Tag Archives: charger

Can you “train” your batteries?

dead batteryAs a lover of technology, it’s likely you’re constantly carrying around one or more chargers. A charger for your phone, one for your tablet, your computer, and any other tech-y items that may require an extra dose of juice. Extend any trip for more than a day, and the necessary charging items and accessories grow tremendously.

But what if there were a way to extend the battery life? Sure there’s phone cases that double as an extra battery, or even solar panels that work to add power, but what about the batteries themselves?

The Fix

For whatever reason, over time, rechargeable batteries lose their holding power. By implementing a charging routine, however, you can work to “retrain” those batteries. No more once-a-day charging, sudden loss of juice, or running in the red. By fully charging a device and then allowing it to deplete itself naturally (use it until it dies), the battery can “reset” itself. While this isn’t necessary every time a charge takes place, waiting until it’s on its last legs can increase power later on.

Why Batteries Die

While it may sound dramatic – electronics power off, batteries die – the loss of electronic fuel can actually be a learned habit. The more batteries become accustomed to receiving more power, the more they will rely on it. Think of your eating habits – if you’re used to having a snack mid-afternoon, your stomach may growl or begin churning in preparation. If you don’t have a snack, however, the stomach remains patient.

Much like digestive systems, batteries follow a pattern. The best way to get the most out of each pattern is to starve them until they can no longer function. (Though you certainly shouldn’t eat this way.) During this power-extending pattern, the battery doesn’t expect added help and electronics can hold power in a more efficient manner.

Fool Proof?

In some cases, batteries may just need replacing. While this “training” method is a great cure for many instances, it’s no substitution for damaged or aged models. When in question, check out chat rooms with those who’ve dealt with the same models, or contact the manufacturer for more details.

To lengthen any electronics’ battery life, try this training method to reintroduce a pattern of full vs. empty. It’s a great (free) way to make your smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, or any other mobile device more efficient. No cords or tag-along chargers needed.

Inside Apple’s USB Power Adapters

If you own an iPhone, you most likely are in possession of Apple’s 5W USB power adapter, a great little contraption that charges your iPhone via a wall outlet using your normal USB cable. From the face of it, it’s a fairly elementary device. It simply takes alternating current from the wall and turns it into five watts of five volt power.

However, according to Ken Shirriff (who recently tore open one of these power adapters), the circuitry is “surprisingly complex and innovative.”

Shirriff conducted an exhaustive analysis of the 5W iPhone charger and posted about it on his blog. He found out some pretty amazing things about Apple’s tiny USB wall charger. For those that are knowledgeable about circuitry and the like, you’ll find Shirriff’s writeup to be both extremely informative and interesting (with circuit diagrams drawn out even), but for those who just want to know why the damn thing costs a whopping $30, Shirriff has this to say:

Apple’s power adapter is clearly a high-quality power supply designed to produce carefully filtered power. Apple has obviously gone to extra effort to reduce EMI interference, probably to keep the charger from interfering with the touchscreen. When I opened the charger up, I expected to find a standard design, but I’ve compared the charger to the Samsung charger and several other high-quality industry designs, and Apple goes beyond these designs in several ways.”

Some of the ways that Apple went above and beyond are apparent when looking at the small details. Apple used “super-strong AC prongs,” as well as a “complex over-temperature / over-voltage shutdown circuit.” Overall, Shirriff says that Apple’s 5W USB power adapter packs an impressive amount of complexity into such a small space.

However, Shirriff notes that even though Apple’s 5W USB power adapter is higher quality than most other USB adapters, that doesn’t mean that the $30 price tag is necessarily worth it. He says that Apple’s USB charger probably only uses about a dollar more on parts than other, less-expensive chargers that cost $6-$10. So essentially, Apple is making a huge profit off of each power adapter that they sell.

Image Credit: Alan Levine