Laptop Batteries

Lithium Ion batteries are in everything, and while they may not last forever, they will benefit from a little tender loving care. Listed below are six strategies that will help you get the most out of the batteries in your laptop and other portable devices

Accept the fact that your battery will not last forever, no matter what.

Oxidation in the cells can prevent an old battery from discharging properly, so even when left on a shelf, a batterys lifespan shortens with time. That does not mean that there are not some steps that you can take to ensure the LiIon batteries in your laptop or cell phone last as long as possible.

Batteries are made to be used, so use them.

Just like couch potatoes, batteries need exercise. The chemicals in Lithium Ion batteries respond best to regular recharging. So if you have a laptop, do not keep it plugged in all the time; go ahead and let it drain to about 40 or 50 percent of capacity, and then recharge your computer. The life of a Lithium Ion battery can be measured in charge cycles. A charge cycle occurs when 100 percent of a batteries capacity is used. Say you use 50 percent of your laptops battery one day, charge it overnight, and then you use 50 percent of the battery again the next day. Even after charging it back up again, you will have only had one charge cycle occur. Most laptop batteries are rated for a useful life of at least 300-500 charge cycles, but high quality, properly maintained batteries can retain up to 80% of their original life, even after 300 cycles.

Periodically calibrate your battery.

Most batteries that have a fuel gauge, like those in laptops, should be periodically discharged to zero. This can be accomplished simply by letting your computer run until it reports a low-battery state and suspends itself. (Do not let your computer deep discharge. The gauge that measures the remaining power in your laptop is based on circuitry integrated into the battery that approximates the effectiveness of the batteries chemical compounds. Over time, a discrepancy can develop between the capacity that the internal circuitry expects the battery to have and what the battery can actually provide. Letting your computer run down to zero every month or so can recalibrate the batteries circuitry, and keep your computers estimates of its remaining life accurate.

Do not practice deep discharges.

Most laptops will suspend operation if the battery drains too low. Even if your computer goes to sleep, though, most batteries that are in good working order will still have a reserve charge available. This reserve will hold the computers working memory in state for a little while. A deep discharge has occurred when even that percentage of reserve power is used up. The computer will have turned off completely, and sometimes you will notice that it will have lost track of the correct date and time. Deep discharges will strain your batteries, so try to charge them frequently.

Avoid exposing your battery to heat (when possible).

Heat can overexcite the chemicals in your battery, shortening its overall lifespan. In fact, it has been speculated that the biggest cause of early battery expiration is the heat that batteries can be exposed to when they are stored in computers that are running off AC power. Laptops, especially modern multicore machines, can get very hot when they are plugged in, easily over 50 degrees C. That is hot enough that extended exposure will negatively affect your battery. If you want to be really protective, there is nothing saying that you can not pop the battery out of your laptop if you are going to be within reach of a power outlet for a while. There may be times that you can not help but expose your laptop battery to heat; you may live in a warm climate, for instance. You can, however, try and avoid exacerbating the issue. Make sure your laptop is well ventilated and that you are not operating it on a surface that retains heat, even when you are not plugged into mains power.

Store your batteries properly.

If your laptop or portable device is not going to be used for a while, you should remove its Lithium Ion battery, if possible. Even if the battery can not be separated from the device, it should be stored in a cool environment at about one half charge. Cool temperature is recommended by experts because that can slow the natural discharge that batteries will undergo even when they are disconnected from their device. I have seen some people go even further and recommend that spare batteries be stored in the refrigerator. I do not think this is a very good idea; Be concerned about condensation that might build up. Do not put your batteries on ice, but keep them out of the sun. Ultimately, I believe that buying spare LiIon batteries is a losing game, because the batteries start degrading as soon as they are manufactured. Usually those spare batteries spend most of their time sitting in a charger, losing useful life. If you need to be really mobile, you are better off purchasing an adapter cable you can use with the power sources available in planes, trains, or autos. And, of course, by taking good care of the battery you already have.

This article only discussed Lithium Ion Batteries which are found in the newer laptops. Older laptops will have a different type of battery and will require different handling.


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