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sudden Mac battery failure

Message #1 - Posted 2006/11/25 - DougL

Walked up to my G4 iBook today and found battery indicator with an X over it. Unplugged the power cord, and it instantly died. Whoa. I had 100% yesterday, and as of a few days ago documented several hours worth of time available on this battery. I did the usual PMU resets, etc. as recommended by Apple, and the battery indicator merely ended up with a rock hard 0%.

Ran out to get a new battery (wondering about the cost of logic boards as I did ...), and everything is fine.

Now, OK, this was a 2-3 year old battery, but my understanding was that these things die more or less gradually. Now, the thing didn't swell, or go up in smoke (it is not on the recall list) but just cratered relatively suddenly. Is this the norm? I really don't want to keep an extra battery around in case it dies on Sunday nite and I have a big need for the machine on Monday.

Message #2 - Posted 2006/11/26 - Fred McKenzie

Previously, DougL wrote:

Now, OK, this was a 2-3 year old battery, but my understanding was that these things die more or less gradually. Now, the thing didn't swell, or go up in smoke (it is not on the recall list) but just cratered relatively suddenly. Is this the norm? I really don't want to keep an extra battery around in case it dies on Sunday nite and I have a big need for the machine on Monday.

Doug-

My experience with several laptops plus other battery powered equipment over the years, is that your failure is not the norm. I have a couple of batteries for my old Wallstreet PB G3 that do not hold a charge for very long when not used. They still work fine if recently charged.

It might have been a random event like a fairly new light bulb burning out. Unless you bought a quantity of similarly defective light bulbs, you would not expect the next one to fail so quickly.

One unlikely possibility is that something has gone wrong with your iBook that made the battery go bad, perhaps by continuous over-charging. If that were the case, then it certainly could happen again. I suggest you pay attention to the battery temperature when it has been on-charge for a day or so. After it has reached a full charge, which might initially take several hours, it should not be any warmer than the surrounding parts of the computer.

Fred

Message #3 - Posted 2006/11/26 - DougL

Fred McKenzie wrote:

Previously, DougL wrote:

Now, OK, this was a 2-3 year old battery, but my understanding was that these things die more or less gradually. Now, the thing didn't swell, or go up in smoke (it is not on the recall list) but just cratered relatively suddenly. Is this the norm? I really don't want to keep an extra battery around in case it dies on Sunday nite and I have a big need for the machine on Monday.

Doug-

My experience with several laptops plus other battery powered equipment over the years, is that your failure is not the norm. I have a couple of batteries for my old Wallstreet PB G3 that do not hold a charge for very long when not used. They still work fine if recently charged.

It might have been a random event like a fairly new light bulb burning out. Unless you bought a quantity of similarly defective light bulbs, you would not expect the next one to fail so quickly.

One unlikely possibility is that something has gone wrong with your iBook that made the battery go bad, perhaps by continuous over-charging. If that were the case, then it certainly could happen again. I suggest you pay attention to the battery temperature when it has been on-charge for a day or so. After it has reached a full charge, which might initially take several hours, it should not be any warmer than the surrounding parts of the computer.

Fred

Thanks. That's a good point. The new battery seems to be behaving fine, though, and the temps seem reasonable.

It occurs to me that a sudden failure of the battery could mean not a failure of the cell itself, but of the interface electronics that the cell comes equipped with. That could basically shut the whole module down.

Still brings up the same question, as to whether this is a common failure mode for an iBook battery or an unusual one.

Message #4 - Posted 2006/11/27 - John Johnson

Previously, DougL wrote:

Fred McKenzie wrote:

Previously, DougL wrote:

Now, OK, this was a 2-3 year old battery, but my understanding was that these things die more or less gradually. Now, the thing didn't swell, or go up in smoke (it is not on the recall list) but just cratered relatively suddenly. Is this the norm? I really don't want to keep an extra battery around in case it dies on Sunday nite and I have a big need for the machine on Monday.

Doug-

My experience with several laptops plus other battery powered equipment over the years, is that your failure is not the norm. I have a couple of batteries for my old Wallstreet PB G3 that do not hold a charge for very long when not used. They still work fine if recently charged.

It might have been a random event like a fairly new light bulb burning out. Unless you bought a quantity of similarly defective light bulbs, you would not expect the next one to fail so quickly.

??? The thing's 2-3 years old, and the OP never told us how many charge cycles he had on it. Hard to say whether or not it's failed "quickly" or not, IMO.

Still brings up the same question, as to whether this is a common failure mode for an iBook battery or an unusual one.

While it's somewhat unusual, it's not immediately indicative of a problem. For example, if you fully drained your battery every day over those 2-3 years, I would chalk it up to use and move on. If all the battery has ever done is sit on the charger all the time, that's a bit stranger, but still not conclusive.

Later,
John

johajohn@indianahoosiers.edu

'indiana' is a 'nolnn' and 'hoosier' is a 'solkk'. Indiana doesn't solkk.

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