Today, the portability of a gadget is the main reason customers purchase laptops. The portable computer is always ready to help you with business or studies. It is quite easy to carry and use while on transport, at the seaside, in the park, etc. but, as you know, there are some problems connected with laptop battery calibration and recovery.
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How to understand when a battery needs to be restored
Likely every laptop user has at least at once faced a problem connected with their laptop battery. If not, be sure one day it will happen, because in most cases, a battery is the first thing that fails on the laptop. The laptop battery is a component which has a restricted energy reserve and it’s considered great if it works more than 5 years.
Usually, the battery loses its capacity over time and even a full charge allows the laptop to work less and less. Also, there are some situations when your laptop doesn’t power on and the battery is not charging. Quite often laptop users ask what to do when my laptop battery is not charging? How to restore a laptop battery at home? Answers to these and many other questions will be discussed in this article.
Before starting the repair, it is important to know when it is needed. Most laptops these days use lithium batteries and now we will talk about this type.
- The battery’s elements have lost their resources. Sometimes not all the elements are missing, just some of them. In such a case, you’ll need to remove old elements and insert the new ones.
- Battery elements are completely out of charge. That means that battery elements are OK, but the battery controller blocks the charging because of low voltage. In this case, you need to balance the elements. A little bit later we will tell you how to do this.
- The controller is broken. Likely it needs to be replaced.
When laptop battery recovery is impossible
Obviously, no battery is good forever. Sooner or later every laptop owner has to purchase a new one. Let’s consider some cases when it may prove impossible to repair your laptop battery:
- If none of the attempts to recover the accumulator has given any result.
- If the battery had exploded because of incorrect actions or storing conditions.
- Wrong identification of the battery’s type. There are several types and almost each of them requires an individual approach and methods while the process of reconditioning.
- After 3-4 years of usage. All the batteries have restricted term of usage and the capacity will slowly diminish over this time period.
Actually, laptop producers claim that the battery is able to be charged and discharged about 400-500 times (3-4 years). However, this depends on how much the computer is used and how long it is left on.
After the number of cycles has reached 400-500, the capacity decreases twice. And the length of time the battery can handle becomes about an hour or even less. When this happens, it is better to buy a new battery.
Of course, the laptop battery restoration may help it to live a little bit longer. But such an approach just won’t compare to a brand new battery.
The laptop battery types
Different brands use different materials and technologies while producing their laptops and batteries. There are two basic types: nickel and lithium. Let’s have a more detailed look at each type:
Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH).
NiMH has a higher capacity in comparison to the nickel-cadmium battery, which has the same sizes. This type of battery is much more environmentally friendly and that is quite important nowadays. One more advantage is that these ones are not so influenced by the so-called “memory effect”.
What does it mean? Memory effect is a result of different chemical reactions inside the battery, that make it “accustomed” to the level of wasted energy during the last charge cycle and equals the capacity according to the level of regular energy-waste. As a result, every following charge will lead to a lower and lower level of energy inside the battery. After some time, it will lead to enormous decrease of the charging limit. Memory effect is common only for NiCad and NiMH batteries. But now all the gadgets are being produced with lithium ones.
Available in 30% smaller sizes, the Li-Ion batteries have a much higher capacity for energy than the Nickel-Metal Hydride ones. The main problem of this type is that they are rather sensitive to high or low temperatures. In the heat or cold, their capacity can be extremely decreased. Also, the price for such batteries is quite high in comparison to the other types.
This is the most modern kind of battery, which hasn’t fully caught on yet. Developers have solved the problem of temperature resistance. Also, LiPol-s are much safe and long-lasting than previous types. Now the latest models of laptops are equipped only with lithium –polymer batteries.
How to identify the type of battery?
Each type has its own features and internal quirks. So, before starting to fix a laptop battery, it is important to find out what kind is it. It is quite easy to do. All you need to do is eject the battery, turn it to the opposite side and find a special marker with a sign corresponding to the type.
In most gadgets, there are used Li-Ion batteries and this is the most likely result for your laptop, as well.
Why is the laptop battery not charging?
As you can see, a lot of users face the problem of a non-charging laptop battery. The problem may be connected not only to the battery but also to your gadget’s software. Before buying the new charger it is important to be sure that the problem is actually the batttery, not something else. Let’s look at the main reasons a laptop battery might not charge.
The main reasons why the laptop battery is not charging
There are two kinds of: as we have already said, it may be connected both to hardware or software.
Wear and tear. As you know, physical deterioration destroys contemporary laptops’ batteries in the period of 3-4 years.
- Controller. The problem may contain in the battery’s controller. This is a microchip that manages processes of charging and discharging of the device. If the battery’s components are completely out of charge, the controller may “think” that they are broken and disconnect them from the external sphere. It may happen when the battery wasn’t charged for very long.
