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Battery Usage

Usage of Battery

Thank you very much for your trust and support in using Digitalgr8ness batteries. Please read the following very carefully before using your new battery, we will show you how to use and maintain the batteries properly to ensure maximum efficiency and productivity. Batteries are consumable electronic products with a limited lifespan, but with correct usage, proper charging and discharging cycles as well as good storage will significantly prolong the lifespan of your battery.

For the very first charge, please allow the battery to be fully charged for 5 hours. Do not be surprised if your battery meter in Windows only shows a maximum of 50% during the first 5 hour charge, this is to be expected and nothing is wrong with the battery. After consecutive charge and discharge cycles the battery indicator in Windows will gradually increase.

CALIBRATING YOUR COMPUTER’S BATTERY FOR BEST PERFORMANCE:

Laptop batteries contain a PCB inside the battery which provides an estimate of the amount of energy the battery contains as it charges and discharges. Batteries need to be recalibrated periodically to keep these estimates accurate in the Windows operating system. This procedure should be performed regularly, at least once a month.

  1. Set the correct settings for “Power” option: Click the right key of your mouse in an open space of the desktop, select “Properties” “Screen Saver” “Power Schemes”“Portable”, and “When computer is” “Running on batteries”, tick “Never” for all options. Under “Alarm” option, don’t tick “Low Battery Alarm” and “Critical Battery Alarm” functions, and then choose “Apply” and “OK” to save the settings.
  2. Disconnect the AC adaptor and use your battery until 5% battery power remains.
  3. Plug the AC adaptor back into the machine and fully charge the battery back up to 100%. Upon initial use (or after a prolonged period of storage) the battery may require three to four charge/discharge cycles before achieving maximum performance again. This charging process should take at least 10 hours if done correctly.

CAUTION: Never discharge the battery to completely flat, 0%, this will cause the internal PCB of the battery to switch off the circuits and the battery will thereafter be rendered useless.

TIP: Run the battery without the AC adaptor at least once a week to maintain the internal integrity of the battery and ensure peak performance and ensure that the battery stays in good working condition. The more frequently this is done the better. An absolute minimum of one full charge/discharge cycle should be done every month; failure to do so may result in permanent and irreparable damage to your battery.

BATTERY STORAGE:

Batteries may become damaged if stored for prolonged periods of time with a closed circuit. If the battery will not be used for a month or longer, it is recommended that it be removed from the device, 60% - 80% charged and stored in a cool, dry and clean place. A charged battery will eventually lose its charge and become damaged internally if left unused. It may therefore be necessary to recharge the battery after a certain period. It is highly recommended that the battery be used at least once a month to ensure that the battery remains in good condition.

BATTERY SAFETY:

warning
  • Do not short-circuit. A short-circuit may cause severe, irreparable damage to the battery.
  • Do not drop, hit or otherwise abuse the battery as this may result in exposure of the cells’ contents which are highly corrosive.
  • Do not expose the battery to any source of heat, moisture or rain.
  • Keep the battery away from open flames, fire or any other source of extreme heat.
  • Do not incinerate. Exposure of the battery to extreme heat may result in an explosion.
  • Do not try to disassemble, repair or otherwise change the battery pack contents which may cause over-heating or fire. Corrosive alkaline solutions or other electrolyte leakages may result in fire or personal injury or death.
  • Do not puncture the battery with any sharp objects.

 

HOW TO PROLONG YOUR BATTERY’S LIFESPAN

(This article is extracted from BATTERY UNIVERSITY)

WHAT CAUSES LITHIUM-ION TO AGE?

The lithium-ion battery works on ion movement between the positive and negative electrodes. In theory, such a mechanism should work forever, but shelf life, cycling and temperature affect the performance. Because batteries are used under many demanding environmental conditions, manufacturers take a conservative approach and specify a battery life of between 300 and 500 charge/discharge cycles. Life cycle testing is easy to measure and is well understood by the user. Some organisations also add a date stamp of three to five years; however, this method is less reliable because it does not account for the type of usage. Figure 1 illustrates the capacity drop of 11 Li-polymer batteries that have been cycled in a Cadex laboratory. The 1500mAh pouch of cells were first charged to 4.2V/cell at 1C rate (1500mA) and allowed to saturate to 0.05C (75mA) as part of the full charge procedure. The batteries were then discharged from 1500mA to 3.0V/cell and the cycle was repeated.

