Battery Power Strategy in Portable Electronics

Not only are portable entertainment devices and handheld products powered by batteries, but such applications are also useful in green products such as Photovoltaic (PV) applications and Electric Vehicles (EVs).

As batteries become more popular in people's daily lives, the choice of battery and low-power design has become the key to the success of battery-powered product development. Because today's semiconductor technology is developing more rapidly than battery technology, power management design is the key to making users feel the pros and cons of the product.

In addition to safety, cost and size, maximizing battery life and extending its life is extremely important for system design in battery-powered applications. As battery technology for driving portable applications continues to increase, there is a need to select a suitable method for discharging and charging rechargeable batteries. This article first reviews the general battery strategy for portable applications and then discusses power management and battery management circuit design using today's integrated solutions.

Main battery technology

Battery technology can be easily divided into two categories: non-rechargeable and rechargeable. A non-rechargeable battery is discarded after it has been used once, and is called a disposable battery. Alkaline batteries are the most common household disposable batteries. Alkaline rechargeable batteries are also available on the market, but are beyond the scope of this article. A typical alkaline battery has a floating voltage of approximately 1.5V to 1.65V, a nominal voltage of 1.2V, and a voltage at the end of life of approximately 0.9V. The voltage at the end of a single-cell alkaline battery life can be as low as 0.7V-0.8V , depending on the load current. Table 1 shows some common alkaline battery configurations. Some applications can be configured in a variety of configurations, depending on product form factor, system requirements, available solutions, and power budget.

For example, a wireless optical mouse solution operates from 1.8V to 3.2V. The mouse works with two alkaline cells in series, eliminating the need for an additional regulated power supply. If an extremely compact mouse design is required, 2 AA/AAA alkaline batteries may not be available. In this case, a single AA/AAA alkaline battery can be used to reduce the space, but a boost converter is needed to raise the voltage to 1.8V.

Table 1: Comparison of alkaline battery configurations

Table 1: Comparison of alkaline battery configurations

The rechargeable battery is considered to be a secondary battery, and the power can be restored to its original state as much as possible after each use until the end of the battery life. In this paper, a lithium ion battery (Li-Ion), a lithium polymer battery (Li-Poly), and a nickel hydrogen battery (NiMH) will be described as an example. NiMH batteries are good alternatives to alkaline batteries because of their similar shape and operating voltage range to alkaline batteries. One disadvantage of traditional NiMH batteries is the high self-discharge rate (about 20% per month, as shown in Table 2), but a leading battery manufacturer has overcome this difficulty, and its NiMH battery series is in production. At least 85% of the capacity can be maintained after 12 months. Recovering the power of NiMH batteries has a simple and low-cost solution, but embedded chargers with a dual-cut-off charging method (specified by charging current and operating environment) will achieve optimal performance. The double cutoff charging method combines the characteristics of temperature increase with time and voltage decrease (or constant) with time.

Table 2: Comparison of battery chemistry

Table 2: Comparison of battery chemistry

Lithium-ion batteries are currently considered to be mature battery technologies and have been widely used in mobile phones and automobiles because of lower production costs and better performance than they were a decade ago. When designing a multi-cell battery system, a single-cell 3.6V battery has a huge advantage, reducing the number of battery cells by 2/3. The high energy density of lithium-ion batteries in quality and volume makes them suitable for a variety of portable applications, such as personal media players or wireless Bluetooth headsets. However, protection circuitry is needed to minimize the hazards (such as overcharging or overheating) that lithium-ion batteries can cause. Lithium-ion batteries have a relatively long life (500-1,000 chargeable). If you charge the battery every day, it will need to be replaced after 12 years. A well-designed lithium-ion battery power management system will extend battery life and increase overall system reliability.

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