I love my ThinkPads. I've owned several. I started with a 380D, then got a 600E a bit over 4 years ago, and now I currently have a T21 (Linux) and T23 (Windows). They're the greatest non-Mac notebooks money can buy.

But I seem to have a particular skill when it comes to decimating ThinkPad batteries. One of the reasons I own two T-series notebooks right now is that they can share batteries. And between them have three, numbered 1, 2, and (you guessed it) 3. The numbers correspond to how much life they provide--or at least they used to. The first one is the oldest. When I marked it last year it would deliver 45-60 minutes. The second one lasted maybe 90 minutes. The third, however, could go about 2.25 hours (140 minutes or so).

Not anymore. The best battery is down to about 45 minutes now.

The Windows box stays at home, plugged in with no battery 99% of the time. The Linux box travels with me a lot and I'm always exercising the battery--usually 5 times a week if not more. I always run it down all the way before a recharge. I'm tempted to buy yet another replacement battery but don't know if it's worth the $120 or so that'd cost. At this rate, it seems I'd be buying a new battery every 10-12 months!

When I sold my 600E last year, I send along at least one spare battery with it--for the same reason. I may have done the same with my 380D too, but I no longer remember.

Where are those fuel cells we've been waiting for, anyway? And will someone please make a model that slips into a T-series ThinkPad?


Posted by jzawodn at February 26, 2004 03:52 PM

Reader Comments
# Robert J Taylor said:

Interesting. My Toshiba Sat. 2805 (retired) and Dell Inp. 5150 both had little to no luck with battery life under Linux. I'm not a kernel hacker and rarely tweak things in the kernel so maybe its my ignorance, but it seems whenever I ran on batteries the system ran the batteries down faster than when I'm doing heavy lifting under Windows XP. As a result I always run Linux with A/C as much as possible.

Could it be that the dearth of power management under Linux is damaging your battery life?

on February 26, 2004 04:06 PM
# bag said:

It's all about the usage pattern. I think that Li-Ion performs best when it is used very often, and there should be no need to fully discharge the battery. Of course I don't keep laptops for more than 15 months or so... so that could be why my battery life is always long.

on February 26, 2004 04:09 PM
# Jeffrey J. Hoover said:

"They're the greatest non-Mac notebooks money can buy."

That makes me smile. I was working at a Forture 100 company a few years ago that basically switched from Macs to PCs. It was interesting to hear what people had to say about the differences. This was around the time that the first "Butterfly" ThinkPad came out and before the Sony Vaio (I think).

Anyway, at the time, Apple had the infamous PowerBook 5300 out and people were glad to have a Windows laptop. Nice to see things turn around.

on February 26, 2004 04:11 PM
# Justin Blanton said:

I feel your pain Jeremy, the battery life in my 15" aluminum PowerBook is horrible. Bleh.

on February 26, 2004 04:33 PM
# Justin Mason said:

Too right about the Thinkpads -- I just bought myself a new T40 (couldn't bring myself to ditch my linux desktop for MacOS X). It's just lovely!

Re: battery life: IBM are very clear that, even with the Li-Ion batteries, you should condition them by running the batteries fully down several times to start with; running the batteries down slightly, then recharging, will reduce the battery life a lot.

Google for "ibm battery condition" should find it.

on February 26, 2004 04:49 PM
# Max Clark said:

I have a Dell 4150 and I always use both expansion slots for batteries. It gets me decient (2 hours or so) life, but man is it heavy. I am going to buy on of the IBM X20 laptops. Superlight, good battery life.

You should check out the Electrovaya PowerPad. They have external batteries ranging from 80 Wh to 160 Wh. When I was at OSCON I watched two guys charge their Thinkpads with one of these.

on February 26, 2004 05:12 PM
# Peter van Dijk said:

Weird; the battery in my 6-year old Digital HiNote (although I've owned for just a few months now) goes for a steady 2 hours and a bit everytime.

Unless I enable APM (FreeBSD 5.2), then it crashes on the slightest of interesting events (a hood close, no typing for 10 seconds, etc.) and won't come up at all, suddenly reporting an empty battery. I can then 'kickstart' it by applying outside electricity for a few seconds.

on February 26, 2004 05:49 PM
# Marc said:

I always buy used IBM Thinkpads and their batteries rarely last more than 2 hours. Instead of buying a new internal battery I bought an external battery - a N-Change from Valence Technology - and it has been a godsend! Not only does it last 6-7 hours (over and above the internal battery), it can also be used on laptops from different vendors (a new connector for each does need to be purchased), along with being able to charge cell phones and PDAs. Never having to look for a power outlet (at a conference, client site, etc.) is easily worth carrying around another 1-2 pounds of battery. The N-Charge is flat and can sit under the laptop. It has the added advantage of acting like a regular power source and therefore runs the laptop at full power rather than the reduced level that the internal battery would run at. The N-Charge recharges fairly quickly and is supposedly good for ~2000 recharge cyles.

