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Energy Information > Consumable Energy > Laptop Battery Care

"Laptop Battery Care"

By Bryan Noonan
Zbattery.com
May 1, 2006

"How do I extend the life of my laptop battery?" is a question we are frequently asked. It's a valid question since laptop batteries are usually expensive to replace.

First of all, how long should your laptop battery last? 2-4 years is generally acceptable depending on how frequently you use and charge the battery. If you travel a lot and use and charge your battery frequently then you might only get a couple of years at the most out of your laptop battery.

Laptop batteries are usually made with Li-Ion batteries and the very nature of Li-Ion batteries is that they have about 300-500 charges and last at most about 4-5 years (shelf life). They also have a self-discharge rate of about 1% per day so you need to be sure to charge them at least every 6 months.

So how can you care for your laptop battery to get the maximum life out of it?

1.) Always use your laptop on a hard surface.
Laptops are portable and it's easy to set your laptop on your lap or on your bed and use it at your lesiure. That's one of the benefits of having a portable computer. Flexibility. But if you want to extend your battery life you have to watch out for overheating your laptop.

Heat is one of the biggest obstacles to battery life longevity. Your laptop computer fan cannot circulate the air properly when your laptop is sitting on soft surface.

2.) Do not keep your laptop battery installed when you use your laptop on AC for an extended period of time.

While your laptop is undoubtedly using a smart charger to charge your battery even a constant trickle charge over months can reduce your battery life. For best results, only charge your battery when you need to charge it, don't leave the laptop battery plugged in all the time.

More importantly than the trickle charger affect is the 'storage' of a Li-Ion battery at elevated temperatures. The optimum storage temperature for a Li-Ion battery is at 0 deg. C. The optimum storage charge level is about 40%. Unfortunately we tend to store fully charged and at the temperatures found in a running laptop you'll find a significant reduction in battery performance after only 12-18 months.

3.) Use a full charge cycle before recharging

Li-Ion and NiMH batteries (which most laptop batteries are), do not have a memory which you might find in NiCad batteries. However, each chemistry has a limited number of charge cycles, so use a full charge cycle before re-charging to maximize your battery usage.

Because this may be very difficult to manage, you'll need to consider the cost-benefit ratio for keeping track of how far discharged the battery is before you charge it again.

 

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4.) Be careful where you store your laptop

This goes back to the heat issue. Don't leave your laptop in the car where it can get very hot. Batteries hate heat and your laptop battery will go on strike permenantly if you expose it to too much heat.

Remember that all laptops are not created equal. You may have gotten 4 hours from your last laptop while on battery, but your new laptop might pull more juice to run that gaming quality processor, or the power hogging programs you're running now. Read your owner's manual to find out what you should expect from your laptop battery and be sure to compare apples to apples when purchasing a replacement battery. Not all laptop batteries are made to the same specs. We recommend buying a battery that has at least as much capacity as your original battery (that's the mAh rating), and preferrably the same chemistry as well.

If you simply aren't sure what to get, check with a professional. Our customer service staff are trained to know how to compare batteries and they are happy to help find the right fit for your laptop.

Zbattery.com, Inc. (800) 624-8681

For more information on Li-Ion battery characteristics please visit Battery University

 

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