Laptop Batteries
March 3, 2004 4:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering buying a new laptop battery and after scouring the web and usenet, I can't find any definitive word on aftermarket batteries. This thread essentially says they're both good and bad, as does this one.

I've made a lot of purchases of refurbished equipment, but batteries have always been something I'm wary of. I've seen pretty solid recommendations of and Eagle Imports (whose batteries completely dominate the ebay laptop battery market), where they frequently sell for less than half the normal retail cost.

(Important: More inside.)

(More Inside:) While I'm asking this question out of personal curiosity, I'm also a journalist. The lack of resources on this seemingly worthwhile topic makes me think it might be worth writing about. If you'd be uncomfortable in any way with my using the contents of this thread for that purpose (attributed or otherwise), please mention that in your post or, I guess, just don't respond.
posted by Sinner to Shopping (10 answers total)
Something else to write about might be the high cost of batteries, period. They are considered "consumable" parts and are often not covered by manufacturers' warranties. I've talked to many people who have had to shell out several hundred dollars for a new battery while their laptops were still under manufacturer's warranty.

Sony batteries in particular are just mind-boggling expensive.
posted by Coffeemate at 4:56 PM on March 3, 2004

I've had my Dell (Inspiron 8100) since Sept 2001 and the battery has been dead since fall of 2002 (1-year warranty when bought with the computer, 90 days bought otherwise). I haven't gotten a new one yet since this is a desktop replacement but I've done a fairly good job keeping up with information on this laptop, and the community consensus seems to be that aftermarket == even worse than Dell, especially now that batteries for this laptop are around $60 on eBay.

The recommended procedure seems to be keep your original battery and use it as much as possible, and buy a second one, keep it around 40% charged when you aren't using it, in a cool, dry place inside a paper bag, and use it when you need long battery life.

Don't know if that helps any...
posted by j.edwards at 5:17 PM on March 3, 2004

I rather suspect you can build your own battery. Try cracking the old one open -- good chance you'll find it's just a buncha lithion AA cells.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:44 PM on March 3, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses - I've found the whole battery business pretty fascinating for a while, too, but I'm particularly interested in the aftermarket-battery thing. Someone out there must have used one of these things, right? As I said, ebay is completely overrun with them.

"Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?"
posted by Sinner at 6:42 PM on March 3, 2004

I actually bought one on ebay for my IBM ThinkPad A20m (it's a little old). The new one has been pretty good, not as good as the IBM battery when I got the laptop, but still better than the half hour or so I get out of my old battery. I use the old battery if I'm keeping the laptop plugged in and the new one when I'm travelling.
posted by Hall at 6:49 PM on March 3, 2004

Response by poster: Incidentally, for those who did not follow Coffeemate's Sony link, a Sony PCGA-BP2NX battery costs $249.99.

The aftermarket version, sold by Eagle Imports, sells for $79.95.

This is the sort of thing that makes me very curious.
posted by Sinner at 6:50 PM on March 3, 2004

If you write about rechargeable batteries, you may want to mention recycling the used battery, which is fairly toxic. I've worked with laptops a lot. Batteries last about a year or 2 in regular use. It's a good idea to occasionally run the battery all the way down, and then recharge.

Thanks for the Eagle Imports link, they've got a good price on the battery I need.
posted by theora55 at 7:43 PM on March 3, 2004

Response by poster: Theora - Hope it's of some use (the link and the battery both). ObvCaveatEmptor: If it works out for you, let me know (and if not, same thing...)
posted by Sinner at 9:05 PM on March 3, 2004

I rather suspect you can build your own battery. Try cracking the old one open -- good chance you'll find it's just a buncha lithion AA cells.

Please don't consider this unless you really know what you're doing. There is a serious explosion hazard with Lithium-Ion cells.
posted by Galvatron at 12:23 AM on March 4, 2004

Response by poster: Yes, my research on this suggests that trying to build your own battery may be time-consuming, if not highly unsafe (tinyurl link to usenet post).
posted by Sinner at 7:43 AM on March 4, 2004

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