Best Practices for Charging Li-ion Batteries
What are lithium-ion batteries, anyway? Let’s talk about their use cases and how to best maintain their charge for a long lifespan.
Lithium-ion batteries (Li-ion) are an industry standard for mobile power sources. They appear in our daily lives, from powering electronic vehicles, lawnmowers, chainsaws, and phones to smart thermometers like FireBoard 2 and Spark. When compared to other rechargeable batteries, lithium-ion batteries have a high energy density, which provides more power in a smaller, lighter package. When it comes to charging, Li-ion can be charged quickly and has a low self-discharge rate, meaning it retains its power when not being used.
Best of all, Li-ion batteries have no memory effect, meaning they can be charged at any percentage of charge without adversely affecting the overall battery life capacity. Any user of Ni-Cad batteries from years ago can attest to what a fantastic advancement this is.
How to Charge a Lithium-Ion Battery
Since these batteries have proven themselves and are here for the duration, we’ve compiled a list of best charging practices to maximize the performance of Li-ion (Lithium-ion) batteries.
- Use the charger provided by the device manufacturer or a compatible charger per their specifications. FireBoard2 devices are also USB-PD compatible, which means they can support a high charge rate while also providing power to drive a fan.
- Charge partially over fully. Since there is no memory effect, partially charging a Li-ion over a deep discharge-charge cycle is favorable. Complete charge cycles can deplete the life span of the battery. Generally, keep the battery charge between 20-80% before it drops to very low levels, and avoid a full charge.
- Full battery discharges should be avoided since they can reduce the long-term reliability of the battery as well as lead to capacity loss.
- Keep device software or firmware up to date. FireBoard devices use a smart battery charging chip, enabling us to release updates that optimize charging performance.
- Avoid charging in thermal extremes and use with a range of 68-77ºF, which can degrade performance and reduce the battery’s lifespan.
- For long-term or seasonal storage, maintain a charge level half of full capacity. Also, avoid storing a Li-ion battery in a fully discharged state.
- Replace when necessary. It is important to understand that all batteries have a limited life span and have a finite number of charge cycles they can receive. When you notice a significant decline in charge life, a battery replacement may be necessary. Always be sure to properly dispose of batteries!
About our Charging Chip
To maximize the performance of a Li-ion, manufacturers need to use charging integrated circuits, or ICs, designed to manage the charging process efficiently and safely.
FireBoard Labs sourced a smart battery charging chip from Texas Instruments with many features that monitor safe charging and operation. One such feature is a safety timer, which, as FireBoard Electrical Engineer Harold Tarun explains, “is used to prevent extended charging cycles due to abnormal battery conditions.” He says this integrated circuit also includes a “thermal regulation [that] reduces the charge current when the junction temperature exceeds a set amount.”
The risks associated with lesser charging ICs include reduced battery lifespan and overcharging, which can damage the battery or cause a malfunction.
Harold also explained that the charging chip on the FireBoard 2 series features a boost mode that will increase the voltage when it is low to give longer usable battery life.
Our 10000 mAh Battery Pack uses a Li-ion battery for all of the benefits mentioned in this article. If you’re looking to pick up a new mobile battery pack that recharges via USB-C cable, you’ve come to the right place!