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MacBook Pro battery strangeness

Message #1 - Posted 2008/11/26 - Robert Peirce

My MBP is about 1.5 years old. I still run 10.4.11. I have (or didn't need) the 1.3 battery upgrade.

The battery never showed a lot of life. When new it would do about 1:30-2 hours, which was enough. However, of late, battery time is under 20 minutes, but when it shuts off, the green lights on the battery still show close to a full charge (four green lights).

I tried Apple's procedure for recycling the battery. I charged it, ran it for two hours, pulled the plug, let it shut off and sit for five hours before recharging. The first time I did this there was still a lot of life (three or four green lights) in the battery. The second time, I kept restarting it until the battery was run down to nothing. Neither restored battery life beyond 20 minutes or so.

The charger plug also is acting strange. It does show amber when charging and green when charged, but at times the light goes out or becomes very dim. I have no idea if that is related in any way.

Do I need a new battery or is there something else I should be doing?

Robert B. Peirce, Venetia, PA 724-941-6883
bob AT peirce-family.com [Mac]
rbp AT cooksonpeirce.com [Office]

Message #2 - Posted 2008/11/26 - Gregory Weston

Previously, Robert Peirce wrote:

My MBP is about 1.5 years old. I still run 10.4.11. I have (or didn't need) the 1.3 battery upgrade.

The battery never showed a lot of life. When new it would do about 1:30-2 hours, which was enough. However, of late, battery time is under 20 minutes, but when it shuts off, the green lights on the battery still show close to a full charge (four green lights).

18 months is kind of pushing it for a battery that gets any kind of real use. Even without heavy drainage I'd expect a significant reduction in life.

That said, the initial battery life of 2 hours or less is worrisome. Depends a lot on what you were actually doing, but in general that's short. If you open System Profiler and at the Power information in the Hardware group what do you see for charge and health information?

Also, this may be of interest:
<http://installingcats.com/2008/04/07/apple-macbook-short-battery-life-pr oblems/>

"Harry?" Ron's voice was a mere whisper. "Do you smell something ... burning?" - Harry Potter and the Odor of the Phoenix

Message #3 - Posted 2008/11/26 - Robert Peirce

Previously, Gregory Weston wrote:

Previously, Robert Peirce wrote:

My MBP is about 1.5 years old. I still run 10.4.11. I have (or didn't need) the 1.3 battery upgrade.

The battery never showed a lot of life. When new it would do about 1:30-2 hours, which was enough. However, of late, battery time is under 20 minutes, but when it shuts off, the green lights on the battery still show close to a full charge (four green lights).

18 months is kind of pushing it for a battery that gets any kind of real use. Even without heavy drainage I'd expect a significant reduction in life.

That said, the initial battery life of 2 hours or less is worrisome. Depends a lot on what you were actually doing, but in general that's short. If you open System Profiler and at the Power information in the Hardware group what do you see for charge and health information?

Also, this may be of interest:
<http://installingcats.com/2008/04/07/apple-macbook-short-battery-life-pr oblems/>

I'm just guessing about the 2 hour thing. I don't really recall the exact figure. OTOH, thanks for the tip on looking at the profile. I hadn't thought of that. It says the full charge capacity is only 643 mAh!! No wonder it only stay up a few minutes.

I wasn't sure about the 1.5 years. I know these are only warranted for one year and the life beyond that can be pretty random. I've seen some batteries go pretty quickly and some just seem to go on and on. I guess this is a more typical one.

Robert B. Peirce, Venetia, PA 724-941-6883
bob AT peirce-family.com [Mac]
rbp AT cooksonpeirce.com [Office]

Message #4 - Posted 2008/11/26 - Robert Peirce

Previously, Gregory Weston wrote:

18 months is kind of pushing it for a battery that gets any kind of real use. Even without heavy drainage I'd expect a significant reduction in life.

Thanks to the system profile for batteries, I see this battery has only been through 36 cycles. I think they are supposed to be good for 300 or more. However, simple age may be the factor.

