HomeHardware


Laptop power problems. Is my 2 year old battery going bad?
malaki86
I'm starting to have issues with the laptop's power and not 100% sure where to look. The computer is an HP DV7 17" laptop. The charger is 90watts and is plugged into a power inverter 100% of the time. Also, the laptop just turned 2 years old.

Here's what's happening: I had been running the laptop on a 100watt inverter, which worked perfect for about a year now. Recently, though, the inverter started 'shutting down', leaving the laptop to run on it's battery. I figured that the inverter was going bad (it was a cheapo to begin with) and bought a good 150 watt inverter. Same thing started happening immediately. Because I was mid-route, I pulled out my stand-by 400 watt inverter I keep as a spare. The first thing I noticed is that the laptop is pulling 120-130 watts of juice to power it (on a 90 watt charger).

Also, when it has dropped to the battery-only, the computer isn't powering itself down when the battery gets low like it should - it simply shuts off the computer - not gracefully, either (we all know how good that is for Windows). It's set to go to sleep @ 30% and hibernate @ 20%. But, I don't think the battery guage ever gets to that point. I think it shuts down prior to that.

I'm starting to wonder if my battery may be going bad. After all, it is 2 years old and is in use on a daily basis for 16-18 hours per day.

Comments?
tcassidy
My last 2 Toshiba laptop batteries only lasted about 2 years when it was plugged in all the time. I think that is just what happens in many cases. If you need the battery attached all the time and it doesn't get cycled, plan on replacing it in about that time frame.

Terry
Marvin Hlavac
The same with my old HP tx2000. It was plugged in minimum of 12 hours a day, and very often 24 hours a day. The battery did not last more than two years. I never bothered buying a new battery though. The battery, when it was three years old, was only able to keep the laptop powered literally less then a couple of minutes.

I do not know if a very old battery can cause a laptop to draw so much more power from the power source to actually cause the symptoms you've described.
Ken in Regina
Yes, a bad battery will suck power because it's trying to charge it as well as run the computer. If the battery is bad it will take way more current because of the way they fail internally. Best to replace the battery. It shouldn't cost you more than $40-$50.

...ken...
malaki86
I checked at HP, Best Buy and Radio Shack. The battery is $99 at all 3. Haven't checked Amazon yet, but I expect a similar price. I'll probably order one later today in hopes that it's sitting at my house when I arrive next week. I've already ordered a new charger as well, but went with a car charger for it instead of the a/c one. At least that will bypass the need for a power inverter.
Marvin Hlavac
While waiting for your new battery to arrive, try to remove the old battery from the laptop, and use it like that. See if the inverter is going to work properly, without shutting down constantly.
malaki86
The problem with that is that the outlet that it's plugged into shut down while I'm starting the truck. So, that would kill the laptop every time.
malaki86
Glad I checked Amazon. $42.00 total (battery + shipping) for it. Just as long as it's delivered before next Thursday, all will be good to go.
glennw
Did you get the battery from Amazon? And were you happy with it?
GoneNomad
The 'dirty little secret' of lithium-ion batteries that isn't too well known:


ref.: http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries


Keeping them fully charged at 'room temperature' (or higher, as in a car parked outside on a sunny day) is somewhere in the range of the upper two temps. on this chart.

And this is if the battery was "a good one" to start with. A lot of the generic Lithium batteries coming in from China work great for a while (long enough that you couldn't return it even if that was practical), but have a short lifespan. I've had this experience myself with standalone GPS batteries, which should only be a few bucks, but cost several times that on ebay/Amazon, and many times more than that from the manufacturer.

For any easily removeable lithium battery, it is best to take it out and keep it in the refrigerator if practical. I store all my rechargeable NiMH batteries in the refrigerator for the same reason (and they aren't nearly as susceptible as lithium batteries to permanent capacity loss).

BTW, most lithium packs can be rebuilt with new cells. But it depends on whether or not you can buy individual cells of known quality cheap enough to justify it. Here are a couple sources:
http://www.all-battery.com/ & http://www.batteryspace.com/
Attached Images
lithium-battery-capacity-loss-due-aging.jpg  
tcassidy
Sounds like more trouble than it is worth. I just assume any battery has a finite life and I bought the device to use it without a power cord. If the battery won't hold a charge, I buy another one. All that refrigeration stuff...you might as well use a cord and be done with it!

Terry
Boyd
Now you guys are making me paranoid about my new MacBook Air which doesn't have a user-replaceable battery (AFAIK)

My laptops have all been Macs, and I haven't had any batteries die within 2 years, even though they ran most of the time on line power. The battery in my 2008 MacBook Pro is still good for somewhere between 1 - 2 hours I'd say.

I also have a two+ year old Sony XDCAM-EX professional camcorder that uses a pretty beefy LiON battery. I have barely used this camera in the past year and stored the battery fully charged at room temperature (removed from the camera). It's been a couple months since I used it and I just pulled it out yesterday to recharge. Surprised me to see that it was still registering 100% charged after all that time.

With more and more devices featuring batteries that the user can't change, this is certainly an area of concern. Any many people may not like the idea of storing their iPad in the freezer.
tcassidy
Another reason I didn't keep the ASUS EP121 slate.

Terry
GoneNomad
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcassidy
Sounds like more trouble than it is worth. I just assume any battery has a finite life and I bought the device to use it without a power cord. If the battery won't hold a charge, I buy another one. All that refrigeration stuff...you might as well use a cord and be done with it!

Terry
As far as 'refrigeration being too much trouble' - that depends on usage, and how much a battery pack costs (you might think differently about a $2,000 e-bike pack. But DON'T put Lithium batteries in the freezer. 40F is about optimal. The important thing is to keep them out of cars that are sitting in the sun.

I bought my laptop/tablet etc., to use in a vehicle, where, strictly speaking, I don't need an internal battery or an AC power cord. I bought the Toshiba tablet in part because the battery can be easily replaced (for $26 on Amazon). Some people want to throw out a perfectly useful piece of equipment just because the battery is dead (and maybe because it gives them an excuse to buy a new one). Needless to say, that's not me. I think it's crazy to buy a piece of equipment costing hundreds of dollars that does not have a user-replaceable battery. But to each his own. Steve Jobs helped make Apple a wealthy company selling high-margin gear with difficult to replace batteries, so from their standpoint, it sure works for them. Actually the A123 LiFePo4 batteries have much longer cycle & calendar life, but you won't find any oem laptop packs with those cells.
malaki86
Yes, I got my replacement battery from Amazon and it hasn't had a problem since. I'm figuring that if this battery lasts another 2 years, the laptop will be ready to replaced by then.

The laptop is in the truck, connected to a power inverter, so it always has power coming in. The only time it actually "needs" the battery is when I start the truck - when I start it, it kills the 12v power outlets during the cranking.
laptopgpsworld.com About