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Extending the Life of Your Laptop Battery
Author: Chris Herzog
Manufacturer: N/A
Source: Tech Tips
Comment or Question: Post Here
Page: 2 of 3 [ 1 2 3 ]
Extending the Life of Your Laptop Battery
April 30, 2007

Life Preserver:

Just as proper use and maintenance of your car will result in longer life and better performance, taking certain steps with your portable electronics' batteries will result in longer use per charge, and a longer overall battery life. With replacement laptop batteries ranging from anywhere between $100.00 and $300.00, getting all the use you can out of your battery will save you lots of aggravation and keep more money in your pocket longer.

As soon as your portable device leaves the manufacturer's premises, its battery starts losing capacity to store a charge. In some cases, it may show more charge stored than there actually is. You may end up exhausting what's available without knowing it and the computer may end up shutting down causing you to lose your work. Now that is not a situation you want to find yourself in. The fact of the matter is it is unavoidable after a certain period of time as the battery goes through gradual degradation. There are, however, ways to extend your battery life.

If your device always (or usually) runs on external power, you may be inadvertently decreasing your battery life. At least once a month, let the device use up all the battery power. In other words, let the battery drain until the computer goes to sleep ("hibernate mode") and then let it re-charge. This can help avoid capacity degradation.

Some notebooks, using a combination of specialized hardware, intelligent batteries, and special "services" (small programs running in the background) offer a "recondition" feature that will automatically prompt you to condition your battery and then attempt to do so in the background. If you are prompted by your system to condition your battery, you should probably allow it to do this.

Operating temperature is another important factor when we talk about battery life. Extreme high temperatures can cause degradation rapidly, just as extreme low temperatures can damage batteries - don't leave your notebook in your car for extended periods on hot days or overnight on cold nights.

It is recommended that you do not use your laptop without a battery in the bay. Doing so may cause the electrical terminals in the battery bay to become dirty or get corroded. It should be avoided for these reasons and the fact that you may lose your work since there is no backup power supply.

Micro-Manage Your PC Power:

Let's talk about power management settings on your laptop. "Power management is a feature of some electrical appliances that turns off the power or switches the system to a low-power state after a period of inactivity" ("Power Management"). On a laptop, power management is accomplished by a specialized chip working together with the Operating System. Many modern battery packs are "intelligent batteries" - they contain microprocessors that continually monitor capacity and communicate this information to the Operating System. This information is used by the system in conjunction with power management settings, specifically for determining when to issue low capacity warnings and switching to hibernate mode. In order to use these settings, your computer must be Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) compliant, which most recent computers are.

In Windows XP, you can control the power management features of your display, hard drive, shut down, stand by and hibernate, and low battery warnings.

Even though modern monitors do not consume a lot of electricity, monitors, hard drives, and the CPU are the three biggest electricity consumers on your laptop. Big, bright LCD monitors with backlights require comparatively large amounts of electrical current, as do the spinning motors and actuators inside hard drives. It is a good idea to shut your monitor off when you are not using it.

Power management allows you to set a fixed time, and if the computer sits idle for that long, the monitor is turned off. The same can be accomplished using power management when it comes to "spinning down" (temporarily turning off) the motor of your hard drive, and even toggling the CPU into a lower power consumption "idle speed".

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