient, but you'll be switching batteries less often. When you're done for the day, go ahead and bring them inside the house instead of making them spend the night in a cold shed or garage.

Lithium-ion Battery Maintenance: Vibration

Sadly, there's not a whole lot that you can do about vibration. The majority of the vibration that a battery experiences comes from the tool and application itself. Still there are a couple of common sense things to help.

Avoid dropping your batteries.

The battery packs we use are more than just AA battery cells packed together. It's a more complicated chemistry and housing. It also includes electronic communication components.

Treat them nicely.

Avoid letting them ride in the back of your truck. Secured in the tool box? Sure. Running around loose in the bed? Absolutely not! Every time you turn a corner, accelerate, or stop, those batteries can slam into the side and generate a lot of force. For a better idea of what that looks like, go to YouTube and search for Football Concussion Hits.

Lithium-ion Battery Maintenance: Moisture

Here's another area that is hard to control. We all know that water and electricity like daughters and dating, so be cautious of what you can do to prevent it.

Keep batteries away from water sources.

Give them some clearance around water spigots, coolers, and 48 ounce Styrofoam cups of sweet tea. The housing is designed to draw moisture away from the cells, but once the damage is done, it's done.

Keep them out of the rain.

Sometimes you have to work in the rain, but keep your spare batteries out of it. Keep them in your tool box or under cover.

Lithium-ion Battery Maintenance: Depth of Discharge

Our charging habits are one of the areas that we have the greatest control over. While charge and discharge create heat, there is also an optimum state for batteries to be in for both use and storage.

Charge your batteries when you drop from two bars to one.

Charge your batteries before that are completely dead. Even though you may still have 15% 25% remaining when you hit one bar, you'll significantly extend the lifespan of it by swapping it out sooner.

Store your batteries at half charge.

There's a reason that manufacturers ship battier at a half charged state: it's their happy place. The battery chemistry is the most stable at half charge. Incidentally, they tend to perform at their highest potential at half charge as well. If you know you're storing your batteries for more than a couple of days, go ahead and get them to a half charged state.

Even when you're just storing them for the night or weekend, keep them at a partial charge when you're done for the day. It's perfectly okay to partially charge them to bring them up to half charge without limiting the life of the battery.

Take a break.

This doesn't only let the temperature come down, it allows the chemistry to stabilize. By allowing both to happen, you'll increase the run time on a single charge.

Summing It Up

So, how long do Lithium-ion batteries last? To sum it all up, the bare minimum that most manufacturers expect from their batteries is around 3 years or 1,000 charging cycles (whichever is less).

With that saidwe say if you take care of your batteries, there's no reason not to expect them to last at least that long or longer.

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