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Old 2012-01-31, 00:02   Link #1
Daniel E.
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PS3 controller plugged in at all times

Is it safe to leave the PS3 controller plugged in at all times? I did a bit of a search on this and there's seems to be a very strong disagreement about how much the battery in the controller is affected by this.

Some people claim that the battery keeps on charging (even when full) which in turn kills the life of it rather quickly, while others claim that the controller has a "smart charge" like feature which stops the charging when full.

Would the "smart charge" also work if the controller is plugged to your PC?
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Old 2012-01-31, 01:48   Link #2
Ledgem
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I don't think there's any such battery that continues to charge even after it's full - you'd have some physical warping, leaking, or explosions if that were the case. It looks like the controller uses a lithium ion battery (which I would have expected), so there's no concerns over memory effects, either.

The comments you're mentioning sound a lot like discussions over how to care for batteries, in general. You're probably aware of most of this, but I'll say it anyway: batteries have a set number of charge/discharge cycles that they can be put through before their maximum capacity begins to diminish. With lithium ion batteries, the magic number was 300; for lithium ion polymer batteries, I think it's 1000. One cycle is a full discharge and recharge; if you discharged a battery halfway, recharged it, discharged it halfway again and then recharged it again, that would count as one cycle. Bearing in mind that there's a limited number of counters, some people get edgy about using their batteries when they could be plugged in. (Note: the cycles generally go up a lot slower than you would think.)

On the other hand, batteries also degrade if they're not used regularly. Many manufacturers suggest that you should completely discharge a battery once every 1-3 months, followed by completely charging it back to full, in order to get the maximum life out of it. That's arguably a reason to not keep it plugged in all of the time.

My personal opinion, going based off of battery health (and under the assumption that Sony didn't invent something totally new and crazy), is that it's perfectly fine to leave the controller plugged in. If you're worried about maximizing battery health and life, just remember to put it through a full discharge every few months.

As to your last question, the charging takes place on the controller, so it should "smart charge" regardless of the power source.
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Old 2012-01-31, 02:49   Link #3
Daniel E.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
The comments you're mentioning sound a lot like discussions over how to care for batteries, in general.
Well, the discussion was started over the PS3 controller, but other people were quick to mention stuff like laptops too.

http://www.gamespot.com/forums/topic/27106953

What you mentions also appears to have "won" this particular discussion, but it's still something that others heavily debate.

Mind you, I do not plan to have the controller turned on all day (or even half a day), but the PS3 is owned by my nephew and I wanted to be sure just in case.
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Old 2012-01-31, 03:04   Link #4
Ledgem
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I forgot to mention one other factor: no matter what you do, after a period of a few years (I can't remember if it was two or three), the battery's maximum capacity will begin to diminish. Everything else I've said relates to general battery maintenance as suggested by most manufacturers.

I guess the key message is, don't worry about it
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Old 2012-01-31, 05:18   Link #5
Sides
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
On the other hand, batteries also degrade if they're not used regularly. Many manufacturers suggest that you should completely discharge a battery once every 1-3 months, followed by completely charging it back to full, in order to get the maximum life out of it. That's arguably a reason to not keep it plugged in all of the time.
Actually that is a bad idea for Li-ion battery tech itself, you should never ever fully discharge them, unless it has a fuel gauge. In that case a full discharge and recharge will recalibrate it, manufacturer will tell you to do it, if necessary, read the handbook/manual. With NiCd and NiMH it is a different matter, different tech has different requirements. As for the PS3 controller, they have a circuit board build in, managing battery. I am kind of sure once the battery is full it uses the juice from the USB.
The 360 and the additional rechargeable battery pack on the other hand, you don't want to do that, because it is kind of primitive tech used in there,
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Old 2012-01-31, 10:02   Link #6
Ledgem
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sides View Post
Actually that is a bad idea for Li-ion battery tech itself, you should never ever fully discharge them, unless it has a fuel gauge. In that case a full discharge and recharge will recalibrate it, manufacturer will tell you to do it, if necessary, read the handbook/manual. With NiCd and NiMH it is a different matter, different tech has different requirements. As for the PS3 controller, they have a circuit board build in, managing battery. I am kind of sure once the battery is full it uses the juice from the USB.
The 360 and the additional rechargeable battery pack on the other hand, you don't want to do that, because it is kind of primitive tech used in there,
You could be right - the batteries I'm thinking of do have a "fuel gauge" so it could be more for recalibration than anything else. However, it's technically not good for a lithium ion battery to be at 0% or 100% charge; for long-term storage, the general suggestion is to have the battery around 50-60% charged. Of course, that's difficult to do if you're actively using the device, and don't want to bother with removing the battery and putting it back in all of the time.

The big point I would want to make, though, is that in the long run none of this really matters that much. You might be able to get a bit more life out of a battery by following those various protocols, but it's not like you'll kill a battery if you don't. I'm not convinced that it's worth the effort.
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Old 2012-01-31, 14:11   Link #7
Daniel E.
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Thanks for the replies Ledgem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sides View Post
The 360 and the additional rechargeable battery pack on the other hand, you don't want to do that, because it is kind of primitive tech used in there,
Interesting that you brought this up, because I was also thinking of doing the same with the X-box 360 controller. Should have included both controllers on the thread title.

