Memory effect in batteries

Memory effect in batteries is an urban battery myth propagated by a lot of people today. In fact, a good number of people still live in fear of memory effect and its consequences. So what then is memory effect?

In the old days when Nickel Cadmium (NiCD) and Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) were the batteries of choice, they had one huge flaw. As we all know, a charge cycle (or full charge) means charging a phone till it is full and discharging it all the way down. Now with Nickel batteries, if you charged it up till it is full and do not drain it down to zero before recharging, it “remembers” its “new” capacity.

For example, lets say you charged a NiCD battery to 100% and discharged it to 30% before recharging. The battery will “remember” that you plugged it in at 30% so anytime the battery falls to 30%, it switches off. The effective battery capacity has fallen from 100% to 70%.

Read: How Smartphone Batteries Charge

The direct consequence of memory effect is the loss of effective battery capacity. It would get smaller and smaller with every reduced charge cycle.

This has given rise to a highly pervasive urban myth today. It states that you have to totally drain your battery on first use or on normal use before recharging it. If we were still using NiCD or NiMH batteries, it would have been very correct. But this is 2021 and we use Lithium batteries now.

Lithium batteries unlike Nickel batteries do not suffer from memory effect and so can be charged at any point in time.

In fact, totally, discharging your batteries or doing full charges (0 – 100%) would increase intracellular battery pressure and use up your charge cycles faster. These would lead to faster battery degradation and a shorter battery lifespan.

So in conclusion, if you can help it, avoid draining your Lithium batteries if you want them to last longer. The fear of memory effect is a hangover from the Nickel days. A ghost of past years which is not only totally useless today but also rather quite silly.

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