Laptop battery technologies have continued to improve over the years, and the result has been lighter, smaller batteries that provide more power and charge more quickly. Here, we will take a look at the current technologies of laptop batteries, and some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.
The most popular laptop battery technology in use today is lithium-ion. Li-ion batteries provide power when the lithium ions carry current from the negative electrode to the positive electrode. Ions move in reverse when charging. The main advantages of Li-ion batteries are their low price. It is one of the least expensive battery technologies to make. The batteries also have a very high power to weight ratio, which allows lightweight batteries to still provide a lot of power. Another advantage of Li-ion laptop batteries is they don’t suffer from the “memory effect” common in earlier battery technologies.
As a subset of lithium-ion batteries, lithium polymer uses a special polymer composite to hold the electrolyte that can be molded into almost any shape and still retain its functionality. This makes it easy to design a battery to fill the available space, and therefore provide more power. It carries most of the same characteristics of lithium-ion batteries, just in a more flexible format.
Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries are less common today, and have largely been replaced by Lithium-Ion technology. NiMH batteries are very rugged and resistant to damage and were used in laptops in previous years for this reason. Unfortunately, manufacturing a laptop NiMH battery is expensive, so it is less economical.
Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) batteries are also very rugged and resistant to damage. While this made them a good choice for laptop batteries, they often exhibited the “memory effect” in which they would lose capacity if not charged and discharged correctly, which made them a poor choice for laptops as users typically are inconsistent in how they charge and discharge their batteries. It has also been replaced by lithium-ion technology.
Battery technologies continue to evolve, as laptop manufacturers, repair shops, and part retailers continue to look for lighter, more reliable and less expensive solutions to power their computers. While new technologies such as lithium polymer show great promise, others may be just around the corner, and consumers will continue to benefit from these innovations.