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The Ins and Outs of Lithium-ion Batteries

January 2018

Rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are used to power many portable electronic devices, including barcode scanners, mobile computers and smart phones. Li-ion batteries are renowned for their high energy density, minimal memory effect and slow self-discharge.

How do they work?

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are comprised of two electrodes (one negative, one positive) and an electrolyte that acts as the electrical conduit between the electrodes. When a lithium-ion battery discharges, lithium ions transfer from the negative to the positive electrode (the opposite occurs when the battery is recharging).

Advantages of Li-ion batteries

  • Higher energy density - Li-ion batteries pack more “punch” than other rechargeable batteries, making them lighter and smaller.
  • Minimal memory effect – Li-ion batteries seldom lose their “maximum energy capacity” over the course of their life (even if they’re frequently recharged following partial discharge).
  • Low self-discharge rate – When not in use, Li-ion batteries don’t self-discharge as quickly as NiCd and NiMH batteries.
  • Faster charging – Li-ion batteries charge faster than other rechargeable batteries.
  • Longevity – Good-quality Li-ion batteries should provide between 400 and 1,200 complete charge/discharge cycles – provided they’re maintained properly.

Tips for maintaining Li-ion batteries

  • Ideally, Li-ion batteries should be stored and recharged at room temperature (20-25 degrees Celsius).
  • Use the right charger; in other words, the one supplied by the manufacturer. Non-genuine or generic chargers can potentially damage a Li-ion battery or the device it powers.
  • Li-ion batteries are sensitive to heat, which can shorten battery life. Be careful not to overcharge or leave Li-ion batteries in the sun for too long.
  • When it comes to long-term storage, Li-ion batteries should be partially charged (50% is a commonly-quoted level) and stored at room temperature to reduce the aging effect. Avoid storing Li-ion batteries in a fully charged or totally discharged state.
  • Always recharge a fully-discharged Li-ion battery ASAP, as a prolonged “deep discharge” can kill the battery.
  • Avoid dropping or rough-handling Li-ion batteries, as they can leak internally.

When should a Li-ion battery be replaced?

Put simply, a Li-ion battery should be replaced when its overall performance starts to drop. An end-of-life Li-ion battery typically loses its charge quickly, and warms up whilst recharging (a sign of high internal resistance and cell degradation). Given the potentially volatile nature of old Li-ion batteries, they should be disposed of quickly (MobileMuster – www.mobilemuster.com.au - provides a free recycling service).

For further information and pricing on Li-ion replacement batteries for brands such as Zebra, Datalogic, Aruba, Panasonic and Cisco Meraki, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on 07 3399 6510.