Q&A

Figure 1: Capacity drop as part of cycling.

A pool of new 1500mA Li-ion batteries for smart phone instead is tested on a Cadex C7400 battery analyser. All 11 pouch packs show a starting capacity of 88-94 percent and decreased in capacity to 73-84 percent after 250 full charge/discharge cycles (2010).

COURTESY OF CADEX

Designed for a smart phone, the battery packs were already a few months old at the time of testing and none of the batteries made it to 100 percent. It is common to see lower than specified capacities and shelf life may have contributed to this.

Manufacturers tend to overrate their batteries as they know that very few customers will complain. In our test, the expected capacity loss was uniform over the 250 cycles. All sample batteries performed as expected. Similar to a mechanical device that wears out faster with heavy use, so does the depth of discharge (DoD) determine the cycle count. The smaller the depth of discharge, the longer the battery will last. If it all possible, avoid frequent full discharges and charge the battery more often between uses. If full discharge cannot be avoided, try utilising a larger battery. Partial discharge of Li-Ion is fine; there is no memory and the battery does not need periodic full discharge cycles other than to calibrate the fuel gauge on a smart battery.

Table 2 compares the number of charge/discharge cycles a battery can deliver at various DoD levels before the lithium-ion is worn out. We assume end of life when the battery capacity drops below 70 percent. This is an arbitrary threshold that is application based.

Besides selecting the best-suited voltage thresholds, it is also important that the battery does not stay in the high-voltage stage for an extended period of time and is allowed to drop after full charge has been reached.

Depth of discharge

Discharge cycles

100% DoD
50% DoD
25% DoD
10% DoD

500
1500
2500
4700

Table 2: Cycle Life and Depth of Discharge
A partial discharge reduces stress on the battery and prolongs the batteries lifespan. Elevated temperature and high currents also affect cycle life.

Specifying battery life by the number of charge/discharge cycles is not complete by itself; equally if not more important are temperature conditions and charging voltages. Lithium-Ion suffers stress when exposed to heat and kept at a high charge voltage.

Elevated temperature is anything that reaches above 30°C (86°F) and high voltage is anything higher than 4.1V/cell. When estimating longevity, these conditions are difficult to assess because the battery state is in constant flux and so is the temperature in which it operates. Exposing the battery to high temperatures and being at a full state-of-charge for an extended time can be even more damaging than cycling. Manufacturers generally do not like to talk about these environmental conditions and release information only in confidence when requested to do so.

In this essay we do not depend on the manufacturer’s specifications alone but also listen to the comments of users.

BatteryUniversity.com is an excellent sounding board to connect with the public and learn about reality. This approach might be unscientific, but it is genuine. When the critical mass speaks, the manufacturers listen. The voice of the multitude is in some ways stronger than laboratory tests performed in sheltered environments.

Let’s look at real-life situations and examine what stress a lithium-ion battery encounters. Most packs last three to five years, less if exposed to high heat and if kept at a full charge. Table 3 illustrates capacity loss as a function of temperature and state-of-charge. One can clearly see the performance drop of recoverable capacity caused by environmental conditions and not cycling. The worst condition is keeping a fully charged battery at elevated temperatures, which is the case when running a laptop on the power grid. Under these circumstances the battery will typically last for about two years, whether cycled or not. The battery pack does not die suddenly but will produce decreasing runtimes as part of aging.

Battery Temperature

Permanent capacity loss when stored at 40% state-of-charge
(recommended storage charge level)

Permanent capacity loss when stored at 100% state-of-charge
(typical user charge level)

0°C
25°C
40°C
60°C

2% loss in 1 year; 98% remaining
4% loss in 1 year; 96% remaining
15% loss in 1 year; 85% remaining
25% loss in 1 year 75%; remaining

6% loss in 1 year; 94% remaining
20% loss in 1 year; 80% remaining
35% loss in 1 year; 65% remaining
      40% loss in 3 months

Table 3: Permanent Capacity Loss of Lithium-Ion as a Function of Temperature and Charge Level.
High charge levels and elevated temperatures hasten permanent capacity loss. Newer designs may show improved results.

