Recharging your batteries — both mental and lithium | At the library column

It’s wise to consider the little-noticed but more important aspects of life from time to time. That’s exactly what I did when a smoke detector battery died at 1am, again. Going to get the scale from the outside, I started adding up all the battery-powered devices I associate myself with. I’m biased towards Luddite-ism, but the number was still staggering, depressing, and incomplete; the refillable bottle opener my mom gave me came to mind, and others exist. So exploring how to properly charge these cordless electricity gobblers is a good idea, and The Washington Post’s Geoffrey Fowler helps with a recent article, “You’re Charging Wrong: 5 Ways to Make Gadget Batteries Last Longer.”

One of Fowler’s suggestions is particularly important to Alaskans: we shouldn’t charge the batteries in extreme weather conditions, as they work best at 72 degrees or lower, as long as they’re above the freezing point. Other tips: Don’t let batteries fully discharge or leave them in chargers once they’re at 100% as this stresses them out. “All devices are designed and manufactured with a target number of times the battery can be fully discharged and recharged. It’s usually between 300 and 1000… Don’t start charging until your battery reaches around 20% — and try to stop when you reach around 80%. This will ensure you maximize each cycle while keeping the battery stress-free.

Greg Hill is the former Director of Fairbanks North Star Borough Libraries. He can be contacted at