AC Adaptors and Power Adaptors

Always check your computer manual for the correct ratings and the type

of Adaptor that your machine requires.  Adaptors are usually rated by

Watts/Wattage(W).  You can calculate the Wattage by multiplying

Volts(V) with Amps(A).  This information is found on the label on the

underside of the notebook computer.

It is always best to match the wattage of the notebook and the AC

adaptor.  An AC adaptor with a higher wattage can be used with a

notebook with a lower wattage rating. However, an AC adaptor with a

lower wattage rating cannot be used with a notebook with a higer

rating.  The notebook will be underpowered and may not boot up

properly.

The AC adapter will get hot whilst it is plugged in and being used.

This is normal. Any device that gets hot will require ventilation. Good

ventilation prolongs the life of the device and avoids any accidental

damage.

Some points to consider:

The led light, on most AC adaptors should stay constant when plugged in

to the wall socket or AC power supply and switched on and plugged into

the notebook computer.  If the light flickers or blinks then check all

connections and check the power lead.  It may also turn out that the

adaptor is simply faulty.

The AC adapter will get hot whilst it is plugged in and being used.

This is normal. Any device that gets hot will require ventilation. Good

ventilation prolongs the life of the device and avoids any accidental

damage.

If you have several different notebooks, all of which are different

types and made by different manufacturers, you can still use one

charger.  Universal AC adaptors are supplied with different tips which

enables you to plug it into different notebook computers.  However, you

cant charge more than one notebook at a time.

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How are Laptop Batteries Rated? Can batteries with different ratings be used?

There are two ratings on a laptop battery, Voltage (V) and
Milliamp-hours (mAh).  Voltage is the rate at which energy is drawn
from a battery and Milliam-hours represents the capacity of the
battery.

The Voltage rating has to MATCH that of the original battery or as
recommended by the laptop computer manual.  Using a battery with a
different voltage setting can damage the laptop.

Since the mAh rating represents the capacity and correalates to the run
time of the battery. If the rating is higher than the original battery,
then the replacement battery will run for a longer time and if the
rating is lower then the replacement battery will run for a shorter
time.

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Can I upgrade my laptop battery to a newer chemistry?

A question recently asked was, “Can I upgrade my Laptop Battery to a

newer chemistry?”

If the laptop has been pre-configured by the manufacturer to accept

more than one type of rechargeable battery, then the answer is yes.

The different types of batteries requires a different charging patterns

to be properly recharged and used in the laptop.  Always refer to your

laptop computer manual or contact your manufacturer to find out which

battery types can be used in your laptop.

Nickel Cadmium (NiCad,NiCd), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) and Lithium

Ion (LiIon, Li-Ion) are the three major types. Due to health and safety

and inefficencies, Nickel Cadmium and  Nickel Metal Hydride batteries

are either discontinued or in the process of being discontinued.

Lithium Ion is relatively new and popular type.  There is an even newer

type, Litium Polymer Ion or Lithium Polymer.  This is much more

efficient and offers better power to weight ratio.

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Things Not To Do With Your Laptop Battery

Do Not short circuit a battery – Carrying or storing the battery withother metal objects like coins, paper clips and hair pins can cause the battery to short circuit and may generate a lot of heat.

Do Not expose the battery to moisture or rain – Electricity and water doesnt go together. Again can short circuit the battery, or when inserted into the Laptop can damage the laptop.

Do Not expose the battery to heat – Keep the battery away from sources of heat, fire and even direct sunlight. Aids the chemical reactions within the battery and can result in an explosion!!

Do Not throw away your battery – Dispose of your battery responsibly. Please recycle all batteries as they contain chemicals which are harmful to the environment.

Do Not mix old and new batteries – Mixing different types of batteries and using different types of batteries is extremely dangerous. Can cause rupture, leakage resulting in personal injury and damage to laptop.

 

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Getting the most out of your Laptop Battery.

A question everyones mind, How do you get the most out of the battery???  What can I do to make it last longer???

* Use the AC adapter whenever possible, but not all the time. Use the battery on its own as well.

* Set the Windows Power Management settings to maximum savings.

* Lower the brightness setting on the screen backlight.

* Disconnect any unused devices (e.g., modems, wireless LAN cards) when not needed.

