Don Trauger – Kennett
Laptop owners rarely think about the battery in a laptop computer. It’s “out of sight – out of mind”. The battery is usually contained
within the rear of the computer. The battery gets its recharging voltage from the power pack or charger unit. One cord plugs into the
wall and the other cord from the unit plugs into the laptop. With both cords attached, the power pack unit delivers voltage to the
computer so that the computer operates without the need for the battery. However, the battery is also being charged or at least maintaining
its charge at the same time. Whether the computer is on or off, if both cords are plugged in, the battery is receiving charging voltage
and therein lies a potential problem.
The batteries are a lithium ion type battery. The nature of these batteries is such that they need to be cycled every once in awhile.
Cycling means to purposely discharge the battery to a low level, and then recharge it to a high level. This action helps keep the chemistry
within the battery active. Here’s how to accomplish this task.
Turn on the computer and wait for it to boot, then find the little charging icon that is displayed near the clock in the lower right hand
corner of the display. Hover the mouse over top of it. It will identify itself, as will all the icons on the Task bar near the clock. It
should say something like charge 100% or charging complete. Now if you remove the cord that connects to the computer from the charging unit,
you should see the total charge remaining. This measurement is made without the benefit of the charger. The battery is now the sole source
of power for the computer. The remaining charge should drop slowly if the battery is in good condition. The icon should display not only
the remaining charge in percentage, but also the amount of estimated time that it can power the computer.
If you find that there is a rapid drop off in remaining time, or in the percentage of the remaining charge, that indicates that the battery
either needs to be cycled or replaced. First allow it to discharge to between 10 and 20 percent. Next plug the cord back in to bring it back
to a 100 percent charge. Test it again by removing the cord and allowing it to discharge. If it discharges much slower then you have
accomplished a needed refreshing of the battery. If, however, that does not work the first time, try it again. If the second treatment also
fails, then it’s time to consider replacing the battery. Keep this thought in mind, the battery only needs to be replaced if you use the
computer where no house power is available.
Once a month you should follow this cycling procedure to extend the life of the battery. Never leave it plugged in for months and charging
The battery is a user replaceable item. It’s held in place by one, sometimes 2 slider tabs that are located on the underside of the laptop
toward the rear. To replace the battery slide these tabs in the opposite direction they are in, and pull the battery out. Read any directions
that come with the new battery, slide the new one in place, then slide the tabs back into their locking position.
Battery prices vary from $15.00 to $80.00 or even $100.00. If you purchase directly from the manufacturer, expect to pay 2-3 times as much.
For example, a Dell laptop replacement battery from a reputable supplier listed an Internet price of $83.00. The same battery, if purchased
directly from Dell, had a list price of $179.00. Many batteries are less expensive than this example. Search Google for the best price using
the model name and number followed by the word battery. Here’s an example for a Dell: Inspiron 15R battery. Here’s an example for a
HP: pavilion G6T battery. Of course your laptop name and model may be different.
Most office supply stores, like Staples, will accept dead batteries for their recycling program. There’s no need to buy the new replacement
battery from them.
To get answers to your questions about computers, please come to the PC Club meeting. The computer club
meets the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 PM in Hershey’s Mill Community Center.