Batteries running down and I can't keep up
September 24, 2007 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Coincidence, or a problem with a wall outlet in my new apartment? My cell phone and laptop batteries are suddenly holding charges for shorter and shorter periods of time.

I moved to a new apartment about 3 weeks ago. Last week or so, I noticed that my cell phone (Motorola KRZR, Verizon if it matters) needed charging more often, and that once it lost one bar, it was a pretty steep slope to the low battery song. This past weekend, I noticed that my computer (Dell Inspiron 600m) battery ran down about twice as fast as it used to even a few weeks ago. Eek.

I've been charging both of these in the outlet next to my bed. Is it possible that something in that particular outlet is screwing up the chargers/batteries/whatever it is that makes these things work? If so, how would I know?

Or is it just coincidence, and the batteries to my laptop and phone are dying the way these things do in time?

I know nothing about electronics in the abstract, so please phrase your answer accordingly. Suggestions, explanations, and educated guesses all welcome.
posted by bassjump to Technology (6 answers total)
Batteries wear out, it's true.

Have you tried charging your devices at a different outlet?
posted by box at 1:22 PM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

Youre in a new space, thus the energy required to keep your cell phone on the network is different. Lets say you used to live near a tower and got 4 bars all the time. The power your cell phone used was minimal. If you have one bar all the time at your new place you're using more energy to talk to the tower. A one hour phone call could use 2 or 3x more power.

Your laptop may be using more power too. Im not sure but I think wifi power ramps up just like a cell phone. At least when the laptop is not plugged in the wall. So if you moved your wifi router farther away you might experience a loss of battery life.

I would think that if your outlet was bad your stuff wouldnt ever charge in the first place.

Lastly, lithium-ion batteries only have a few hundred charge cycles in their life. So if the laptop is getting old then you're going to see a loss of battery life.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:22 PM on September 24, 2007

Response by poster: box: Yes, it occurred to me... yesterday. I'll try switching and see if the decline levels off. It feels a little futile, since I assume that once the batteries wear out, they can't return to their old long-lasting glory.

dda: That makes sense, but I'm all of half a mile from the old place. I'm actually closer to a cell tower: it's down the street. The wi-fi distance might be part of it, though, for the laptop.
posted by bassjump at 1:40 PM on September 24, 2007

Also if it helps, in my limited experience, lithiumion batteries go from amazing life to "what the hell" pretty quickly. Once they hit a certain cycle they're almost useless.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:55 PM on September 24, 2007

is the outlet controlled by a lightswitch? I spent hours trying to charge a laptop before I realized that the outlet was "half-hot"-- one of the sockets is always on, the other has a switch.
posted by 777 at 10:42 AM on September 25, 2007

Response by poster: Good thought, 777, but no. It's not that the outlet doesn't work - it does - but I'm wondering if it cycles funny, or something else along those lines.
posted by bassjump at 7:43 AM on September 28, 2007

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