How long should my battery last? That is a question with an answer that depends on many factors, and one which is changing all the time. To complicate matters further, there are several metrics of battery performance and longevity. Nevertheless, we would hope that all kinds of batteries are developing in the right direction when in it comes to longevity. It would be fair to say that they are, but what you should expect from your batteries is something that will always vary.
A bit of history is certainly worthwhile. When cell phone users became smartphone users, one of the first things that many noted was that phones suddenly didn’t seem to last as long without a charge. However, this wasn’t anything to do with a decrease in the quality of the batteries. Instead, it was an increase in all the functions of which a smartphone is capable. Cell phones used to be exactly what they said they were – a phone that was mobile – but “smartphone” is a bit of a misnomer. It would be better to think of these as pocket computers. And all those extra functions take extra energy.
Of course, it isn’t just phones. There are AA household batteries of the kind we’ve been familiar with for decades, and there are the huge car batteries found inside the latest EVs. Naturally, what longevity you should expect depends on what type of battery you have.
Metrics of Longevity
As mentioned, there isn’t just one way of measuring battery longevity – it depends on what type of longevity you are talking about:
Run time is defined as how long a battery will last on a single use with no recharge. It is the time it takes for a fully charged battery to run right down.
Batteries, unfortunately, can lose charge even when not in use. This is naturally a very gradual decrease, but it can become significant when batteries are stored for long periods of time.
Cycle life only applies to rechargeable batteries and it is defined as how many complete charge cycles (running right down from full charge) a battery can go through before it needs to be replaced. Some of the latest batteries, such as the AA and AAA USB C type rechargeable smart batteries produced by tech company Pale Blue Earth, can potentially offer hundreds of charge cycles before needing to be replaced.
So, How Long?
Naturally, this depends on the type of battery you have. Here follows some of the major ones:
Alkaline batteries are normally household batteries that can power many different devices. This means we cannot give an exact figure for run time. Nevertheless, we can say that the best alkaline batteries today should offer a shelf life of 5-10 years.
Normally rechargeable, these are the batteries inside your smartphone. The problem is they can vary…a lot. This is because most new batteries being developed are lithium-ion. The best move is to expect more out of newer ones as they are constantly being developed.
The best lead acid batteries will give a shelf life of around 9 years, but their quality can again vary. The cycle life is likely to be lower than other types of rechargeables but again, there are new innovations coming along all the time.
In conclusion, it is fair to say that this is a tangled issue that depends on too many factors to be answered succinctly. However, by getting a feel for the development of batteries and by knowing what kind you have, you can eventually get a good idea of which longevity to expect.