I don't know if it affects these batteries, but I have seen NIMH batteries fail after a year with almost no heavy use and others go for several years almost regardless of use. However, they only cost a couple of bucks!!

Robert B. Peirce, Venetia, PA 724-941-6883
bob AT peirce-family.com [Mac]
rbp AT cooksonpeirce.com [Office]

Message #5 - Posted 2008/11/27 - Robert Peirce

Previously, Gregory Weston wrote:

That said, the initial battery life of 2 hours or less is worrisome. Depends a lot on what you were actually doing, but in general that's short. If you open System Profiler and at the Power information in the Hardware group what do you see for charge and health information?

According to the handy system profile power panel, I am drawing 3400 mAh running on battery. With a 5600 mAh battery, that will give me a little over 1:30. Now the question is, what can I do to reduce the drain when running on battery?

Robert B. Peirce, Venetia, PA 724-941-6883
bob AT peirce-family.com [Mac]
rbp AT cooksonpeirce.com [Office]

Message #6 - Posted 2008/11/26 - Tom Harrington

Previously, Robert Peirce wrote:

Previously, Gregory Weston wrote:

That said, the initial battery life of 2 hours or less is worrisome. Depends a lot on what you were actually doing, but in general that's short. If you open System Profiler and at the Power information in the Hardware group what do you see for charge and health information?

According to the handy system profile power panel, I am drawing 3400 mAh running on battery. With a 5600 mAh battery, that will give me a little over 1:30. Now the question is, what can I do to reduce the drain when running on battery?

Start by running Activity Monitor. Sort processes by CPU usage and look for anything that's running more than you expect.

Tom "Tom" Harrington
Independent Mac OS X developer since 2002
http://www.atomicbird.com/

Message #7 - Posted 2008/11/28 - David Empson

Robert Peirce wrote:

Previously, Gregory Weston wrote:

18 months is kind of pushing it for a battery that gets any kind of real use. Even without heavy drainage I'd expect a significant reduction in life.

Thanks to the system profile for batteries, I see this battery has only been through 36 cycles. I think they are supposed to be good for 300 or more. However, simple age may be the factor.

I have a 15" MacBook Pro which is about 17 months old (bought in June 2007, just after the "Santa Rosa" models were introduced).

I've been using my battery pretty heavily. When I got the computer it gave me about four hours of life, and it is down to about two now.

Looking at System Profiler, my cycle count is 258 and full charge capacity is 4408 mAh.

From your original post, it sounds like you've done the right things as far as trying to recalibrate it.

Given your symptoms (green LEDs not reflecting reality), I suspect the battery has always been faulty. It should have had much more than two hours life to start with, and should have much more than 643 mAh capacity.

One point occurs to me - you should double check that you have installed Battery Update 1.3 correctly. It wasn't just a matter of downloading it. You have to run the application, which was probably installed in your Utilities folder.

There was also a batch of faulty batteries which Apple was replacing, but I can't find details of the exchange programme any more.

As for the indicator light on the charger plug: I've occasionally seen the indicator light go off with mine, despite the computer saying it is still plugged in. I've always been able to correct it by disconnecting and reconnecting the MagSafe plug. I don't recall seeing it "very dim" but I might not have noticed the difference between that and being off.

I assume the indicator is driven by a signal from the computer, and it is possible that the connector is sometimes not making contact with that pin, resulting in the LED not being lit, or having a poor connection which results in a weak current to drive the LED, which could make it appear dimmer than normal.

David Empson
dempson@actrix.gen.nz

Message #8 - Posted 2008/11/29 - Robert Peirce

Previously, David Empson wrote:

One point occurs to me - you should double check that you have installed Battery Update 1.3 correctly. It wasn't just a matter of downloading it. You have to run the application, which was probably installed in your Utilities folder.

Thanks for all the great advice. With regard to 1.3, I downloaded a fresh copy a few days ago and ran it. It said it did not need to be run. It did not say why, so I assumed it had either already been installed correctly or was not required for my machine.

Robert B. Peirce, Venetia, PA 724-941-6883
bob AT peirce-family.com [Mac]
rbp AT cooksonpeirce.com [Office]

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