Batteries are also exposed to elevated temperatures when charging with wireless chargers. The energy transfer from a charging mat to the portable device is 70 to 80 percent and the remaining 20 to 30 percent is lost primarily as heat. Placing a cellular phone on the heat generating charging mat stresses the battery more than if charged with a standard AC adaptor. Keep in mind that the mat will cool down once the battery is fully charged. Read more here: Charging without wires.

Equally stressful is leaving the battery in a hot car, especially if exposed to direct sunlight. When not in use, store the battery in a cool, dry place. For long-term storage, manufacturers recommend a 40 percent state-of-charge. This allows for some self-discharge while still retaining sufficient charge to keep the protection circuit active. Finding the ideal state-of-charge is not easy; this would require a discharge unit with an appropriate cut-off. Users should not worry too much about the state-of-charge; a cool, dry storage area is more important.

The voltage level to which the cells are charged also plays an important role in extending longevity. For safety reasons, most lithium-ion cannot exceed 4.20V/cell. While a higher voltage would boost capacity, over-voltage shortens service life.

Figure 4 demonstrates the increased capacity but shorter cycle life if Li-ion were allowed to exceed the 4.20V/cell limit. At 4.35V, the capacity would increase by 10 to 15 percent, but the cycle count would be decreased by half. More critical than the extra capacity is reduced safety, which would be the direct result of a higher charge voltage.

Q&A Figure 4: Effects on cycle life at elevated charge voltages

Higher charge voltages boost capacity but lower cycle life and compromise safety. Source: Choi et al. (2002)

Chargers for cellular phones, laptops and digital cameras bring the Li-ion battery to 4.20V/cell. This allows for maximum runtime and the consumer wants nothing less than optimal use of the battery capacity. The industry, on the other hand, is more concerned with longevity and prefers lower voltage thresholds. Satellites and electric vehicles are examples where longevity is important.

We have limited information by how much lower charge voltages prolong battery life; this depends on many conditions, as we have learned. What we do know, however, is the capacities. At a charge to 4.1V/cell, the battery holds a capacity that is about 10 percent less than going all the way to 4.20V/cell. In terms of optimal longevity, a charge voltage of 3.92V/cell works best but the capacity would be low.

The voltage threshold of commercial chargers cannot be charged and making it adjustable would have advantages, especially for laptops as a means of prolonging battery life. When running on extended AC mode, the user would select the “Long Life” mode and the battery would charge to only, say, 4.05V/cell. This would get a capacity of about 80 percent. Before travelling, the user would apply the “Full Charge Mode” to bring the charge to 4.2-V/cell. This saturation charge would take about an hour and would fill the battery to 100 percent capacity.

Realising the stress on the battery, some laptop and cellular phone manufacturers choose an end-of-charge voltage that is less than 4.20V/cell. A slightly larger pack compensates for the reduced runtime. Another option to extend battery life is removing the pack from the laptop when running off the power grid. The Consumer Product Safety Commission advises the public to do this out of concern for overheating and possible fire. Removing the battery has the disadvantage of losing unsaved work upon power failure.

Heat build up is always a concern and running a laptop in bed or on a pillow may contribute to this by restricting airflow. Not only will heat stress electronic components, elevated temperature causes the electrodes in the battery to react with the electrolyte and this will permanently lower the batteries capacity. Placing a ruler or other object under the laptop to increase floor clearance improves airflow and circulation around the enclosure and keeps the unit cooler.

The question is often asked: Should I disconnect my laptop from the power grid when not in use? Under normal circumstances this should not be necessary because once the lithium-ion battery is full; a correctly functioning charger will discontinue the charge and will only engage when the battery voltage drops to a lower level. Most users do not remove the AC power and I like to believe that this practice is safe. Everyone wants to keep the battery as long as possible and use it in a way that is least stressful. This is not always feasible. Sometimes we need to run the battery in environments that are not conducive to optimal service life. As a doctor cannot predict how long a person will live based on diet and activity alone, battery life may vary similarly and can always be cut short by an unexpected failure. Batteries and humans share the same volatility.

