Laptop Batteries 101 - A Buyer's Guide
If you are among the increasing number of mobile executives who are switching
from PCs to laptops, it is inevitable that you will soon face a situation where
you will need to educate yourself about laptop batteries. And then, at some
point, buy them. Here are some basic guidelines:
Brief Background of Laptop Batteries
The earliest type of battery used the chemicals Nickel Cadmium (NiCd, NiCad),
and was very quick to charge and was also able to handle high loads. However,
these chemicals are highly toxic.
The next generation of batteries, the Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMh, NiMH) batteries,
now use Nickel and other rare earth metals as its electrodes and Potassium
Hydroxide as the electrolyte. These are more environmentally friendly than Nickel
Metal Hydride, but suffer from the memory effect, and have a short lifespan.
A newer type of battery is the Lithium Ion (LiIon, Li-Ion) powered battery. In
spite of being smaller and lighter than NiCd and NiMH batteries, it provides the
same capacity. Also, these batteries do not suffer from "memory effect" and have
low levels of self-discharging.
The Lithium Polymer Ion Battery: This is the latest type of battery chemistry.
Though this behaves in the same way as Lithium Ion, there are some important differences.
The Lithium Polymer Ion Battery uses a thin plastic-like film as the electrolyte,
resulting in considerably reduced weight, and a greater power to weight ratio
than most of the other types. They are used in Universal Laptop Batteries. So this
is the type to look for, when you need a new battery for your laptop.
What are Universal Laptop Batteries?
Most of the top manufacturers like Sony, Compaq, fujitsu, Toshiba, Panasonic,
Dell, IBM, Lenovo Apple, HP, are providing the Lithium Ion battery technology.
The Universal Laptop Batteries, however, use the more advanced Lithium Polymer
Ion chemical. A universal battery is just a larger version of the standard
laptop battery, and can power virtually any laptop.
The universal batteries are rechargeable - the AC Adapter and power lead are
provided by the manufacturer. Also, the manufacturer supplies a number of tips
that fit the power supply connector on the laptop. These tips enable the smart
electronics embedded in the battery to supply electricity at the correct voltage.
Another plus point in favor of universal laptop batteries is that the continuous
usage time is up to 10 hours at a stretch. (Of course, there are variations
according to manufacturer and model of the universal laptop battery.)
When do I need a new battery?: You do not necessarily need a new battery only
after the current one is completely used up. Some laptop manufacturers offer
laptops with expansion slots that will accept a variety of peripherals, including
a second battery. This second battery can double your battery life. But, if you
are planning to get a lot of work done on that long flight, then it may be time
for you to purchase a new laptop battery.
Remember When Buying Batteries
Ensure that the supplier and the manufacturer are reputable. Be sure that the
Supplier/Manufacturer offer full guarantee and warranty. Check the chemistry and
dimensions of the universal laptop battery before purchase. And provide the
supplier with all the information about your laptop such as the make, the model,
the part number, the Voltage and Current ratings (provided in the manual or
underside of the laptop) in order that the supplier can assist you with the most
Samantha Spiegla recommends that you visit
for more information on laptop batteries and notebook power adapters.
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