5 Jun
2013

Extend Battery Life, Laptop Battery Life, Smartphone and iPhone Battery Life

Posted by Norman F

notebook computer

Let’s face it, almost everyone has problems with the battery life for notebooks and cell phones.  Our iPhone barely makes it through a day without charging. More and more devices come with rechargeable batteries and we felt it was time we looked into ways to extend battery life and extend cell phone or iPhone battery life. Eventually all batteries will die, but this article focus on extending the life of lithium-ion batteries that are present in most modern devices so the battery lasts as long as your device will.

Lithium Rechargeable Batteries

If you have devices that need regular sized batteries (AA, C, D, etc), make sure you switch to lithium rechargeable batteries instead of single use batteries.  You will save money over the long haul.  Newer rechargeable batteries store their charge a lot longer.

Lithium-ion batteries do not have memory problems like older NiCad batteries. Topping a Lithium batteries’ charge off is on. Avoid running the battery down to near zero capacity before charging. Lithium-ion batteries’ life is shortened every time you fully discharge them. Luckily most modern operating systems like Windows Vista and Windows 7 give you critical shutdown warnings around the 5% battery charge level.

You can click Start – type power – select Power Options – click Change advanced power settings – expand Battery – expand Critical battery level to see minimum battery level in these versions of Windows.

Optimize Battery Charging

Most manufacturers recommend you to go through at least one full charge cycle per month.  Charge the battery to 100% full and then running the battery down to zero. Batteries slowly discharge without use, so charge it up periodically to exercise the battery. It is best to charge batteries to 60-70% before storing them. Notebooks will need sleep to be disabled during the rundown process. See technique below.

Keep your devices near room temperature as much as possible. (72° F or 22° C)  Check your devices suggested operating temperatures. Using a laptop, outside, on a hot day that is hotter than your laptops rating, will reduce your battery life and possibly cause problems. Some device cases can cause the battery to get significantly warmer, resulting in lower battery life. Blocking the vents on your notebook will raise its temperature as will putting it on a pillow or cushion. Putting a phone in your pocket can do the same thing. Keep the vents clean. Do not leave your computer or phone inside a hot vehicle.

Obvious, turning OFF your device when you are not using it will help battery life.  This means off, not sleep, standby, or hibernate. Remember to do it every night.

Remove batteries from chargers right after they have been charged. If you are not using the device for a while or are going to run on AC power for several days, remove the notebook battery if possible. This will prevent the battery from constantly charging and discharging a little. Clean a notebook or cell phone’s battery contacts every couple months.

Notebook Battery Life Tips:

  • If you are buying new Notebook, try to purchase with a solid state drive or SSD. These run faster and use 75% less power compared to hard drives.
  • Do not allow lithium-ion batteries to run completely empty.
  • Screen savers do not save energy, make your Notebook hibernate or sleep instead.
  • Turn on Energy Saving in your Operating System. Windows 7, XP, and VistaEPA recommends setting computers to enter system standby or hibernate after 30 to 60 minutes of inactivity.
  • To save even more, set monitors and hard drives to enter sleep mode after 5 to 20 minutes of inactivity. The lower the setting, the more energy you save, just make sure it syncs with your work routine.
  • Disable hardware that is not needed. In the Device Manager, you could disable your Optical drive, backlit keyboard, memory card reader, Bluetooth, etc.
  • Windows XP – Select Hibernate if laptop will be inactive for 1.5 hours or more, otherwise use Standby
  • Windows Vista and 7 – Select Hibernate if there will be 2-3 hours of inactivity
  • Climate Savers Power Setting instructions
  • Disable energy sucking Aero and Sidebar user interface candy in Windows Vista and 7.
  • Lower the brightness on your laptops screen and turn off sound.
  • Reduce the number of background applications you run. Hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete to bring up the Windows Task Manager, End Processes that use too much CPU.
  • Disable background programs such as BitTorrent, uTorrent, Folding@Home, Etc
  • Turn off Bluetooth, Wifi if they are not needed.
  • Plug your Notebook into the wall when you can. This will allow your Notebook to run faster and its screen will be brighter.

