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Ibook battery acting weird?

Message #1 - Posted 2006/05/31 - Stephen Trapani

I should have subscribed to this newsgroup a long time ago, I can see from the subject lines.

Anyway, my Ibook G4 is 13 months old and the battery suddenly gave out. It would show weird percentages of charge, then die, and now the battery symbol up in the menu bar shows an "X" even though the battery is in. I tried the recalibrate-run-it-down-to-0-charge, no help.

First question: I do need a new battery right? There's not something else wrong?

Second question: Why the hell did the battery die so soon (if it did)?

Stephen

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For any proposition there is always some sufficiently narrow interpretation of its terms, such that it turns out true, and some sufficiently wide interpretation such that it turns out false...concept stretching will refute *any* statement, and will leave no true statement whatsoever.
-- Imre Lakatos

Message #2 - Posted 2006/06/01 - Clever Monkey

Stephen Trapani wrote:

I should have subscribed to this newsgroup a long time ago, I can see from the subject lines.

Anyway, my Ibook G4 is 13 months old and the battery suddenly gave out. It would show weird percentages of charge, then die, and now the battery symbol up in the menu bar shows an "X" even though the battery is in. I tried the recalibrate-run-it-down-to-0-charge, no help.

First question: I do need a new battery right? There's not something else wrong?

If the battery can still hold a full charge it may be the PMU on the iBook that is not right. There are instructions you can find on Apple's Support site and Google for "resetting the PMU". Try that. If this does not work I suspect that battery is no longer able to hold a full charge.

Running modern lithium-ion cells flat is one of the things your aren't supposed to do, though I suspect the iBook will not let you actually do that. That is, a small charge will be present even if the iBook refuses to turn on. This is a good thing.

Second question: Why the hell did the battery die so soon (if it did)?

Battery tech is years behind many of the other technologies in telephony and computing. There have been few real breakthroughs in battery tech that have made it to the consumer electronics level.

This means that sometimes batteries die sooner than you'd like. This could be a manufacturing defect, but batteries are generally sold as "consumables". How that battery is used and abused can lengthen or shorten its life quite a bit.

According to my ad hoc research (I play with batteries and robots quite a bit) the duty cycle for lithium-ion batteries should be relatively shallow use-charge cycles. The typical road-warrior method of an a hour or two a day of battery use (perhaps while commuting), and recharging at work and home is probably the best for a laptop.

Constantly running off the wall-wart or running the battery nearly flat on a regular basis is not recommended (I believe Apple has a tech note on this very subject).

Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that this worked for my SO's G3 iBook. Her first battery lasted no more than 2 years, and the last 6 months of that was a battery unable to hold a charge for more than 40 minutes. I encouraged her to use the iBook unplugged a little more at home and got her into the habit of operating with a shallow duty cycle of use-recharge when she could. The second battery has passed the 2 year mark and can still hold nearly a 5 hour charge.

For this sort of thing, your kilometreage will vary, of course.

Message #3 - Posted 2006/06/01 - Mr. Uh Clem

Heat is an enemy too.

Clem
"If you push something hard enough, it will fall over." - Fudd's first law of opposition

Message #4 - Posted 2006/06/01 - Stephen Trapani

Clever Monkey wrote:

Stephen Trapani wrote:

I should have subscribed to this newsgroup a long time ago, I can see from the subject lines.

Anyway, my Ibook G4 is 13 months old and the battery suddenly gave out. It would show weird percentages of charge, then die, and now the battery symbol up in the menu bar shows an "X" even though the battery is in. I tried the recalibrate-run-it-down-to-0-charge, no help.

First question: I do need a new battery right? There's not something else wrong?

If the battery can still hold a full charge it may be the PMU on the iBook that is not right. There are instructions you can find on Apple's Support site and Google for "resetting the PMU". Try that. If this does not work I suspect that battery is no longer able to hold a full charge.

Running modern lithium-ion cells flat is one of the things your aren't supposed to do, though I suspect the iBook will not let you actually do that. That is, a small charge will be present even if the iBook refuses to turn on. This is a good thing.

Second question: Why the hell did the battery die so soon (if it did)?

Battery tech is years behind many of the other technologies in telephony and computing. There have been few real breakthroughs in battery tech that have made it to the consumer electronics level.

This means that sometimes batteries die sooner than you'd like. This could be a manufacturing defect, but batteries are generally sold as "consumables". How that battery is used and abused can lengthen or shorten its life quite a bit.

According to my ad hoc research (I play with batteries and robots quite a bit) the duty cycle for lithium-ion batteries should be relatively shallow use-charge cycles. The typical road-warrior method of an a hour or two a day of battery use (perhaps while commuting), and recharging at work and home is probably the best for a laptop.

Constantly running off the wall-wart or running the battery nearly flat on a regular basis is not recommended (I believe Apple has a tech note on this very subject).

Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that this worked for my SO's G3 iBook. Her first battery lasted no more than 2 years, and the last 6 months of that was a battery unable to hold a charge for more than 40 minutes. I encouraged her to use the iBook unplugged a little more at home and got her into the habit of operating with a shallow duty cycle of use-recharge when she could. The second battery has passed the 2 year mark and can still hold nearly a 5 hour charge.

For this sort of thing, your kilometreage will vary, of course.

Thanks for your reply. I tried the resetting the PMU with no success so I ordered a new battery.

I know I must be doing something wrong because my last iBook battery lasted only about 13 months also. One thing I was doing wrong was always letting the charge drop way below 50% before recharging. The other thing I was doing wrong, apparently, was often using the laptop with it plugged in to the wall-wart as you call it.

Here's a question: Would it be a good idea for me to save my dead battery and put it in the laptop when I'm using the wall-wart, then only use the good battery when I'm away from home?

Stephen

-------

For any proposition there is always some sufficiently narrow interpretation of its terms, such that it turns out true, and some sufficiently wide interpretation such that it turns out false...concept stretching will refute *any* statement, and will leave no true statement whatsoever.
-- Imre Lakatos

Message #5 - Posted 2006/06/02 - Stephen C.

On Thu, 1 Jun 2006 22:50:57 -0700, Stephen Trapani wrote
(in message <6lQfg.110$HV6.4@fe02.lga>):

Clever Monkey wrote:

Stephen Trapani wrote:

I should have subscribed to this newsgroup a long time ago, I can see from the subject lines.

Anyway, my Ibook G4 is 13 months old and the battery suddenly gave out. It would show weird percentages of charge, then die, and now the battery symbol up in the menu bar shows an "X" even though the battery is in. I tried the recalibrate-run-it-down-to-0-charge, no help.

First question: I do need a new battery right? There's not something else wrong?

If the battery can still hold a full charge it may be the PMU on the iBook that is not right. There are instructions you can find on Apple's Support site and Google for "resetting the PMU". Try that. If this does not work I suspect that battery is no longer able to hold a full charge.

Running modern lithium-ion cells flat is one of the things your aren't supposed to do, though I suspect the iBook will not let you actually do that. That is, a small charge will be present even if the iBook refuses to turn on. This is a good thing.

Second question: Why the hell did the battery die so soon (if it did)?

Battery tech is years behind many of the other technologies in telephony and computing. There have been few real breakthroughs in battery tech that have made it to the consumer electronics level.

This means that sometimes batteries die sooner than you'd like. This could be a manufacturing defect, but batteries are generally sold as "consumables". How that battery is used and abused can lengthen or shorten its life quite a bit.

According to my ad hoc research (I play with batteries and robots quite a bit) the duty cycle for lithium-ion batteries should be relatively shallow use-charge cycles. The typical road-warrior method of an a hour or two a day of battery use (perhaps while commuting), and recharging at work and home is probably the best for a laptop.

Constantly running off the wall-wart or running the battery nearly flat on a regular basis is not recommended (I believe Apple has a tech note on this very subject).

Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that this worked for my SO's G3 iBook. Her first battery lasted no more than 2 years, and the last 6 months of that was a battery unable to hold a charge for more than 40 minutes. I encouraged her to use the iBook unplugged a little more at home and got her into the habit of operating with a shallow duty cycle of use-recharge when she could. The second battery has passed the 2 year mark and can still hold nearly a 5 hour charge.

For this sort of thing, your kilometreage will vary, of course.

Thanks for your reply. I tried the resetting the PMU with no success so I ordered a new battery.

I know I must be doing something wrong because my last iBook battery lasted only about 13 months also. One thing I was doing wrong was always letting the charge drop way below 50% before recharging. The other thing I was doing wrong, apparently, was often using the laptop with it plugged in to the wall-wart as you call it.

Here's a question: Would it be a good idea for me to save my dead battery and put it in the laptop when I'm using the wall-wart, then only use the good battery when I'm away from home?

One thing to keep in mind is that a replacement battery should be really new. I have heard stories of people buying replacement batteries that were manufactured when the laptop was new. So they are buying a 3-4 year old "new" battery. Shelf storage is *bad* for batteries.

NyPower makes brand new replacement batteries, some of which are high capacity. I have purchased these, and have been very happy with them. NuPower has very specific first-use, and continued use instructions. On initial use, they say to fully charge, AND fully discharge a *minimum* of 5 times. And then to periodically fully discharge and fully recharge about once a month for best life. This seems to go against the advice of a previous poster who advises not to fully discharge the battery. With all due respect to the previous poster, I intend to follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Generally, old batteries show symptoms of just degraded performance. Over time, the hold less and less "time" as a full charge. If your batteries have shown this symptom, then I would say your issue has been worn out batteries. Otherwise, I think that you might have other issues.

StephenC

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