Batteries are ubiquitous. They’re used in nearly everything from flashlights, toys, and speakers to yard equipment. There is an astonishing number of devices that run on batteries. However, this produces a lot of waste. Thankfully, there is a way to reduce this: rechargeable batteries. With that in mind, many people wonder how many times it will take for the rechargeable batteries to run out permanently?
Typically, you can charge a rechargeable battery hundreds of times. Some users can get anywhere from 2 to 7 years from their rechargeable battery. Still, it depends on some other factors like how often the battery is used and how, whether it’s been stored partially charged, and the chemistry of the battery.
Rechargeable batteries are quite resilient and, if treated correctly, can last quite a long time. But, the chemistry of the battery and how it’s used on a day-to-day basis will determine how long it will last. Additionally, different battery types are more resilient and durable than others, so it’s worth your time to figure out what you’re working with.
How Many Times Can You Use Rechargeable Batteries?
While batteries can be charged hundreds of times, maybe even a few thousand times throughout their existence, certain batteries last longer than others. For instance, rechargeable batteries manufactured in 2015 and earlier tend to quit sooner than some of the more modern ones. Older model batteries tend to last 2 – 3 years with daily charging before you start noticing a drop incapacity due to a general industry transition of battery composition that crested around then.
Most rechargeable batteries on the market today are either made from nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion. The type of material does affect how many times you can recharge the battery before it stops holding a full charge.
Any device that has a high power consumption like toys and digital cameras works best with NiMH batteries. Unlike older models, these rechargeable batteries do not need to be fully drained before charging. You can charge the battery anytime you think it is running low.
When it comes to how many times you can charge a NiMH battery, it depends on its power capacity. AA rechargeable batteries with a capacity of 1700 to 2000mAh will take charge up to 1000 times in the slow overnight mode. Higher-capacity models with a 2100 to 2400mAh rating can be recharged 600 to 800 times.
Lithium-ion batteries are often used in lawn equipment, electric bikes, and other items that need a lot of power. They are similar to NiMH batteries when it comes to how many times you can recharge them. On average lithium-ion batteries last 2 – 3 years from 300 to 500 charges. When deciding which type of rechargeable battery to use, a good tip is to consider what it’s powering.
NiMH batteries are best suited for frequently used items, while lithium-ion rechargeable batteries provide the power you need for larger devices. An interesting fact is that NiMH batteries – which are commonly used for digital cameras and similar devices – currently make up around 3% of the overall battery market.
Maximizing the Life of Your Rechargeable Batteries
Even though your rechargeable batteries will last for years, how you store and charge them will affect their lifespan. It turns out that the “myth” you heard as a kid about batteries getting ruined if you charge them halfway has some truth to it. Here are a few other tips on how you can extend the life of your rechargeable batteries.
Will Overcharging Rechargeable Batteries Shorten Their Lifespan?
Surprisingly, overcharging a battery can shorten its life. While you don’t have to wait for the battery to go dead, you also don’t want to keep it continually on the charger. According to Battery University, store lithium-ion and NiMH batteries with a 40% charge. It prevents capacity loss due to age and overcharging, and the battery still has enough power to perform.
When you’re charging the battery, keep an eye on the time. You don’t want to leave it charging for hours. While the slow overnight mode will prevent some capacity loss, consider investing in a timer plug like this one (from Amazon) to maximize the battery’s life. This way, you can automatically stop power to the charger at the preset time.
Pay Attention to the Charger’s Location
An easy way to reduce battery life is to expose it to extreme conditions during charging or storage. Please don’t leave the battery exposed to the hot sun or freezing temperatures (those of us in colder climates know that a battery drains quickly in sub-zero temperatures because the stress will reduce battery capacity). You want to store the batteries in a cool, dry place with a temperature of around 59˚F.
Cooler temperatures help preserve the capacity while also allowing for self-discharge. If the battery is stored with a 40% charge in these conditions, the odds are very high that it’ll be ready to use when you dust it off and put it to work. However, as briefly noted, make sure it doesn’t get too cold (or too hot for that matter) because this will shorten its life. Store and recharge your batteries in a closet or somewhere else indoors, not in the garage or outside, where the temperature will fluctuate more.
Use the Right Charger
Your rechargeable battery came with a charger, and this is the one you should always use. You don’t want to mix and match chargers with different types of batteries. Manufacturers warn that using a different brand of charger than the battery can result in capacity loss. You also never want to put disposable batteries in a charger or mix them with rechargeable ones in a device.
Longest Lasting Rechargeable Battery
While no rechargeable battery lasts forever, some will keep going longer than others. One of the longest-lasting models is the Eneloop Pro from Panasonic. The AA high-capacity NiMH batteries are rechargeable up to 500 times and are resistant to extreme temperatures. Another great one is the Panasonic Eneloop Pro (also on Amazon) which retains 85% of its charge after over a year of storage.
You also don’t need to wait for the battery cycle to end before charging, a common complaint among consumers who don’t have the time or energy to drain the battery every single time before putting it back on the charger. You can charge the batteries anytime without any damage, but due try to store them partially charged, not all the way empty or all the way full.