To get a better understanding of what causes irreversible capacity loss in Lio-ion batteries, several research laboratories are performing forensic tests. Scientists dissected failed batteries to find suspected problem areas on the electrodes. Examining an unrolled 1.5 meter-long strip (5 feet) of metal tape coated with oxide reveals that the finely structured nano-materials have coarsened. Further studies have revealed that the lithium ions responsible for shuttling the electric charge between the electrodes had diminished on the cathode and had permanently settled on the anode. This results in the cathode having a lower lithium concentration than a new example, a phenomenon that is irreversible. Knowing the reason for such capacity loss might enable battery manufacturers to produce future batteries with longer life spans.

Power loss through circuit protection.

Besides common aging, a Li-ion battery can also fail because of undercharge. This occurs if a Li-ion pack is stored in a discharged state. Self-discharge gradually lowers the voltage of the already discharged battery and the protection circuit cuts off between 2.20 and 2.90V/cell. Some chargers and battery analysers (including those from Cadex) provide a wake-up feature, or “boost”, to re-energise and recharge these seemingly dead Li-ion batteries.

 


Questions and Answers

Q: How long will the new main battery power the laptop?
A: Battery run-time of a laptop is very difficult to determine. Actual battery runtime depends upon the power demands made by the equipment. The use of the screen, hard disc drive and other components and accessories results in an additional drain upon the battery, effectively reducing it’s runtime. The total runtime of the battery is also dependent upon the design of the equipment.

Q: Why is the battery capacity lowered while left unused?
A: Due to influences of ambient humidity and non-absolute insulation environments, batteries have a phenomenon of self-consumption. Dependent upon the quality, the charge would decline around 1% every 3 – 4 days, so it is quite normal if the charge is not lowered in a major way.

Q: Should I remove the battery when using the AC adaptor?
A: Usually laptop charging function starts charging when charge is less than 95% and because the natural consumption phenomenon exists, it does not make a difference whether you unplug the AC power or leave it connected to the laptop. It is suggested that you leave the battery inside the laptop which will facilitate ongoing operation and prevent data loss if the AC power is abruptly interrupted. If you want to take the battery out, you are advised to keep it in a cool, dry place and remember to cycle (charge/discharge) the battery at least once a month to keep the internal circuit active.

Q: Will battery life decrease if I charge it when it is not fully discharged?
A: Battery life is calculated by full charge/discharge cycles, Li-ion batteries usually have a 500 cycle lifespan. You do not need to worry about the battery cycle count decreasing a full cycle when it is charged a small amount, on average a full cycle is only accumulated when the battery is charged to 80 or 90%.

Q: Battery capacity still shows 0% even after 20 hours of continuous charging and the laptop shuts down immediately when the AC adaptor is unplugged, what is the problem?
A: The first thing you need to do is check the contacts between the laptop and the battery because if the contact is not good, including the communication of data between them, the battery cannot be charged. Since the laptop battery slot may become disfigured after extended periods of use, the battery’s plastic casing is designed according to new laptop specifications, this may cause contact issues. Under these circumstances, please remove the battery and replace it back into the laptop several times to ensure adequate contact. When you hear the “Click” that basically means that the contact is good. Try this repeatedly and it may resolve your contact issues, especially with IBM laptops. B: The battery is not compatible with the laptop. C: Battery is faulty.

Q: The battery is not discharging and the laptop shuts down immediately shuts down after unplugging the AC adaptor when the battery is charged to a certain percentage or even 100%, why?
A: When such a case occurs, please make note of the ambient temperature of the immediate environment in which the battery is operating. If you are in an environment with a very high temperature, the battery will automatically protect itself after extended use and the laptop’s start up procedure will stop functioning. At this time, please turn off your laptop and restart it after waiting 1 hour. Another possibility is that a problem may have developed during the charging process as the laptop’s charging circuit can easily develop problems when accepting a charge. Please insert your laptop’s original battery to see if that works. B: Battery is not compatible with the laptop. C: Battery may be faulty.

