10 Things You Should Know About Laptop Batteries
On a day-to-day basis, you might not think too much about your laptop battery. However, you’ll definitely notice when it’s on the fritz.
If your computer is running slower than normal or takes longer to start up, then this could be to blame.
As with any tech gadget, the more you know about laptop batteries, the better you’ll be able to diagnose any issue that might occur with them. Today, we’re sharing 10 key facts you should know about them moving forward.
1. There Are Different Kinds
A battery is a battery, right? Not when it comes to your laptop.
In all, there are three different kinds of laptop batteries in operation today. These include:
Nickel-cadmium (NiCad) batteries
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries
Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries
If you visit a laptop battery store, then you’ll find that Lithium-ion batteries are the most common types sold today. Lighter and more efficient than most of their counterparts, they’re also easier and more cost-effective to produce.
While most batteries serve the same general purpose, each requires a unique type of chemistry to create a charge.
Before you buy a new device, take the time to understand the specific type of battery it requires. Then, research how to properly maintain that battery to extend its general lifespan and durability.
For instance, if you’re interested in a Lenovo laptop, then learn as much as you can about the platform’s battery requirements. These computers boast an excellent battery life and a quick charge for a true win-win.
- The Memory Effect Is Real
Although more common with older laptop batteries including nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal hybrids, the memory effect can occur in any computer.
In short, this happens when users leave their laptop batteries plugged into their corresponding charger, even when they’re fully charged. Over time, this can cause the charge to lessen in effect.
On your end, you’ll notice that your laptop has less energy and a shorter runtime. You may also notice the same effect if you try to recharge your battery before it’s completely drained, or if you use your battery when it’s only partially charged.
- You Can Ease the Strain
It’s never wise to leave a ton of tabs open on your internet browser, or a dozen applications running in the background of your computer. Both of those actions can drain your battery life, leaving you searching for an outlet to plug into before long.
However, did you know that one of the most common battery stressors is also one of the most avoidable? Take a look at your screen display.
Is it lit up like Christmas, or have you dimmed it to a comfortable level?
If it’s too bright, then it’s likely consuming far too much power. To conserve battery life, try adjusting the levels yourself. You can also use an automatic brightness adjuster to find the perfect level.
If you plan to be away from your laptop for an extended period of time, then you can also take advantage of automatic dimming and screen turn-off features. While most laptops will utilize these features automatically, the timers might be set too long. Shortening them can help keep your battery power in check.
- Their Lifespan Is Finite
Even if you research the best battery life laptop model, keep in mind that there isn’t a single kind that’s designed to last forever.
Rather, laptop batteries have a specific, limited lifespan. While you can take many different measures to extend their life, they will eventually conk out.
You want to make sure that you can enjoy your machine for as long as possible before it’s time to start shopping for a laptop battery replacement. Before you buy, read reviews and user testimonials about the laptops on your list.
As you do, pay attention to any remarks that mention the cycle life of the computer’s battery. This data may also be included in technical specs, which are usually downloadable online. The term “cycle life” refers to the total number of charge/discharge cycles that your battery can go through before it starts to wear down.
- Charge Cycles Matter
In short, a charge cycle refers to the amount of time it takes for your laptop battery to go from 0% to 100%. For instance, if your battery started out at 100% and it’s now at 66%, then you’ve used up roughly one-third of your charge cycle.
While there isn’t a universal rule for how many charge cycles you can expect to get out of your battery, most are designed to last for at least 500 iterations. Aim to initiate a new charge cycle as soon as you notice that your battery life has dropped to 20%.
- Shallow Cycling Can Damage Them
You might not have known the exact term for it, but you’ve likely engaged in shallow cycling without even realizing it.
This is the act of charging your battery for only a short amount of time. While there might be times when you need to disengage your battery from its charger prematurely, this shouldn’t be a common occurrence.
In time, shallow cycling can lessen your battery’s ability to achieve and maintain a full charge. This can lead to the aforementioned memory effect, which accelerates battery deterioration.
- You Can’t Overcharge Them
Many laptop users wonder if they can damage their machines by leaving their batteries plugged in all of the time. Would it be best to unplug them every so often to make sure the battery doesn’t start degrading?
The short answer is “no”. Once your laptop battery has achieved a full charge, then the actual charging process will stop. Then, it’s won’t re-engage until your battery voltage starts to drop and reaches a certain level.
- You Can Discharge Them For Too Long
If you own a laptop, then you know the fear that arises when that ever-present battery power icon starts to drop to a concerning level This notification is especially nerve-wracking if you’re nowhere near an outlet.
If you don’t need to use your laptop right away, then don’t worry. Most machines will be fine if the battery level drops all the way to the bottom. They will simply shut down, and you can recharge them when it’s convenient.
However, while this is an easy fix, it shouldn’t be a frequent one. Allowing your battery to fully drain is OK, but make sure to charge it back up completely as soon as you can. Otherwise, the battery could enter a deep discharge state, which can negatively affect future performance.
Most newer, Lithium-ion batteries include features that prevent your battery from entering this state. These batteries come equipped with a special, high-voltage protection circuit that will initiate once your battery is fully discharged. The circuit provides ongoing high-voltage pulses that keep the battery engaged until it’s time to plug it in again.
- Heat Is Their Worst Enemy
An overheated laptop doesn’t just run slowly. It can also pose a major safety risk, as the batteries could react explosively to the excess heat.
As a computer owner, you can help keep your machine cool by investing in a dedicated cooling stand. This stand will elevate your laptop off your desk, allowing air to circulate freely under it.
If you need to store your battery for an extended period of time, then make sure you choose a cool and dry spot. It’s also best to leave your battery charged to at least 40% before you pack it away. This way, you can avoid entering a deep discharge state.
If you want to go a few steps further, then cover the battery’s metal terminals with a few pieces of insulating tape. The tape will serve as a buffer to keep those terminals apart, protecting your circuits and preventing conductivity. You can also place your laptop battery into a sealed bag to protect it from dust or debris while it’s in storage.
- You Can Purchase New Batteries Online
Gone are the days when you had to trek into a big-box computer store to find a new battery for your laptop.
Today, many online retailers will allow you to select a specific type of battery from among their many offerings. The specific kind that you need will hinge on the kind of machine you’re operating.
If you notice your laptop battery not charging, then you may want to take it into a battery store for an in-person test. Especially if you’ve only had it for a few years, a sudden dip in capability can be concerning.
Many retailers will also offer to recycle your old laptop batteries for free, and some will even offer free installation.
Take Care of Your Laptop Batteries
As you continue to learn about laptop batteries, you’ll be better equipped to keep yours in great shape. These are important device components, and their performance is directly tied to your machine’s operability.
These 10 facts can help you get started, but reach out to the computer manufacturer if you have additional questions about the type of battery you need.
In the meantime, we’re here to keep you connected to the latest business, tech, and lifestyle news. Be sure to check back often for more helpful guides!