Batteries are running our lives these days. No one wants to be tethered by wire – SATV, GSM/CDMA, WIFI, MP3 – all make our lives easier & more mobile. Powering our devices is tricky, and no one wants to be left on a train ride to NYC with a dead iPod. Replacement batteries aren’t cheap. A typical laptop battery could easily cost over $100. This information about caring for your batteries may help preserve their life, and allow you to get the most performance out of them.
Battery Usage Tips
1. New battery pack must be fully charged before use.
2. New battery pack needs to be fully charged and discharged (cycled) a few times before it can condition to full capacity.
3. Rechargeable batteries undergo self-discharging when left unused. Always store a battery pack in a fully charged stage for storage.
4. Fully drain and fully recharge your battery pack every few months.
5. Turn down the LCD brightness of your portable device.
6. Use built-in power management on your portable device.
7. Turn off LCD or other unnecessary accessories when not in use.
8. Set screen saver blank to 1 to 2 minutes of your notebook
9. Add more RAM if you have extra RAM expansion slot, it will reduce the usage of hard drive and it is power exhaustive.
10. Close unused software in your notebook.
11. Remove unused PC Cards or USB devices from your notebook.
12. Don’t watch DVD or play graphics intensive video games.
13. Don’t short circuit terminal or store your battery pack with metal parts.
14. Don’t drop or mutilate the battery pack.
15. Don’t expose to moisture or water.
16. It is normal to get warm when charging or normal use. If it is getting too hot, there may be a problem with the device and qualified personnel should check it.
Laptop Battery Maintenance
How to charge your new replacement laptop battery?
New batteries often come in a discharged condition and must be charged before use (refer to your manual for charging instructions). Upon initial use (or after a prolonged storage period) the battery may require three to four charge/discharge cycles before achieving maximum capacity.
When charging the battery for the first time your device may indicate that charging is complete after just 10 or 15 minutes. This is a normal phenomenon with rechargeable batteries. Simply remove the battery from the computer and repeat the charging procedure.
It is important to condition (fully discharge and then fully charge) the battery every two to three weeks. Failure to do so may significantly shorten the battery’s life (this does not apply to Li-ion batteries, which do not require conditioning). To discharge, simply run your device under the battery’s power until it shuts down or until you get a low battery warning. Then recharge the battery as instructed in your user’s manual.
If the battery will not be in use for a month or longer, it is recommended that it be removed from the device and stored in a cool, dry, clean place.
It is normal for a battery to become warm during charging and discharging.
A charged battery will eventually lose its charge if unused. It may therefore be necessary to recharge the battery after a storage period.
The milliamp-hour (mAH) rating of the laptop battery dot org batteries will often be higher than the one on your original battery. A higher mAH rating is indicative of a longer lasting (higher capacity) battery and will not cause any incompatibilities. An laptop battery dot org battery will, in most cases, outperform the original by 30% to 50%.
Actual battery run-time depends upon the power demands made by the equipment. In the case of notebook computers, the use of the monitor, the hard drive and other peripherals results in an additional drain upon the battery, effectively reducing the battery’s run-time. The total run-time of the battery is also heavily dependent upon the design of the equipment. To ensure maximum performance of the battery, optimize your computer’s power management features. Refer to your computer manual for further instructions.
How Can I Maximize My Laptop Battery Performance?
There are several steps you can take to insure that you get maximum performance from your laptop battery:
Breaking In New Batteries – new batteries come in a discharged condition and must be fully charged before use. It is recommended that you fully charge and discharge your new battery two to four times to allow it to reach its maximum rated capacity.
Preventing the Memory Effect – Keep your battery healthy by fully charging and then fully discharging it at least once every two to three weeks. Exceptions to the rule are Li-ion batteries which do not suffer from the memory effect.
Keep Your Batteries Clean – It’s a good idea to clean dirty battery contacts with a cotton swab and alcohol. This helps maintain a good connection between the battery and your portable device.
Exercise Your Battery – Do not leave your battery dormant for long periods of time. We recommend using the battery at least once every two to three weeks. If a battery has not been used for a long period of time, perform the new battery break in procedure described above.
