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Tips for improving lithium-ion notebook battery life

Replacement batteries for laptops can be quite expensive, so here are a few ideas to get the most out of your battery in terms of charge and overall life.

Background information

Most modern laptop batteries are of the lithium-ion ("li-ion2) variety. You can expect them to last two to four years if properly cared for. They will degrade over time, whether or not they are in use. They last best at a temperature of 15°C/59°F, although it is unlikely to be practical to use them at this temperature.

This is a chemical technology, which is under continual development, so it is entirely conceivable that a new li-ion battery for an old laptop will last much better than the original battery did. This and other factors make it fairly hard to predict how long your laptop will last on one charge. All you can do is to try and get the best out of your particular battery.

Did you know? Early li-ion notebook batteries were known to explode! Modern batteries have protection circuits built in which prevent the lithium ion converting into unstable lithium metal.

Power consumption tips

  • Reduce the brightness of your screen when running on batteries.
  • Use a blank screensaver, and set it to operate after a relatively short period of inactivity. Better still, switch off or hibernate your laptop if you won't be using it for more than 5 minutes or so.
  • Set your power options (e.g. in Windows control panel) to minimize power consumption. This includes having hard drives power down as much as possible.
  • Switch off wireless networking, if you're not using it.
  • Unplug all PCMCIA cards (or similar) and USB devices that you're not using. Ditto optical drives (CDROM etc).
  • Certain specialist notebook graphics cards can be set to run "underclocked" at less than their full potential. This saves energy. Do this with caution though, because it can cause conflicts with certain graphics software.
  • Close all the programs you're not using. This includes all the programs that run in the background, unused services in Windows, etc. Which services to stop is beyond the scope of this blog entry.
  • Certain sound chips have a power saving mode that can be activated via the control panel.

Caution when hot! It is inadvisable to use a li-ion battery when particularly hot. Heat can generally be a problem with laptops, so make sure that all the vents are clear, that the laptop is not sitting on a highly insulating material (e.g. sat on a duvet when used in bed!) and that all fans are operating as they should.

Battery life tips

  • Do not keep the laptop plugged in whilst the battery is installed; this keeps the battery on a permanent charge/ discharge cycle which will cause it to age rapidly. Instead remove the battery if you're running on AC power.
  • If you're going to store the battery or leave it unused for any length of time, discharge it first to about 40% capacity - never fully discharge a li-ion battery. Aim to store it at around 15°C/59°F (see above).
  • You do not need to discharge or charge a li-ion battery fully - they do not suffer from the "memory effect" experienced with nickel cadmium or nickel metal hydride rechargeables. So only discharge partially - avoid going below 20% capacity if you can.
  • When the battery is full or at over 95% charge, stop charging it!
  • Don't bother buying old stock of batteries no matter how cheap, since they will have degraded for the above reasons.

Remember to recycle. Li-ion batteries should be recycled wherever possible. Your council may have suitable local facilities.

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1 Answer

Battery will not charge. Can battery be replaced? If so, how?


There are a lot of laptops being carried around that the battery is almost totally worthless.. The first problem is most of them are not designed to last very long at all. Their life is measured in "months"... not "years"... The second problem is that they're really expensive... Be prepared to spend 50 to 80 dollars.. or more.. on a replacement battery... The expense of a replacement battery is the biggest reason that so many laptops have bad batteries. Lots of these folks that carry them simply make sure they're always within a few feet of an electrical outlet. Many times, they just tolerate it until they can't stand it any more.... and buy a new laptop, instead of putting that much money into an old one.. I can't tell you how to change your particular battery, because each brand of computer is different. Your biggest decision is whether to change it at all... Changing the battery is not a big deal. If you have the make and model, you can find instructions on the internet as to how to change the battery.

Dec 23, 2013 | Computers & Internet

1 Answer

works fine on battery or charger with battery removed ,add battery and it quits in 5 minutes


Your battery could be old, therefore doesn't hold any long term charge.
Every time you add the battery it probably doesn't charge 100 percent therefore it discharges within 5 minutes, shutting down your laptop.

Apr 20, 2013 | Computers & Internet

1 Answer

My sony vgn sz330 doesnt hold a battery charge, i have bought 2 replacement batteries but they all do the same thing


Your symptoms point to two possible problems.

1. It's your charger that's the problem. Chargers can fail in one portion of their structure that charges the battery but the part that powers the laptop directly can continue to function normally.

2. Your DC Power Jack (the small hole where the charger plugs into the board) can be having the same trouble I described in the charger

When people bring a laptop to my shop with these systems I always try a charger first, the easiest and least expensive fix. If that doesn't work, I have to send the laptop out to one of several vendors on eBay that specialize in that repair alone. You just go to eBay and type "DC Power Jack Repair" in the search box and you'll have quite a few reapir shops to choose from. I've had 100% success with several different ones.

Good Luck

Jul 31, 2010 | Sony VAIO VGN-SZ330P/B Notebook

1 Answer

light on front of laptop shows red and battery


Sounds like the laptop is not charging the battery. Possible that the replacement battery is faulty. If the laptop is under warranty get them to replace the system board and battery for you.

Feb 22, 2010 | Computers & Internet

1 Answer

Battery power problem


The battery contains cells (about 12 batteries linked together, normally in groups of 3)
They will die just like any other rechargable battery will.
The main difference is if one individual cell dies, it can dramatically shorten the amount of power your overall battery holds.
Replacement batteries are easy to find, but they can be expensive. If you replace it, then anytime you intend on running the laptop from mains power for an extended period, remove the battery.

Apr 13, 2008 | Toshiba Satellite A105 Notebook

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