iBook Long-Term Battery Life

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Alasta

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 12, 2005
176
0
Wellington, New Zealand
Hi, folks.

My G3 iBook is 2.5 years old, and one of the factors in my decision of when to replace it is whether I'm likely to have to replace the battery in the immediate future.

I very rarely operate the machine on battery power. In fact, I would probably only ever run it off battery power when I'm on holiday and using WiFi hotspots, which would be a couple of hours every three months or so. With that in mind, you'd think that it would take ages to wear the battery out, but I've heard that Lithium Ion batteries deteriorate over time regardless of how much they are used.

I've decided to try running my machine on battery power for a couple of hours tonight to see if it's still okay and, to my surprise, the charge seems to be holding pretty well. Does this mean that I can realistically expect acceptable performance from my battery for another 3 - 6 months, or is it likely to suddenly kick the bucket in the near future?

Any experiences or specialised knowledge that anyone could share would be appreciated.
 

thehuncamunca

macrumors 6502
Jul 9, 2003
447
0
NJ
li ion batteries usually degrade rather smoothly, so if it's working okay now it'll work okay in a few months

if you really don't use the battery at all and want to preserve it, discharge the battery to 50% and leave it like that
Alasta said:
Hi, folks.

My G3 iBook is 2.5 years old, and one of the factors in my decision of when to replace it is whether I'm likely to have to replace the battery in the immediate future.

I very rarely operate the machine on battery power. In fact, I would probably only ever run it off battery power when I'm on holiday and using WiFi hotspots, which would be a couple of hours every three months or so. With that in mind, you'd think that it would take ages to wear the battery out, but I've heard that Lithium Ion batteries deteriorate over time regardless of how much they are used.

I've decided to try running my machine on battery power for a couple of hours tonight to see if it's still okay and, to my surprise, the charge seems to be holding pretty well. Does this mean that I can realistically expect acceptable performance from my battery for another 3 - 6 months, or is it likely to suddenly kick the bucket in the near future?

Any experiences or specialised knowledge that anyone could share would be appreciated.
 

Josh

macrumors 68000
Mar 4, 2004
1,640
1
State College, PA
Theres a command you can enter in the terminal to get statistics on your batter output and get an idea of how well your batter is holding up.

I read about it in MacWorld. If nobody posts it before I get home, I'll get it for you and post it here.
 

ewinemiller

macrumors 6502
Aug 29, 2001
445
0
west of Philly
thehuncamunca said:
li ion batteries usually degrade rather smoothly, so if it's working okay now it'll work okay in a few months
Not necessarily, I've seen li-ions go from reasonable life (2-2 1/2 hrs) down to 15 min life over the course of a week.

Li-ions also have some smarts built into the battery itself and that can sometimes go bad too. Usually then it will refuse to charge at all and may be a complete surprise when suddenly your machine won't turn on unless it's plugged in (had that one happen Friday).

I've had batteries die in 6 months, at 2 1/2 years, and some still doing pretty well at 5. I think it's a crap shoot. All were used a couple of hours each evening on battery + transported back and forth between home and work while asleep which takes a little battery power.

The only thing I'd add to thehuncamunca's statement is the word probably. Your battery may die tomorrow, but it's likely with your low battery usage, you'll get higher than average life out of it.
 

Josh

macrumors 68000
Mar 4, 2004
1,640
1
State College, PA
Ok, here you go.

To get an idea of how much life your battery has left, follow these instructions.

In the terminal, type:
Code:
ioreg -w0 -l | grep Capacity
and hit enter.

What you will see now is something that looks like this:
| | | "IOBatteryInfo" = ({"Capacity"=3971,"Amperage"
=18446744073709550895,"Cycle Count"=61,"Current"=2160,
"Voltage"=11370,"Flags"=4,"AbsoluteMaxCapacity"=4200})

Now, what you're interested in...

Cycle Count = How many times you have discharged and re-charged your battery.
Capacity = How much your batter CURRENTLY is capible of holding.
AbsoluteMaxCapacity = The highest original capacity when the battery was bran new.

As the battery gets old, the "Capacity" slowly declines from what the "AbsoluteMaxCapacity" is.

CycleCount shows what life your battery has remaining. Typically, powerbook users have a life-cycle of 300-500. I'd imagine the iBook to be similar, so if you have that many, or near it, you may need to consider a new battery.

If your capacity is significantly lower than the absolutemax, then it might be time as well.
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
29,641
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
Keep in mind with the procedure that Josh used...every time the battery is recalibrated, the capacity number changes. Following the calibration procedure (run on battery till the computer automatically goes to sleep, which should occur 5-10 minutes after the low battery warning window) and then recharging, and repeating the procedure two to three times, is necessary when the battery has not been used consistently. The capacity will often actually go *UP* as a result of following this procedure....
 

dsharits

macrumors 68000
Jun 19, 2004
1,639
0
Plant City, FL
Josh said:
Ok, here you go.

To get an idea of how much life your battery has left, follow these instructions.

In the terminal, type:
Code:
ioreg -w0 -l | grep Capacity
and hit enter.

What you will see now is something that looks like this:



Now, what you're interested in...