* Disable Auto Insert Notification on the CD-ROM.

* Turn off Autosave features.

* Disable automatic formatters, spell checkers, and autorecalculate features.

* Add more RAM to lower disk access time.

* If you have a backup battery, use it in rotation with the current battery.

* Use the Suspend or Hibernate feature when taking a break or a long break.

* Fully drain and recharge the battery every couple of months, this helps to recalibrate the smart electronics even if the cells are fine.

* Minimize the number of programs running at the same time.

* Check the power save settings under the BIOS. If this is not enabled

then the Windows Power Management settings may not work properly.

* If you are taking the battery out to store it, make sure it has atleast 40 – 50% charge. DO NOT fully charge it or discharge it before storage.

* Use smaller programs when possible (e.g., WordPad versus Word).

* Minimize game play and DVD viewing.

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Miscellaneous Issues

  • Will the main battery fit as a second battery?

No, the main battery will not fit as a second battery in the bays. A specially designed bay battery is required to fit in the bays as a second battery.

  • I cannot find a replacement battery for my laptop, What can I do?

As newer models are released into the market older laptop models are discontinued and accessories for these models become scarce or even non-existent. Several manufacturers have come up with innovative ideas to overcome these problems, such as universal batteries. Several tips are provided to connect different brands of laptops.

  • I have broken the latch on my battery, Can the latch be replaced?

No, as the latch is part of the battery the whole battery needs to be replaced.

  • I have lost/broken the fascia panels that came with the battery, Is it easy to replace them?

No, these fascia panels can be very hard to source and can be expensive for the purpose they serve. It might be easier and cheaper to purchase a new battery.

  • My battery has a crack in its casing, Can I use it?
  • I dropped my battery, Is it safe to use?

By dropping the battery, you may have damaged the cells inside. If this is the case then the battery would cease to function normally. Also inspect the battery carefully after dropping it. Check for any cracks on the plastic casing, any damage on the metallic contacts or any signs of leakage. If you find any of these it will be dangerous to continue using the damaged battery.

  • My new battery seems to be a little tight fitting into the compartment, Can I use force?

Usually, you can use a little force. As long as the shape, size and all other physical attributes are exactly the same as the old one. Make sure the battery is the correct part for your notebook computer. If in doubt, do not use any force at all to avoid the risk of damaging both the battery and your notebook computer.

  • How do I dispose of my battery? Should I recycle it?

Yes, all batteries should be recycled and not disposed of like most perishable items. Due to the chemicals and other substances used, batteries should be recycled as it would be harmful for the environment. Ask your supplier in the first instance whether they have a recycling procedure.

 

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Tips and Care Instructions

  • Tips to ensure optimal battery life
    • Use the AC adapter whenever possible, but not all the time. Use the battery on its own as well.
    • Set the Windows Power Management settings to maximum savings.
    • Lower the brightness setting on the screen backlight.
    • Disconnect any unused devices (e.g., modems, wireless LAN cards) when not needed.
    • Disable Auto Insert Notification on the CD-ROM.
    • Turn off Autosave features.
    • Disable automatic formatters, spell checkers, and autorecalculate features.
    • Add RAM to lower disk access time.
    • If you have a backup battery, use it in rotation with the current battery.
    • Use the Suspend or Hibernate feature when taking a break.
    • Fully drain and recharge the battery every couple of months, this helps to recalibrate the smart electronics even if the cells are fine.
    • Minimize the number of programs running at the same time.
    • Check the power save settings under the BIOS. If this is not enabled then the Windows Power Management settings may not work properly.
    • If you are taking the battery out to store it, make sure it has atleast 40 – 50% charge. DO NOT fully charge it or discharge it before storage.
    • Use smaller programs when possible (e.g., WordPad versus Word).
    • Minimize game play and DVD viewing.
    • See Duracell’s page on general battery care.
  • Tips for battery care and use
    • A new battery comes in a discharged condition and must be charged before use. Upon initial use (or after prolonged storage period) the battery may require two to three charge/discharge cycles before achieving maximum capacity.
    • If the battery is not going to be used for more than a month, it is recommended that it be removed from the device and stored in a cool, dry, clean place.
    • A battery will eventually lose its charge if unused. It may therefore be necessary to recharge the battery after a storage period.
    • Keep the battery healthy by fully charging and then fully discharging it at least once every two to three weeks. Exceptions to the rule are Li-Ion batteries which do not suffer from the memory effect.
    • It’s a good idea to clean dirty battery contacts with a cotton swab and alcohol. This helps maintain a good connection between the battery and the portable device.
    • Do not leave the battery dormant for long periods of time. We recommend using the battery at least once every two to three weeks. If a battery has not been used for a long period of time, perform the new battery break-in procedure described above. See Apple’s Battery Care page.
  • Battery Dont’s
    • Do not short-circuit a battery. A short-circuit may cause damage to the battery.
    • Do not drop, hit or otherwise abuse the battery as this may result in the exposure of the cell contents, which are corrosive.
    • Do not expose the battery to moisture or rain.
    • Keep the battery away from fire or other sources of extreme heat. Do not incinerate. Exposure of batteries to extreme heat may result in an explosion.
    • Do not throw away or dispose of your battery with household waste. Please recycle all batteries, as they contain chemicals which are harmful to the environment. See our recycling links.
    • Do not carry loose batteries in a pocket or purse with metal objects like coins, paper clips and hair pins, etc. This may short circuit the battery, generating high heat.
    • Do not mix old and new batteries, or mix different types of batteries. This can cause rupture or leakage, resulting in personal injury or property damage.