- Power supply. The laptop’s power supply is broken.
- Power connector. The same story, this component may be destroyed.
- The motherboard. The part which connects the motherboard to the power may be broken.
- BIOS. Problems connected with settings or old version of the BIOS.
- Software. Some programs and utilities that manage the power and optimize the gadget may be wrongly adjusted.
If the battery is run down, the power supply and connector are broken – just buy a new battery. To solve the problems with a controller it is better to refer to professionals. The other problems are quite solvable and may be dealt with at home.
The software adjustment
If you see the power indicator on your charger shows that the process for charging is running, but there is no result that means the problem is probably connected to the software.
Quite often producers install different utilities on their laptops. There are some that control the process of charging. Some of them may be set to extend the life of the battery. In this mode they don’t allow the laptop to be fully charged.
Moreover, users may install different programs themselves. They deal with the functions of the laptop’s software including the battery charging.
The BIOS setting updating
Sometimes the problem may be connected to having the wrong BIOS settings. In this case, it is better to reset everything.
- Disconnect the laptop and take the battery out.
- Press the ON/OFF button and hold it during 15-20 seconds. This will discharge the capacitors.
- Connect the power supply to the laptop, but don’t insert the battery!
- Switch on the gadget and start BIOS. Usually, it works while pressing “delete”, F2 or F12 during startup.
- When the BIOS is running you have to find an option that allows resetting the settings. BOIS differs according to the laptop’s model, so it is so difficult to show. Look for something like “Default Settings” or “Restore.”
- After that, you have to save the settings. Usually, this is done by choosing the corresponding option or pressing F10, but not always. Before running BIOS check the key commands of your laptop’s BIOS via the Internet.
- Now press the ON/OFF button during some seconds.
- Replace the battery and start up the laptop.
If the BIOS was the issue, mousing over the battery icon you will now see that the gadget is charging.
The power supply failure
This is another common reason for the battery not charging. If you are sure that the battery and the laptop are OK, the problem may be connected with one of these components. To identify the problem with the power supply you have to:
- Switch the gadget off.
- Run it without the battery.
- If it doesn’t work, the problems may be connected to the power adapter.
Also, it may mean that there are some problems with a power connector or motherboard. But in most cases, it is the power adapter. In this case, it is recommended that you buy a new one, because purchasing isn’t much more expensive than repairing. And the new adapter is more reliable and longer-lasting.
Depreciation of the battery
To check the depreciation level of the battery you can use a specialized utility. For Windows, there is the program called “Battery Care”, and “Battery Health” for Mac. Of course, it can’t be said that this is exact data, but at least you will be able to check the approximate condition of this component and you will know whether the battery should be changed or not.
The program shows both initial and current maximum levels of the battery’s capacity. If the depreciation is more than 50%, soon you will have to think about changing the battery.
Third-party programs running in the background
Different third-party programs may run in the background and lead the laptop to the quick discharging. Some of them may be active constantly.
Start up the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete, click “Processes” and disable useless background programs. Such a procedure will increase the time of autonomous work and let the battery “live” longer.
How to restore nickel batteries
The process of independent restoring is really laborious and sometimes even dangerous. It is quite easy to damage the controller or other battery elements and, as the result, you will have to buy the new battery. But, you may attempt to restore nickel metal hydride or nickel-cadmium battery. The following method is suitable for the nickel-batteries only! If you take it out and see the marker showing Lithium battery or if you want to repair a Mac, this method isn’t for you. If you are sure that it is nickel, follow the instructions:
- After you have taken out the battery, you have to put it into a cloth.
- Then put it all into a sealed plastic bag. It will protect the battery from becoming wet. Don’t use just the simple bag, because inside may appear a condensate.
- Put the battery into a freezer for 10 hours. This time is enough to fix a laptop battery. You may, also, leave it there for 12 hours, but no longer! It may destroy the battery.
- Finally, take the battery out, let it dry and warm to room temperature, then insert it the laptop and start charging.
How to take the nickel battery apart?
Usually, the battery has a non-separable construction, which composes two glued plastic parts and an accumulator inside.
Firstly, you have to count the number of the elements and multiply it by 1.2V. the result is the rated battery voltage. Use a multimeter connected to the side outputs and a car lamp. If the tool shows the rated voltage, but the laptop is still off, the problem is in the battery controller. If the level of voltage is below normal, you have to measure it in each element of the connected chain separately. Now connect as many auto lamps as there are components in the battery. Connect to each lamp to each element and wait until all of them run out of charge.
