Getting the most out of your Laptop Battery
All Laptop batteries have a limited life span, every time you charge and discharge your battery; it loses a little bit of capacity. This is because batteries naturally lose charge on their own and heat makes them loose it faster, as charging produces heat, every charge shrinks a little bit of capacity.
Even when not in use, for example, a Li-ion typically loses about 15% per month but Ni-MH is about 50% per month depending on temperature.
Depending on how you use and look after your laptop battery, you can make it last as long as possible, saving on replacement or repair costs. Following a few common sense tips can also make your laptop battery last longer on the go and avoid running out at inconvenient times.
Estimated life span:
Lithium Ion (LiON) and Nickel Metal hydride (NiMH), have about 400-600 charge/discharge cycles over 2-3 years.
Nikel Cadmium (NiCD) have 700 charge/discharge cycles.
What type of battery do you have?
You can find this info on the battery itself or in your laptop manual.
- Do not expose to extreme heat, never leave it in direct sunlight or forget about your laptop in the boot of your car on a hot day. Heat is what shortens battery life.
- Do not expose your battery to extreme cold, freezing a battery will damage it.
- Do not expose to moisture or water.
- Do not drop or throw battery.
- Manufacturers store laptop Batteries at about 60F or 15C, if you don't use your laptop battery, store Li-Ion, NI-MH and Ni-CD batteries at about 40% charge in a cool place like a not-too-cold fridge, but store SLA batteries at full charge. (Make sure you seal it in a moisture proof zip-lock type bag first)
- If you plug in your laptop all the time, like in your place or work, it is important to take out the battery, as keeping it in the laptop while connected to the AC constantly charges and discharges your battery, this will shorten battery life and eventually reduce your battery capacity to useless.
- Optimal Charge points, Lithium Ion Batteries are best recharged at 15% capacity, while Ni-MH batteries work better if charged after full discharge.
- Keep your laptop as cool as possible, avoid using it on surfaces that block airvents, the hotter your laptop, the more heat generated that can shorten battery life.
- If you have accidently allowed your battery to get too hot or cold, for example, leaving it in the car on a really hot day or leaving it the car overnight in very cold weather, please allow your battery to slowing return to room temperature before using it.
Tip: Never used a damaged or broken battery, this may cause bigger and more expensive damage to your laptop.
Conditioning or Priming a new battery.
If you have not used your laptop for a long time or if you buy a new laptop, you have to prime your battery by allowing it to discharge fully and recharge 3 times. This gives your battery maximum capacity, your laptop manual should have instructions on preparing your battery for first use.
Reviving a dead battery:
If your battery is from an old laptop and is no longer available from the manufacturer, you may wish to send it for re-conditioning. There are shops that will replace or re-condition the cells in your battery. If you know what you are doing and are competent with a soldering iron, you can even buy replacement cells and repair the battery yourself. Otherwise, never open or even puncture your battery as there are toxic liquids inside.
Maximizing Battery life on the go:
- Use power management on your laptop to minimize power consumption e.g. Lower LCD brightness to the minimum comfortabble level, Shut down Wi-Fi if you are offline, turn off and power down on everything else you don't need. Most current laptops come with a customised Power Management tool, simply select Maximum Battery life as shown below for an Acer laptop. If your laptop does not have this, you can manage Windows Power Management by clicking on Start > Control Panel > Performance and Maintanence > Power Options. While it is normal to be warm during charging, if your laptop battery feels too hot, or suddenly much hotter than usual, call customer service before your warranty expires.
- Install more RAM, this takes the workload off hard drive which is more power hungry.
- Remove unused PC cards, USB devices when not in use.
Buying a Laptop battery:
Whether you buy from the manufacturer or grab a refurbished bargain online, always check for shelf life, the later the date of manufacture, the better.
Don't buy a spare battery unless you are going to use it, buy only if you need it.
Disposal of Laptop battery:
Batteries contain chemicals which hare harmful to the environment, if you throw your laptop battery in a normal bin which gets sent to a landfill, while the battery degrades, its can cause contamination. Your local authority can advise you on the best way to dispose of unwanted laptop batteries.
You can always sell it on ebay in whatever condition, dead or alive, so someone else can repair and recycle it, plus you get some money too!