How to know if my laptop batteries are dead?

lynnalexandraJanuary 17, 2012

I have thinkpad x61 (from Sept 2008), which has been symptomatic for about a month - but it only dawned on me in the last week that my battery might be dying. I have an 8cell Li-ion battery. A month ago, my hairdresser unplugged my laptop to move it - and it shut itself off. I didn't see him move it so I figured that maybe he shut the power button off. Then last week I noticed that the battery charge level stayed at 85% - even though the adapter was plugged in the whole time. I unplugged it to move it - and it shut right down. It runs when the adapter is plugged in - but not when it's removed. The fact that the battery won't charge past 85% (it used to get fully charged - 98 or 99% until recently).

So I think the battery is dead. Does this sound like the symptom of a dead battery?

As I search the net, I fear I have not treated the battery as I should have. I rarely let the laptop battery discharge. I often leave it plugged in and on (does that overcharge it? or is that okay?). For future use I should know how batteries need to be handled. Should I let the battery discharge from time to time? how often? Is it okay to leave the adapter plugged in if the laptop is off?

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As I started looking into battery replacements, I started wondering if my old Dell Latitude 600 (which died a few months ago) might also just need a new battery. It was kicking along just fine (used in my office during the week and turned off on weekends). Then one Monday it wouldn't start. I hit the power button and the indicator lights would come on - but then just go off. No booting up. As old as this XP computer is, it was working just fine for light surfing and emails at the office. It would be worth investing in a well-rated generic battery - if that is the problem.

Are there steps I can take to try to test out what died in the Latitude? I tried taking the battery out and just have the adapter plugged in. Same thing. When I push the power button, the indicator lights come on - but then shut right off. Or maybe this means it's the adapter? and not the battery?

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Thanks.

Lynn.

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kudzu9

If the computer runs fine with the adapter plugged in, whether the battery is in or out, then the computer is likely to be fine. If it shuts down when you unplug the adapter and the battery is out, it likely means you have a battery that is past its useful life. Sometimes laptop batteries only last a year or two under even the best of care, so it's not unusual that you would need new batteries.

Here is a link that might be useful: Battery info

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 8:17PM
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lynnalexandra

Thanks Kudzu.

So I think my thinkpad does need a new battery (I just ordered one). It runs with the adapter plugged in - but shuts down if the adapter is unplugged (although that was with the battery in).

For my Dell latitude, I'm less sure and could use any suggestions. In case I had just failed to let the battery recharge enough, I left it charging overnight. I got about 3 seconds further into the process before it shut down this morning. I turned the power button on - the indicator lights came on - and stayed on a few seconds before shutting down. In case it was the adapter (not powering the computer by itself - and not charging it), I tried another adapter. Same thing - lights for a second then shuts down. Now I did just try powering it up. I did not let the other charger charge the computer. Should the laptop have started up if I know it's a good adapter - even if the battery is shot? or would a dead battery prevent the laptop from starting up immediately when plugged in?

Thanks.
Lynn.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 9:07AM
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grandms

I think you have now answered your own questions. Undoubtedly the Thinkpad battery was dead and needs to be replaced.

As to the Dell, there's something else at work other than battery or adapter.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 11:57AM
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kudzu9

A dead battery is the same as no battery. Even if it's putting out some kind of minimal energy, this is not going to make a difference. Let me be sure about what you said. Do you mean that the Dell will not power up for more than a few seconds with either adapter plugged in (and don't worry about whether the battery is in or not). If the answer is that you can not power it up fully under any scenario, it means either that there is a problem with the jack in the computer that the adapter plugs into, or some other fault...which could be either hardware or software related. And it might cost as much to have it diagnosed and fixed as to buy a new, cheap replacement.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 1:08PM
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lynnalexandra

Grandms - thank you. Sometimes it helps just get the feedback that I've answered my own questions.

Kudzu - you have that right. The Dell doesn't power up with either adapter. Sounds like it's not worth fixing, so I'll peruse craigslist at my leisure until I spot a solid, but basic laptop for $100-200 - and watch the sales for new ones. There's no rush on that one really.

Thank you.
Lynn.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 10:49PM
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steve_fl

lynnalexandra-
If you are disposing of the laptop, I could use the parts-
I have one that needs a screen
Let me know and I will get you my email address

Thanks
Steve

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 8:45PM
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genes

There are some brands of laptops, that will not work with just an adapter, they also need a good battery...If I am not mistaken, I thought Dell was either the brand or one of the brands that did this

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 4:21PM
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lynnalexandra

Steve - if genes is correct and Dell laptops won't power up with just the adapter, then I'm not quite ready to conclude that this Dell is a goner. (at some point I may call Dell - or check the Dell forums to see about whether this laptop may just need a new battery.) If I do decide to dispose of it, I'd be happy to get in touch with you and work something out to send you the screen/parts.

Lynn.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 8:35PM
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genes

Lynn, Try this...remove the battery from the dell and unplug from the wall source...press and hold the power button down for about 1 min....next, plug in the a/c power and see if it boots up..if it does, then replace the battery...if that doesnt work, plug the laptop into the wall, and gently wiggle the d/c plug which plugs into the laptop..see if the charging lite comes on, if it does flicker or come on, that means that there is a broken solder connection inside the laptop

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 7:38AM
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steve_fl

Thanks lynnalexandra-
If Dell cannot walk you through a repair-let me know-

Thanks

steve

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 6:58PM
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kayjones

Lynn AND Steve - my Dell is doing the same thing and I was told it was the battery - if you might be able to 'walk' me through checking it out, I'd appreciate an email from you. Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 11:22AM
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genes

Lynn & Kay, did either of you try my suggestions???if so any luck???

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 4:16PM
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lynnalexandra

Genes - I did try your suggestions - and the Dell won't power up. Wiggling the adapter didn't make a difference.

Kay - I'm curious why Dell thought it might be a battery? And I don't have any steps I can walk you through beyond what Genes outlined. Unfortunately, my Dell won't power up. There are replacement batteries on Amazon for just over $20 - so maybe it's worth trying that in case a Dell just won't power up if the batter is bad - whether it's plugged in or not.

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On a separate note, I did get the battery replacement for my lenovo - and it works. Now I can unplug my laptop and get about 3-4 hours (which isn't great - but running on battery is not what I usually need).

I did calibrate it once. Charge it fully - let it discharge fully until it shut off. Then recharged it fully. The battery came with instructions to do that once. I am confused, however, as I thought Li-ion batteries didn't need that at all - and that batteries that do need that need a few cycles of it. So I'm wondering if I should go through a couple of more charge and discharge cycles.

Thank you.
Lynn.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 5:47PM
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steve_fl

Lynn-
I usually go through about 3-4 full charge/discharge cycles with a new battery.
It seems to stabilize the battery.

Also, the replacement batteries lately have been a "crap shoot"-
Our company got some that were great, and some from the same batch that would only hold a charge for about 90 minutes-
Go figure!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 7:33PM
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cannahavana

I have a Dell Studio 1749 laptop and I just checked mine and it will run with just the adapter.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 8:53AM
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kayjones

Genes, no luck doing as you suggested. Mine was checked by a 'in his home' computer tech/business and he concluded that it was 'a lost cause' and I should just buy a new computer. I have no idea what he 'checked'.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 11:31AM
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genes

Sometimes, there is a small circuit board within the main circuit board in a laptop which is dedicated to charging the battery..they sometimes burn out or become damaged and it pretty much necessitates a full main circut board (motherboard) replacement

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 12:06PM
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