What’s The Best Way To Prolong Laptop Battery Life?

While experts’ advice sometimes conflict, with proper care, your laptop’s battery should last you a few years; without it, it may quickly begin losing charge or need to be charged more frequently.

The confusion on this arises from the different care required for older, nickel-based batteries that lasted longest when completely drained and then completely charged. While it’s inevitable that you’ll occasionally use up all the charge or leave your laptop battery charging beyond reaching full capacity, there is a bit of finesse involved in getting the most out of your lithium battery.

First of all, don’t drain your battery level below 40 to 50% on a regular basis. A partial discharge is far less stressful on your battery, ultimately prolonging its life. This is for your regular charging activity. Once every month or so, however, you should use up every bit of battery life. Since most lithium batteries these days are “smart” ones, they are able to relay information about the remaining amount of charge. By completely draining the battery periodically, it recalibrates this system, making it more accurate in the long run.

Secondly, you should not regularly charge your laptop battery to full capacity. The longer your battery charges, the higher its temperature gets. This adversely affects your battery’s capacity to hold a charge.

Once that capacity is lost, it is gone forever. So, taking this all into account, the best way to prolong laptop battery life is to maintain a charge between 40 and 90% at all times, except for a complete drain monthly.

Tips to Optimize Your Laptop’s Battery Life

Laptop batteries… Ugh! Need I say more? We all know how annoying and unpleasant your laptop experience becomes when you find yourself rushing around for the nearest power source to keep those precious emails and spreadsheets alive.

It seems like the battery life on laptops lasts for only a couple hours, and if you’re doing some heavy work that time can drastically decrease.

So I’m going to share some tips and tricks to keeping the life of your laptop batteries as strong, and long lasting as possible.

Defragment your hard drive
Believe it or not, keeping your computer’s hard drive defragged on a regular basis is one of the key things you can do to improve your battery life.

The more efficient your hard drive works, the less power and time it needs to do its processing, which ultimately decreases the amount of power required to process.

Minimize multitasking
Keep the number of programs you have open and running down to a minimum.

For example, time and time again I see users that have a dozen or more programs running at the same time, when they are only using one or two of them.

Keeping programs that are not needed running increases the load on the CPU and wears the battery down. Try to keep only programs you are working with up, and eliminate anything extra.

Clean the battery
Keeping the battery contacts clean is another key point, and I’m amazed as to how many laptop owners have told me they’ve never once cleaned the terminal posts that connect the battery to the laptop, nor even thought about doing so.

Just like any other electronic device, or piece of equipment, laptops needs regular cleaning and maintenance. Every couple of months or so, you can take a damp cloth with rubbing alcohol and wipe down the posts on the laptop, as well as the battery to keep a clean connection and keep the power transfer more efficient.

Make sure the power is off to the laptop, and that it isn’t plugged into the AC power before you start cleaning.

Add more RAM
This may sound misleading, but having more RAM can actually help reduce the power consumption of the laptop by reducing the amount of virtual memory you are using.

Virtual memory writes to the hard drive, which does require more power than writing to the RAM. If you see your hard drive blinking constantly, you could benefit from more memory in your laptop.

Use Windows Power Options
Utilize the features of Windows Power Options. Simply go into Windows Control Panel, choose Power Options, and set your laptop to use the predefined power plan of “max battery.”

This will ensure your laptop is getting the maximum optimization of power usage, while the computer is on or idle.

Turn off unneeded devices
Lastly, you can cut down on the use of external devices with your laptop. For example, if you’re simply doing some photo editing, word processing, or just working in a program that requires no Internet connectivity, shut off the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth adapters. If your laptop screen has a backlight, you can turn the brightness down to save power. These types of adapters and devices consume a lot of power, even if you’re not using them.

Another biggie is the fact that people love to charge all their gizmos and gadgets with their USB ports (iPods, phones, etc.) and this greatly affects the battery, and often can drain it in less than an hour.

These tips, along with a regular charging schedule will do wonders for the life of your battery. Remember, it is a best practice to keep your batteries on a regular charging schedule, and you should routinely completely charge and discharge your laptop batteries.

Consider A Spare Or Second Battery

One option you may not have considered when you bought your laptop was getting a spare  battery. This item is a must for someone who is seriously on the road or in a remote location, where a long time is spent away from the power socket. Before you use a spare battery, ensure that it’s fully charged.

If your laptop has some type of quick-swapping ability, when the power gets low, you can just eject your laptop’s original, spent battery and quickly insert the spare battery.  But be sure that your laptop can survive such a transplant before you attempt it! Perform a test swap in a noncritical situation, just to be sure.

If your laptop doesn’t have the ability to hot-swap batteries, just turn off (or hibernate) the laptop when the original battery is nearly spent. Remove the old battery, insert the fresh one, and then turn the laptop on again. Keep the following points in mind:

• Label the batteries so that you don’t get the two (or more) batteries confused and accidentally insert a dead battery.

• You can buy a spare battery from Tech Experts, or from online stores that sell extra batteries, such as iGo or Batteries.com.

Be wary of generic batteries! Always try to get a manufacturer’s (or manufacturer-approved) battery for your laptop. Get anything less, and you run the risk of setting your laptop ablaze!

Make Sure You Condition Your Laptop Battery

When you purchase a new laptop, make sure you condition the battery or you’ll end up buying a replacement in the very near future.

The conditioning process varies among laptop manufacturers, so make sure you read the instructions that came with your new laptop. Some manufacturers recommend that you completely drain the battery before allowing it to fully charge, and then repeating that process two or three times before you do a partial charge.

Others have different instructions so, again, be sure to ask your Tech Experts team member, or follow the directions that came with your new laptop.

After you’ve conditioned your battery, we recommend that you allow your laptop battery to completely drain once every 3 to 4 months, and then fully recharge it to refresh all cells.

A well-maintained battery should accept hundreds of recharges and last for a long time.

Dell and Apple Recall Millions of Laptop Batteries That Could Suddenly Explode or Burst Into Flames

(Or, Why We Don’t Sell or Recommend Dell Computers for Our Clients)

Dell recently issued a recall of 4.1 million Sony-made laptop batteries sold between April 2004 and July 2006 because of a fire-hazard risk.

Following Dell’s announcement, Apple has also issued a recall for 1.8 million laptop batteries for the same reason: the batteries can overheat and cause the laptop to ignite.

If you own a Dell or a Mac laptop, check to see if your battery is on the recall list. If it is, remove the battery and run the laptop from an electrical outlet until you receive a free replacement.

How To Know If Your Laptop Battery Is At Risk
If you own a Dell laptop and want to see if it is affected, visit www.dellbatteryprogram.com. You will be prompted to enter the product number written on the inside of the battery.

If you own an Apple laptop, go to: www.apple.com and type “battery recall” in thesearch option.

This recall is for laptops with PowerPC chips. Newer Mac laptops with Intel chips are not affected by the recall.

Dell confirmed that it worked with Sony over the last few months to improve the battery manufacturing process.

However, Sony batteries are used by many different laptop manufacturers, which means the problem may be more widespread than Dell laptops.

Battery recalls are nothing new, but this recent recall is considered the largest in consumer electronics history.

Not Sure What To Do?
If you have a laptop and you’re concerned about the battery overheating, give us a call. We’ll be more than happy to investigate whether or not your battery needs to be replaced. Just don’t delay!