Saturday, January 14, 2012

Maintain Your Laptops Battery Life

I have seen a number of suggestions for maintaining laptop online, ranging from good to down right ridiculous.  Maintaining your laptops battery does not require anything fancy, simply using the battery will give you better battery life.  I have a laptop that is almost 6 years old and the battery is still going strong!  I would note that laptop batteries usually have internal circuitry that should prevent wrecking the battery.  Most batteries now days are Lithium-ion (Li-ion).  Li-ion batteries are usually rated for at least 1000 cycles (discharged/recharged).

Some of the more ridiculous battery life suggestions I have seen online include:

  • Discharge and recharge the battery at least once a week.  Seems like a lot of unnecessary work!  Plus it eats into your cycle count it is unnecessary.
  • Do not charge the battery until it is run down completely.  Just a bad idea all the way around!
  • Take your battery out whenever you have your laptop plugged in.  And the point is?
  • Set Windows to maximum power savings when on battery.  This may be great for getting your laptop to run longer on the battery, but I have no idea how this would help your battery to last longer?
  • Do not leave your laptop plugged in for extend periods of time with the battery in.  I believe they think that it will keep charging the battery?  Which is not the case, once fully charged, the battery will stop charging.
  • Have an extra battery on hand.  You should NEVER do this if you are not using the second battery, it will most likely die before the one you are actually using!

Some things I suggest for maintaining your laptops battery:

  • Use the battery – if you do not need a battery then you should have gotten a desktop!  Just be careful not to completely drain the battery, in most cases your laptop should shut off before the battery is completely discharged.
  • When recharging the battery, try to charge it back up all at once, do not charge part way, then finish charging latter.
  • Do not keep battery (or the laptop for that matter) in extreme temperatures.  Heat and cold are hard on a battery.
  • Do not store the battery for long periods of time.  If you do store it make sure you store it almost fully charged.  Over time the battery will lose its charge, if it loses too much you will not be able to charge it!

Some signs that your laptop battery are failing:

  • Just to note, no matter what you do, your battery will lose life over time!  If it starts losing too much then is is probably time to get another battery.
  • Obvious – the battery will not charge or is not recognized by the system.  Just note with Dell laptops this may be a problem with the power supply and not the battery!
  • While using the battery, the battery level suddenly jumps from a high percentage to a lower percentage, such as 97% to 40%.  This indicates the battery is not holding its charge or that the battery is not calibrated properly.
  • Battery will not charge all the way or gets stuck charging at a certain percentage.

Some things you can do to rejuvenate a dying battery:

  • Discharge and recharge it.  Basically run the battery down, then charge it all the way back up and repeat the process a few times.  This probably will not work if you battery is a Li-ion.
  • For Li-ion batteries run the laptop until it dies, basically run the battery as low as it will let you do (preferably 0-1%) and recharge the battery fully.  This probably will not give you any more life but should correct your battery percentages.

If you have any suggestions to add to this, let me know!

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