laptop security

How to Protect Laptop Batteries

Before getting into the detail of how to protect laptop batteries, let's look at the technology. It will help answer the question and also shed light on another, "what is a reasonable life for a laptop battery?"

laptop battery

Most portable electronic devices including laptop computers are now powered by lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion superseded nickel metal hydride technology providing superior power to weight ratio, a longer discharge cycle, absence of the "memory effect" and a lower cost.

Under optimum conditions, lithium-ion batteries will provide excellent service over 300-500 discharge cycles, which equates to 2-3 years of laptop usage. That is also the average life of a laptop computer. At that age hard drives become susceptible to problems and there will be a new version of Windows that struggles to boot on this now obsolete laptop.

Two to three years is a good life for a laptop battery. At that stage an investment in a replacement is seldom a wise idea. The laptop is living on borrowed time.

We need to know how to protect laptop batteries because:

  • They're expensive to replace.
  • They dicatate how mobile we can be.
  • Laptop security - over 10 million Lithium-ion batteries batteries have been recalled as a consequence of incidents where they have over heated and spontaneously caught fire.

Guidelines on How to Protect Laptop Batteries

  1. Avoid placing laptop computers in direct sunlight or parked cars where temperatures can reach over 140° F. Extreme temperature ranges will at the very least shorten battery life.

  2. Unlike earlier technology there is no benefit in completely draining a Lithium-ion battery until it is flat. If it is done repeatedly it will reduce the life of the battery. While this was a common practice with nickel metal hydride batteries, it is no longer required as the new technology is note susceptible to the same memory effect.

  3. On the other hand lithium-ion batteries cannot be overcharged, but keeping them fully charged all the time will reduce their life. There is no need to remove the batteries from the laptop, just disconnect the power chord and run it off batteries for 2-3 hours a week to keep the battery cells healthy.

  4. Under no circumstances open or fiddle with a lithium-ion battery. They are very sophisticated devices containing processing capabilities and safety devices. Interfering with these mechanisms can potentially make them dangerous.

  5. Use of the laptop's power management facility will make each charge last longer and extend battery life.

  6. Spare batteries must be individually wrapped so as to avoid damage from impact and any possibility of a short circuit resulting from the batteries contacting one another.

On the subject of extremely cheap laptop batteries, be cautious. Laptop batteries operate in a tough environment. Temperatures inside the battery compartment of a laptop commonly exceed 110 ° F. Many of the cheaper batteries are not equipped with the safety cut off features found in batteries supplied by the major laptop manufacturers.

Finally, an important consideration in thinking about how to protect laptop batteries is the safety of these devices, especially in the context of recalls by Dell, Sony, Apple, Lenovo, IBM and Toshiba. Over 7 million laptop batteries were recalled by these companies as a consequence of 6-7 incidents over a period of years. Those incidents may have been caused by manufacturing defects or the actions of the owners i.e failing to follow guidelines such as these on how to protect laptop batteries from being damaged or impaired.

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