How to minimize aging of your laptop battery

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By Keith Curreri on August 06, 2010

Battery studies today are leaning heavily toward lithium-ion style batteries, like the one in your laptop. In many ways, these batteries are superior to other batteries that were previously used in portable devices.

Laptop batteries are expensive, so it pays to take care of your battery to get the most life out of it. There are two important factors when it comes to battery preservation: how the battery is charged and the temperatures to which they are exposed.

Temperature

The operating temperature of your battery is a huge factor that determines how long the battery will last. Short battery life in a laptop is mainly caused by heat rather than charge / discharge patterns. There is a direct correlation between the temperature that a battery operates and the degradation of its charging capacity. A cool battery is a happy battery.

Use your laptop on a hard service – Despite it’s name, your laptop doesn’t like sitting on your lap all day. A hard, smooth service provides good ventilation and doesn’t trap heat like soft surfaces do. You may want to consider using a cooling pad to hold your laptop.

Avoid charging your battery while you are working with the laptop – Whenever you charge your batteries, your laptop’s temperature goes up. If you charge your laptop when the CPU, graphics card, hard disks, etc. are running at full speed you are creating a lot more heat for your battery.

Some laptops come preinstalled with software that allows you to disable charging. Another option is to remove the battery while you are working with your computer plugged in.

Make sure your laptop’s ventilation system is never blocked – This one kind of goes along the same lines of using your laptop on a hard surface, but is worth mentioning. Make sure not to place objects in front of the opening to your laptop’s ventilation system.

Don’t leave your laptop in a hot car or in the sun – Even when your computer is not on, it is best to keep it in a cool, dark spot. Try not to store your laptop in a place where the air temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keep your desk clean – If you work on a laptop at a desk, make sure to keep your desk clean. If your desk gets dirty or dusty, that dust will get into the vents of your computer. Once that gets inside your laptop it is much harder to remove.

Charging/Discharging

The way that you charge and discharge your battery will also determine how long your battery will last. The best thing that you can do for your battery is to not use it. Many modern laptops have an auto shutoff feature that will stop charging your battery when it gets to 100%.

If you do have the auto shutoff feature, the best thing that you can do for your battery is to keep your laptop plugged in when you use it. Then once your battery is charged, your computer will run off of AC power, saving the life of the battery.

If you don’t have this feature, refer to your laptop manual on how to disable battery charging when the battery is 100% charged.

There are also a few other things to keep in mind dealing with charging and discharging your battery:

Calibrate the battery every 30 charges – Every thirty charges, or about once a month, you should let your battery fully discharge and then fully recharge it afterwards. This will help to recalibrate the battery.

Avoid frequent full discharges – In contrast to other types of batteries, lithium-ion batteries show no memory effect. This means that it will do no harm to the battery if it is re-charged before it is empty. Full discharges to a lithium ion battery will put unnecessary strain on the battery. Only discharge a Lithium-ion battery once every 30 cycles.

Avoid high discharge rates – While using your laptop on battery power, try to limit the amount of strain you put on your computer. The more strain you put on your computer, the more your battery has to work, and the higher the discharge rate. If you are on battery power, try to avoid intensive tasks and do not run programs that you are not using.

Fully discharge a new battery and recharge it when you first get it– This calibrates a brand new battery. When you get a new laptop or battery, plug the laptop in and charge the battery fully. Then, unplug the laptop and run it until the computer warns you that the battery is about to run out. This calibrates the battery; “teaching” it how much charge it can hold.

Storage – Leave a 50% battery charge on the battery if you plan to store the laptop for more than 6 months. It is also a good idea to take the battery out of your laptop in cases where you will be storing it for a long period of time. Long term storage of a fully discharged battery may cause it to be unable to recharge at all.

Conclusion

Proper temperature and charging techniques can drastically increase the length of your battery life. These tips do not only apply to laptops; they apply to anything with a lithium-ion battery – cellphones, mp3 players, etc. Follow these tips and keep your battery healthy.

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1 Comment on "How to minimize aging of your laptop battery"

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Olivia Sherwin

These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to avoid fully discharging your laptop’s battery frequently. I didn’t realize that doing so often could strain the battery! I tend to use my laptop until it runs out and shuts off, but I’ll definitely be sure to avoid this in the future. Thanks for the great post!

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