on February 26, 2004 08:13 PM
# Matthew Walker said:

There are three things Litihium Ion batteries do not like:

- deep discharges, discharging to 0% gives about 300 cycles, discharging to 80% gives about 500 cycles (until the battery reaches half new capacity)
- heat, if you're using the computer on mains consider removing the battery and storing somewhere cool
- being stored, try and store batteries at around 40% charge, don't buy old batteries or ones to use later, they lose capacity with no use at all

I found a great page with a lot more extensive information but it seems to have disappeared from my bookmarks and search engines aren't being much help.

on February 27, 2004 12:32 AM
# shawn said:

i own a tp 600x, which i absolutely love...but the batter died a month or so ago.

before it passed on, it went from lating 1.5 hours to 25 minutes and finally nothing at all.

i did some googling, and turns out thinkpads are notorious for their shoddy battery life.

something that ibm has never admitted or tried to fix.

i use it daily even though i have to keep it plugged in. i can't bring myself to pay 100+ bucks for a battery that will suffer the same fate 6 months from now.

on February 27, 2004 06:51 AM
# Courtney said:

Even deep-cycle batteries *greatly* object to being run all the way down - the chemical nature of the battery gets screwy - reduces battery life hugely. We routinely buy our laptops two batteries, a car charger, and an AC adapter. Out in Sunny Cal you might also want to consider a portable solar panel charger, to charge your battery on the go. Those trickle-charges help prolong battery life immensely.

These tips go for your cell-phone battery as well, btw.

on February 27, 2004 06:54 AM
# gabe said:


Man, that sucks about your Aluminum PowerBook. I just got a 1GHz TiBook recently. Even with a 7200rpm hard drive, I get about 170 minutes or so out of it. More if I dim the display.

Your battery problems are most likely due to the fact that the Aluminum 15" PB has a 46 Watt Hour battery, while the Titanium 15" has a 61 Watt Hour battery. I wonder why they short-changed the battery in the new models...

on February 27, 2004 09:00 AM
# Philip Wasylow said:

You may be able to get better deals on batteries from APC or "Battery Biz" - Ingram sells battery Biz batteries.

Also, you can get a battery for your UltrayBay, so you can have the main battery, plus another battery installed where your optical drive is at the same time.

on February 28, 2004 06:39 AM
# vinh said:

i own a TP600E, and am on my 3rd battery... one tihng i've learned with my previous 2 batteries is that the idea of taking out the battery when running on AC is a bad idea! especially if you leave it out for extended periods. with my 2 previous batteries, i'd leave them out for at least a month and when i tried to use them again, they were completely dead and could not be recharged. nowadays i just leave the battery in and i don't bother with deep discharges either, no problems thus far.

i think this supports the notion that deep discharges are bad for Lithium ION batteries. after all, a battery that's just sitting there is leaking power i believe, which is why leaving them unused for a month can kill 'em.

on February 28, 2004 11:09 AM
# mike said:

Battery Limited was established in 1999, Located in Shenzhen, nearby
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on March 2, 2004 02:28 AM
# mike said:

Battery Limited was established in 1999, Located in Shenzhen, nearby
Hong Kong, specializing in producing Nickel Cadmium and Nickel Metal
Hydride rechargeable batteries. They are widely used in cordless phones,
cellular phones, two-way radios, R/C toys, emergency lightings, power
tools, household appliances, office equipments and OEM markets. Now we
have more than 2000 employees and have 300,000 producing capacity a day,
these products throughout China and many foreign cotntries.

telephone number:86-755-28509555-1063
name :mike
best price and service
thanks a lot

on March 2, 2004 02:28 AM
# Justin Mason said:

Hmm! quite a lot of disagreement on the "to deep-discharge or not" issue it seems.

Here's what IBM say:

Thinkpad T series battery tips: http://www-306.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/document.do?lndocid=MIGR-50944

General Thinkpad tips: http://www-306.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/PFAN-3QNQJN.html

Summary: "deep discharge" -- ie. fully discharging the battery, and leaving it at 0%, is bad. But "cycling", ie. fully charging, then fully discharging, is good when the battery is brand new.

Based on the "Extending battery life" entry on the T series tips page, it sounds like you should try doing a few cycles, as the indicator might be misreporting the battery-full %age...

