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Laptop battery appears charged but doesn't work

Posted on 2010-08-31
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
I have a Lenovo Thinkpad T61.  
The battery in it seemed to be fine.  Then about 3 weeks ago, it appeared to be totally dead.  (I don't run on battery very often, but each day upon arriving at work, I'd turn on the laptop and let it start booting up as I was plugging in the power cord.)  When I opened the battery status indicator from the status bar, it indicated that there was a problem with the battery.  
I ordered a new battery.  For several days, this new battery seemed to work fine.  Now it doesn't work either.  The indicator on the status bar shows it is charged to 99%.  When I open the Power Manager and look at the Battery Information, it doesn't indicate a problem.  The only thing I question is that it says "Current:  0.0 A" and "Wattage:  -".
Since this second battery stopped working so abrubtly, I'm thinking the problem is not with the battery but something else.  Thank you for your help!
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Question by:lyonski
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bclongacre earned 125 total points
ID: 33567611
Do you have a second, identical computer and/or battery that you can test the battery in?

If you have or have access to a multi-meter you should be able to test the voltage and amperage of the battery directly.  If you do not have one, you may be able to take it place like Radio Shack, battery store, or computer shop, and they may be willing to test it for you to verify the battery specifically.

If your laptop is still under warranty I would recommend calling IBM technical support as they tend to be very good and very fast at diagnosis of problems, if it is a user replaceable part, such as the battery they will typically have them arrive the next day, or if you have on-site coverage a tech and the parts typically arrive the next day.
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Assisted Solution

by:n1wgk
n1wgk earned 125 total points
ID: 33567716
I hate to be doom and gloom but if I had to guess, I would say it's a problem with the charging circuitry. You say that the machine works when plugged in, plus you went through 2 batteries. I suspect the problem will be a main board replacement because the charging circuit isn't working correctly.

I echo bclongacre, you should place a call with IBM.
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Expert Comment

by:bclongacre
ID: 33567869
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Expert Comment

by:Grant1842
ID: 33568134
This may help you.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Laptops_Notebooks/A_3430.html

It may be your charging circuit , it may be power adapter related as well.
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Expert Comment

by:Grant1842
ID: 33587850
Before accusing the battery of being bad be sure to test if the Power Adaptor is working properly.
Click Here(http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Laptops_Notebooks/A_3413-Check-Laptop-Power-Adapter-Voltage.html) .

From the first time you charge your battery, they start to decrease their life span, so be sure to take notice of the symptoms of a dying (or dead) battery.

Some symptoms of a bad battery include:
 1.Short time of running the laptop (1hour).
 2.When on battery power alone, the laptop just shuts off for no apparent reason.

If you do not have an operating system installed, one of the best places to start is in your BIOS.
The BIOS contains valuable information about your battery. It will let you know if your battery's life is already exceeded its life or if it is ok at the moment.

If you have windows installed, then go to your Control Panel then click on Power Options.   From there, you can see if your battery is charging or not. Also, while you are in Power Options Properties window,  there is a basic test you can do to see if your battery needs to be replaced.



1. Charge the battery to 100% .
2. Pull up the computers clock by double clicking on the time in the system tray.
3. Mark your time for 10 minutes and unplug the power adapter from the laptop.
4. If you are losing more than 1% per minute, or if you lose more than 10% in 10 minutes then your battery needs to be replaced.




AC Adapters


If you have replaced your AC power adapter, and now notice your battery not charging, it may be you have the wrong AC Adapter. If it is not putting out the correct amount of watts. It may power the laptop, but will not charge the battery, so check to make sure your adapter has the proper wattage. In some cases, the wattage will not be listed, but that's OK, because you can use some simple math to see if the AC adapter is putting out correct watts:

V x A = W .

Where V is the number of VOLTS, and A is the Amperage (amps). So, Voltage x Amperage = WATTS.
Now take the watts and compare it to your laptops Specifications.

Make sure the AC adapter you are using has the correct DC Volt output that your laptop requires.
The amps can be higher but the Volts has to be the same (With in point 2 of a volt is OK) . The amps can not be lower than what your laptop needs.
 

Battery Enemy #1


The worst enemy of laptop batteries is HEAT. Laptops are small and have to dissipate all the heat from all the components and chips on the mother board.

If you are going to store your laptop for long periods of time (1 week at  a time) then you should consider storing the battery with around 40 to 50%  of a charge because if you keep it fully charged all the time the process it uses to calculate the correct charge can get off.

Every 30 charges go ahead and discharge the battery and let it charge back up to 100 % to help re-calibrate the system.


Conclusion

These general guidelines will help you determine whether or not a battery needs to be replaced. Be sure to check with your laptop's manufacturer for their recommendations for storage and use.

I have seen some batteries not charging and by simply taking out the battery and cleaning where the battery contacts the mother board, the battery started to charge.
Its worth a shot.

Some newer  laptop batteries have small green lights.  The lights are located on the battery.
There may be a small soft button you can press next to the lights. This can be used to run self battery diagnostic test. See your laptop's owners manual for more information.

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Author Comment

by:lyonski
ID: 33588504
My battery was not part of the recall list.
When I open the Power Options and look at the power meter tab, it indicates "total battery power remaining" is 98%.  On the taskbar, it indicates the battery is at 99%.  When I open the power manager, it also indicates 99% remaining battery.  Every so often, I also receive a pop-up balloon message indicating "Genuine Lenovo Battery not installed."  This message started showing up once I put the new battery in.  So the laptop seems to be recognizing the battery.
A friend is bringing a multi-meter in for me tomorrow for me to test the output of the AC adaptor.
But the part that is baffling me is that the laptop sees the battery and seems to think it is nearly fully charged.
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Expert Comment

by:siddharthkool
ID: 33601937
Change your Adaptar , powercod.
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Author Comment

by:lyonski
ID: 33628997
Thank you to those that offered help.  I forgot that I had purchased an extended warranty with this laptop, and I am well within that period.  So a tech is being sent out - they believe it is the motherboard, as suggested above.  And I must echo the sentiments above - the IBM/Lenovo support, so far anyways, has been excellent.
Thank you.
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