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2011-09-21

A+: Laptop Batteries and best care for long life

A+: Laptop Batteries and best care for long life

Batteries left in a laptop that's running all the time will 'cook' by exposure to the heat of a running laptop 24/7 and lose lifetime capacity. Therefore, once charged, if your laptop will boot up without a battery and you're using it on AC, that's OK; otherwise, set your laptop to sleep or hibernate when idle so your battery lasts longer.

Four major types of batteries are used nowadays to power laptops; lead-acid batteries are passe and throwaway alkaline or lithium batteries could be used in a handmade external battery pack (say for long flights) but the sturmtruppen of the TSA might look askance at such a practical device.

WARNING: BATTERIES ARE TOXIC, AND CAN CATCH FIRE. DISPOSE OF PROPERLY.

We commonly find in laptop use (oldest to newest):

NiCD AKA Nickel-Cadmium - a complete discharge/recharge every 30 uses is a good idea. They drain down by themselves 10%/month and can last for a thousand cycles or more.

NiMH AKA Nickel Metal Hydride - a complete discharge/recharge every 30 uses is a good idea. They only store 40% as much charge per pound as NiCD batteries, self-discharge around 15%/mo and only last 500+ cycles.

Li-Ion AKA Lithium Ion - these should be completely discharged and recharged when the charge drops rapidly from 30% to 0%. It's OK to partially recharge/discharge them, they're much less fussy about needing a full discharge-recharge cycle than the Nickel batteries.

Li-Poly AKA Lithium Polymer - these store less charge per weight than Li-Ion but are more flexible and can be formed into complex shapes (I'm wearing one, like a wrist watch, right now).

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