After that, you have to charge them. As the voltage is almost equal to zero, the battery can’t start charging. You have to help it by charging the components with the power supply and the car lamp. Connect the lamp step-by-step to each component while connecting the power cable. When the voltage in each element reaches the rate of 1.1V, connect the standard charger.
Repeat this procedure about 3 times and check it by inserting the battery into the laptop. If it gives no result, that means the battery is disabled and you have to buy a new one.
How to restore lithium batteries
To recondition lithium ion batteries or a lithium polymer one, first of all, you have to be very careful. They are lighter but the voltage inside is higher. The principle is similar to the previous method’s, but the voltage inside each of the components must be between 3.7V and 4.1V.
Instruments to recondition lithium batteries
Lithium polymer or lithium ion battery repair require having different kinds of tools and equipment. To fix the laptop battery you need:
- Knife, screwdriver or another tool that may help you to take a body of the battery apart
- Soldering iron
- Charging tool with the function of balancing
- New lithium components
The new components must correspond to the old ones’ characteristics.
How to take apart and diagnose the lithium battery
Before you can restore laptop battery it needs to be taken apart and tested. It is quite difficult because the design isn’t meant for you to get into it. As in previous instructions, you have to separate the two parts of the body by using a knife or something like that.
After this action is done, check the internal components of the accumulator for any defects or signs of damage. Controller chip mustn’t have any burned elements. Look through all the other elements carefully. It is important to identify the damaged components for further changing.
Measure the voltage output with the same tools and compare the results to the rated battery voltage (the number of components multiplied by 3.7V). If the voltage is equal to this index, that means the controller must be repaired. If it is lower, start checking the voltage in each separate part. Before doing this you have to separate the parallel parties and unsolder the controller of the battery.
Changing the elements of the battery
After the broken elements have been detected, you have to replace them. Before connecting and assembling, all the elements must be discharged to the level of voltage about 3.2V. Such a level allows the battery to start charging in regular mode. To do this you can use the lamp as mentioned above.
The only way to connect the components is to solder them. The quicker you do it the better to avoid overheating the elements. After that carefully solder the controller in the right place.
The battery assembly
After you have changed the damaged parts and put in the new ones, check the voltage in each element. It must be equal to the standard rate. Likely you will have to glue the two halves of the body. If that doesn’t work, use the insulating or adhesive tape. After that insert the battery into the laptop and charge if it is needed. Sometimes you need to “help” the elements, which have been discharged for a long time, to start working. It implies some actions, which are described below.
How to stimulate the battery?
Sometimes when the battery is completely dead you can bring it back to life. How to do this? You have to pass a current in a large amount for a very short term. Such an option is good for those who don’t have a special balancing tool. To stimulate the laptop battery, you need:
- A car battery or a similar source of current with the same characteristics
- Insulating tape
- Two copper wires
You have to take the body of the battery apart and disconnect the components. After that, you take one and the car battery. Before doing it, measure the voltage inside the element. Connect the negative outputs of the element and the car battery. Then connect one end of the second wire to the positive element’s output. Touch the positive output of the car accumulator with the disconnected end of the wire. Do it as fast as you can 3-4 times.
After each cycle is finished, check the level of voltage inside each of the components. When you have done it with all the parts, assemble them again and check the voltage inside the laptop battery.
Methods for all the types
There are some methods that are suitable for both types of batteries. None of them can guarantee 100% success. Nevertheless, sometimes they are quite useful and, what is more important, safe. Let’s consider each of the methods separately.
Calibration of the laptop battery
It is quite common when the charge indicator in the laptop’s screen shows that the battery is fully charged (100%) and you, without any hesitation, take the device and leave your home. Suddenly, in a couple of hours or even less, the gadget runs out of charge. This happens when the controller identifies the level of charge incorrectly. As a result, the controller can’t show you the correct information about the level of battery charge.
The components, which we have considered earlier, might be fine and the battery isn’t damaged at all. Its capacity is much higher than the controller shows. That makes you disconnect your device from the electricity with the charge-level which is far from 100%. In such a situation you need a laptop battery calibration.
In what cases can be the calibration used?
This method won’t help the damaged battery or its parts. If there is any mechanical or physical damage or the battery is simply out of its shelf life, this information isn’t for you.
If you have checked all the components of the battery including the power supply and the power input of your device and nothing is wrong, but the gadget still runs out of charge too fast despite being 100% charged, this method is for you.
How to calibrate the laptop battery
It is so easy to do – just charge the battery until the level reaches 100%, then discharge until it is dead. It must be completely out of charge. Once it is totally dead, you need to connect the laptop again and charge it fully.
If the battery is OK it will be enough to calibrate the controller and now it will show the correct charge level.
If you have no time to do it yourself, you also may download a specialized program, which will do everything for you. Moreover, some producers equip their devices with such a program to make their customers’ life easier.
