Flashing Battery Light
August 15, 2006 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Battery confusingness! Yesterday my Dell Inspiron 5150 laptop got caught in a loop of my bad programming. I finally got it stopped, but it had drained the battery. Plugging the charger in made the battery light start flashing...

It flashes once green and then four oranges. Dell's website suggested that this meant that the battery was too overheated to charge. So I turned it off and let it sit, for 2 hours, still flashing, and then overnight, still flashing. The battery seems to charge fine, but it won't stop flashing. Everything else seems to be ok. Any clues what's wrong and how to fix it? (and no, my battery is not one of the ones being recalled for being prone to bursting into flames)
posted by JonahBlack to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Are you sure it's charging? If you try to run the computer on the battery only, does it work?

I believe what that light is telling you is, "I am a dead battery. Please replace me." Dead batteries may show up in Windows as holding a charge but they won't run the laptop. Save your work, and remove the power cord, see if the battery does in fact work.

Li-Ion batteries fail suddenly and unpredictably. Your 5150, which is a couple of years old, is a prime candidate. If it's any consolation, your bad programming probably had little to do with it - maybe a full discharge made the battery fail yesterday instead of next week, but it would have failed soon regardless.
posted by jellicle at 12:13 PM on August 15, 2006

I write this from my new Inspiron 9400. The 5150 is a defective model. Many people I know have had countless problems, particularly with the power supply and battery. Dell admitted this the minute they started replacing them when people complained. Typically, they wait until you've had 2 or more failures of the same part or area. Do you have a Dell support plan? If so, have them fix it, and the next time it goes, have them replace the computer.
posted by potch at 12:38 PM on August 15, 2006

A similar thing happened to me: I was using my Inspiron on battery power, then set it down and walked away for a few minutes. When I returned, it appeared that the battery had run down and shut off the machine. When I plugged it in and turned it back on, the amber light was flashing; it continued to flash regardless of the length of time I left it plugged-in, and the battery refused to hold a charge. In fact, the only thing that got the flashing to stop was to turn off the machine. I used my laptop as a "corded power source only" machine for a few weeks until I considering getting a new battery... When, oddly enough, the amber flashing stopped, and my battery resumed holding a charge.

I don't know what to say, except if you are considering buying a new battery (if you don't have a support plan), if you can, wait it out because it might decide to revert to normal.
posted by penchant at 12:58 PM on August 15, 2006

Response by poster: It actually does hold charge, I can run it about the same amount of time off the battery (ie. unplugged) as I could before the light starting flashing, maybe a little less but not enough that I really notice. And defective model or not, I can't afford a new laptop on the grad school lifestyle, sadly.
posted by JonahBlack at 1:09 PM on August 15, 2006

I received an email today from my employer that Dell has a recall on some batteries. Check here: https://www.dellbatteryprogram.com/Default.aspx
posted by illek at 3:31 PM on August 15, 2006

My computer (Dell Inspiron 5100) started doing this a few days before it started getting really hot and eventually fried itself out. Has the computer gotten rather hot lately?
posted by itchie at 3:45 PM on August 15, 2006

The flashing lights indicate bad battery cells. After reading this thread, I'd pull the battery and use the power adapter.
posted by theora55 at 4:12 PM on August 15, 2006

posted by nimsey lou at 4:55 PM on August 15, 2006

Response by poster: Let me note again. My battery is not part of the recall, that is not the problem.
posted by JonahBlack at 5:04 PM on August 15, 2006

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