Cycle Count = How many times you have discharged and re-charged your battery.
Capacity = How much your batter CURRENTLY is capible of holding.
AbsoluteMaxCapacity = The highest original capacity when the battery was bran new.

As the battery gets old, the "Capacity" slowly declines from what the "AbsoluteMaxCapacity" is.

CycleCount shows what life your battery has remaining. Typically, powerbook users have a life-cycle of 300-500. I'd imagine the iBook to be similar, so if you have that many, or near it, you may need to consider a new battery.

If your capacity is significantly lower than the absolutemax, then it might be time as well.
I pasted that code into the Terminal, and it didn't work. :confused:
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
29,641
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
dsharits said:
I pasted that code into the Terminal, and it didn't work. :confused:
Also try as an alternate this:

ioreg -l | grep -i iobattery

You may get multiple lines, but they should have the same data on them. You may have to make the terminal wider to see everything. Also note that the character between the -l and the grep is the pipe character -- it is shift-'\' on US keyboards.
 

dsharits

macrumors 68000
Jun 19, 2004
1,639
0
Plant City, FL
Please, somebody punch me now!
I...um....wasn't thinking.....and.....um....I typed that in Terminal......uh.....on my........Power Mac...'DOH! :eek:

Boy, do I feel stupid!
 

dsharits

macrumors 68000
Jun 19, 2004
1,639
0
Plant City, FL
Hmm, not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

Cycle count- 73
Capacity- 4296
AbsoluteMaxCapacity- 4400

I got it in October, and it's held up pretty well. :)
 

itsupikiookami

macrumors newbie
Jun 6, 2005
4
0
Texas
Check out iBatt: raynersoftware.com. It's probably the easiest way to check out all kinds of information. You have to register to keep the program running for more than ten or so minutes I think, but you only need a matter of seconds to get the information you need.
 

dsharits said:
Hmm, not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

Cycle count- 73
Capacity- 4296
AbsoluteMaxCapacity- 4400

I got it in October, and it's held up pretty well. :)

Well, I just checked my battery (you know, anything to avoid doing some useful work today...) and here are my official stats:

Cycle count: 146
Capacity: 188
AbsoluteMaxCapacity: 4000

So, I guess that explains why I have to carry the power cord everywhere! Anyone know where to buy inexpensive iBook batteries?

(Oh, and I dowloaded iBatt, too - got a D minus. Cool program, though!)

(I love MacRumors!)

MFK
 

Alasta

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 12, 2005
176
0
Wellington, New Zealand
Thanks for all the advice, guys.

I tried putting that command into the terminal, but it didn't display the 'AbsoluteMaxCapacity' or 'Cycles' stats. I guess my machine and/or battery are just too old to record this level of detail.

Anyway, it sounds like the answer to my question is that I should expect to get good life out of my battery, but it would be really hard to predict exactly how long it will last. Given that it's holding its charge well for now, I think I'll keep using it until I'm ready to buy a new iBook. In the unlikely event that it suddenly dies on me in the next couple of months, I'll just have to make a snap decision as to whether to replace the battery or replace the whole machine.
 

dsharits

macrumors 68000
Jun 19, 2004
1,639
0
Plant City, FL
jazzmfk said:
Well, I just checked my battery (you know, anything to avoid doing some useful work today...) and here are my official stats:

Cycle count: 146
Capacity: 188
AbsoluteMaxCapacity: 4000

So, I guess that explains why I have to carry the power cord everywhere! Anyone know where to buy inexpensive iBook batteries?

(Oh, and I dowloaded iBatt, too - got a D minus. Cool program, though!)

(I love MacRumors!)

MFK
Ouch! OWC has batteries that cost about as much as the ones from Apple, but they have a lot more capacity. That's a very worthwhile investment, if you ask me.
 

devilot

Moderator emeritus
May 1, 2005
15,532
2
my stats for a PB...

Cycle count: 57
Capacity: 4144
Currently: 4096
Absolute Max Capacity: 4400

How is that for a year old machine? Should I worry?
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
29,641
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
devilot76 said:
Cycle count: 57
Capacity: 4144
Currently: 4096
Absolute Max Capacity: 4400

How is that for a year old machine? Should I worry?
Sounds fine.... In fact probably on the good side of fine. For reference, mine is about 1.5 years old, and I'm at 3500 Capacity (out of 4400 max). But I've put in a lot more cycles -- about 110.
 

devilot

Moderator emeritus
May 1, 2005
15,532
2
mkrishnan said:
Sounds fine.... In fact probably on the good side of fine. For reference, mine is about 1.5 years old, and I'm at 3500 Capacity (out of 4400 max). But I've put in a lot more cycles -- about 110.
Thanks for your input. Man, I gotta say, I really love MR. You guys always (well, most of the time ;) ) have great knowledge to share.
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
29,641
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
devilot76 said:
Thanks for your input. Man, I gotta say, I really love MR. You guys always (well, most of the time ;) ) have great knowledge to share.
Thanks! I'm glad you like it here! :)

BTW, with normal, consistent usage, you should expect a total of about 250-300 cycles out of the battery, just to give you a ballpark figure. During the latter half of those cycles, though, it is likely that you will not get such great battery life....
 

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