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  Re: Notebook batteries, not meant to last? 
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Sander Sassen Feb 12, 2009, 10:37am EST Report Abuse
Just ordered a $129 replacement battery for the notebook as described in the column. Frankly that's not what I expected from a notebook that cost me $500 and who's battery has been used maybe ten times over the past eight months.

Anybody have a similar experience?

Best regards,

Sander Sassen
Editor in Chief - Hardware Analysis
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FELL BEAST Feb 12, 2009, 11:20am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Re: Notebook batteries, not meant to last?
Absolutely! I have an older HP laptop and kept it plugged in all the time. Then, we were getting ready to take a trip and I unplugged it, thinking the battery would be fresh and ready to take on the world; the computer immediately shut down! Had to purchase a new battery for roughly the same price you describe here.

The battery dealer told me the same thing you describe. Cycle up and cycle down; best thing for them. Also, when you first get a battery, there is a charge/drain cycle that should be followed for optimal set up.

And yes, the manufacturers should tell us this stuff...but we all buy cheap ink jet printers where the replacement carts cost as much as the printer itself. Someday, we will learn. :) Good article though.

Michel Merlin Feb 12, 2009, 12:19pm EST Report Abuse
>> Notebook battery failing in 1 year after kept plugged in mains: report (1 case)
My case is exactly the same as what "Sander Sassen" and "FELL BEAST" accurately described above; I add details just for records:

I have kept my 1st notebook (bought Jul 1999) plugged all the time in mains (i.e. in 110 or 240V alternative current). After a few months, I removed the battery (which was heavy) and only used it as a backup on few occasions. To be noticed: despite having no more backup, that notebook never failed in the next 5 years for lack of electricity.

On my 2nd notebook, the battery was lighter, so I kept it in all time. Since that notebook was stolen after a few months, I never suffered anything about its battery.

On 3rd (and current) notebook, bought in Feb 2006, I also kept the battery in, thinking the old problems had been solved meanwhile. I am taking the notebook when traveling by train, which happens about monthly, and generally use it only on 240V when arrived. But the only time I powered it on in train, it first started but before Windows finished starting it shut down abruptly, with no time for warning or hibernation, doing a severe improper shut down, from which I had problem to get the PC back booting.

I replaced the battery with the bigger one that was bundled with it, and it still works for now. But I know if I want to keep it working longer, I have to apply the guidelines recalled in Wikipedia (see below).

Versailles, Thu 12 Feb 2009 18:19:50 +0100

Michel Merlin Feb 12, 2009, 12:20pm EST Report Abuse
>> Notebook plugged all time kills battery - but should NOT
Keeping the notebook permanently plugged in mains (I mean in the 110V or 220V power outlet), with the battery permanently plugged in the notebook, is a very frequent case, and should be the normal use, so the PC keeps permanently able to be used, with the battery ready to serve if the current fails or if the user suddenly decides to take the notebook away for a trip. This requires of course that an adequate controller were built in the battery and tuned accordingly, to make the battery remain charged according to the well-known rules that are recalled in the Wikipedia articles I linked in my previous post:

"Li-ion battery integrated controllers fail keep charge inside 10-70%"
(posted same minute as this thread)

Of course many users assume that makers do it properly (or warn if they can't), so they do keep the notebook and battery plugged in all the time. Unfortunately this is NOT the case, so their battery dies in about a year, resulting in their notebook failing the exceptional day when they try to start it on its battery: it starts, but suddenly chokes, shuts down with no warning, and fails to reboot properly, often causing a big loss of time - and possibly of data.

Versailles, Thu 12 Feb 2009 18:20:50 +0100

Steve Garvey Feb 12, 2009, 12:22pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Re: Notebook batteries, not meant to last?
I had a slightly different experience with a MacBook (older model).

I'd heard it wasn't such a good idea to leave laptops running off the mains with the battery in. So I used to either run on battery from full charge to flat and then plug in and charge or else I'd take out the battery completely and run from mains only.

But the battery completely packed in after 14 months. Totally dead and just 2 months outside the warranty period I think.

I've heard it said that there's a common, low limit to the number of charging cycles on these batteries.

Adriano Soares Feb 12, 2009, 02:48pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Re: Notebook batteries, not meant to last?

Plug & Play Feb 12, 2009, 02:56pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Re: Notebook batteries, not meant to last?

