The actual life of a laptop battery will vary with computer
usage habits. For most users, it is not uncommon to experience
differences in battery life, of anywhere from just under one
hour to over two hours in each sitting. If you are experiencing
shorter battery life cycles, say 10 to 15 minutes, it may not
yet be time to order that new battery.
There are several factors to take into consideration when
determining if the time has come to replace your battery. This
information may also apply to that new battery that you have
recently purchased, that has been giving you fits. The two
primary things to consider when troubleshooting battery problems
is Usage Habits and Battery Memory. We will cover both in their
complexities in just a moment, but first, let us take a look at
what you should expect from your battery's life cycle.
NiMH batteries usually last 1.5 to 2.5 hours.
LiION batteries usually last 2.0 to 3.0 hours.
These are average results and the results will vary greatly
depending on your system's conservation settings, the temperature
of the room and the climate that you are operating your computer
in. As a general rule, your Lithium Ion battery will last much
longer than your standard Nickel Metal Hydride battery.
Now let's take a look at the various usage habits to consider
when troubleshooting your laptop's battery. These processes are
very similar to the way that your portable stereo uses batteries
.. just think how much faster your stereo eats batteries when you
are playing the CD or the tape deck, as opposed to when you are
just playing the radio.
The more you use physical devices --- which require more
electricity to operate --- the more of the battery's power you
can expect to consume. The devices that create a larger power
drain are the hard drive, the floppy drive and the CD-ROM.
When the computer is able to use its physical memory resources
to store information, the computer will use less of the battery's
power, since the process is mostly electrical in nature. However,
when the processes you are using exhaust the physical memory
resources available to your system, the system will turn to
virtual memory to continue the process at hand. Virtual Memory is
designed to extend system memory resources by building a memory
swap file on the hard drive, and then transfer needed information
between the hard drive and the physical memory as required. Since
the hard drive is a electricity hog, the use of virtual memory
becomes an electricity hog by proxy.
Two other processes that engage virtual memory on your computer
are computational programs and the calculation processes used by
spreadsheet applications and database programs. Both of these
items engage the processor to a greater degree as well, which in
itself is a consumer of electricity. Because they both compute
and calculate large quantities of information, they will also
increase the amount of electricity that your laptop will consume.
Other physical devices that cannot be left out of this discussion
are audio and display devices. As far as audio devices are
concerned, speakers require electricity to run and the software
that is responsible for producing the sound does so by processing
information. The display panel consumes electricity as well. In
fact, the brighter the screen appears, the more electricity that
it is consuming. You may turn down the brightness on the screen,
thereby conserving more electricity than you may have considered
possible. And when considering the battery drain caused by video
devices, don't forget the effect that graphics programs will have
on your system. Video applications can have an intense effect on
your electrical needs, due to its usage of computation,
calculations and virtual memory.
Battery Memory is an odd little creature. The concept of battery
memory is reminiscent of Pavlovian Conditioning. Do you remember
the story about Pavlov and his dogs? Pavlov would serve his dogs
food and when they realized it was dinner time, he would ring a
bell. After some time of conditioning his dogs, all he would have
to do to get the dogs to salivate, was to ring the bell. Battery
Memory is a lot like that.
Battery memory is where the battery becomes conditioned to run
for less time than it is designed to run. Say for example, you
run your computer on battery for an hour and then you plug it
back in to let it recharge. The battery will become conditioned
to run only an hour before it runs out of juice.
To correct Battery Memory problems, you must completely drain
the battery and recharge it. To completely drain your battery,
you must go into your Windows Control Panel and select Power.
Then you must turn Power Management Off. Next, you must go into
your BIOS and make sure that if there is a power management
setting there, that you turn it off as well. In most cases, once
you are inside the BIOS, you will highlight Power Management and
press Enter. Then locate the item Hibernation at Critical
Battery, and by using the Minus sign, change the setting to Off.
Once these steps have been completed, then use your Escape key
to return to the top level menu, and select Save Settings and
Once you have completed turning off the power management in both
the BIOS and the Operating System, you must unplug the computer,
turn the computer on and let it run until it completely runs out
of electricity. Then you should charge the battery for 12 hours.
At the end of the charging cycle, then run the computer again
until the battery is dead, and then charge the battery for 12
more hours. You should repeat this process four times, before
returning the computer to its original power management settings.
As far as battery usage goes, it is recommended that you should
use the battery once every two weeks, and keep the battery in the
system so that the AC adapter can keep the battery charged at all
times. It is also recommended that if you don't use the battery
for more than two weeks, you should completely discharge the
battery and store it at room temperature.
Copyright Bill Platt - All Rights Reserved
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