By Leo Notenboom
When I first got my laptop (8 mos. ago) my battery life was about 2 hours 45. Now after daily use (mostly with plug but using battery as well) it is down to 1.5 hrs which is basically useless. I have tried draining totally recharging etc and still only 1.5 hours. SO I am buying a new one. My question is how do I make my battery keep its charge so I can have it when I need it?
I originally wanted to title this article “Why does my battery life suck?”, because I know that’s exactly what it feels like when the battery life gets shorter and shorter. My oldest laptop has about a 20 minute lifespan, so in many ways the battery is really nothing more than a glorified UPS. Not that that’s bad, but it does limit the laptop’s portability.
I turned to a friend, Jerry Foutz, for some help on this one. Do a Google search for Power Supply Design, and Jerry’s site, SMPS Technology, is the top result. Jerry knows power supplies.
It turns out that the single, most important aspect to maximizing battery life is something that I wouldn’t have thought of: matching the battery to its charger. In Jerry’s words: “Make sure your battery and charger match and you have a quality charger. About the only way you can maximize the probability of this happening is to buy both from the computer manufacturer for the exact computer model.”
“Apparently even small differences in output voltage of the charger can have dramatic impact on the lifespan of your battery, by either under, or over-charging. If you get a low-cost charger and it is off by as little as 10 mV (millivolts, 1/1000 of a volt), you will also get less than optimum performance.” An example Jerry shared is that a 4.1V cell charged at 4.050 V might be good for 4,000 charge cycles. Increasing the charge voltage to 4.250, a difference of less than 1/4 of a volt, can reduce this down to less than 100 cycles.
I had no idea that batteries were that sensitive.
I’m also glad that I’ve purchased my batteries, extra batteries, and chargers from the manufacturer at the time I got my laptop. That, further, minimizes any manufacturing differences that may occur over time.
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