How Long Do Lithium-ion Batteries Last


Lithium-ion Battery Life Calculator:

How Long Does A Lithium-Ion Car Battery Last?

The following table shows the approximate time it takes for a typical rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery to reach 100% capacity after being fully charged. The actual time will depend upon many factors such as the type of charger used, ambient temperature and so forth.

Battery Type Capacity (Whr) Time to 100% Charge 1 Hour 2 Hours 4 Hours 8 Hours 16 hours 32 hours 48 hours 72 hours 96 hours 120 minutes per day 3 months 6 months 12 months 18 months 24 months 30 months 36 months 42 Months 50 years 80 years 120 years 160 years 200 years 240 years 300+ Years

For example, a typical pack of Nissan Leaf’s contains approximately 7.4 kWh of Li-Ion cells with a nominal voltage of 3.7 Volts.

If you use a standard household 110 VAC outlet, the pack would take approximately two hours to reach 100%. However, if you were using a higher power plug adapter like one from Tesla Motors or another brand of high-power charger, then the time would drop significantly. For instance, if you were using a Tesla Powerwall 2 charger at 220 VAC, the pack could theoretically reach 100% in only three hours instead of four. Other factors such as heat will also affect this time.

How Long Do Lithium-Ion Batteries Last?

The typical lifespan of a modern rechargeable battery cell is around 300 to 500 complete charge-discharge cycles. For a typical smartphone, this works out to be around one and a half to three years of normal usage. For a laptop, this could work out to be around three to five years of normal usage. After this time, the battery will have deteriorated to the point where it will no longer hold much of a charge even if you aren’t using the device.

NOTE: If you completely drain and recharge your battery on a regular basis (such as using it until it shuts off automatically due to low power) this will count as two cycles.

If you use your device intermittently (letting it go dead periodically) then this will count as two to three complete charge-discharge cycles. If you don’t use your device for a week or more, this will count as one complete charge-discharge cycle even if the battery is completely dead when you come to use it again.

Both full and partial discharges count as a cycle, but only full charge, complete discharge, and recharge cycles affect the overall life span. The table above shows the approximate lifetime of each battery type if you were to cycle them 300 to 500 times. In reality, batteries that are not subjected to regular discharge cycles (such as those found in mobile devices, laptops, and other portable equipment) can be cycled significantly more than 500 times.

If the battery does not see regular usage, then it will self-discharge over time. In other words, if you were to leave a battery unused for a year, it would probably be completely dead when you finally decided to use it again. Obviously, this is not good for battery life and most devices (especially those designed to be portable) have some sort of protection to guard against this.

The other factor that determines the amount of usage a battery can undergo is heat. All batteries suffer a loss in capacity when exposed to constant high temperatures. While normal usage causes heat through the generation of electrical current, ambient temperatures around the battery will also play a role.

This is why it is not recommended to charge batteries (especially Li-Ion types) in high heat conditions.

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If you want to maximize your battery life, try storing the battery at around room temperature and only use it in devices that can give the battery a break every once in a while. Using batteries continuously at high loads (either through discharge or charge) will quickly degrade lifespan even if the temperature remains fairly cool.

Lasting Longer vs. Recharging Quicker

While there is a common misconception that longer lasting batteries also take longer to recharge, this is not necessarily true. Some batteries can last for only a couple of hours but can be recharged in as little as fifteen minutes. Other batteries can last for days or even weeks but take many hours to recharge.

The most common example of this is with mobile phones. Even with lighter phones such as flip phones, users would have to undergo a tedious five-hour recharge for a usage time of twelve hours. With current smartphones, users are lucky to get a usage time of four hours even with ultra-light usage and these devices can take as long as ten hours to recharge.

Obviously, the capacity to last longer and the capacity to recharge quicker are two completely different specifications. The only similarity is that both parameters are measured in some time unit (hours, minutes, seconds, etc). This means that it is mathematically possible to have a battery that recharges in one minute but only lasts for a second.

I don’t know of any batteries like this but it is still a possibility.

Battery Chemistry

Not all batteries are created equal. While all batteries convert chemical energy to electrical energy, different types of batteries use different types of chemistry. This is a very basic explanation of the most common battery chemistries:

Lead Acid

Old school batteries made of Lead and Lead Oxide, these are used in cars and stored backup power for phones or other devices. They are cheap but also large and heavy

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Nickel Cadmium (NiCd)

Batteries that have been around for a long time. NiCads have a high discharge rate but are prone to having a “memory effect” if not fully discharged after each use. They are toxic as well.

Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH)

These are more environment friendly than their NiCad counterparts but are more sensitive and more expensive.

Lithium Ion (Li-Ion)

The most common type of battery found in portable electronic devices such as cell phones and laptops. Have a high discharge rate and can be recharged more times than other types of batteries.

Lithium Polymer (Li-Poly)

More powerful than Li-Ion but also more sensitive. They are also lighter than other types.

There are other more obscure types of batteries but these five are the most common and widely used. I don’t know enough about the more exotic types to include them here.

Sources & references used in this article: