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  • Why won't my laptop battery recharge fully?

    The battery status info on my two and a half year old Packard Bell Easy Note laptop shows that it is not charging. Over the last few weeks there has been a gradual decline in the amount of power available. It currently displays ‘78 percent available, plugged in, not charging’. I've tried to run down the battery to almost nil power and then put it back on charge but it never re-charges. Can you suggest any corrective action?

    If the laptop works normally on the mains charger then a sudden or gradual inability for the laptop battery pack to hold a charge usually means that one of the cells, or the charging circuit in the battery pack has failed and the only solution is to get a new battery.

    If you do decide to go for a non-original, spend a little longer reading the reviews. Not all batteries are created equal.

    You can plod on for a while with the existing battery if it works even with the failed cell element - particularly if you are on the mains most of the time and even if that supply is cut you do not yet lose your active work. I found replacement genuine Dell batteries at good prices on ebay for our laptop.

    Should I always leave my laptop plugged in?

    chargeing laptop

    I normally use my laptop on mains power and leave it plugged in. I have heard conflicting opinions as to the advisability of leaving the mains charger switched on or off. Which is best?

    As you leave it running on mains power all of the time the battery won’t ever discharge, so there’s no point in leaving the charger plugged in when you are not using the computer as even in this state it will be consuming a small amount of power. Lithium Ion laptop batteries typically last 3 or 4 years, whether you use them or not, maybe a little longer if you allow them to fully discharge once or twice a month.

    All rechargeable notebook batteries degenerate over time, even traditional motor car batteries. They don't suddenly stop working though - the usual symptom is that you get less and less working time out of a full charge. If you only ever use your laptop with the mains adaptor plugged in then you can carry on with the old battery for several years.

    Beware of laptop batteries that vanish from what the device knows about itself. Our Dell laptop - already on a second battery which replaced a recalled factory fitted one - no longer sees its own battery - on which it will run sometimes when off the mains. It depends what mood it is in whether it stays on when the mains link is removed.

    This appears to be a known design fault - as is the deteriorating health of the rechargeable batteries in these gadgets and the system which is supposed to enable you to check their condition.

     

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