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Is Your Laptop Battery Still Good?

Picture this scenario:  You head to your local designer coffee shop with your laptop, ready to sit down to get some work done.  You open up your computer and press the power button – and nothing happens.

The battery’s dead!  And what if you can’t get access to a plug to charge it?  Annoying, to say the least.

Avoid this scenario by testing the charge in your battery before you leave the house.  Did you know there are several ways to do this?  What if you want to test your extra battery to see if it is charged?

First, you’re going to need a few things:  A multi-meter, a test light, a battery charger and a battery tester.  You are going to use each of these things for testing your battery in a different way.

Multi-meter method

First, attach the battery to the multi-meter.  Connect the battery’s positive port to one end of the meter and the negative port to the other end.  This will allow the meter to detect how much, if any, charge is left in the battery.

The Crenova MS8233D Auto-Ranging Digital Multimeter (about $20) is a top pick from our review of best multimeters under $20 .

Test light method

First, test the light itself.  Connect it to the positive port on a battery you know is fully charged.  If the light is working, it will glow.  Now that you know the test light is working, connect it to the positive port on a battery whose charge you are unsure of.  If the battery is charged, the light will glow.  If not, it’s dead.

You can find a test light probe for about $10 .

Battery charger

This is a very simple method of checking the charge in a battery.  All you have to do is place the battery into a charger and look for the indicator light.  The light will tell you whether there is power there or not.

Unfortunately, this is kind of a yes-or-no situation.  You won’t get a reading about how much power is left in the battery, so you won’t be able to tell whether it is fully charged or only partially charged.

You’ll want to make sure you get a charger that is specified for your particular laptop or battery type. Check with the laptop manufacturer web site.

Battery tester

This is a very effective way of testing the charge in a battery.  Place the battery in the test and ensure that both the positive and negative ports are securely connected.  You’ll get a clear reading of not only whether the battery has a charge in it, but also how much.

power supply tester optimal shopThe power supply tester from “Optimal Shop” (about $15) is a good choice. It is the ultimate tool for all computer repair people. It comes with an 8-in-1 ATX power supply tester that outputs the voltage levels of your connectors to a 1.8 inch screen that is built into the device.

You can accurately detect problems with power supplies and prevent damage to your motherboard.

Will test 20, 24pin, 4-pin power, SATA, Floppy Power, PCI-e, 4-pin, ATX12V, and 8-pin connectors.

You don’t need to ever get caught with a dead laptop battery ever again.  Any of these methods will give you an indication of whether you need to charge your battery or not. This is particularly useful if you have more than one battery for your computer, so you don’t have to keep switching them out in your computer to test the charge.  If you find that your batteries aren’t holding a charge as well as they used to (which nearly always happens eventually) it might be time to recycle them.

You can also check a great article on how you can check the voltage with battery testers.

Companies such as Sure Power specialize in battery management, including recycling programs.  Alternatively, you can contact your local waste company to find out about any local programs aimed at battery recycling in your area.  There will almost certainly be one.  This is a safe and environmentally responsible way to recycle your batteries.

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