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Old Laptop Battery Maintenance Questions


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#1 Nicholas_Kang

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 06:26 AM

Hi all, 

 

Ever since I started using CentOS, whenever I logged into my CentOS session, I will see a small popup notification in the bottom-right corner of my KDE Plasma Workspace taskbar. 

 

The popup says something like my PC battery capacity is currently 48% (or 49%). 

 

I already long suspected that because whenever I charge my battery, the power seems to drain very fast, usually within an hour or two. The specifications of my notebook can be found here. It's basically a 7-year-old notebook (by the end of this December).

 

I can also suspect the reason why the battery capacity can deteriorate so much in just 7 years time. I used to leave my PC power on for a prolonged time and usually the power dropped to dangerously low level and simply cut off. This had repeatedly happen over 5-10 times in a duration of approximately 3-5 years. (I wished I were more careful and mindful of taking good care of my PC!)

 

Ok, some questions for the hardware experts:

 

1. Now that I have a faulty battery (not sure if a 49%-capacity-battery is considered faulty, but basically let's say it is spoilt), will my daily operations using my laptop be affected?

 

I am currently using external power source for my notebook and whenever my PC is switched on, the external power source is also on. I suppose this will reduce the burden of my battery, but I am not very sure if this is the right thing to do. What if my battery is "overcharged"?

 

2. I purchased my laptop for some RM 3000, about 950 USD (assuming 2011 US dollar benchmark, on December 31, 2011, 1 USD = RM 3.17). Now that this PC is 7 years old, and apart from battery issues, it is still looking good. I only use up less than 20-30% of the 500 GB HDD storage space. It also has an optical DVD drive bay which most newer laptop PC doesn't have. Is it wise for me to invest on a new PC just because of my current battery issue? 

 

If say a new laptop is needed, what brand should it be? My current PC/laptop knowledge is very limited:

 

a. ASUS laptop are notorious for having broken hinges after prolong usage (in fact, the hinge of my current laptop is broken). When I sent my laptop for maintenance (not ASUS-authorized maintenance shop), the person suggests me to save money by leaving the laptop lid opened all the time to "prolong" my laptop's life.)

 

I do have a keyboard protector so to protect against dust, but elsewhere on the area where I usually place my palm while typing on my laptop, dust can clearly be seen. So far, no effect on PC performance though.   

 

b. Lenovo laptops are "famous" for BIOS exploits, as stated here:

 

Lenova have a rather poor history with regard to security and if a USB is penetrated then that can propagate into any other PC/laptop/device that USB is plugged into.

 

3. Please kindly provide any further advice for me to maintain and prolong my current laptop's lifetime.

 

4. If a new PC is inevitable, please provide advice on basic laptop battery maintenance. Say if I let my PC run to low power and it cuts off its power automatically, will the same issue happen to the new laptop? 

 

Thanks for helping.

 

p.s. I am very impressed by CentOS being able to figure out my deteriorating laptop's battery capacity. Windows 10 (and Windows 7 which was pre-installed on my laptop) has never shown any message like that. In fact, it shows that the battery level drops from probably 90% to say 80% and then a few further drops in 10-30% in a matter of half an hour or so, which puzzles me a few years back, until I realized that my PC battery is faulty.

 

I stayed with a faulty battery for years until recently news about power bank explosions while charging surface, I am worried if the same might happen on my old laptop...   :mellow:


Edited by Nicholas_Kang, 20 July 2018 - 06:27 AM.


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#2 dc3

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 10:01 AM

This computer is getting a bit old which usually leads to problems or failures.  Seven years is a very long life for a battery of this type.  You could purchase another battery with the same specifications as the old one, this should provide you a similar amphour capacity to the one you had previously.  But in view of the age of this computer I would seriously consider purchasing new one.  There are components which do breakdown over time, like the electrolytic capacitors found in the PSU and motherboard.  These are used to regulate the voltages for these components.  If you have not replaced the hdd yet I would be willing to bet it's getting a bit long in the tooth as well.  These are electromechanical devices which will fail eventually because of their moving parts. 

 

If you do decide to purchase another battery and continue the use of this computer you need to choose a battery which matches the specifications of the old one, and obviously must be for this specific computer.


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#3 DavisMcCarn

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 04:28 PM

Hardware wise, you won't get into real trouble until the battery is complete toast (as in you may fry the charging circuitry) and the laptop would then rudely turn off if the power goes out.

