Friday, June 24, 2011

Simple ways to troubleshoot laptop battery problems

Laptops are a godsend for those who are always on the move, but they are heavily dependent on battery power.  Your laptop is nothing but a piece of hardware if the batteries are not functioning well enough. Most laptop users get frustrated when their laptop batteries get drained on a regular basis, and many mistakenly buy new batteries, only to go through the same problem as before.

Let’s take a look at some of the common laptop battery problems and check out some simple solutions for the same: 

Problem 1: When you plug in the adapter in the power outlet, the battery indicator on your laptop does not flash. When you switch on the laptop, the battery notifier displays Plugged In, Not Charging, or the battery charging indicator bars does not light up.

Problem Areas:
  • Battery Adapter
  • Laptop motherboard
  • System BIOS
  • Battery
You need to follow the isolation technique to diagnose the root problem. Remove the batteries and install them again and check if they are being charged when connected to the adapter.

Step 1:

Borrow a compatible adapter from your friend and connect it to your laptop. If the battery notifier indicates that the batteries are being charged, you can conclude that your adapter is faulty.

Solution: Replace the adapter.

Step 2:

If the batteries are not being charged after changing the adapter, then your DC power jack on your laptop may be loose or damaged. Go to Step 3 to verify if the DC power jack is not damaged.

Step 3: 

The laptop BIOS plays an important role in charging the batteries when the system is off. The BIOS contains information about the connected AC adapter and the installed battery pack. The information/values change in real-time in the Device Information section of your BIOS when you connect or disconnect the adapter. If the AC adapter is listed as “Unknown Device installed”, then you have to change the adapter.

Step 4: 

It can so happen that your BIOS is showing the adapter as an unknown device because of hardware issues. If so, you need to update your BIOS to resolve such issues. Download the latest BIOS drivers from the laptop manufacturer’s website and run the utility. The system will restart, and BIOS will be updated.

Step 5:

If none of the steps given above work, then it may so happen that the problem lies with the batteries themselves. If possible, try swapping compatible batteries and see if they are being charged through the adapter; if they are being charged, it means that your laptop batteries are faulty.

Solution:  Replace the batteries.

Problem 2: Battery overheating.

You sometimes notice that the batteries in your laptop become very hot when you are working.

Solution:  If you face frequent overheating issues, contact your laptop manufacturer and get the batteries replaced.

Problem 3: The charge won't last long enough even when you charge the batteries overnight.

This is very common in the case of older batteries and occurs when you don't let your batteries discharge completely and recharge frequently. Lithium-ion batteries need not be discharged completely. Recharge them when your system issues a low battery warning.

Solution: Allow the batteries to discharge completely and recharge them only when they need to be recharged.

Problem 4:  You have not used your laptop for a long time and now, it won't start on battery power.

In this case, you should remove the batteries if you are not going to use the laptop for a while. If you keep the batteries inside the laptop for a long time, the charge slowly gets drained.

Solution: Recharge the batteries.

Problem 5: My new laptop doesn't start.

If you have purchased a new laptop, you should know that the batteries need to be charged for a few hours before using it for the first time since they are new.

Solution: Keep your laptop connected to an electrical outlet for at least 10-12 hours before using it for the first time. You can derive maximum performance from your battery after it is recharged 2-3 times at the outset.

Problem 6:  I removed the batteries and now, my laptop won't start after inserting the batteries again.

If your laptop doesn't start after inserting the batteries again, you should check if you are inserting the batteries the right way. If you had removed the batteries a month back and kept it in an unused state, then it may be possible that all the charge from the batteries has been drained out. 

Solution: Recharge the batteries.

Problem 7: My laptop works on an AC adapter, but the batteries don’t get charged.

If your laptop is working on an AC adapter, then there may be some problem with the batteries. Remove the batteries and clean the connectors. Also check the batteries and connectors for any visible signs of damage.

Solution: Try charging the batteries in another laptop to ascertain that the batteries are not faulty.

Laptop batteries are an important component of your laptop, and you should follow the right maintenance procedures to extend their life. Replace the batteries only if you are sure that they are faulty.


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