Two-way radio battery life concept: An RCA RDR2500 handheld unit sits in a charger beside two replacement radios.

7 Tips to Improve Battery Life for Your 2-Way Radios

Even the best two-way radios have their limitations. That’s why it’s important to know what the right (and wrong) ways are to store and care for them in order to maximize their use and improve their battery life. Here are our top seven tips to do just that.

1. Make Sure the Battery Is Completely Drained Before Recharging

If this sounds familiar to you, you may have heard the same advice regarding cellphone batteries. The reason is also the same: a phenomenon known as the “memory effect.” (This does not apply to lithium-ion batteries, discussed below.)

Let’s say that you keep putting your radio back on the charger when it’s still got 20 percent power. If you do that enough times, the battery starts to “remember” that position and only hold a charge down to that point. This actively cuts into battery life, and limits your daily use. Instead, fully drain the battery before setting it back on the charger in order to properly calibrate it.

Pro Tip: Charge new batteries overnight when you first get them. This is known as initializing.

2. Avoid Exposing Your Batteries to Extreme Temperatures

As a general rule, electronics and extreme temperatures don’t mix well. While it’s true that many two-way radios are built to withstand the harshest on-the-job conditions out there, even their batteries have limitations when it comes to heat and cold — especially when you’re actively charging them. Batteries function at their best when charged at temperatures between 40 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Don’t Leave Radios Turned On in Their Chargers

Anytime you’re charging a radio’s battery, turn the unit off. Then, when it’s time to use, disconnect the radio from the charger. It may be tempting to leave a radio sitting in the charger even while you use it — especially if you work from a stationary location like a desk — but that can easily lead to a couple of problems.

First, this creates a situation where the battery is constantly recharging, which degrades its performance and slowly decreases the amount of time it will hold a charge once it’s disconnected. Second, it can heat the battery to the point that it’s being “cooked.”

Pro Tip: Cycle batteries out of the same radio so that you know that one battery is always fully charged.

4. Buy Digital Radios

There are plenty of reasons to upgrade from analog to digital radios, and battery life is one of them. This is because of signal usage. Analog radios send out a continuous signal, which ultimately drains the battery faster. Digital options, like RCA’s RDR2500, use what’s known as Time Division Multiple Access, which cycles the signal on and off rapidly and saves a third to a half of the battery’s power compared to analog.

Pro Tip: RCA now offers an ultra-high-capability battery upgrade for many of its handheld two-way radios, including the RDR2500. This means you can get up to an extra 28 percent out of every charge, well over a full day’s shift.

5. Use Your Radios Less

We’re not saying you should turn your radio off when it’s not actively used, as that would defeat the purpose of having one (especially for safety). What we are saying is that you can encourage your workers to keep their transmissions short and sweet, and cut back on the chatter.

6. Choose Lithium-Ion Batteries and Replace Them Appropriately

Choose lithium-ion batteries because they hold the longest charge, weigh the least, and produce less heat than other conventional battery options. Due to their construction, they’re also not susceptible to the memory effect we touched on above. While you may be able to push your battery replacement as far out as two years, we recommend it every 18 months to avoid the common problems with poor performance.

7. Turn Off Features You Don’t Need

Two-way radios offer a wide variety of additional features. But some — like GPS, or text and display functions — may not be relevant for your team, and only serve to eat away your battery life. If that’s the case, better to simply turn them off.

Pro Tip: On radios that include digital displays, you can dial back the screen lighting to reduce battery usage.

We hope you’ll keep these tips in mind the next time you’re in the market for battery replacements and new two-way radios. If you have any questions regarding these items, or you’re interested in an instant quote, we’re standing by to help! Give us a call today at 888-299-6340 to speak to one of our award-winning two-way radio specialists.

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