3 Key Concerns for Long Life Battery Systems

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The three key facets for longevity in batteries and battery systems are cycle loss, calendar degradation and self-discharge. Here’s how they can affect your project.

1.) Cycle Loss

Cycle loss is the amount of capacity lost as you cycle a battery on each recharge cycle. Cycle loss depends on the depth of discharge but most manufacturers spec their devices assuming around an 80% discharge. Typical lithium-ion batteries last about 500 cycles before a noticeable decrease in total energy storage occurs. Some are able to go beyond 1000 cycles with very little capacity loss. 

0216 Batteries for Long Life Products Cycles

 2.) Calendar Degradation

Calendar degradation is a loss related to chemistry. The materials inside of a battery break down as they sit, resulting in less total storage capacity over time. This loss is dependent on the temperature and charge level at which a battery is stored: the higher the storage temperature and the charge level the faster you will see an impact from calendar degradation. If calendar loss is a specific concern for your system make sure to spec batteries that specifically minimize that issue like the Panasonic BR series of lithium secondary cells that are designed to maintain up to 90% of their stored energy after 10 years. 

3.) Self-Discharge

As a battery sits on a shelf the internal resistance of the battery will cause it to burn energy over time. Self-discharge is a concern to battery-powered systems that require long up-time with little maintenance.

Approximate self-discharge rates for the most common battery chemistries:

Li-Ion - 2-3% per month
NiCD - 15-20% per month
NiMH - 30% per month
Low Self Discharge NiMH - 2-3% per month

Some advancement have been made to improve this loss, especially in NiMH batteries, but self-discharge should still be accounted for in systems that sit without maintenance for months at a time. 

By keeping these three design concerns in mind you can make more reliable and capable battery powered devices. Looking for more info? We go deeper into battery design with 5 Essential Factors for Choosing the Right Battery. Interested in batteries for high current mobile systems? Get the facts here.

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