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  • stevecowles

Lithium Ion Batteries - How many charges?

Updated: Feb 7, 2023

We are very keen to throw things away these days, something I expect to change significantly over the next few years. How long would these things actually last if we let them run their full course?

I've got a couple of elderly sets of 18650 Lithium Ion batteries which I have been using in a vape, not the first sets I've had but I wondered how long they would last so have kept one of the boxes with a date written on it, they are now over four years old and looking decidedly rough around the edges.

Unlike the ones found in packs (cars, ebikes etc), these have no clever battery management system and are always run until they stop working, the circuit in the vape will stop them from getting too low but, ultimately, they are in the worst possible circumstances for an extended lifespan.

Their performance is beginning to fall off the edge of a cliff and I either need to replace them or pack in the vape (probably a better bet), having said that, the two sets still outlast a night out and that is all I actually need of them. If I use them at home one set is just about charged by the time the other discharges (the tipping point for replacement and it is getting close).

I have charged these an absolute minimum of 1,500 times each and that is a very conservative estimate so I'm very impressed. I figure they have been good to me so I think they can be recycled when I next visit the council tip as I have two newer sets I reserve for trips away from home.

Considering all of the extra technology around large battery packs, maybe it is not surprising that car manufacturers are offering some quite decent warranties, I believe Rivian will provide a guarantee of 70% capacity after eight years or 175,000 miles. Still, there are many ICE cars in daily use which are older than that so the battle isn't won just yet.

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