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How Long Does a Laser Pointer Last?


A laser pointer is commonly used in educational or business presentations to enhance verbal guidance. 

It is also helpful in scientific research in various fields, including chemistry, medicine, photonics, and physics

A handheld laser pointer is often included in emergency bags or kits reserved for calamities, and it can replace a flashlight in certain situations. It is a reliable communication medium, especially during emergencies.

If you have owned at least one, you’ve most likely wondered, ‘how long does a laser pointer last?’ 

A laser pointer’s longevity depends on three factors – its power supply, bulb, and casing. This article will discuss how these affect a laser pointer’s lifespan, so keep reading. 

How Long Does a Laser Pointer Last?

Green laser pointer

A laser pointer can last until the crystal burns out, or if you’re unlucky, if the device breaks when dropped on a hard surface.

However, if used properly, it can remain functional for at least two years, which is usually the period covered by a warranty, provided you purchased it from a reliable store.

A laser pointer’s performance and longevity depend mainly on three factors: battery life, bulb/laser diode lifespan, and build durability. 

Battery

A man holding a green laser pointer

Different laser pointers use different kinds of batteries, and below are three of the most common ones:

  • Alkaline. Many low-drain devices, including laser pointers, equip single-use alkaline batteries because they come good for much longer. Many laser pointers in the market use alkaline AA or AAA batteries. 
  • Lithium-ion. Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, such as 18650 batteries, are convenient for laser pointers because they store significant energy. A lithium-ion battery is also capable of functioning at higher voltages compared to other rechargeable batteries. 
  • Silver-Oxide. Silver-Oxide batteries, also known as AG13, are either single-use or rechargeable batteries commonly used in watches and calculators, and laser pointers that are too compact to accommodate AA or AAA batteries. 

Nowadays, there are laser pointers that no longer equip batteries and are rechargeable via a USB port instead. They are often lightweight and last for about two hours on a full charge with continued use.

Alkaline batteries can last between a few months to one year based on your usage pattern, depending on how long and how often you use it.

Lithium-ion batteries can last up to 500 charging cycles or one and a half years before their performance drops.

Silver-oxide batteries can last up to three years or more. They are also called button cell batteries because of their flat, round shape. 

How long can a laser keep working before running out of battery?

It depends on its limited power source.

Most laser pointers that run on alkaline batteries can last for two to four hours before needing to be recharged. Laser pointers that operate on silver-oxide as well as lithium batteries, on the other hand, can last about six hours when left turned on. 

A laser pointer usually gets hot within a few minutes after being turned on, but it will keep working until the battery dies.

Bulb or Laser Diode Lifespan

broken pointer lasers need fixing

Instead of a bulb, a laser pointer equips a laser diode, which converts electrical energy into a coherent and narrow laser beam of visible light. A laser diode is a component of a laser module, which is rated between 10,000 to 50,000 hours. 

A laser pointer is available in various colors, usually red and green.The colors represent the diode’s wavelengths. The shorter the wavelength, measured in nanometers (nm), the higher the frequency the faster the energy is consumed. 

Red is the most commonly used and typically low-powered. It has two wavelengths – 638nm and 650mn; the latter is more common, while the 638nm is slightly brighter. 

Green, on the other hand, is usually available in wavelengths of 532nm and 515/520nm. The latter pertains to high-powered green laser diodes, which were developed in 2012.

Laser diodes in laser pointers also come in varying output powers, usually ranging from 1mW  (milliwatts) to 5mW. Output power can affect battery life and the lifespan of the laser pointer itself. 

The higher the output power, the faster the battery runs out, and depending on usage, the laser diode could burn out. 

Build Durability

2 red laser pointers

The casing is another important factor that affects the lifespan of a laser pointer. Because the device is small and portable, it can break from dropping on a hard surface. 

Not all casing materials are created equal, though. While some are easily damaged, others are more durable and can withstand the impact of being dropped. 

Plastic cases are the most prone to breakage because they are often brittle, while wood casings are more durable. Metal, especially aluminum, is the best choice of casing material because it is malleable.

Aluminum is also corrosion-resistant, which means it prevents environmental deterioration by chemical reactions, thereby increasing the laser pointer’s lifespan. 

Other things that improve the build quality of a laser pointer are features, such as shock and water resistance. Some laser pointers also have rubberized grips to prevent them from slipping easily from your hands.         

How Do I Extend the Lifetime of a Laser Pointer?

Laser Pointer Advice & Tips

Laser pointers aren’t built to be used for many hours at a time. If kept on continuously, for instance, for thirty minutes, it can drain the battery faster and even affect its performance, such as beam brightness.

If you want to extend its lifespan, avoid continuous usage and make sure you turn it off when not in use.

When storing your laser pointer, remove the batteries if you plan not to use them for long periods.

If possible, do not use the laser pointer for more than a minute at a time. After keeping it on for 60 seconds, turn it off, and wait a couple of minutes before using it again. 

Also, do not operate the laser pointer beyond its maximum temperatures as the laser pointer’s performance may deteriorate. Many laser pointers operate on a standard temperature range of 41°F to 95°F or 5°C to 35°C.

Conclusion

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A laser pointer may be tiny, but it is surprisingly useful. Keeping one at home can be a good idea, as long as it is used responsibly. 

Whatever purpose you use a laser pointer for, knowing how long it can keep working can be helpful, so it’s best to be aware of its longevity.


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