I have a first-gen Core Duo MacBook Pro with a basically useless battery. I ran the software update as Scott recommends (next article below), but unfortunately this did not solve the problem. The battery is two years old and out of warranty. I’m going to suck it up and buy a new battery for $129. In over ten Apple laptops I’ve owned, this is the first time the battery has failed “early.” It’s too bad, but I expect that a certain number of lithium-based batteries will succumb to early failure.

Here are some tips for conditioning and maintaining your lithium-based battery, straight from Apple’s website. They can be read in depth here:

http://www.apple.com/batteries/notebooks.html

• Be sure to fully charge your portable when you plug it in for the first time, and then run Software Update to ensure you have the latest software. Apple periodically releases updates that may improve battery performance.

• For proper maintenance of a lithium-based battery, it’s important to keep the electrons in it moving occasionally. Apple does not recommend leaving your portable plugged in all the time. An ideal use would be a commuter who uses her MacBook Pro on the train, then plugs it in at the office to charge. This keeps the battery juices flowing. If on the other hand, you use a desktop computer at work and save a notebook for infrequent travel, Apple recommends charging and discharging its battery at least once per month. Need a reminder? Add an event to your desktop’s iCal.

• You can calibrate your iBook, PowerBook, MacBook, or MacBook Pro computer’s lithium battery for best performance. Apple says, “The battery has an internal microprocessor that provides an estimate of the amount of energy in the battery as it charges and discharges. The battery needs to be recalibrated from time to time to keep the onscreen battery time and percent display accurate. With all iBooks and PowerBook G4 computers except the aluminum PowerBook G4 (15-inch Double-Layer SD), you should perform this procedure when you first use your computer and then every few months thereafter.”

You can read how to do this here:

http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=86284

• If you don’t plan on using your notebook for more than six months, Apple recommends that you remove and store the battery with a 50% charge. If you store a battery when it’s fully discharged, it could fall into a deep discharge state, which renders it incapable of holding any charge. Conversely, if you store it fully charged for an extended period of time, the battery may experience some loss of battery capacity, meaning it will have a shorter life. Be sure to store the ejected battery at the proper temperature.

• You can choose to use your Apple notebook in a way that maximizes its battery life:

The Energy Saver control panel offers several settings that determine power levels for your PowerBook. Your portable knows when it’s plugged in and runs accordingly. When on battery power, it will dim the screen and use other components sparingly. If you change this setting to maximize performance, your battery will drain more quickly.

Dim the screen to the lowest comfortable level to achieve maximum battery life. For instance, when watching a DVD on an airplane, you may not need full brightness if all the lights are off.

AirPort consumes power, even if you are not using its features to connect to a network. You can turn it off in its control panel to save power.

Likewise, you can turn off Bluetooth to maximize your battery life, as it also consumes power when not in use.

Disconnect peripherals and quit applications not in use. Eject CDs and DVDs if not currently accessing them.

• Notebook Temperate Zone. Your Apple notebook works best from 50° to 95°F. You should store them in places with temperatures of -13° to 113°. That’s 10° to 35°C and -25° to 45°, for the metrically inclined. Keeping your Mac as near room temperature as possible (22°C) is ideal.

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