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AC Adapters and Chargers

  • The light on the AC adapter flickers? Is this normal?

No this is not normal. When the AC adapter is plugged into a laptop and power supply the light remains constant. If the light flickers, the plug may not be inserted properly into the power supply, the power lead may be faulty or the AC adapter may be faulty.

  • Why won the battery charge in the external charger that charges the original battery that came with my notebook computer?

If the battery will charge in the notebook computer but will not charge in the external charger, then the battery and the charger are not compatible. If the battery does not charge in the external charger, or in the notebook, then it may be defective.

  • Does overcharging damage batteries?

Overcharging creates excessive heat which can cause the battery plates within the cells to buckle and shed their active material. Permanent capacity loss will result.

  • Does the car charger for my notebook work on a boat?

Yes, as long as the boat has a DC output similar to a car (cigarette lighter socket).

  • Does the AC adapter get hot? Does it need ventilation?

Yes, the AC adapter will get hot whilst it is plugged in and being used. This is normal. Any device that gets hot will require ventilation. Good ventilation prolongs the life of the device and avoids any accidental damage.

  • I have several different notebooks, Can I charge the different batteries with one charger?

Yes, universal chargers are now available which come supplied with different tips. By using these tips different laptops can be connected to the one charger.

  • Are there any chargers available to use on air planes?

Yes, universal car/air chargers are available. It can be either used in a car’s cigarette lighter socket or in a airplane power socket found near the seat.

  • My new AC adapter doesn’t power my laptop or charge my battery, Whats wrong?

Make sure that the AC Adapter is plugged in properly and that all the other leads are also plugged in properly. If the light comes on but it still doesn’t charge, then the cable connected to the laptop may be faulty or the socket on the laptop may be faulty. If the light doesn’t come on then the power lead may be faulty, or the fuse in the plug may be faulty or the power socket on the wall may not be working. Intel has an interesting page on issues with AC Adapters and their processors.

  • My battery is not charging, What’s wrong?

Make sure the battery is inserted properly into the laptop and the AC adapter/charger is connected and plugged in properly. Make sure the battery is the correct battery for your laptop computer. Make sure the wall socket where the AC adapter/Charger is plugged into is working properly.

  • How do I charge my battery?

Insert the battery inot the battery compartment in your laptop computer, plug in the AC adapter/Charger and keep it plugged in for about 4 – 8 hours.

  • Will the car charger for my laptop work on trucks?

As long as trucks have a cigarette lighter socket with 24V DC output then the car charger will work in the truck.

  • I need an AC adapter for my laptop, How do I find out the one I need?

Check your notebook computer’s manual. You can calculate the wattage of your notebook computer by multiplying Volts(V) with Amps(A). This information is found on the label on the underside of the notebook computer. By carrying out this calculation the wattage of the adapter can be matched. Where the notebooks’s wattage is less than 70W, either a 70W or 90W AC adapter can be used. Where the notebook’s wattage is more than 70W but less than 90W a 90W AC adapter should be used.

