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Laptop Battery Life

There are many factors that effect the life of a laptop's battery.
  1. Improper power settings:

    Be sure that you check your computers power settings to make sure that you are taking advantage of your laptop's energy saving mode.

    Windows includes two power schemes that were created specifically for mobile PCs.
     
    • The Portable/Laptop power scheme minimizes the use of power to conserve your battery, but adjusts to your processing needs so that the system speed is not sacrificed.
       
    • The Max Battery power scheme minimizes power use but does not adjust as your processing demands change. You should use Max Battery only in situations that require minimal processing, such as reading documents and taking notes in a meeting.

    To use a power scheme designed to maximize battery life:

    1. Go to Start>> Control Panel

    2. In Control Panel, verify that you're in Category view, and then select Performance and Maintenance

    3. Click Power Options.

    4. Select the Power Schemes tab

    5. Click the arrow under Power schemes, and then click Max Battery

    6. Click OK

    You can also create a custom power scheme to suit your specific needs. You can create as many custom power schemes as you want.
     

  2. Running heavy resource eating programs:

    Don't expect your battery to get you through a 2 hour movie. Watching movies on your laptop is a huge drain on the battery life. If you had a second battery on hand, this would probably be OK.
     
  3. Monitor brightness setting:

    The largest resource hog for a laptop battery is the systems monitor. You can add some life by finding the brightness control and turning it down as far as you can stand.
     
  4. Age of the battery:

    Many people believe that a laptops battery is only good for about a year. This sure hasn't been the case for me. I have been a power user on many laptops for many years and I can tell you that a laptop battery seems to do very well way past the first year on into the second. But, after the second year, you will probably notice a performance fade.
     
  5. Type of battery:
     
    • Lithium-ion Battery:

If you are using a laptop with a Lithium-ion battery (most newer laptops), it should give you between 300-500 charge/discharge cycles. This type of battery doesn't like full discharges and should be avoided when-ever possible. The technology is still being enhanced and should continue to be the battery of choice for laptop manufactures in the future. Elevated temperatures seem to have an adverse effect on this batteries life. Lithium-ion battery manufactures believe that a typical life span should be somewhere between 2 to 3 years. Most lithium-ion batteries fail because of exposure to excessive heat rather than the charge/discharge habits of the user.

  • Nickel-based Battery:

(nickel cadmium and nickel metal hydride) Unlike the lithium based battery, this battery likes being discharged and then fully charged. If a Nickel-based battery is always partially discharged before recharging, the usable capacity of the battery will be reduced. This battery has a voltage capacity 3 times less than the Lithium battery (1.2 V -vs- 3.6 V) making it less commonly used in the portable industry. If your laptop is 3 or more years old, then most likely you have this type of battery.

Battery Disposal:

As with any battery, your laptop battery will not last forever. When you are ready to get rid of your old laptop and bring in a new model, please discard your battery in a responsible manor. Batteries contain hazardous material and are harmful to our environment. Many large retailers have made it easy for us to dispose of these, here are a few that participate:

  • Home Depot
  • Staples
  • Radio Shack

If you would like to find a drop off site near you, visit the RBRC web site:

Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC)

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