How To Extend The Life Of Batteries

Tips on how to make batteries last longer in everyday devices.

There are few things more annoying than reaching for that flashlight, phone, or handheld gaming device and finding that the batteries have died an untimely death. The cost of batteries can really add up over the course of a year, and it seems that there isn't really a very good way to do without batteries since the number of battery-powered devices increases every year. There are ways to keep your batteries running longer, though... and getting the most out of your battery life always pays.

First of all, turn off any battery-powered devices when they're not in use. This may seem like it goes without saying, but it's actually quite easy to leave devices running, sometimes for hours on end. Perhaps you put it down to go get a snack and then simply forgot about it, or maybe you let your attention be grabbed by something else and didn't realize that it was still running. Letting battery-powered devices run unattended can obviously take precious hours off of your battery life... it can also cause the devices to overheat, which can cause damage to the device itself.

Another way to help control the cost of batteries is to buy devices with an energy-saver mode... in other words, if you forget about it or it sits idle for too long, the device will automatically switch to a lower-power mode or sometimes turn off completely. Unfortunately, energy-saving modes are usually only equipped on newer and more high-tech electronics... a common flashlight or handheld videogame is not as likely to have this feature equipped.

Of course, the option exists to get rechargeable batteries... and rechargeable batteries have come a long way in recent years from the rechargeable of old. Unfortunately, rechargeable batteries are usually made from a mixture of the metals nickel and cadmium (though other types of rechargeable have become available in recent years.) Some electronic devices exist that don't work well with nickel-cadmium batteries, especially older devices; older batteries also tend to suffer from a loss of power due to multiple recharges. In time, these batteries can reach a point where they no longer hold a charge... they then have to be replaced, and tend to cost a bit more than standard batteries.

Of course, should you need just another short burst of power from your batteries to run a device for a few minutes more or to get that remote control working again so you can change the channel, a method exists that seems like it shouldn't work but usually does. Simply remove the battery cover, spin the batteries, and replace the cover... even though it seems like it defies the laws of physics for turning the batteries to give them more power, it can actually establish a connection with a slightly-less-used portion of the battery terminals, and can give a bit more of the little power still contained within to the device. Along these same lines older batteries that haven't been used in a while can also sometimes give short bursts of charge, but neither should be relied on for anything long-term.

In the end, the only real solution to dead batteries is to get more batteries, but with smart usage your batteries can last you for days, weeks, or sometimes even months longer.

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