Experts advise against this, saying that it's bad for your battery.

It's easy to plug your go-to device in at night, then unplug it when you wake up—eight hours later. While nearly all of us do just that, experts say you're doing a disservice to your battery's lifespan by charging it for too long. Here's what can happen when you charge your electronics for hours at a time, and what to do instead.

You'll shorten your device's battery life.

Batteries in most new devices—smart phones, laptops, and more—are lithium-ion batteries, with a lifespan of three to five years. But when you charge your device for several hours, you shorten its lifespan, warns technology expert Burton Kelso. Here's why: Keeping your battery at a constant 100-percent charge stresses it out—and that stress will cause it to degrade over time.

Powered down laptop sitting on a desk
Credit: Westend61 / Getty Images

Your device could overheat.

Leaving your device on the charger means that your device will constantly be "topped off" with additional charges—something that's known as "trickle charging," says software engineer Blake Sutton. "These trickle charges can lead to higher ambient temperatures for your phone," Sutton explains, "and batteries—especially the lithium-ion batteries—degrade at higher temperatures."

Your battery could expand.

When a device sits on the charger, its lithium-ion battery can expand—that is, it'll actually grow in size. And when it does that, it can break your device or even cause sparks, explains Kelso. So, rather than let your device idle on the charger, these experts say it's best to charge it until it hits 100 percent, then pull it from the charger. (There's some evidence that charging your phone only until 80 percent has benefits, too.) Only charge it once per day whenever possible.

You can get more bang for your battery buck by turning your device's display down to a lower setting, Kelso says, while Sutton adds keeping your device in a cooler room and out of direct sunlight can help preserve the battery's lifespan. Lastly, when your device can't hold a charge without being plugged in, then it's time to get a new battery or swap out your device, Kelso says.


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