Laptops battery technology has changed also over the years, going from Nickel Cadmium (NiCad), to Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH), to Lithium Ion (Li-ion). Each type of battery has different requirements in care, but there are things you can do to extend how long your battery lasts overall. The length of useful life from laptop batteries depends on many factors. Overall, the amount of time you are able to run the laptop on a full charge, assuming the exact same activity is performed each time, will reduce over time to the point that the machine will die as soon as it is unplugged from the mains. The average life span seems to be about 3 years under normal use. Some ways of extending battery life are:
- Optimal charge – If your laptop uses Lithium Ion batteries, check to see if it has a setting to charge the battery to a maximum of 80% charge only. This will extend the battery life. Additionally, these types of batteries should not be run until completely discharged.
- Keep it cool – Some laptops run very hot while sitting on a desk, sometimes to the point of warping the case. The battery pack will also pick up a lot of this heat. Heat is an enemy for batteries. If this is the case with your laptop, purchase a cooler that you can place under the laptop, and investigate the cause of this if it is something your laptop did not do before.
- Let it breathe – As an extension of the point above, avoid blocking ventilation holes if you use a laptop on your lap. Never use a laptop on a pillow or other soft surface of that type, because it will block all ventilation.
- Keep it clean – Regularly remove the battery pack and clean the contacts on the battery and the laptop with rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab. This improves the power transfer between the laptop and battery.
- Remove unused batteries – If a laptop is stored for any period of time without use, then the battery should be removed and stored in a cool, dry place. Nickel based batteries self-discharge at an average rate of 10% to 15% per month, and Lithium-ion based batteries discharge about 5% per month.
- Charge unused batteries – If you have spare batteries or have removed a battery because it is not being used, be sure to plug in into your laptop and let it charge to the normal level before removing it again. They need exercising.
- Encourage forgetfulness – Old battery types that use NiCad or NiMh have a memory effect. They do require being fully discharged from time to time in order to reduce (not eliminate) the memory effect.
- Not all batteries are created equal – The quality of laptop batteries varies Certain batteries are made with lower quality components, which leads to lower overall life or lower charge. This happens particularly with after-market batteries.
- Get a new battery – If you are replacing your old laptop battery, check the manufacturing data of the replacement. It should not be more than a couple of months old. Batteries deteriorate while just sitting.
- Don’t buy if you don’t use – If you are not going to use an extra battery regularly, don’t buy one.
- Disposal – Finally, please dispose of your old battery properly. Take it to a recycling depot, or find out what facilities are available in your area. Batteries are not at all good for the environment.
If you are interested in learning more about different battery types specifically, you may wish to see the excellent Battery University website.
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