I suppose it depends on the battery, I had a Compaq Presario 3000r and it went for 5 yrs at least and sold it to my friend and it was always 90% plugged into the mains with battery in. Never a moment bother, then when unplugged could watch a decent film no probs.

i5 2500K @ 4.8Ghz- Corsiar H50 WaterCooler- Coolermaster Realpower 1000w- Asus P8P67 Deluxe - Asus 6990 4GB - 8GB Corsair DDR3 2000Mhz - X-Fi Sound - 7.1 Surround Speakers - BenQ 24" TFT - G9x Mouse- G19 Keyboard
Wragie Wanga Feb 12, 2009, 04:26pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Re: Notebook batteries, not meant to last?
Depending on who made the cells and what kind of battery management system
is in the battery pack you will only get so many discharge cycles before the battery
become useless. 500 to 1000 is typical for most low end batteries. The BMS is only
used when charging.

Most laptop batteries die not when they are really dead but usually when one cell inside the pack can no longer hold a charge. If you can replace the one cell you sometimes can get the battery to work again depending on the bms. Some bms's are "smart" and will not reset and the result is still a dead battery with a new cell.

Battery life depends on a few things. Such as discharge rate, discharge amount charging cycles, heat. Lithium batteries prefer a shallow discharge rate in order to get long life. In other words when you run off of the battery use as little power as possible. Turn down the screen brightness, cpu speed and use the power management software. Basically setting it up to get the longest run time is what you want. Never discharge the battery past 50%, preferably closer to 70%. Avoid discharging the battery to 0% or flat at all costs. This is a cycle, you only have so many of those to use. It is the hardest on the battery chemistry to recharge from this level. It is why all lithium cells are shipped with a 50% charge on them.
And taking the battery out and not using it is also not that good to the battery as lithium self discharges. If your laptop lets you run without the battery then make sure the battery
gets a top up charge once a week. Heat is one of the big killers. Make sure you use your laptop in a way to get airflow around the case and into the cooling fans. The cooler it runs the less heat it transfer to the battery. The cooler it runs the less heat the fans have to push out which means less power from the battery. The battery will also heat up when charged from a really low state or if you charge it at the same time as using the laptop.
Anything you can do to make it run cooler the better. If you have a laptop learn how to adjust the power management software. Depending on the brand you will find it under control panel or on the toolbar (windoze). Set it for longest life at first and then start adjusting what is annoying. For example the turn everything off in 5 minutes can get a bit annoying. Bigs ones are to keep the brightness and cpu speed down as low as you can. You will gain more time by having everything shut off if you can work with it. It only adds about 20-30 minutes run time on mine for instance.

This is a lot longer reply than I intended but my batteries usually last 3-4 years and I do have one that is over 10 years old and still going (Toshiba T3600CT Win 95). A lot of the battery info out there seems to be wrong or for the wrong chemistry. For what a replacement battery costs it is worh finding out how to make it last.

Charles Johnson Feb 12, 2009, 09:51pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Re: Notebook batteries, not meant to last?

Suspended User Feb 12, 2009, 10:38pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Re: Notebook batteries, not meant to last?
LOL, we get a lot of HP/Compaq laptops with failed batteries, and are not covered by an extended warranty. They are however covered by Hp's one year warranty.

Adriano Soares Feb 13, 2009, 07:14am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Re: Notebook batteries, not meant to last?
I wrongly referred Alkaline instead of NiCad batteries. Alkaline could not be recharged. Sorry for the mistake.:(
My old Clevo (D470V) battery is composed of 8 x ICR18650 cells. I replaced already 3 times, and as those batteries are easily disassembled because those 8 cells are kept together by a thermo retractile sleeve, I have presently 2 sets of cells and 2 controllers. I know that only some of the cells are damaged and I want to reconstruct one battery with the remaining good cells.

Anyone give me an idea how to test the individual cells to find which are damaged?

Naveen Chathley Feb 13, 2009, 07:55am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Re: Notebook batteries, not meant to last?
Yes. It is true. It is equally valid for all other types of batteries,.i.e., Lead-Acid batteries, Ni-CD, Lion and so on ....... in fact all re-chargeable batteries.

Based on one of my past office colleague's suggestions (who was responsible for upkeep of our office's central UPS system) and my practical experience in office and at home, It may be summarised:
1. All re-chargeable batteries should be maintained between 10% & 80% of charge most of the time.
2. As proper exercise is necessary for good health of human beings, it holds good for batteries too. Regular change of charge level (10% to 100%) is also necessary for good health of all re-chargeable batteries.

