Take charge of your charging habits

Many of us are so connected to our phones, tablets and laptops that we start to panic when the battery nears the dreaded zero mark.

We want our device batteries to perform well for as long as possible. But taking care of them can conflict with why we have our electronics in the first place. The point isn’t to fret about battery life, it’s to read and send emails, scroll on social media, take photos and countless other pursuits.

If you ever find yourself fretting over your device’s power levels, here are a few tips on striking the right balance between battery health and how you work and play.

Keep your battery 20 to 80 percent charged

There’s a lot of reasonable advice around the internet to keep your phone charged between 20 and 80 percent. To understand those recommendations, it helps to understand how rechargeable batteries work and why you might want to either follow or ignore them.

Up until about 20 years ago, batteries benefited from occasional “deep discharges” — running the battery down until the device shuts off. But because of the different materials used in batteries today, that’s not true anymore.

Rechargeable batteries work by containing two different materials that produce electricity when particles flow from one to the other. They flow in the other direction when being recharged. That process will degrade any battery over time. Keeping both sides of the battery in balance, with the device charged at about 50 percent, will put the least amount of stress on the battery and make it last longer.

But that’s unrealistic — no one’s going to keep their phone half-charged all the time. So, experts try to make it easier by recommending 20 to 80 percent. Apple devices offer more flexibility, with modern rechargeable batteries designed to last for years. Experts also recommend focusing on using and enjoying your device rather than worrying about the battery.

Overnight charging can add stress to batteries

Charging your device up to 100 percent or letting it drain to zero until it shuts down puts extra stress on the battery and can shorten its life. That’s why it’s better to charge your devices occasionally throughout the day rather than keep them plugged in while you sleep. Newer electronics will stop charging at 100 percent but will resume charging when it drops to 99 percent.

Keep it cool, but not cold

One absolute in battery care is don’t let your device get warmer than 95 degrees. Keep it out of the sun, and never leave it in a hot vehicle. If the device does get hot, don’t go to the other extreme and put it in the freezer. Just place it in the shade or take the cover off for a while.

Use less power

It sounds simple, but one of the easiest ways to put less stress on the battery is to use less power. You can close energy-draining apps and functions when you’re not using them, and you can activate energy-saving settings like putting the device to sleep sooner.

Another easy way to reduce battery use is to activate the “airplane mode” button every now and then. You may be inconvenienced by a temporary pause on receiving emails or phone calls, but it might help you focus on that movie you’re watching, the trail you’re hiking or the conversation with your dinner companions.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to turn in their electronics every couple years for the latest versions, these recommendations likely won’t apply. But if you’re someone who wants your devices to last longer, these suggestions can help prolong battery life.