PS: you've got some spammer scum there on the last 2 comments. >:(

on March 2, 2004 10:59 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Yeah, but the spammer was too dumb to leave any links.


on March 2, 2004 01:44 PM
# Ow said:

I own a Dell D600 (centrino 1.4) which is also
supposed to have great battery life. But I get only
2:30 hours running Linux. On 2.6.3 kernel and
the lowest backlight. (SXGA+ does this make a difference?)
Running it on windows is much better ~3hours.
One thing I noticed is that in Linux, the battery
one it reaches like ~40% of capacity, it drains
to 0 in like 10-15mins.

on March 2, 2004 09:49 PM
# said:

You will often find that the whole problem is to do with the indicator.

Mine goes from 100% to 95% in about ten minutes, then drops suddenly to 1% and shuts down.

When I monitored the voltages (using the thinkpad configuration thingy) I found that the battery voltage of my 3 year old thinkpad battery was still about 11v, so therefore it still had plently of juice left.

So I disabled the auto-hibernate feature, and let it run. I then started watching a movie at medium brightness, with the thinklight on.

After about an hour, the battery finally ran out.

Im not sure what to do to reset the chip that works out battery life, but if buying a new battery is the only way, I am not going to!

on December 21, 2004 12:31 AM
# Don said:

I had the same experience as the previous poster. The battery discharges to about 95% after about 5 minutes, and then drops right down to 3%. I disabled all of the warnings and hibernate mode, and found that the battery actually still manages to power the system for another hour or so. Does this mean that the problem is more with the function that shows the battery power levels, and not with the actual battery power? Whatever the problem, it's annoying. This is battery #2 for me, and it's happened both times.

on December 29, 2004 05:55 AM
# Dan said:

I've been using a T22 (2647-9EU) for the past several years now. Shortly after having the mainboard swapped out due to a fan failure (I guess the fan is built into the mobo), I noticed the battery life was not that great(less than 30 minutes). I usually have the laptop running constantly on AC power and attributed the poor battery life to an old battery and how it was always at 100% charge. After purchasing two new batteries, BOTH are experiencing the same issue, if not worse. Fully charged, they have less than 30 minutes of run-time before they shutdown. Even when I disable all the automatic shutdown/suspend settings, it still enters suspend mode at a reported 1% battery life. Maybe I missed a setting.

However, the fact that even new batteries experience the issue leads me to believe it's something with the motherboard/firmware (running bios v1.12) as the OS hasn't been touched in years.

on April 14, 2005 06:47 AM
# Dan said:

Update: I think it has something to do with the wireless card. When I brought my laptop into work, it lasted at least an hour. The only difference is there is no wireless network at work. I'm running a DLink G650 (54/108mbit wireless) at home. I'm thinking that is chewing up the battery bigtime.

The specs on the wireless card, however state that transmit mode uses only 420ish milliwatts. Receive only 80 or so. I can't see 400 milliwatts bringing laptop battery life from 2 hours to 20 minutes, but anything is possible i suppose.

on April 15, 2005 02:04 PM
# xjust said:

same problem here on my thinkpad x20. 10 minutes to 90% then goes off.. i just removed the windows alarm action to see if it will go more than 20 minutes :)

found some 77$ bbatteries for it on amazon..but for 30$ i think i will go with something better than 1700mAh. what batter manufacturer worked best for you ?

on April 28, 2005 04:44 AM
# no said:

Just buy new cells to the battery (six) and do the job yourself. Cost you about 30-40, but that's not bad ?

on August 16, 2005 06:50 AM
# deltaf said:

I have a T20 with two batteries - one in, one on standby. I used to keep them both charged so that I could have a backup on the road (go figure..) I would run them both down, and charge them when I got back home.

At some point, I didn't travel as much and kept one battery in the laptop all of the time. The second one was stored on a shelf.

The documentation for the batteries states that you shouldn't store them with a full charge, and I found out why... I pulled the battery off of the shelf one day to find that it was in RED condition with only 34 cycles on it. The one that was kept in the system (full charge, but running almost nonstop) didn't go red until 160+ charges.

I assume that you had the same problem swapping 3 batteries between 2 laptops. It's only logical to keep the extra batteries fully charged - that's why they're there.

The moral of the story: Don't store Lithium Ion batteries with a full charge.

Secondary moral: Fund research of battery/fuel cell technology. :P

on August 25, 2005 12:43 PM
# Dave Skye said:

I am running an X20. I recently purchased a VERY cheap battery off eBay. It was from a dealer (not a private sale) and described as 'brand new'.
It works fine in the X20, and gives me about 90 minutes of life. But the charge light never goes green ie it never seems to fully charge. Any idea why?

on March 24, 2006 10:58 AM
# dell gx620 said:

In fact your battery doesn't get charger properly so you are supposed to replace the battery and get a new one.

on July 12, 2009 05:25 AM
# supraveni said:

Supraveni Chemicals manufactures plenty of chemical products like sodium sulphate, sulphuric acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, barium sulphate & sodium hydroxide

on March 13, 2010 04:04 AM
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