Thanks for the replies as well.
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Old 2012-01-31, 18:47   Link #8
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If the engineers who built those things aren't complete failures, then it will have a circuit to stop charging the battery when it's full as well as one that disconnects the battery when a cable is attached, so it does not drain without need (or you use a battery that fully charged has a bit less voltage than USB provides, then you can just use a diode).
This is not high tech. It's a very simple circuit and you can get ICs to handle it all for you for negligible cost. You hook up one end of this IC to a voltage source (ie the +5V from USB), the other end to the + side of your lithium-ion accu and you're done.
Circuits like this are often already integrated into the lithium batteries itself. And I'm talking about dirt cheap chinese ones here. With those types you can just hook them up to a voltage permanently and they will manage everything else themselves.
No need to be a design genius.

With that said, I am pretty sure you can just ignore such concerns for a product like this. I believe you will find few devices using lithium-ion accus, that don't have this.

Last edited by Dhomochevsky; 2012-01-31 at 19:13.
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Old 2012-02-01, 17:56   Link #9
GrimJack
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coming from personal experience keeping a laptop plugged in all the time will destroy the battery I cannot answer for PS3 controllers but it is probably not the best idea
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Old 2012-02-01, 20:13   Link #10
Dhomochevsky
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrimJack View Post
coming from personal experience keeping a laptop plugged in all the time will destroy the battery I cannot answer for PS3 controllers but it is probably not the best idea
As I said, this is extremely unlikely. More so for a laptop accu, which has multiple cells that are definetely managed by an electronic.

However, lithium-ion accus age fastest if they get exposed to heat while being fully charged. If you constantly have your laptop cable plugged in, your accu is always fully charged. If you use the laptop in this state, it will heat up the accu and make it age.
So if you use the laptop as a desktop all the time, with the cable plugged in, you should take out the accu. But not because of charging, but to get it away from the heat. If you do this, it is a good idea to get the accu down to half charged before removing it for a longer time. That way it will age even less.

This however is not a problem with controller-accus. They don't heat up like a laptop does.

Things that make lithium-ion age:
heat > intensity of current drawn >> recharge cycles > level of charge
the last 2 may be in reverse order, but really the first 2 are the major causes

Last edited by Dhomochevsky; 2012-02-01 at 20:35.
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Old 2012-02-02, 12:15   Link #11
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Yeah, you usually don't have to worry too much about lithium-ion batteries too much. It combines the best parts of both Ni-Cad and NiMH with less maintenance. The real disadvantage is operating temperature and relatively lower cell life.

Ni-cad are the ones you need to make sure you periodically discharge fully than recharge as it develops "memory", without going technical term, basically if you keep charges when say at 40% mark consistently, the battery will think that it capacity only have 60% left and degrade from there.

It is smart in NiMH's case to unplug when fall because the battery "could" enter into a self discharge mode and ends up using the charging cycle even while plugged in. But at flip side, NiMH also has highest discharge rate. So if left unplugged and unused, it discharges very quickly.
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Old 2012-02-02, 12:52   Link #12
Ledgem
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Undertaker View Post
It is smart in NiMH's case to unplug when fall because the battery "could" enter into a self discharge mode and ends up using the charging cycle even while plugged in. But at flip side, NiMH also has highest discharge rate. So if left unplugged and unused, it discharges very quickly.
This is less of an issue with the "low self-discharge" NiMH batteries, the most well-known being Sanyo's "Eneloop" brand of batteries. I can highly recommend those batteries - it was always really annoying to pick up a pair of NiMH batteries that I had charged 2-3 months prior, only to discover that they were nearly dead. Not an issue with the Eneloops.
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Old 2012-02-02, 17:25   Link #13
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I had a laptop with a battery that only last for 5 minutes fully loaded (I swear I didn't thought of my laptop as EVA, honest! ). Admittedly it was from the age of Pentium4. From what I hear, this comes more quickly if you plug the charger 24/7 (which I kinda did), but I guess all battery will meet this same fate eventually, yeah?
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Old 2012-02-02, 18:20   Link #14
Sides
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erneiz_hyde View Post
I had a laptop with a battery that only last for 5 minutes fully loaded (I swear I didn't thought of my laptop as EVA, honest! ). Admittedly it was from the age of Pentium4. From what I hear, this comes more quickly if you plug the charger 24/7 (which I kinda did), but I guess all battery will meet this same fate eventually, yeah?
The problem in your case is the heat that the battery is exposed to, that comes from other parts from your laptop. Other issues that is pretty common with laptops is dirty or oxidation on the connectors/terminals.
But yeah nothing last forever.
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Old 2012-02-03, 13:05   Link #15
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And considering it's from P4 era, you battery might just run it's course and deteriorates to a point that it's doesn't really matter and the battery is not hold it's charge.
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