3. As told above, a re-chargeable battery should not be kept for long under same level of charge as it will decrease its efficiency. It is further adviced that a battery should not be kept for long at a charge level of near dead (10% or below) or fully charged (above 80%) as these levels are responsible for killing most of re-chargeable batteries.

Feb 19, 2009, 11:25am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Re: Notebook batteries, not meant to last?

Al Centuri Feb 20, 2009, 05:19pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Re: Notebook batteries, not meant to last?
The only thing surprising in this posting is that there actually was someone that did not know of the requirement to cycle the battery. Even my 11 year old son was aware of this need.


Sander Sassen Feb 20, 2009, 07:01pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Re: Notebook batteries, not meant to last?
A shame? Not really, Lithium Polymer or Lithium Ion batteries are not prone to the 'memory effect' that affected Nickel Cadmium batteries that needed to be power cycled regularly, actually, the new Lithium based batteries don't suffer from a memory effect at all. They however do lose capacity over time because the Lithium slowly oxidizes into Lithium oxide, a process which is sped up by higher temperatures. This however does not explain why on some notebooks the battery dies without seeing any real use, just being plugged into the notebook and left there for months on end (how 90% of the people use them frankly).

Best regards,

Sander Sassen
Editor in Chief - Hardware Analysis
Michel Merlin Feb 21, 2009, 03:13am EST Report Abuse
>> Wikipedia "Guidelines for prolonging Li-ion battery life"

Weston Mar 01, 2009, 05:01pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Re: Notebook batteries, not meant to last?
I just bought a new laptop haven't even taken it out of the box yet.

My plan was to throw the baterie in the desk till the day before i need it. charge it to full and of i go with a good battery.

How long can i store it at say 70% with causing major loss of performance. Or is it best to just leave it in the laptop plugged in when I'm not using it.

Or what would be my best practice

Lynda Durand Mar 02, 2009, 08:38pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Re: Notebook batteries, not meant to last?
I keep my laptop plugged in all the time, does that mean my battery is no good. I have my Inspirin 1505 for 2 years. Does that mean my battery is no good and should be replaced?

S. Johns Mar 02, 2009, 11:33pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Re: Notebook batteries, not meant to last?
I worked on a comm project for the US military supporting ~3000 customers with Desk and Laptops and the LT of choice was Dell Latitude 600 series. They arrived, I loaded them with custom O/S and SW and issued them out with new, fully charged 4800mah LiOn batteries... Dell batteries have a pushbutton and string of LED to tell you their % of charge... and they were plugged in, used, taken to the field, misused and brought back to base 100's of times and I only had 20-30 bad batteries amongst the 1300 users the entire 1st year. BUT, the 200-odd 'hot-spare' LTops we were required to keep ready for deployment, had their batteries firstly charged fully, then pulled and stuck in a drawer. 40% of those batteries died within several months and we had to order in replacements. Died means that 1-5 of the LED 'Blink' instead of 'Glow' when the test button is pushed, and they will not charge.

I did some investigating and discovered that the greatest failures occurred among users when their LT was left plugged on and sitting on a METAL desk or shelf, whereas those users using Wooden, plastic or leather/naguhyde(sp?) covered desks seemed to last alot longer. So for year two, I lined the metal drawer with 1/2' plywood, and told my users that they should stay away from metal surfaces when using the LTops... and NONE of the field batteries died, and only 5 of the stored ones did - Odd, huh?

Maybe if we all put our notebooks on a board on the desk the batteries will last longer? I use both my new HP and Dell LT on wooden surfaces (or my lap) and their batteries are now on year 3. My Compaq Armada battery is on Yr 5

Something to think about.

Michel Merlin Mar 03, 2009, 01:44am EST Report Abuse
>> Spare batteries should be charged 40-60% and stored in refrigerator

S. Johns Mar 03, 2009, 10:55am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Re: Notebook batteries, not meant to last?
It is probably because of the heat retention of metal surfaces vs. those of Wood, Plastic, other... The cellular structure of the latter (containing insulating, absorbative and protective AIR, keeps things cooler py conducting the heat away and not storing it allowing the damaging heat to get away,,,,, (?) But that doesn't explain the mass failures of those batteries in the drawer - unless, like Lead Acid car batteries which are observed to discharge really fast when set upon on the ground, as opposed to a pallet or other supporting structure (not metal) - the wood has a similar condensation proofing and shielding effect.

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