Battery Storage – If you don’t plan on using the battery for a month or more, we recommend storing it in a clean, dry, cool place away from heat and metal objects. Ni-Cd, NiMH and Li-ion batteries will self-discharge during storage; remember to break them in before use. Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) batteries must be kept at full charge during storage. This is usually achieved by using special trickle chargers. If you do not have a trickle charger, do not attempt to store SLA batteries for more than three months.
For Notebook Users – To get maximum performance from your battery, fully optimize the notebook’s power management features prior to use. Power management is a trade off: better power conservation in exchange for lesser computer performance. The power management system conserves battery power by setting the processor to run at a slower speed, dimming the screen, spinning down the hard drive when it’s not in use and causing the machine to go into sleep mode when inactive. Your notebook user’s guide will provide information relating to specific power management features.
Battery Types, Performance, and Charging Tips
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are the newest technology batteries and offer several advantages over NiMH and NiCd batteries. These batteries are most commonly seen in cell phones, iPods, PDAs – smaller devices – though they can even be seen in power tools, like Milwaukee’s 28V tools. Lithium-ion batteries are preferred for their lighter weight and higher performance. Lithium-ion batteries are typically 20-35% lighter and will provide 10-20% better performance than a NiMH battery of equivalent mAh rating. Lithium-ion batteries are also unique in that they are not susceptible to the “memory effect”.
A new Lithium-ion battery will benefit from an initial “conditioning” of the battery. For the first 3 charge cycles, fully charge the battery overnight and allow it to fully discharge before recharging. Once conditioned, Lithium-ion batteries will perform best when charged at a rate somewhere between a conventional slow charge and a rapid charge. When rapid charging, Lithium-ion batteries require a charger designed to charge Lithium batteries. To achieve a true full charge when rapid charging, the battery needs to be slow charged the last 10-15% of its charge cycle. Most “intelligent” desktop and Lithium-battery rapid chargers provide this capability. A Lithium-ion battery may be damaged by extensive overcharging (continuously on a charger for more than 24 hours). Back to Top
Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) Batteries
NiMH batteries typically provide at least 30% more talk time than NiCd batteries. While still susceptible to the “memory effect,” NiMH batteries are much less prone to this condition than the older technology NiCd batteries. Proper conditioning of a NiMH battery over it’s lifetime will greatly reduce the potential negative impacts of “memory effect.” This can be done by ensuring the battery is fully discharged before recharging at least once in every 3-5 charge cycles.
It is very important to properly “condition” a new NiMH battery. For the first 3 charge cycles, fully charge the battery overnight (preferably on a conventional slow charger) and allow it to fully discharge before recharging. Over its lifetime, a NiMH battery will perform best if it is regularly charged on a charger/conditioner type charger. A NiMH battery may be damaged by extensive overcharging (continuously on a charger for more than 24 hours). Back to Top
Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) Batteries
NiCd batteries are the oldest technology batteries. While they offer good performance, NiCd batteries are highly susceptible to the “memory effect.” NiCd batteries are commonly found in laptops and many power tools.
The “Memory Effect”
“Memory Effect” is a condition of reduced battery performance (and eventual failure) due to a battery only using those cells that are fully discharged and charged on a regular basis. In other words, if on a regular basis a NiCd or NiMH battery is only partially discharged before being recharged, it ” forgets” that it has usable capacity to further discharge all the way down. The result is degraded battery performance and shorter battery life because the battery is using less than it’s true full capacity. Li-ion batteries do not develop the “memory effect”. NiMH batteries, while considerably better than their NiCd counterparts, are prone to developing “memory effect.” However, proper care and conditioning over the life of a NiMH battery will significantly reduce the potential negative impacts. Back to Top
Battery Do’s & Don’ts (to maximize performance)
- Properly “condition” (fully charge/discharge for first 3 cycles) the battery when it is new.
- Keep the battery and the contact terminals clean.
- Avoid exposing the battery to extreme heat and cold.
- Use the battery. If possible, avoid letting your battery sit dormant for long periods of time.
- Use only the options (Bluetooth, WIFI) and accessories (external hard drives, cd drives, usb memory keys) that you really need.
- Charge and re-condition a battery after an extended idle period.
- Toss, drop, or otherwise abuse the battery.
- Short-circuit the battery.
- Open and expose the cell contents.
- Modify the battery casing and/or housing.
- Allow the battery to be exposed to rain or excessive moisture.
- Incinerate a battery. Properly dispose of a used battery.
For more information on batteries, please check out this site.