What Factors Affect the Battery Life of Your iBeacon Beacons

We get many questions about battery life in our beacons, so we thought we’d shed some light onto what factors affect your battery performance. In general – predicting the exact battery life of Beacons is difficult for any manufacturer, and is dependent on a variety of controllable and uncontrollable factors.
Why is this difficult? Simply because you have to account for all the environmental variables, storage / delivery circumstances, and finally how the Beacons have been configured. Let’s dig in.

Table of contents

The battery is being drained whether you use the Beacon or not

Batteries drain naturally whether they are being used or not. This is called “calendar fade”, and is a well-known storage issue for retailers and battery manufacturers. While the rate of drain is very slow, the truth remains that the longer batteries sit around – the more power capacity is lost over time.
Also remember that Beacons are generally delivered with batteries installed, therefore Beacons are active as soon as you take them out of the box. Again the rate of drain is slow, and as long as timely delivery is ensured, the loss of Beacons battery life is not significant in the long run.

What factors affect Beacon Battery life?

Temperature is a big factor

Batteries will start losing performance when the ambient temperature exceeds 30°C (86F), however the performance difference is quite small at this level. Once you get up to 40°C (104F) the difference becomes more significant, and only gets worse the higher up you go.
The only thing batteries hate more than being too hot, is being too cold. You likely have noticed this effect if you’ve ever tried using your phone outside in winter. Once you get close to and below the freezing point, batteries will drain much faster than normal – so it is a very good idea to plan for this in your deployment.

Temperature change is also a big factor

This means both the rate of change, and the degree of change. If for example the temperate changes by 20 or 30 degrees in one day, this causes a significant effect – however the same temperature change over several months will produce much less (if not insignificant) effect.
The effect can also be amplified in the ambient temperature continually (and significantly) fluctuates over a short period of time e.g. hot and sunny at 11am, cold and raining at noon, back to hot again by 2pm, and so on over the course of the day.

Your settings make the biggest difference of all

Just like changing the brightness settings of your smartphone – how you configure your Beacons will also greatly influence the battery life. Though such factors are more predictable than environmental, these will have a much bigger overall impact.

  • Smaller intervals drain batteries faster, because you are broadcasting the signal more often. For example a 20ms interval means you broadcast 50 times a second, whereas you can also have beacons broadcast every 10 seconds.
  • Higher power setting drains batteries faster, because you are drawing more power from the battery per broadcast. Together with the interval, this can make an exponential difference.

Concluding remarks on beacon battery life

Overall the best way to configure your Beacons overall depends on your use-case. It is up to you to decide what is the ideal balance between Beacon performance, gathering useful data, and ensuring the longest battery life possible.
Whatever is the result you most value, will ultimately decide the best configuration for your case.
Share your thoughts
We’re on Twitter and Facebook.

Find out also what is Beacon.

Contact us