Make Your Laptop Battery Last Longer: 3 Things to Know

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Does your laptop battery give out a lot sooner than it used to? Are you lucky to get an hour or two of work done before you need to start searching for an AC outlet? Sounds like it's time to think about replacing the battery.

Get reader for sticker shock: laptop batteries are expensive. Prices vary from one model to another, but it's not uncommon for new power packs to sell for $100 or more. I've seen some as high as $150. When you consider that brand-new laptops now sell for as low as $300, that can be a tough pill to swallow.

Whether you’re already in the market for a replacement battery or just concerned about the inevitable day when you will be, here are three things you should know:

1. Most laptop batteries start to fail in 1-2 years. This varies depending on your usage, of course, but the average laptop battery is good for around 400 recharges (a.k.a. cycles). After that, it starts to lose its capacity to hold a charge.

That’s why the battery that once gave you, say, 3-4 hours’ worth of runtime now peters out after just 1-2 hours. And after a few years, you might be lucky to get an even an hour.

2. You can extend the life of your current battery. If you use your laptop as your primary desktop PC, you may be wasting battery cycles by leaving it plugged in all the time.

The solution: pop the battery out until you actually need to go somewhere with your laptop. As long as the latter is plugged into an AC outlet, it doesn’t actually need the battery.

Trust me on this: I’ve seen fairly new batteries that could barely last half an hour, even though the laptop rarely went anywhere. When in doubt, pop it out.

3. Investigate third-party alternatives. When you do end up needing a replacement battery, you don’t necessarily have to buy one from the laptop manufacturer--paying top dollar in the process.

Instead, search the Web for the laptop make/model and "battery" to see if there are less-expensive third-party options. If your system is a popular model, there almost certainly will be.

Also, be sure to check out Dr. Battery’s Advanced Pro Series. These replacement batteries--available for a huge range of laptop models--promise 800 recharge cycles (meaning they should last twice as long as your current battery) and come with a two-year warranty. Plus, they’re priced fairly competitively at $88 and up.

By the way, you should always, always, always recycle old laptop batteries. Stores like Best Buy, Lowe’s, and Staples have bins or kiosks where you can drop them off.

Okay, your turn: Have you shopped for a replacement laptop battery? If so, how much did you pay? Were you able to find any cheaper alternatives?

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