Additional Windows 7 Energy Saving Power Management tips. For our Macintosh users, Apple has lots of tips to extend battery life.

Reviving a Bad Notebook Battery:

If your Notebook’s battery is not holding a charge or lasts for short intervals, your can try to discharge and fully charge the battery a couple times.  There is no way to make a degraded battery hold more electrons though.

To drain a PC Notebook’s battery, turn on the laptop then enter its built in BIOS Setup program by hitting F2 or DEL or whatever key the manual suggests.   Leave the notebook sitting in the setup program and allow the battery to fully drain. Plug in AC power so the battery can fully recharge.  Repeat this process one more time.

cellphone wireless phone iphone 3GS SmartPhone

SmartPhone Battery Life and iPhone Battery Life Tips:

  1. Lower the brightness or backlight of your screen.
  2. Vibrate uses a lot of power, disable it.
  3. Disable push email or constant email checking. Set email synchronization to longer intervals.
  4. Reduce the number of email accounts checked.
  5. Avoid using the camera’s flash.
  6. Turn off Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS if you do not use these features. You may want to turn wifi off whenever you leave the house.
  7. Download apps and music when pulled in at home.
  8. Disable background applications.
  9. When in areas of low or no signal, turn off your phone. Otherwise it will use a lot of power looking for a signal.
  10. Do not store your phone in the bottom of a briefcase or purse, items may block or weaken signals.

GSMNation sells smartphones.

Apple iPhone Battery life tips

Apple has a page with additional iPhone battery life tips.  The most useful ones are turning off notification, Push email, lowering screen brightness, turning off Wifi, location services, and Bluetooth. Disabling 3G helps but who wants a slower phone? Turning off sounds made when unlocking and sending e-mail will also help battery life. Apps that constantly run, such as Textplus, Facebook, Pandora, and Skype also drain the battery. iOS 4 or newer users can Kill background tasks.

Android Smartphone Battery Tips

Follow the same tips for the iPhone plus run an app like Battery Monitor to help pinpoint what is draining your smartphones battery. Juice Defender and Easy Battery Saver are also apps that help extend Android smartphone battery life.

Never throw batteries in the trash. Recycle them.

Blackle – Green version of Google

Blackle, A lower power version of Google

Blackle is a version of Google search with the screen predominantly black to save energy over a white screen. A blog post theorizes that a black Google home page would save 750 Megawatt/hours a year of power. We did a measurement with our trusty Killawatt power meter and verified a savings of about 8% in LCD monitor power use with the Blackle page.

Google Search Environmental Impact

Strange item in Google
Creative Commons License photo credit: danperry.com

UK’s Times Online had an article outlining the environmental cost of doing a Google Search. Two Google searches performed from a desktop could generate the same amount of CO2 emissions as boiling a pot of water. I guess it is time to search less.. At least it brings to light the true cost of Internet based services we take for granted as being ‘free’.

Data centers which power the Internet and host all the websites we visit use a lot of energy. Al Gore stated that they produce 2% of the world’s global warming pollution, at a summit at Google in 2013. 90% of the energy they consume is wasted, with much of it given off as heat.

A Stanford Research fellow stated that the Internet and all its devices, networks, etc., uses almost 10% of all energy. This varies depending on what time of day it is and other factors, but this is still a lot of energy. Electricity is expensive so companies have an incentive to use more energy efficient hardware and software.

Google has already blasted back that the number is way too high.

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Posted on June 5th, 2013
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7 Responses to “Extend Battery Life, Laptop Battery Life, Smartphone and iPhone Battery Life”

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  7. Jack@itservicesfortworth Says:

    Useful Information. It is important to understand that your battery life will vary as per your usage, so if you listen to your music locally from the Music app and not stream off LTE/3G/Wi-Fi, your battery life would last much longer.

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