Talking about battery care isn’t the most exciting topic but like Uncle Ben used to say, with great power, comes great responsibility!
It’s quite unfortunate that lithium batteries have gotten a bad rap in the media in recent years - from yesteryear’s exploding Nokia to today’s Samsung phone fires. The reality many overlook is the fact that lithium batteries has become part of our daily lives thanks to its high energy density, slow discharge rate and no memory effect.
By comparison, an 18V lithium-ion battery pack today weighs roughly the same as a 12V nickel metal-hydride (Ni-MH) pack a decade ago – making it possible to power a range of high-torque yet lightweight battery-powered power-tools that could last you an entire day on a single pack!
But to many, a battery is just something they just use and only re-charge it when it runs flat.Here’s a few pointers to both prolong your power-tool’s useful life and keep things a little safer for everyone.
Don’t keep it fully-charged.
Unlike lead-acid batteries found inside your car or motorcycle, lithium batteries do not like to be kept fully charged or left in a totally discharged state. Ideally, they should be maintained at a charge level of between 40~80% charged and only fully-charged prior to using.
Keeping a lithium battery plugged-in or stored in a fully-charged state will diminish its useful life. Modern intelligent chargers however are smart enough to turn-off upon reaching full charge – which is great for overnight charging prior to using it for work the next day.
Keep lithium batteries cool.
Avoid storing lithium batteries in an extremely hot area. Ideally, keep it in a cool, well-ventilated area during storage and also during charging. This applies not only to your power-tools but also your smartphone, notebook, powerbank, etc.
According to Cadex Electronics Inc’s knowledge portal, BatteryUniversity.com, the extreme allowable temperature for most battery chemistry is –40°C to 50°C with a recommended storage temperature of 15°C - Something quite unachievable even in an air-conditioned office in Malaysia but compared to the extreme-end of 50°C, storing a lithium battery at an ambient room temperature of 35°C is quite do-able.
The cooler you keep your lithium batteries, the longer they last. If you’ve ever been to a hobbyist radio-control (RC) model event, you probably might have notice how RC enthusiasts will usually crank up the amps with their programmable chargers and use some form of active-cooling such as a bank of fans to cool down their battery packs in-between races.
What about long-term storage?
Out of sight, out of mind? Nope, not quite with lithium batteries. Even when removed from the tool and stored in a cool area, lithium batteries will still discharge - typically discharge at a rate of roughly 5~10% per month.
Our advice? Try keeping the lithium batteries between the 40~80% charge rate and check them every couple of month and you should be fine. Ever notice why power-tools manufacturers tend to ship their battery packs at 50% charge?
CT Hardware stocks a whole range of lithium-powered power tools from Bosch, Hitachi, Makita, SKIL, Dremel to the Graco TrueCoat Cordless handheld airless paint sprayer. Click here to see the whole range of batteries sold or visit us at www.cthardware.com for all your power-tool needs!