A few years ago, I forgot my spare cell phone battery on a trip to Hong Kong, and I hastily purchased one at the airport. When I returned home, I soon realized that with three identical batteries, it was hard to keep a steady rotation of even usage. Furthermore, while out and about with two fresh batteries in my bag, once I swapped batteries it was hard to determine which battery was drained and which was fresh. Although this trivial problem won’t bother most people outside of engineers and OCD patients, I offer the following low-cost solution.

You will need only two things: a Sharpie permanent marker and a label making machine. The latter could be omitted depending on your budget and level of obsessiveness.

Step 1. On your labeler, print a suitable number of labels, one for each battery. I made three, “B1”,”B2”, and “B3”. The standard designator for a battery per IEEE 200-1975 and ASME Y14.44-2008 is “BT”, but in the interest of saving space I used “B” which is very commonly used. If your compulsiveness requires, feel free to use the former designation. If your batteries are exceptionally small and/or your labels exceptionally large, and if you suffer from a free and flexible mind, you could simply label them “1”, “2”, and “3”. Although be warned using this method, when you see the batteries weeks later, you may not recognize them as batteries without the proper designator “BT” or “B”.

randomly number them, but others may wish to label them according to chronological manufacturing date, purchase date, exact weight, etc. I also suggest placing the label on the same side and in the same position on each battery. OPTION: Forego the label maker, and just write the designation on each battery.

Step 2. Examine the batteries’ plastic carrying boxes, and determine which side is the top lid. On the inside surface of the top lid, make a thick line with the Sharpie along one edge. Marking on the inside will minimize the ink wearing off with frequent use.

Now that we’re armed with clearly labeled batteries and striped carrying cases, it’s a simple matter to utilize The Stumbling Engineer’s Compulsive Cell Phone Battery Management System. First off, you can easily use the batteries in sequential order, since they are well labeled. Secondly, if you always place the batteries in the case label side up when charged, label side down when depleted, then it’s easy to tell at a glance which battery is which. Note that “up” is identified by the top of the case which we marked with the Sharpie.

Two fully charged batteries One fully charged battery Battery case opened