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Old 02-10-2020, 05:15 PM
Mahaloth is offline
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Old computer battery loses charge quickly. Is this advice legit or not?


My wife has a work laptop and it works pretty well, but the battery(her second one on this machine) loses its charge quickly. It's down at least to 1/2 the time it used to last. She has to take it to meetings and can not always plug it in. She needs the charge.

She told IT at her work, hoping they would just find a new or at least newer battery. They told her this:

Quote:
We Can Have you perform a procedure that may improve your Battery Charging and serve as a test the battery;
Step 1.) Un-plug power cord, Let Battery Drain Completely.

(Step 2.) At end of your workday, If you leave laptop in office, Plug in to Power Cord and Turn On Laptop.

(Step. 3) Put Laptop to Sleep and let charge overnight.

(Step. 4) After Charging is Complete (i.e. next day), Power on Laptop and see if it is holding its charge longer than it was.
Well, I've never heard this advice. Is it legit? We will try it, but my gut instinct is "total baloney".

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Old 02-10-2020, 05:24 PM
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Ehhhh, sounds like someone is just reluctant to replace the battery but maybe? Weirder things have happened, I googled around and found there's a persistent problem with Ryobi battery packs that an internal setting can fix but everyone cautions that if you don't know what you're doing you can really mess yourself up trying it--I look at my dead Ryobi battery pack graveyard once in a while but haven't been brave enough to attempt it.
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Old 02-10-2020, 05:41 PM
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The advice is actually not complete baloney. Complete charge/discharge cycles might restore some of the battery's capacity (the word "might" is important in that sentence). I would expect that most likely you'll see some improvement, but you definitely will not restore the battery capacity to what it was when the battery was new.

Lithium ion batteries are lightweight and have good energy densities, which makes them great for laptops and cell phones and other portable devices. Unfortunately, lithium ion batteries also begin dying from the moment they are made, and to some degree you can't stop them from dying an early death. Good weight, good energy density, horrible longevity.

Heat kills lithium ion batteries. This can be an issue in some laptops, as many laptops often run a bit hot (you can have it cool, you can have it fast, and you can have it small, but not all three at once) and some laptop designs are better than others at keeping the heat away from the battery. Keep the laptop away from external heat sources, and if you notice the desk getting hot under the laptop, you might want to consider one of those laptop cooling pads. Avoid using the laptop on your bed or on other cloth furniture where the heat can't get out.

Many laptops these days also have a "battery saver mode" where they keep the battery down around 40 percent or so instead of constantly charging it fully. This can dramatically extend the life of the battery. This won't help you recover capacity from an older battery, but if your wife gets a new laptop this is something to keep in mind. If you know you won't be needing the battery at certain times, keep it in battery saver mode. Then fully charge it before meetings and such where you know you'll need it.

Lithium ion batteries also do not do well if they get discharged too far. To prevent bad things from happening, the battery or the laptop will have a monitoring circuit built into them that will cause them to go into a dormant "sleep" mode if they get discharged too far. Sometimes there are issues with this circuit, which may be what SmartAleq is referring to with Ryobi battery packs. There are ways of recovering a battery that has gone dormant, but they probably aren't the types of things you should do yourself unless you really know what you are doing.

In any event, I agree that someone is just trying to get out of replacing the battery, probably trying to save money. If the battery is down at half capacity, it probably needs replaced, and the charge/discharge/charge method, while not completely baloney and may help some, is not likely to recover enough capacity to get through long meetings.

It doesn't hurt much to try it.

Here's my guess: If the battery is currently at 50 percent capacity, you'll recover it to about 60 percent capacity.

Tell your wife to contact IT and tell them that the laptop is no longer usable for its intended purpose since it won't hold a charge, and they need to replace the laptop. Then they might be more willing to just buy her a battery instead.

Last edited by engineer_comp_geek; 02-10-2020 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 02-10-2020, 06:03 PM
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Wasn't there a type of battery, not long ago, for which you were supposed to drain it completely, or nearly so, every cycle, and where draining it only slightly and then re-filling it would cause it to wear out prematurely?
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Old 02-10-2020, 06:13 PM
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Wasn't there a type of battery, not long ago, for which you were supposed to drain it completely, or nearly so, every cycle, and where draining it only slightly and then re-filling it would cause it to wear out prematurely?
IIRC, the old ni-cads had 'memory' issues. If you only discharged them to a certain percentage and then charged them back up, eventually that percentage became the new 0.
You were supposed to let them discharge all the way, or close to it, before recharging them.
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Old 02-10-2020, 10:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Wasn't there a type of battery, not long ago, for which you were supposed to drain it completely, or nearly so, every cycle, and where draining it only slightly and then re-filling it would cause it to wear out prematurely?
As Joey P said, these were mostly nickel-cadmium (ni-cad) batteries. Nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) batteries are also prone to the effect, though to a lesser degree.