You also can do a laptop battery calibration via BIOS. Sometimes it is really workable. You have learned how to launch BIOS. So, when it is running, open the section that says “Boot” and choose “Smart Battery Calibration”. It works in the same way as a program or manual calibration. The main thing is to connect the laptop to power before you start calibrating.
Total laptop discharging
Discharge the device like we described before. Wait until the light indicators also stop working to make sure the battery is totally discharged. After that, connect the power supply, but don’t switch the gadget on. Leave it charging for two days. Finally, launch the laptop!
You may also do a calibration to be sure that the controller is alright.
How to handle a used laptop battery
There are several simple rules that will help your laptop’s battery work much longer. If you follow these pieces of advice, you can forget about repairing it or buying a new one for a long time.
Avoid the level of charge of less than 50%. If you discharge the battery and charge it again 400-500 times, its lifetime will be decreased by 30%. If you start charging the battery every time it reaches 50%, its lifetime will be decreased only after 1000 of charging cycles. The nickel-cadmium battery is allowed to be completely discharged once per 3 months.
Be sure that the gadget isn’t overheating. High temperature decreases the effectiveness of the battery and can damage it. If you use the laptop in hot conditions, be sure that nothing covers the vents and the gadget has ventilation. It is better to put the gadget on the table, but not on your knees or something like that. Soft surfaces are a barrier for circulating air and your body will be an additional source of heat.
Also quite important is to keep the battery in proper conditions. If you are not going to use your gadget for a long time, take it out of the device and keep it at a temperature between 20-25° C.
Remove the battery while playing computer games, or using “hard” programs. It will protect the battery from overheating and damage. As you know, high temperatures aren’t so good for this laptop part, so it is better to avoid such conditions for it. It is better not to disconnect the gadget from the power cable. Do it only when it is necessary.
Remember, that every battery sooner or later will become invalid. If none of the methods and advice shared here is working, that means you have to purchase a new battery. Don’t allow the laptop to lose it’s charge. When you see a notification which says that it is time to start charging your laptop, do it immediately.
Some advice on how to extend the life of a laptop battery
There are some pieces of advice that make the battery longer-lasting and slow the decrease in capacity.
- If most times you use the device connected to the electricity at home or work, it is better to take the battery out. It will work properly without the battery.
- Before storing, leave about 50% charge. It must be stored in dry and cool place, where sunlight can’t reach it. Also, there mustn’t be any source of energy nearby.
- It is better to use software and set it to decrease the waste of energy.
- While repairing NiMH or NiCd battery by means of putting it into the freezer use only a sealed plastic bag. Otherwise, water or even ice will damage it.
- Put NiMH or NiCd into the freezer only! Don’t forget that the cold can make the term of usage of the lithium batteries shorter.
- If you decided to take out and change the lithium battery’s components remember that it can be dangerous for you.
How to extend laptop battery life
Sometimes it happens that the laptop has suddenly run out of charge at the worst possible time. It may be an important business presentation, during school, or just speaking to friends or family. In such a situation it would be great if the gadget was able to work a little bit longer, wouldn’t it? Here are some pieces of advice that help your device stay alive longer:
- First of all, turn off the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. Even if you don’t use these programs and they are running on the background, they require a lot of power. Just turn them off and your gadget will work much longer.
- Activate an energy saving mode. Most modern laptops have such a mode. Use power consumption settings to turn it on.
- Try to use as few programs as possible at the same time. Every program uses a part of RAW-memory of the laptop. To keep all of them running, the battery loses a lot of energy. Try to use no more than 1-2 programs together.
- Reduce screen brightness manually. Each laptop has a function that allows regulating the brightness of the screen. You can set the level of brightness that you need according to brightness in the room you are in.
- Take care of the battery. Regular cleaning is very important if you want to keep your laptop charged longer. From time to time take the accumulator out and check whether there is dirt, dust, etc. and pay attention to the battery’s body. Check it for cracks or other signs of damage regularly.
- As we have already said, don’t allow the gadget to get overheated. It destroys the battery and cuts its life.
There are plenty of misleading methods and advice on the Internet. For example, quite a common piece of advice tells you to keep the level of charge between 20% and 80%. Honestly, it is quite difficult to say whether it works. Nobody can say for sure, but everyone believes it is true.
Nowadays there are lots of different ways to make the battery lasting longer, but you should remember that there isn’t any everlasting laptop battery and never will be. Sooner or later you will have to buy the new one.
Now you know how to recondition any kind of laptop battery, how to calibrate and make it work longer and many other important things! We hope that our pieces of advice will help you to recover your laptop battery and to deal with other problems connected with such a vital part of your gadget!