Why did the battery die? (No, really.)


The Pool Man

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Hiya,

So I'm in a unique situation here. I bought a Lenovo Flex 14 two and a half years ago. For the price it was quite the steal. I told some friends and they dove on the same unit. There was known issue with this unit that battery life was MEH. For $525ish we all understood.

I sold mine, which was in perfect working orders. Another friend still has one. The last friend reports that the battery is fried somehow. In that if you unplug the laptop the battery will give you minutes. All 3 of these units are 2.5 years old.

So why did that one battery die?

1. It was a weak/defective battery.
2. The user may have taxed the battery by taking poor care of the laptop (letting it get hot by leaving it on a bed, for instance)
3. The system's energy plan may have been set wrong

I have no info to share with you to help you answer this question except that this unit was owned by a teenager in high school. (It's heading to Best Buy for a new battery and more RAM.)

What's your best guess (having no details)?
 

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TheMystic

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Hiya,

So I'm in a unique situation here. I bought a Lenovo Flex 14 two and a half years ago. For the price it was quite the steal. I told some friends and they dove on the same unit. There was known issue with this unit that battery life was MEH. For $525ish we all understood.

I sold mine, which was in perfect working orders. Another friend still has one. The last friend reports that the battery is fried somehow. In that if you unplug the laptop the battery will give you minutes. All 3 of these units are 2.5 years old.

So why did that one battery die?

1. It was a weak/defective battery.
2. The user may have taxed the battery by taking poor care of the laptop (letting it get hot by leaving it on a bed, for instance)
3. The system's energy plan may have been set wrong

I have no info to share with you to help you answer this question except that this unit was owned by a teenager in high school. (It's heading to Best Buy for a new battery and more RAM.)

What's your best guess (having no details)?
Answer: 2.

It is 2.5 years old, so 2 is the most plausible explanation.
 

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barman58

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The battery on a laptop is basically a consumable item, you have to expect to change them every few years,.

The quality of the battery originally will set the expected lifetime, there are a few variables that affect the lifetime of the device,

The design and quality of the battery, the usage pattern of the laptop, the amount of time the battery is used connected to the mains, and the the recharge cycle, on some batteries they should only be charged when at a low charge level, they may also last longer if they are kept charged at a maximum of 80-90% of full and charged when below 30%

2.5 years is a little low for a cheaper system battery to last, but within the variation range
 

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The Pool Man

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The battery on a laptop is basically a consumable item, you have to expect to change them every few years,.

The quality of the battery originally will set the expected lifetime, there are a few variables that affect the lifetime of the device,

The design and quality of the battery, the usage pattern of the laptop, the amount of tinmen the battery is used connected to the mains, and the the recharge cycle, on some batteries they should only be charged when at a low charge level, they may also last longer if they are kept charged at a maximum of 80-90% of full and charged when below 30%

2.5 years is a little low for a cheaper system battery to last, but within the variation range

It's so interesting. My wife has a 3 year old Asus Vivobook. I did the Windows terminal battery test report thing (which I didn't know existed until yesterday) and her battery has lost 24% or so of capacity. It's plugged in almost always.
 

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hsehestedt

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Li-Ion batteries are temperamental creatures. barman58 did an excellent job of summarizing the main points, I simply thought I would supply a few more bits of information and some trivia.

As we all know, a Li-Ion battery has a limited number of charge / recharge cycles. However, not all charges are equal. For example, if you routinely charge to 80% of capacity rather than 100%, you can often easily double (or more) the number of cycles that you will get.

Also, Li-Ion batteries don't do well staying charged at 100% for extended periods of time. Doing so can adversely affect their life span. For laptops that remain plugged in most of their life, this can be a factor in limiting the lifespan.

Some laptops can stop charging at levels below 100% specifically to address both above issues, but for many laptops, this isn't an option. They will simply charge all the way to 100% every time.

There are even some batteries now (I'm thinking of DJI drones specifically) that will automatically partially discharge themselves after 24 hours if they were charged to 100% and then not used.

When storing a laptop and not using it in a while, the general recommendation is to discharge the battery to between 50% to 60% capacity and make sure to cycle it at least once a year.

Then there are also quality variations from batch to batch. As an example, I have an HP laptop where the battery died after only about 1 year (the cells actually started to swell, and this affected ALL cells in the battery pack). I got a replacement under warranty about 2.5 years ago and that battery is still running strong. My usage pattern has not changed, yet the two batteries (both original HP parts) had quite different outcomes.

The point of all this? While there are things that can sometimes be done to lengthen the lifespan of a battery, you won't have these options on all systems. Also, there are simply variations from batch to batch sometimes that you won't be able to predict in advance. Whatever the cause, it's simply a fact of life that batteries will need to be replaced eventually.
 

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Dch48

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Laptop batteries do die eventually but 2.5 years is short in my opinion. I have a 2011 vintage HP laptop that was used as my main computer for more than 3 years and stayed plugged in that entire time. Now that it's used in a more usual laptop role, the battery is still good and lasts about 4 1/2 hours on a full charge. When I use it on battery, I always plug it in to recharge after use no matter what the remaining level is. I also have a 2005 HP laptop that is on it's second battery. As an aside, they both still have the original CMOS battery.
 

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rchris

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Since you brought up the Lenovo Flex 14, I'll just add my 2 cents. I give my grandkids a laptop when the graduate from H.S., and I'm not fond of Lenovo based on their experiences. One was a Flex 5 14 (2017), then a Flex 6 14 (2018), Less than two years of use and they both had to be plugged in almost permanently to be useful. One would even crash while plugged in.

Others--some HPs, Dell, Samsung, and a Surface--are all still going along much, much better. I did weaken about a year ago and got a Lenovo IdeaPad S540 that seems to be doing okay so far (at least better than the two Flex laptops). Maybe just bad luck, but the batteries in those two Flex laptops were dead way before their time.
 

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