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What are Laptop Batteries?

By Ken Black
Updated May 16, 2024
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Laptop batteries are the remote power source for all types of laptop computers. They are what make laptops so mobile. Though laptops can be used without a battery, they are not nearly as convenient and lose a substantial amount of effectiveness. Laptop batteries have evolved over the years to become much more functional and durable than their predecessors.

In most cases, modern laptop batteries are lithium-ion batteries. They have good power to weight ratios and are more durable than many other types of rechargeable batteries. Laptop batteries made from lithium-ion also have no memory effect, meaning they do not need to be fully charged in order to have a full charge the next time.

Over the years, there have been many types of laptop batteries. In the beginning, mobile computing used AA batteries as its power source. This quickly went out of style when rechargeable batteries came onto the market, such as nickel cadmium and, later, nickel metal hydride. These were good predecessors to the current technology and represented a great improvement over acid batteries, but had some problems. They had to be fully charged every time and lost their ability to recharge after a while.

Eventually, even lithium ion batteries need to be replaced, just like all laptop batteries, but they do last substantially longer than earlier technologies. As laptop batteries age, they lost their ability to hold a charge because the resistance within the battery increases. Many manufacturers will recommend replacing laptop batteries with one specifically made by, or authorized by, the manufacturer of the computer.

How long laptop batteries last depends on the situation. Laptops that receive heavy use will need new batteries nearly every year. Others may find batteries last two years or longer before needing a replacement. Eventually, a laptop battery will become so diminished in its ability to hold a charge it will not be able to power the computer at all.

One of the newest features in laptop batteries is the rapid charge feature. Many times, charging a laptop will take hours. These new batteries are said to be able to recharge up to 80 percent of the battery's capacity in only one minute. Of course, these rapid-charge batteries do cost more and may not last as long as traditional batteries, but the benefits may outweigh any diminished capacity, especially for business users who depend on the computer's mobility on a daily basis.

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Discussion Comments

By MissDaphne — On Apr 23, 2012

One option that people might not be aware of is the external laptop battery. These are great for laptops that get heavy but irregular use, like those in the "mobile labs" used in some schools.

At our school, we would try to use the laptops on the cart and typically half of them wouldn't turn on! People sometimes forgot to plug in the cart and the way the batteries were used caused them to go bad quickly.

Enter the external batteries. These were not quite as convenient, granted, but they were much more durable. Another advantage was that it was easy to switch out the battery if someone was using a computer and the battery ran out; no need to change to a different computer!

By anon44582 — On Sep 09, 2009

This is good info regarding laptop batteries and i hope that they invent a battery that last longer than the current one and will recharge quickly.

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