The greatest advantage of owning a laptop is the ability to use it anywhere without the constant need for a fixed power source. However, these devices can only maintain power for a limited amount of time before needing to be recharged. In order to cut down the amount of time spent recharging, buyers should understand how to get the most from their laptop battery.
A laptop battery provides a source of electrical energy that in turn powers the computer. It is built to be highly portable and to withstand extremes in operating conditions. Before beginning the search for a laptop battery, buyers should take note of the model and the part number of their computer to ensure compatibility. When purchasing a laptop battery at retailers such as eBay, buyers should consider the various types, familiarise themselves with factors that determine the right type, understand how to care for them, and learn how to get the most out of them.
Types of Laptop Battery
In addition to choosing a battery with a long life, buyers should consider the various types of batteries available. Batteries can be made using several chemicals. In general, laptops are specifically designed for the type of battery that they use.
Type of Laptop Battery
Nickel Cadmium (NiCad)
Less power in comparison to other types
Can be charged a limited number of times
Easily damaged by being left on the charger after it has reached full capacity or by being recharged before it is completely dead
Poisons the environment when disposed of incorrectly
Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH)
Holds considerably more power than NiCad
Slight memory effect, which means that the laptop needs to be completely dead before recharging
Weighs more than Li-Ion and Li-Poly batteries, but produces less current
Holds the same amount of power as NiMH
Considerably lighter than other types
Does not have a memory effect
Lasts considerably longer than other types
Low discharge rate
Lithium-Ion Polymer (Li-Poly)
Lower manufacturing cost compared to Li-Ion
Holds less charge than Li-Ion
Greater reliability and ruggedness
NiCad batteries are quickly being replaced by other types that are far more power efficient. If the laptop allows an option for the battery type, buyers should consider investing in a Li-Ion or Li-Poly battery. Li-Ion and Li-Poly batteries are the most commonly seen, although NiMH batteries are still used in cheaper models.
Factors to Consider when Buying a Laptop Battery
When buying a laptop battery, there are many factors to consider. In addition to quality, buyers should familiarise themselves with the standby time, performance, battery plate, and power rating of the battery.
Quality of a Laptop Battery
The quality of a battery is often proportional to its weight, with lighter batteries offering inferior performance. When buying a laptop battery, buyers should compare the weight of their current battery to that of the one they plan to buy.
Charging and Standby Time for a Laptop Battery
In addition to testing the charging time for the laptop battery, buyers should check the standby time. This refers to how much charge the laptop uses up when powered on, but not in use.
Performance of a Laptop Battery
The length of time that the laptop battery lasts ultimately depends on how the user operates their computer. Most modern laptop batteries are designed to last for three to five hours, although results can vary depending on the power needs of the computer and the program that it runs. For example, streaming video from a laptop decreases the duration of the battery life significantly.
Battery Plate of a Laptop Battery
Some laptops include a battery plate, which is designed to fit on the bottom of the laptop. Although this increases the size and weight of the device, it allows for a longer battery life. Similarly, other laptops have an expansion slot, which allows for a second battery. These components are ideal for those who are always on the go, for example, travelling on planes, trains, or other modes of transport where accessing an external power supply presents a problem.
Power Rating of a Laptop Battery
Laptop batteries have two main ratings on them: volts and milliamperes (mAh). When searching for a laptop battery, buyers should consider those with higher milliamperes as they offer greater power. Multiplying the volts and milliamperes together gives buyers milliwatt-hours, or the energy needed to power one milliwatt for one hour. It is also important to bear in mind the number of cells a battery has; 12 cell batteries have twice as much power than 6 cell batteries.
Caring for a Laptop Battery
Buyers should avoid leaving their laptop plugged into the wall outlet at all times. In order to preserve the lifespan of a laptop battery, buyers using NiCad or NiMH batteries should fully discharge then fully charge their laptop battery periodically (Li-ion batteries should never be fully discharged). This helps to maintain the full capacity of the battery. In addition, buyers should always store their laptop battery at room temperature. Extreme climate changes of below 10 degrees Celsius or above 35 degrees Celsius can compromise the quality of the battery significantly.
Although not recommended, if planning to store a laptop battery for a period of more than six months, users should consider discharging the battery to 50 percent capacity before removing it completely from the laptop. Storing a battery at full charge is said to later hinder the battery's ability to fully charge, while storing a battery that is fully discharged may mean that it can never be charged again. For an optimum battery life, it is best to use the battery at least once every few weeks. If not used for extended periods of time, the battery can lose its effectiveness.
Getting the Most From a Laptop Battery
In order to get the most from a laptop battery, buyers should avoid wasting battery cycles. If generally using a laptop around the house where it is constantly plugged into a wall outlet, buyers should consider taking the battery out of their laptop. If planning to leave the battery in, buyers should avoid needless recharge cycles, which happens when the laptop is plugged in when it still has large amount of power left. Doing so can cause the battery life to decrease prematurely.
In addition to getting the most out of a battery cycle, buyers should learn the power saving settings that their laptop offers and use them. These settings, including dimming the screen, hibernation, and not running the CD/DVD drive more than necessary in order to preserve the battery's lifespan.
It is best to avoid using accessories such as a USB mouse in order to get the most from a laptop battery. These add-ons tend to drain energy from the battery at a quicker rate. It is also a good idea to defragment the laptop's hard drive periodically. Although defragmenting takes significantly more power, it reduces the need for the hard drive to work harder than it has to when it is on battery power.
Buying a Laptop Battery on eBay
eBay gives laptop users access to a diverse variety of batteries. Buyers can browse through eBay's wide selection by searching for "laptop battery". To refine the search, buyers can use the category links to lead them to a particular product. For a more selective search, or to search within a specific price range, buyers can use eBay's advanced search feature.
When browsing and searching, buyers sometimes see "Top-rated seller" icons near the item titles. This icon is intended to inform buyers of the most reputable sellers in the eBay community, giving buyers confidence when purchasing items sold by these sellers.
Searching by Location
Depending on the budget and comfort level, buyers may want to limit their search to items being sold close to home. To find local sellers, buyers can filter the listing pages by item location. This allows buyers to limit the distance from a specific postcode. By using the "Sort by" drop down feature, buyers can arrange listings by distance in order of nearest location.
Buyers should always communicate clearly with sellers to see if they allow local collection. This information may also be listed under the item description. While some sellers may not allow this delivery type, others are willing to work with buyers to ensure a positive transaction and to help to reduce postage and packaging costs. If the seller is local, ask him or her if they are willing to let you test the battery before completing the buying process.
Laptop batteries are essential in order to use the computer in the most versatile way. If planning on travelling or working in a place where no plug sockets are present, laptop batteries are indispensable. To get the most from your battery, start by never compromising quality for an affordable price. It is important to look for a battery that is compatible with the type of laptop being used; most laptops are only able to use one type of battery. Newer laptops generally use Lithium-Ion batteries, while older models may still feature Nickel Metal Hydride batteries.
Buyers should avoid leaving their laptop plugged in for extended periods of time. If they find themselves doing this constantly, it may be best to remove the battery from the laptop and run it on an external power source. Buyers should consider buying the battery from a reputable seller and inspect it thoroughly before making a purchase. eBay sellers offer a variety of laptop batteries.