It's not quite that the battery sees the partial discharge as the new "zero", but rather crystal formation. In a normal battery, you get nickel and cadmium hydroxide crystals forming on the nickel and cadmium plates, and these crystals tend to be fairly small in size. With repeated partial discharges, these crystals tend to merge together and create larger crystals, and once those form, the interior of the crystal is no longer in contact with the electrolyte (typically potassium hydroxide). Since the bits inside larger crystals can no longer react with the electrolyte, you end up losing battery capacity. The ideal crystal formation is lots of tiny crystals, so that more surface is exposed to the electrolyte.

Repeated deep discharges and full charges will help to break up those oversized crystals, and once you have normal small-sized crystals forming during discharge instead of large over-size ones, you no longer have any of the battery capacity locked up where the electrolyte can't get to it and you essentially "recover" the battery's lost capacity.

With ni-cad batteries, large crystal formation due to shallow charging/discharging is an issue on both the nickel and the cadmium plate, with it generally being more of an issue on the cadmium side. With NiMH batteries, it's only an issue on the nickel plate, which is why they are not affected as much as ni-cads.
  #7  
Old 02-11-2020, 12:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
....Tell your wife to contact IT and tell them that the laptop is no longer usable for its intended purpose since it won't hold a charge, and they need to replace the laptop. Then they might be more willing to just buy her a battery instead.

And if it's out of warranty, that is, close to End Of Life, they'll go ahead and buy a new laptop. After going back and forth. At least that's what happened with my laptop.
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Old 02-11-2020, 01:01 AM
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Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
Then they might be more willing to just buy her a battery instead.
OK, but if a replacement battery was manufactured about the same time as the computer, won't it be in just the same condition as the battery that's in the computer now?

I once replaced the battery of a seven-year-old computer, but the replacement battery wasn't any better. A computer technician told me that it was probably made the same time as the computer itself, so even though it was "new," it really wasn't, because it had been sitting around for the same amount of time.

My assumption is that this is what happens when you need a very specific battery for a specific laptop. They aren't making those batteries anymore. What you buy as a replacement is from the original stock that they made when the computer itself was made.
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Old 02-11-2020, 08:06 AM
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In addition to what E_C_G said above a full charge/discharge cycle would recalibrate the battery controller circuit so it better knows it's full and empty point. (it's full and empty point's are not true full and true empty, but are software limited to extend battery life).

But in my experience, it does help for a cycle or two then goes back, or even could get worse. Replace the battery or the laptop. Another option would be to buy a external battery, Li-ion car emergency jump starters will work with some laptops and are fairly compact.
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Old 02-11-2020, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
The advice is actually not complete baloney. Complete charge/discharge cycles might restore some of the battery's capacity (the word "might" is important in that sentence). I would expect that most likely you'll see some improvement, but you definitely will not restore the battery capacity to what it was when the battery was new.
I am not a battery expert but I have heard that this procedure is not so much to do anything to the battery per se but to recalibrate the sensor in the computer so it accurately displays remaining charge.
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Old 02-11-2020, 04:28 PM
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If it's a NiCd or NiMH charge the battery, put it in the freezer overnight. Thaw, let warm up and re-install. Sometimes it helps. Cite-> https://www.online-tech-tips.com/com...aptop-battery/
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Old 02-11-2020, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guizot View Post
My assumption is that this is what happens when you need a very specific battery for a specific laptop. They aren't making those batteries anymore. What you buy as a replacement is from the original stock that they made when the computer itself was made.
This is also an issue with older cell phones. Often you can find replacement batteries on ebay and such, but they may be from the original production run and may have degraded since they were produced. If they are from the original manufacturer, this might be the case. But popular phones and laptops may have 3rd party vendors pop up to create new batteries for them, in which case they may work like new (or not depending on the build quality).
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Old 02-11-2020, 08:40 PM
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It's mostly useful as a way for the Tier 1 support people to close their tickets.

Discharging Li-ion batteries completely can kill them but putting them into a "deep discharge" mode from which they don't recover.
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Old 02-11-2020, 08:50 PM
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It works sometimes for some batteries and laptops, like people have said it's often recalibrating the laptop sensor and not actually changing the battery itself. This isn't a magical procedure that gives maximal battery life, but it is something simple and basic that might fix the issue and doesn't require significant skill or cost. And I really doubt they can just 'find' a battery, usually all of the batteries go out with laptops, and if there are spares they will be recovered from an end user and about as old as what you have. That means they'll be ordering one - which means finance will probably like to see that some sort of troubleshooting was done. Checking off that someone attempted to do something technical can avoid complaints on that part, even if the procedure isn't all that likely to work.
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Old 02-11-2020, 10:08 PM
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My wife did follow the directions, but sees absolutely minimal to zero difference.
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:52 AM
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Personally, I'd remove the battery and fully discharge it using an incandescent Christmas tree light (or something similar), letting it go for a couple days. Once it's very, very low, I'd just turn it in and tell IT it's not holding a charge at all. Chances are they will test it in your laptop or another laptop, see how pathetic it is, and hand you a replacement. Ticket closed.
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