Is it safe to overcharge your device?

A lot of people are still quite unsure whether it’s safe to overcharge a phone or a laptop’s battery, to leave a phone charging overnight. Or if you have a new device, should you drain it first before fully charging it?

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The brief answer is Yes and No to those questions respectively. Those safety tips are applicable in the days of old when your phones or laptops are still using Nickel-based batteries. Remember NiMH and NiCd?

These batteries need to be fully discharged before charging it back in order to preserve battery life. You also need to fully charge it before disconnecting it from the charger to retain its effectiveness. But you also shouldn’t overcharge them as too much heat will cause them to bloat.

Today, most batteries are of Lithium-type, Lithion-ion (Li-ion) or Lithium-polymer (Li-Po) which has a control system to detect when it’s fully-charged already.

Actually, fully charging a battery is bad but good thing is that these batteries will only charge up to a certain percent (even if the display shows 100%), then will do a trickle charge so as to maintain that level when it’s still plugged in.

Also, running your battery down to its last charge is also bad as it will lose its charging capacity. This is also why when you buy a new gadget, the battery has some charge left on it. It’s recommended that you not wait for the battery to drain to zero before charging it.

When not in use, batteries self-discharge. Apply some charge or bring it down to (40%) if you’re going to put them in storage. Discharge will be slower as compared when at full charge. Put them in an air-tight container when storing for a long time.

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Lastly, and this is important. Not all chargers are created the same. While that universal tip fits in most of your devices, you must check the voltage output of the charger before you plug it in anywhere. I have a charger that I use on all of our phones. One time, I used it on a new phone that I was reviewing and I was surprised it got fully-charged too quickly. It also grew too hot and discharged way too fast. Turns out that the battery on that phone has a max voltage requirement and my charger is over that limit.

In conclusion, batteries today are so smart (well from reputable brands that is) that you don’t have to worry about wearing them down before their time. Just be wary that if a battery or if your device gets too hot (warm is ok), it’s either you’re charging it wrong or there’s something wrong with the battery.

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4 Responses

  1. Great post Calvin! I’m using Sony Xperia Sola and had trouble with its battery. It drains quickly even if I just purchase it yesterday. I think, I did something wrong with the initial charging. Ugh. it confuses me a lot.

  2. John G says:

    Right on Calvin. I always say these to family and friends.

    Btw, Convergence, an IT show from Net25, runs commercials opposite to the facts above. I just shake my head when I see them.

  3. Abhinav says:

    It’s really helpful! Thank you!

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