My dell Inspiron 1521 works perfectly when plugged into the mains however as soon as the AC is disconnected and it is running of battery power the screen goes balnk. The computer still works, I simply just loss the screen and have to shut it down.
Is this a problem with the backlight? Seems strange that I don't loss power when running of the battery just the screen??..?
Two possibilities: The display is a power hog. It's possible that the battery is failing, and has enough power to run the PC, but not the PC AND display at the same time. You would need to replace the battery, in this case. Or, in Control Panel, in Performance and Maintenance, in Power Options, there should be settings somewhere for the display when on battery or AC power. Make sure that the one for Battery doesn';t turn the display off after 0 minutes.
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I'd say that you have exhausted your options. You can try to isolate the power on problem by removing your your memory modules, hard disk drive and see if it at least stays powered on. Here is a link from Dell for your laptop's manual: ftp://ftp.dell.com/Manuals/all-products/esuprt_laptop/esuprt_inspiron_laptop/inspiron-1521_Owner%27s%20Manual_en-us.pdf
I believe I have found the problem with the 1525 that I am currently working on which has the same problem that you describe. Ultimately I think it's a problem with the inverter in the LCD. When the laptop is powered by battery the brightness is lower than full. When I plug in the power adapter the brightness goes to "full" and I hear a faint sizzle and the LCD's backlight goes off. Same as if you hold the Fn key and press the up arrow to brighten it, it will do the same thing when you reach near the full brightness. So for now I have fixed this problem by going in the Power Options and clicked on Adjust the display brightness on the left. Slide the slider to the left on the "plugged in" part and now when you plug it in it shouldn't make it go blank. I do want to note that I hear a faint buzz coming from the LCD when I plug it in. That must mean the inverter is faulty. WAY TO GO DELL!!!!!!