Prolong The Life Of Your Laptop Battery

How To Prolong The Life of Your Laptop Battery

Posted on February 12, 2010. Filed under: Prolong The Life Of Your Laptop Battery |

The first thing you need to know is what type of battery your laptop uses: NiCd, NiMH, Lithium-ion (Li-Ion), or Lithium-polymer. Once you know this you can learn more about it below.

NiCd (Nickel Cadium) batteries have a low energy density. These are great for portable power tools or devices that rely on ready bursts of power. Laptops need something that will sustain longer, so this is not a great battery for a laptop. However, if you are using a NiCd battery you need to completely discharge the battery (let it run out completely before recharging) at least once a month. This is known as exercising the battery. If the battery is left unused or not completely discharged over a 3 month period it might need to be reconditioned in order to be salvaged. NiCd batteries lose 10 percent of their capacity right after charging and another 10 percent each month they are left unused. However, you can recharge NiCd batteries over 1,000 times- even up to 2,000 times. Take note also that new NiCd batteries or those that have been left unused may require a slow charge followed by repeated discharge/recharge cycling to redistribute the electrolyte evenly.

NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride) batteries have 40 percent higher energy density than NiCd. These are also great for portable power tools or devices that rely on ready bursts of power and not the best choice for laptops. The NiMH battery needs to be discharged completely (exercised) once every 3 months and is good for about 300 charging cycles.

If your lap-top uses a Li-Ion (Lithium-Ion) battery it will last longest if you do the following: Partially discharge it and recharge it on a regular basis as you use it, then, only one time per month run the battery until it completely loses power- allow a full discharge. This is called battery calibration and is important to do about once per month to keep the digital memory healthy. However, if you let the battery run out completely too often you will shorten the life of the battery. Exposure to heat may also speed up the aging process of the battery. Laptop batteries that are left plugged in at maximum charge will cause the excess heat you want to avoid. Your battery should be kept in a cool place with about 40 percent charge while not being used.

Your lap-top might use a Lithium-polymer battery. This new battery is similar to the Li-Ion, but is smaller, more flexible, and lighter. It is often used in ultra-light notebooks, super-slim cell phones and MP3 players. The down side is that it is less energy dense, expensive and has no standard sizes. You can care for this the same way as the Li-Ion battery.

Laptops have to use either batteries or an AC (the wall) or DC (the cigarette lighter in the car) power source. AC power has to be converted to DC power through the small brick-like adapter on the cable. If you need to replace your AC power adapter choose one that is rated for the same or higher wattage- also make sure the plug has the same polarity as the original (looks the same). Also make sure that the voltage is correct for the country you are using the computer. Some adapters automatically switch to the right voltage within a specified range.

Managing your power efficiently will give your battery a longer life. Thanks to ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) you can control your power management through your operating system (i.e. Windows).  ACPI defines four power level states, called global states. These four power states include the following:

G0 Working– the normal working state of the computer. It is in full power. However, in this state various devices can be put into lower power modes. Their are four peripheral device states and include the following: D0-fully on, D1 and D2-less power, D3- completely powered down.

G1 Sleeping- a power-saving mode that ranges from S1-S4.

S1 means that the CPU is powered, but not giving instructions, the processor is powered, but the cache is flushed, all devices not being used are not powered.

S2 uses less power because the processor is not powered.

Processors can be powered down as follows:  C0– fully on, C1, or Halt is barely powered down, C2, or Stop-Clock is less power than C1, but takes longer to bring back, C3 is sleep mode and the highest energy saver, the cache is flushed and takes the longest to bring back to full power

S3 is called Standby in Windows. Only the RAM is powered, so when the computer is brought back to full power a user can start tight where they left off. However, if the laptop loses power (battery dies, gets unplugged,      power outage) all of the information is lost.

S4 is called Suspend to Disk or Hibernation in Windows. This is the highest energy saver. The information is written to the hard disk and RAM is not powered. If a power loss occurs, nothing will be lost, but it takes a long time for all of the applications to be ready for use, once brought to full power out of hibernation.

G2 Soft off- This is when you turn off the computer by clicking on the shutdown button and letting it power off. It requires a full boot process to restart. However, the computer still has a powered battery installed or is plugged into a working outlet.

G3 Mechanical off- This is when you disconnect all power to the laptop- unplug it. This is the only state in which a repair to the laptop should be made.

Intel’s SpeedStep and AMD’s Cool ‘n Quiet are called Performance States and can be utilized to use less power when in normal running mode.

Power management settings should be enabled by default.

In Windows XP, open Control Panel> Performance and Maintenance> Power options

In Windows Vista, open Control Panel>Mobile PC> Power options

In Classic view of Control Panel the Power Options applet has its own icon. You can also right-click on an empty area of the Desktop, click Properties, select Screen Saver and click the Power button.

You can do this on a desktop computer, too, but it will probably not have the Alarms and Power Meter tabs and may have a UPS tab for an uninterruptible power supply.

For your laptop, Under Power scheme it will probably be set on Portable/Laptop, but you can change it to what you want, then you can define separate settings for when the laptop is plugged in verses running on the battery.

The Alarms tab allows you to set how your system will respond when battery power gets low. The Power Meter tab shows you the current battery life. You can get the same information by clicking the battery icon in your system tray.

The Advanced tab lets you set the function of the power buttons.

The Hibernate tab allows you to decide whether your computer can enter Hibernation mode or not.

It is a good idea to be more conservative on power than the defaults in order to maximize your battery life.

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