Q: My laptop cannot recognise the battery and shows a warning message: “The battery is not compatible with this laptop model, please insert the original battery” and the battery indicator blinks continuously, what is wrong?
A: This almost always indicates that there is a compatibility issue between the battery and the laptop. If you encounter this issue, please contact Digitalgr8ness for a replacement or a refund if necessary.

Q: My laptop shuts down immediately when I insert the battery but it worked without any issues when the battery was removed, why?
A: This indicates that the battery is faulty and you will need a new replacement battery. B: The laptop’s motherboard may have developed a fault.

Q: The laptop works perfectly with the battery and the AC adaptor connected separately, but are unable to be used simultaneously, why?
A: The laptop’s motherboard may have developed a fault.

Q: My battery always causes the laptop to shut down without warning and consequently goes into hibernation. This has happened several times and can now only be used for a very short period of time even after being fully charged, why?
A: When such an issue arises, please refer to “Calibrating Your Computer’s Battery for Best Performance” for proper operation guidelines, if the issues persists, please contact Digitalgr8ness immediately for technical support at support@laptopaccessories.co.za.

Q: When I charged the battery for the first time it still only showed 30% after hours of charging, why is this so and how can I charge the battery to 100%?
A: When such an issue arises, please refer to “Calibrating Your Computer’s Battery for Best Performance” for proper operation guidelines, if the issues persists, please contact Digitalgr8ness immediately for technical support at support@laptopaccessories.co.za.

Q: Why does the laptop show that the battery is fully charged after just 10 minutes of charging?
A: When such an issue arises, please refer to “Calibrating Your Computer’s Battery for Best Performance” for proper operation guidelines, if the issues persists, please contact Digitalgr8ness immediately for technical support at support@laptopaccessories.co.za. B: The cells inside the battery have deteriorated with age and the battery may have become faulty.

Q: My battery lasted for 3 hours after the first charge but was unable to accept a charge for the second time, is it faulty?
A: When such an issue arises, please refer to “Calibrating Your Computer’s Battery for Best Performance” for proper operation guidelines, if the issues persists, please contact Digitalgr8ness immediately for technical support at support@laptopaccessories.co.za. B: The cells inside the battery have deteriorated with age and the battery may have become faulty.

Q: What is the continuous ability of laptop batteries?
A: It indicates the runtime of a battery when fully charged. With electronic equipment, the main factor is the capacity of the battery. The higher the capacity, the better. Capacity is also the third guideline of batteries, for instance; voltage, electric current and capacity. It will also show as an “mAh” value, the higher, the better.

Q: Does one need to activate a battery when using it for the first time?
A: No, one does not. The battery will have been activated prior to leaving the manufacturers factory.

Q: How does one recharge the battery? Is it better to recharge the battery when the laptop is switched off completely?
A: It is good to do so as this will prolong the laptop battery’s lifespan if charged when the laptop is switched off.

Q: How does one take good care of a laptop battery?
A: Avoid recharging the battery continuously. It’s good to recharge the battery when the remaining power available drops below 10 percent. In fact, it will actually damage the battery to recharge it once the battery has 0 percent power available. Try by all means possible not to recharge the battery if it has more than 60 percent remaining power available. If you plan to not use the battery for a prolonged period of time, please store it in a cool, dry place.

Q: How do you store the battery if it won’t be used for an extended period of time?
A: Be sure that the battery has about 70 percent remaining power available and store it in a cool, dry place between 15 and 25 degrees centigrade as the battery’s integrity will weaken if the temperature is either too high or too low.

 

 

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At Digitalgr8ness we strive to maintain the highest possible levels of accuracy concerning all relevant information on all of our compatible models, although we cannot guarantee a 100% error-free website. As a valued customer of Digitalgr8ness if in any way whatsoever, you feel that a product offered by Digitalgr8ness is not what you have requested, please feel free to return it back to us, strictly in an unused condition and in its original packaging, and we will be more than happy to refund your purchase or replace the product if necessary.

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