[TOOLS] laptops and batteries

Subject: [TOOLS] laptops and batteries
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2013 21:54:46 -0400


Many of you know this, but it can't hurt to be reminded, and for those who didn't know...

Laptop batteries are mainly Lithium-based, with a couple of other technologies in some cases.

Batteries still want to be exercised.

If your habit is to sit at one desk, plugged in always, or to sit at one desk plugged in, then carry the laptop asleep to another desk where you again plug in (between office and home, perhaps) the battery never substantially discharges. They spend their lives at the top few percent of their capacity, and gradually forget how to access the rest. They still have full voltage, and current capacity - what goes is the depth.

Many batteries, treated that way, lose _accessible_ capacity, until some day when you need it (power failure, poolside, conference, commuter bus stuck on the wrong side of a freeway accident, etc.), your laptop will be confidently telling you that it's charged to 95% with 5 hours remaining... then ten minutes later it will show 79%, and it will quickly become apparent that you don't even get a full hour anymore. Less if running Wi-Fi or 3G/LTE.

So, unless you have assurance that your laptop battery is immune, it pays to regularly unplug, and run the battery down below 30% before plugging in again and recharging. Come the day you really need it, you'll have most-or-all of the expected capacity.


I have an old MacBook Pro that I use at home - again, it spends its life plugged in. I discovered that it was down to about an hour of total capacity, and just figured I'd live with it. The machine was four years old, and I'd already upgraded the memory to the max, replaced the DVD drive with an SSD, etc. Then I began having trouble with the trackpad. That's pretty fundamental... if I needed to get a mouse, I might as well just get a desktop machine. I took the MBP apart AGAIN, cleaned everything I could think of, brutalized the trackpad a bit, and reassembled. I got some additional clicking capacity for a while, then it began to deteriorate again. By the time I'd disassembled and reassembled yet again, the laptop bottom cover was fitting rather badly. I investigated replacing the trackpad, but that was considerably more expensive than hoped, because they won't sell JUST the trackpad. Well, maybe I could get a new battery and a small mouse, that would run on the pocket of my pants, or on the laptop beside the trackpad. Hmm.

When I finally bought and installed a replacement battery, I briefly held the old and new batteries in my hands......... and realized that the old battery was swollen by about ¼ of an inch in thickness. After the new one was installed, I suddenly could secure the bottom cover properly. Then I flipped the beast over, powered it on.... and the trackpad had full travel and clickability once again - the battery lives under the trackpad in that MacBook Pro model and had been crippling the trackpad by the growing pressure from below.

So, if you have an old, crippled battery in your work or play laptop, it might be swelling and applying indecent pressure to surrounding components. Even if battery life is not that important to you, consider replacing it anyway, for safety and for the sake of the surrounding bits-and-pieces.

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