Beyond that, the Chinese have gotten into the battery and ac adapter (charger) business and many of their products are bad news so I always preface my search with "genuine oem" (and some of them still lie about it))

$26 brand new; but, check yours before you buy:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/GENUINE-OEM-battery-for-ASUS-A32-K53-A43-A53Z-K53U-K53-X43E-A53SV-K53SK-5200mAh/141945171410?hash=item210c976dd2%3Ag%3A2L4AAOSwgyxWW%7Efm&_sacat=0&_nkw=genuine+oem+ASUS+A53TA+battery&_from=R40&rt=nc&_trksid=m570.l1313


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#4 Nicholas_Kang

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 07:16 PM

Thanks for the info. So far my computer is turning into a toast yet. :)

 

I will follow dc3's advice and purchase a new PC instead, though I won't be buying anything now.  

 

I do have a question, is it advisable to remove my faulty battery and fully relying on plugged-in power source while using my laptop, i.e. That means is it possible (and safe) for me to remove the battery and yet power my PC on for prolonged period with just the power source?



#5 DavisMcCarn

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 07:02 AM

Your battery isn't faulty; but, rather dying of old age and, as I already said, you're not in real danger until it has zero capacity so you can leave it in the laptop, for now.

Batteries, in general, are only capable of 600 to 1,000 charge/discharge cycles with each cycle reducing the capacity of the battery by a fraction of one percent.

Yes; it would be fine to simply remove the battery if you can accept the PC rudely turning off if the power goes out.


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#6 Nicholas_Kang

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 08:00 AM

Ah. Thanks for the reply Davis!

 

I won't want to risk having power outage and my PC rudely turning off. Since it's dying of old age, I will just let it slowly deteriorate. Sad to see it die just like that when all other things are working like a charm!

 

Ok, now some questions about general PC battery maintenance, i.e. not just restricted to my current old PC.

 

I am a bit confused with the term charge/discharge cycle. Can you explain a bit in detail about this? (I am not a hardware geek, more of a software guy :))

 

Say now I own a new laptop, and I charge it till 100%, and I disconnect my external power supply, the battery will obviously discharge to keep my laptop running.

 

When it drops to perhaps 20% after using it for several hours, I will charge it again. So, now the previous charge-to-100%, followed by discharge-to-20% is called 1 charge/discharge cycle. Is that correct?

 

What if I charge my new laptop's battery to 100% and still connect my laptop to an external supply? Will there be any discharge from the battery since I am not using the battery power source? (I assume that my laptop will internally cut off the power supply that charges my battery and relay that instead to power my laptop directly, i.e. my laptop is powered using external source directly. Is this correct? What if the power supply goes off suddenly, wouldn't there be a power outage for a brief period of time (perhaps in less than 1 second) when the PC switches its power supply from the external power source to the battery? Will that affect my laptop's operation?)



#7 DavisMcCarn

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 10:26 AM

Older NiCad (Nickel Cadmium) batteries lasted the longest if you let them discharge almost completely and then recharged them.  They also tended to have a memory problem in that constant charging was bad because it caused the battery to lose its ability to release electrons and thereby reduced it's capacity.

Newer Lithium Ion batteries  last the longest if you let them discharge to about 50% of their capacity and then recharge them.  Since your battery is below it's 100 % design capacity, 50% of what is left would be the charge point.

The AC Adapter produces enough power to run the laptop and have some left over for charging.  The battery definitely charges faster if the laptop is off or asleep; but, that is because there is more power available for charging the battery.

Get yourself a copy of HWMonitor (free and I prefer the zip version) and run it.  At the bottom will be a section for your battery showing it's design capacity (5200mah) it's current capacity (?mah), and it's current charge level which will let you know when the battery is about to give up the ghost if you run it periodically:

https://www.cpuid.com/downloads/hwmonitor/hwmonitor_1.35.zip


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#8 dc3

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 10:41 AM

There really isn't any battery maintenance other than keeping it charged. 

 

A lithium ion (LIB) or nickel-cadmium (NiCd) laptop batteries are rated by their DC voltage and Amp-hours or Amperage which can be converted to Amp-hours.  These batteries consist of cells, there is a direct relation between the number of cell and Amp-hour.  The larger the number of cells the higher the Amp-hour figure.  Over time these cells breakdown and the number of Amp-hours decrease.  This is a normal part of the battery life cycle.  After X-number of cycles the battery will eventually not be able to maintain a charge for normal use.

 

Modern laptops have circuitry which monitors the battery being charged and will stop the charging when it is complete.  There really isn't much you can do to extend the life cycle of a laptop battery.


Edited by dc3, 21 July 2018 - 10:43 AM.

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#9 Nicholas_Kang

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 06:55 PM

Thanks for the updates! That really answers all my question. :)






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