  • Can I use my AC adapter in another country?

Yes, but you will need to check a few details. Firstly, the voltage. AC supply in the country you are going to use it should be within the range of 110 – 240V. Secondly, the plug type (which is inserted into the wall socket). As long as the voltage is within range, plug adapters can be used to fit the different types of wall sockets.

 

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General Battery Issues

  • What is the “Memory Effect”?

Ni-Cad batteries suffer from the “memory effect”. As a battery is continually re-charged before being fully discharged, it forgets the capacity that was not discharged. The way to avoid the dreaded “memory effect” is to fully charge and discharge the battery at least once every month. This will ensure the battery remains healthy. NiMH and Li-Ion batteries do not suffer the memory effect.

  • Why are some laptop batteries so expensive?

Some batteries which are specific to a manufacturer may be discontinued, or not made by a large number of manufacturers, or their price maybe kept high in order to motivate buyers to replace their laptop.

  • Why are some laptop batteries so cheap?

Laptop batteries are often manufactured in very large volume production runs and as a result the cost saving is directly passed onto the end user.

  • When not using my notebook for long periods of time, should I leave the battery in the laptop?

When the laptop is not in use do not leave the battery installed. The notebook will slowly discharge the battery. Total self-discharge may occur when the battery is left in storage, as the battery circuitry consumes power. DO NOT fully charge your battery when not in use or when being stored for extended periods of time. It should have atleast 40 -50% charge before being stored or when not in use for a long period of time. The battery should be checked every 3-4 weeks. If total self-discharge occurs, the notebook may not recognize the battery.

  • What should I do if the battery gets hot in my notebook?

It is normal for the battery to become very warm to the touch. It it becomes too hot, take the battery out and let it cool down. If problem persists once it is inserted back into laptop, the battery could be defective and may need to be replaced.

  • Can I store batteries in the refrigerator?

Yes, but the battery must be protected from moisture which will cause internal corrosion. This is only suitable when the battery needs to be stored for long periods without use. It must be kept in an airtight container. The low temperature slows down the rate of discharge. Once removed from the refrigerator, the battery must be allowed to warm up to room temperature before use. However, storing the laptop battery in the freezer is not recommended.

  • What is the difference between original and compatible batteries?

Original batteries are manufactured by companies like IBM and Sony and also by an Original Equipment Manufacturer(OEM), who manufacture under licence from companies like IBM and Sony. Compatible batteries are solely made by 3rd party manufacturers. These products are not produced under licence and cannot be labelled or branded as Sony, IBM, Toshiba etc. The physical attributes are the same between the two types of batteries, but the labelling will be different.

  • The colour of my new battery is different to the original, Is this a problem?

No, as long as it is the right part and the ratings are correct. Different manufacturers use various materials and processes and as a result colour may vary.

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Run Time Issues

  • How long should my new rechargeable battery last?

The life of a battery under normal use is around 500 to 900 charge-discharge cycles. This is about one and a half to three years of battery life for the average user. As the rechargeable battery begins to fail, the running time of the battery begins to decline. When a battery supplies thirty minutes of charge, it is time for a replacement.

  • How long will my fully charged battery last?
  • What should be the run time of a battery? How long will my laptop stay ‘powered’ with the battery?

Run time will vary on individual notebook computers, based on the applications being used (i.e. high graphics, games), the number of times something is saved or retrieved from the hard drive and/or CD Rom drive, the memory of notebook, and chemistry and capacity of the battery. A ‘realistic’ average run-time for a battery is 1.5 to 3 hours. Again run time will vary on applications being used and individual notebooks.

  • Does using the wireless network drain a laptop battery?

Yes, using a wireless card in a laptop drains the battery. The amount varies according to model of laptop and battery and the usage of the laptop. The operating system and the software installed with the card may have utilities for conserving battery life. See Apple’s Battery Care page.

  • Does disconnecting USB devices from my laptop, help conserve battery life?

Yes, disconnecting unused USB devices does help conserve battery life. It has also been widely reported that a flaw in Windows XP affects certain Intel based laptops to drain the battery at a faster rate than normal when a USB device is connected. More information can be found on the article, Windows USB flaw drains batteries.

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