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I don't know who to trust anymore! ... so why not Super User?

Background (Super User relevance) (skip if tl;dr)

My laptop's manufacturer, HP, claimed that the "High Capacity 6 Cell Lithium Ion Battery" I bought could run my laptop for up to 5.25 hours. The first time I tried it out, the thing drained in 1.5 hours.

Maybe my choice of operating system, Ubuntu 10.10, caused the quick drain. Ubuntu 11.04 started devouring more power, and a full charge would only last for 44 minutes. Eventually, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS fixed major power consumption issues, and now a full charge can go for about 1 hour 13 minutes.

Lithium ion batteries don't seem to be working very well for me, like hard drives haven't. Not only do they not last very long, my operating system, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, has always been reporting fake information since I got this specific battery. This is what gnome-power-statistics told me today:

  • Capacity is at 100%. Uh... no. This laptop is over 19 months old... It can't be 100%...
  • 26% charge, and the technology is nickel-metal hydride. I removed the battery and reinserted it. 86% charge, and the technology suddenly switched to lithium ion. Huh?

Recently, I set out on a quest to learn about batteries. Some questions I tried answering for myself include the following:

  • Why are lithium ion batteries so undependable?
  • Are there better types of batteries?
  • How long do batteries last?

Even though I was on the Internet, I was shocked to discover that there are so many contradictions to even my most basic questions about batteries.

Contradictions for Li-ion vs. NiMH

I found out about nickel-cadmium batteries and nickel-metal hydride batteries, and they seemed pretty cool.

But I don't know the true pros and cons of each battery chemistry. Webpages contradict other webpages. Examples:

There are so many more contradictions that I've lost track of them (too many tabs open... don't know what's what anymore...).

I want to set things right and end the confusion.

 ▒▓█ What are the advantages and disadvantages of different rechargeable battery types? █▓▒

Guiding points (relevant to Super User):

  • Why do laptops usually use Li-ion, even though they're more expensive and only last 500 charge cycles?
  • Prioritized list for how to care for each laptop battery type
  • How does battery shape factor into laptop battery life?
  • Is self-discharge rate even relevant for high-drain devices like laptops?

Guiding points (general):

  • Chemical activity
  • Shelf life
  • Number of charge cycles
  • Power output
  • Voltage vs. charge percentage
  • Weight
  • Cost/Price
  • Impact of temperature
  • Storage considerations
  • Charging speed (NiCd can be fast-charged in 15 minutes?)
  • Self-discharge rate
  • True memory effect vs. what people think are memory effect
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closed as not a real question by Canadian Luke, Zoredache, 8088, Randolph West, Nifle Aug 8 '12 at 7:45

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

They have an extra section about this on the Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium-ion_battery#Advantages –  Oliver Salzburg Aug 7 '12 at 23:05
Did you try the laptop with Windows, and with all the hardware drivers HP provided? I'm not talking about Windows being better or anything like that. However, HP provided hardware drivers that could allow you to reduce power usage to a bare minimum, at the expense of performance. But that doesn't really deal with your questions about batteries. Just the laptop itself. –  Bon Gart Aug 7 '12 at 23:16
wait, you were shock to get contradictions to the question of "how long do batteries last?" ? –  Sirex Aug 7 '12 at 23:30
@BonGart: I'm certain that Windows was lighter on power usage, for the fan didn't scream all the time, but personally, I can hardly get anything done on Windows. So I trashed Windows when I got an SSD. But still, the hardware I selected for this laptop is terrible on Linux. Hm. :\ –  Deltik Aug 7 '12 at 23:32
@Sirex: Yes. I checked out my watch on Amazon. Some guy rated it 1 star because the battery lasted only 5 to 7 years. And it wasn't bulletproof. Humanity. >_< (source) –  Deltik Aug 7 '12 at 23:41

1 Answer 1

I think this should help. And as they say in the article the main reasons they don't use NiCad is because they're "Heavy, making it harder to use for longer periods of time, and they can suffer from 'Memory Effect' or 'False Bottom Effect' if constantly discharged half-way and then recharged."

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Sorry, that was one of my untrustworthy sources. Lithium-ion is "less tested than other battery formats - in early stages of development", yet modern lithium-ion batteries were created before I was born. Also, the conventions of the article are fishy and unprofessional. –  Deltik Aug 7 '12 at 23:23

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