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Prolonging the life of a MacBook battery

 
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JohnnyBoy
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:00 pm    Post subject: Prolonging the life of a MacBook battery Reply with quote

I remember reading an article about the Toyota Prius many months back. It said that the Prius never allows its internal battery to drop below a 50% charge level, but never charges it to a level higher than 80%. The reason given for perpetually keeping the battery charge level between these two limits was 'lifetime' - Toyota claimed that this charging behaviour would mean that the battery would not need to be replaced for many, many years. I'd love to link to the article, but I can't find it now (I've looked!).

It wasn't important when I read it, but now that I have a MacBook I've been thinking back to that article. How do you prolong the life of a lithium-polymer notebook battery? What can you do to keep it going past the usual 2-3 year lifespan?

Up until now, I hadn't let the battery charge drop below the 50% mark before charging it back up to 100%. But I wasn't sure if I was doing the right thing. I searched and found a few articles on this subject, but the best was this one; in case you don't want to read it, here are the essentials...

First off, the full charge-full discharge cycle that we used to treat our Ni-Cad batteries to is bad news for lithium based batteries. They prefer to be regularly 'topped up' rather than being allowed to discharge to zero.

Second, lithium based batteries like the cold. Warmth shortens their life.

Third (and probably the biggest eye-opener), lithium based batts don't like staying at 100% charge, which is where many mains-connected notebook users keep them. The ideal charge level seems to be 40%.

So, having found all of this information, my plan is to copy the Toyota Prius way of doing things - I won't let my MacBook's battery discharge below the 35-40% level, but I'll stop charging when it gets to the 80-85% mark.

Will this make a difference? I don't know - ask me in 3 years' time... Wink
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Bobaloo
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Johnny,

Here is what Apple says on the subject:

Standard Maintenance
For proper maintenance of a lithium-based battery, it’s important to keep the electrons in it moving occasionally. Apple does not recommend leaving your portable plugged in all the time. An ideal use would be a commuter who uses her MacBook Pro on the train, then plugs it in at the office to charge. This keeps the battery juices flowing. If on the other hand, you use a desktop computer at work, and save a notebook for infrequent travel, Apple recommends charging and discharging its battery at least once per month. Need a reminder? Add an event to your desktop’s iCal.


As a recent MacBook owner, myself, I'm concerned with battery life as well. More info can be found here: http://www.apple.com/batteries/notebooks.html


Cheers
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JohnnyBoy
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2008 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the Apple link Bobaloo. It confirmed what was said by the article that I found. I imagine that the subject of battery longevity will be of even more interest to MB Air owners than it is to us.... Wink
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hackersmovie
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2008 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm.. great thread. Got me thinking, wouldn't this also hold true for our iPods, iPhones, iPod Touch, etc.? Now I have to rethink my whole, charging, discharging methods. . . .
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AnthroPC
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2008 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm since all my playlists on my iPod are actually longer than the iPods battery can cope with my iPod generally has to cope with being drained every night and charged every morning. I always charge it until it says Full, but try to make sure I never leave it plugged in after it says Full, and it has only ever actually cut out due to dead battery three times.

Its over a year old now, wayyyy past the 300-cycle mark, and yet I don't think the battery has dropped to 80% performance. I still get as much out of it as I ever did (bearing in mind I usually have the volume on maximum that isn't all that long... maybe 9 or 10 hours tops)

My old Wintel laptop spent most of its life hovering at about 50% battery because I'd always be using it on the move. During the three years that i used it, I went though five batteries (and that cost a helluva lot).

When I get my MacBook I think I may end up doing what I do with my iPod - charging it up and then disconnecting it when it gets to Full, but trying to never let it gets so low it cuts out.
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JohnnyBoy
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2008 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It would be interesting to discover if iPods use lithium-based batteries; it seems that each battery technology (lithium, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride, etc.) has its own peculiar characteristics for optimum charging and discharging.

I'm also wondering if there's a market out there for a software utility that would over-ride your iPod's/MacBook's ordinary 0%-100% limits and modify them with limits that would preserve the life of the battery.
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hackersmovie
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2008 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JohnnyBoy wrote:
It would be interesting to discover if iPods use lithium-based batteries

In fact, they do! Lithium Polymer to be exact. So I would imagine the same routine would certainly help.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You'll find instructions here on how to calibrate your MacBook battery:

http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?path=Mac/10.4/en/mh2339.html


I know it was posted for Tiger, but it holds true for Leopard, I printed this and will try it once a month or so as recommended.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bobaloo wrote:
You'll find instructions here on how to calibrate your MacBook battery:

http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?path=Mac/10.4/en/mh2339.html


I know it was posted for Tiger, but it holds true for Leopard, I printed this and will try it once a month or so as recommended.

I do the battery calibration every so often and have had my MacBook since May 2007 and the battery is down to an hour Sad. I used to get 5 hours out of it typing up notes of just browsing the web with AirPort not sure what ive done with it but the bloke in my local apple reseller said they will replace the battery when it goes in to have the list of other problems fixed.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's good that they're going to replace it for you, trustory. My MacBook is quite new so I really haven't had a chance to really get a feel for battery life. I think I will now as this will become my main computer and I'll use the mini for some basic stuff. I'll posts updates on the way.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bobaloo wrote:
It's good that they're going to replace it for you, trustory. My MacBook is quite new so I really haven't had a chance to really get a feel for battery life. I think I will now as this will become my main computer and I'll use the mini for some basic stuff. I'll posts updates on the way.


Same here. I have been getting about 4hrs of various use unplugged. I'll post as I go as well.
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Pleiades
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would have some insight to a 2 year old MacBook Pro battery, but about two months ago mine started swelling, so Apple replaced it for free.

A few battery utilities that I've found useful at times:
coconutBattery
MiniBatteryLogger
SmartSleep - Not really a battery utility, but useful for dynamic setting of hibernate and sleep settings based on battery level
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ClunkClunk wrote:
I would have some insight to a 2 year old MacBook Pro battery, but about two months ago mine started swelling, so Apple replaced it for free.

Did you have AppleCare for that MBP?
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JohnnyBoy wrote:
Did you have AppleCare for that MBP?

Yes, although the tech mentioned that Apple would have replaced it regardless, due to the repair extension program that Apple offered for certain MBP batteries exhibiting certain issues. Mine fell under the correct date range and had the correct issue.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ClunkClunk wrote:
Mine fell under the correct date range and had the correct issue.

So you were lucky with your bad luck. Wink
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