Laptop Batteries

Published Date
01 - Dec - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Dec - 2006
Laptop Batteries
So you've got yourself a new laptop and have been using it for a few days. You travel around a lot and you can't do without your new gadget, but the places you travel to don't offer any options to recharge it-or you just don't have the time. Or, your laptop battery has grown weak and you are looking for a replacement. If you are in one of these scenarios, an extra laptop battery is what you need.

Myth And Reality
Laptop batteries are time bombs:
After the recent accidents with laptop batteries reported in the news, many people are curious to know how safe laptop batteries really are. Well, the chances of a laptop battery exploding are very, very remote. They are very safe unless opened or exposed to high temperatures. However, check with the company if your laptop belongs to the batch that had the defective batteries.

Questions To Ask
How long will the batteries last?
This depends on a host of different factors like the usage pattern, battery type, and the CPU. If you use a laptop for applications such as surfing and word processing, the battery will last longer than if, say, you're watching videos or listening to songs. Battery type also plays a critical role. Lithium-ion batteries have a longer life than NiMH batteries, because they can hold more charge.
Some of the older CPUs used to drain battery life a lot more than modern CPUs. Battery life with these processors is heavily reduced when you use CPU-intensive applications such as video conversion.

What is the life-span of the battery?
NiMH batteries have a useful life of around 300 charging cycles. Lithium ion batteries have a life of around 18 months, but this could be shortened depending on the heat it is exposed to.

Can I opt for third-party batteries?
Nobody can stop you from doing that, of course! However, most manufacturers recommend that you buy a battery from them or from authorised dealers. You might get third-party batteries that have the exact same specifications, but the quality may not be up to the mark. Using third-party batteries could also void the warranty in some cases-check for this. In extreme cases, third-party batteries could damage your laptop. To ensure that you have the correct battery, you can always check the part numbers listed at the manufacturer's Web site.

What To Look For
Type Of Battery
Lithium-ion and NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) are the two main types of batteries available in the market. While the latest laptops are powered by lithium-ion batteries, some older laptops draw power from NiMH batteries. Lithium-ion batteries have higher energy density, that is, they can hold more energy for the same mass compared to NiMH batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are also lighter, hold charge longer, charge faster, have longer life-spans, and don't suffer from the "memory effect." (The memory effect refers to the loss of capacity of a battery caused by charging the battery before completely discharging it; you need to wait for it to discharge completely before charging it). Even with these good qualities, lithium-ions are no angels. They are very sensitive to temperature-exposure to high temperatures can shorten the battery life, and if the temperature goes beyond a limit, it could lead to the battery going up in flames. Since lithium-ion batteries contain an electrolyte dissolved in a highly flammable solvent, a short-circuit could lead to overheating or a fire.

Every laptop has certain voltage and current specifications for its battery. Before you begin searching for a battery, note down the voltage and current specifications. Also bear in mind that your laptop manufacturer provides a list of compatible batteries. Try to select a battery from that list: these have been tested with that particular model.

While most laptops are bundled with 6-cell batteries, you can select from 9-cell or even 12-cell batteries if they are available for your model. A higher number of cells translates into longer battery life.

Though modern-day batteries are lighter than their predecessors, they can still be quite heavy. So before deciding on a battery, think about the weight it will add to your laptop. As you go for batteries with more cells, the weight increases, and so does the size. Sometimes a bigger battery can also affect the way a laptop rests on a desk. Check whether the weight and posture will suit you.

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