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Battery Mysteries

I dont think much about the battery in my laptop– til it craps out on me. I’ve known that the one on my 2006 MacBookPro might be getting creaky. During the last trip to Boston, it went form about a 30% reading immediately to 0 (and went black) a few times. I knew it was off kilter as when I plugged it in the reading said “0%”.

And when I run apps like iStat or coconut battery it reported a battery health of only 64% for !130 charge cycles… this means that even at full charged capacity, the battery would only go to about 2/3 its max capability when it is new.

I knew there were the steps for battery recalibration, but had not done anything like that… well maybe forever. The Apple help forums are full of battery woes- red Xes, recalls, bursted ones. Heck, was fortunate.

Well I needed to buy a second battery anyhow to have a spare for my Australia trip, so I bought one at Re-Mac in Scottsdale. The counter dude was telling my about “refreshing” and “re-calibrating” I should do, and 5 was beginning to think I might have to buy a few live chickens that I would wring the necks over a 3/4 charged battery in full moonlight…

And the more I Googled, the fuzzier it gotp like David Weiss’s post On Battery Conditioning and the comments there after… So I pulled out my MacBookPro little instruction manual (it fits inside a CD sized form factor, not what I can say about the mountain of paper that came with my new PC). So I did what it said, ran it fully charged, used it on the cord for 2 hours, then went to battery, and let it go all the way passed sleep (it did the dead black at about 30% charge).

I then read I am supposed to let it charge while asleep or shut down for 5 hours. How will I work? So I figured I would do a proper series of steps tomorrow (or the day after that). But curiouser, I saw after a charge ramp up for 90 minutes that it was at 100%! I had not seen that for a while (max was maybe 97% before).

Even weirder- I open Coconut Battery- and my Battery Health is back up at 91%?? So the old battery is not as bad off as I thought.

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And in the Doh I Feel Stupid Department, I had not even been keeping track that some airlines now have power supplies, even in Coach. So when I flew home on American Airlines with my dead battery, I was sitting on a power source I could not use- it has a special DC attachment, but now I am an owner of a MagSafe Airline Adapter which will be in my bag from now on (apparently many users of this leave the adapter tip in the plane, and I am betting there is some good black market potential for airplane cleaning crews).

So now they key on airline planning is using Seat Guru to make sure my seat choice is no longer “aisle” or “window”, but is now “power”.

Sadly, for the upcoming long flight from LA to Melbourne, Australia (16.5 hours!) the only ports are in business class, and I cannot upgrade my cheapie ticket.

Without the juice, your laptop is just a brick in your bag.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. Is your MacBook Pro covered by the (second?) “recall”? There’s a program for batteries where the battery life starts to suck badly, and they’ll straight replace them. They did that for my (September ’06) MBP with no questions asked.

    Well, the guy did feel the battery up a bit, declared one of the cells felt different to the others (I just nodded and agreed).

    What CoconutBattery thought the current capacity was would vary – mostly 64%, down to 55% on the day I had it replaced, but sometimes would pop right back up to 86%. At any rate, it might be worth checking out the program.

  2. Thanks PatrickQG- I had installed the battery update before (likely did it yesterday), and thought from the list of symptoms that mine did not match any of the problems. I’m charging up the new one now (it is at 99% health), and plan to monitor the old one…. for longish travel or being stuck in conference rooms with minimal outlets, I like to carry a spare battery anyhow.

    cheers

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