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Whether in a smartphone or for devices at work, lithium charge batteries are used in many electrical devices and need to maintain an adequate level of power. The same applies to both lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries – which are a further development of the lithium-ion design. In this guide we explain how to correctly charge these types of batteries and offer some top lithium battery charging tips.

What you need to know when charging lithium-ion batteries

In order to prolong the life and avoid serious damage to lithium-ion batteries, there are some lithium-ion battery care tips that you should consider when charging: 

1.      Avoid charging for long periods

Do not connect the battery to the charger overnight. Charging for several hours can start a frequent recharging process that can significantly shorten the battery’s life. Frequent automatic recharging can only be avoided if the device or mobile phone used with the battery is switched off during the charging process. In general, a charging time of one hour maximum is sufficient for optimum lithium ion battery charging.

2.      Aim for an optimal charge level

Lithium-ion batteries are most efficient if they are used with a charge level between 30 and 70 percent. A charge that is neither too high nor too low protects the materials used in the lithium-ion battery. Ideally, you should only charge the battery when less than half of its capacity has already been reached and stop charging at a level of about 70 percent. 

3.      Avoid deep discharge

Deep discharge is when a lithium ion battery is completely discharged. In this case, the voltage of the battery drops below the end-of-discharge voltage, which can completely destroy the battery. For lithium-ion batteries, this voltage is 2.5 volts and for lithium-polymer batteries it is 3.3 volts. The main reasons for a deep discharge can be defective chargers, a faulty automatic cut-off and, in vehicles, a short circuit or a defective alternator. Frequent short-distance journeys, for example with pallet trucks or stacker trucks, can also promote a deep discharge. 

4.      Avoid extreme temperatures

Lithium-ion battery charging is very sensitive to temperature. Therefore, devices equipped with these kinds of batteries should not be exposed to temperatures above 40 and below -10 ˚C, nor should they be charged at these temperatures. 

5.      Never store the battery empty

To store lithium-ion batteries optimally, they should first be charged to up to 50 to 70 percent of their capacity. At storage temperatures of 15 to 18 ˚C, the batteries remain efficient even during longer storage periods. In addition, the risk of deep discharge is reduced. 

6.      Do not charge batteries unattended

Lithium batteries should never be charged unattended, as this poses a safety risk. An exception here is charging in special hazardous material cabinets.

How often can a lithium-ion battery be charged?

How often you can charge a lithium-ion battery depends on how you look after it. If you always charge the battery correctly, it can last up to 500-800 charging cycles. Lithium-polymer batteries, which have a higher energy density, have a slightly shorter life of 300-500 charging cycles. A complete charging cycle corresponds to a charge of approximately 70 percent.

Should a lithium-ion battery be charged temporarily? 

Even if a lithium-ion battery is still powerful, it can still be temporarily charged at any time. Intermediate lithium-ion battery charging can also be carried out partially. Above all, make sure that you switch off the charger before disconnecting the battery from the device. 

If the intermediate lithium-ion battery charging is frequent, the battery should be fully charged at intervals of about 12 weeks. This ensures that the battery works reliably. Before using the battery for the first time, it should also be fully charged.

What you should do if the lithium-ion battery no longer charges

If the lithium-ion battery no longer charges or no longer charges fully, there can be various causes including:

  • A defective battery
  • Charger and battery are not connected properly
  • Defective charger cable
  • Incompatible charger
  • The battery is too old
  • Ambient temperature too high or too low

If your battery is no longer charging, check all possible causes. If it turns out that the battery is defective or outdated, it is usually not worth repairing. In this case, the battery will need to be correctly disposed of and replaced with a new one. The above advice also applies to lithium polymer battery charging.

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