MBA battery hangs at 5%, calibration fixes it, but after a few cycles it's back to 5%

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by theLemur, Sep 10, 2017.

  1. theLemur macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2008
    #1
    I installed an aftermarket Anker battery when the OEM battery wasn't performing as I'd like. If you're not familiar with Anker it's a pretty reputable brand, so it isn't some eBay special. It worked fine for awhile, but I didn't use this computer much because it was as second computer just for travel, so it spent most of its life on a charger after the battery replacement. Coconut battery shows excellent capacity, and the usage time is still appropriate. However, when it hangs at 5% it reduces the CPU performance and on an already slow and outdated computer it becomes really frustrating to use.

    I've reset PRAM and the SMC tons of times but the only thing that seems to help is to go through the calibration cycle, but after a few new cycles it again hangs at that 5%.

    I'm traveling through Asia so my options are limited. I'm hoping for a software solution...

    Thanks
     
  2. kohlson macrumors 68000

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    Apr 23, 2010
    #2
    Without some more information it can be hard to know. How old is the battery and MBA? Does the battery icon in the menu bar show any apps using appreciable energy (right click and hold), and does the Activity Monitor Energy tab show anything unusual?

    My guess, though, is the battery is no longer useful. The Apple Genius told me batteries last about 3-4 years, either cycles or time. True for my daughters (1000+ cycles) and my wife (275 cycles mostly on charger) - both about 4 years.
     
  3. _Kiki_ macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2017
    #3
    return this "knockoff" and buy original battery
     
  4. theLemur, Sep 11, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017

    theLemur thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jan 6, 2008
    #4
    It's an Anker high capacity battery, they are better than OEM. They make some of the best batteries and charging equipment out there. That's like saying return this knockoff Samsung and get an iPhone.

    The battery is two years old
    The battery has 59 cycles
    Safari is the only application showing significant energy usage
    The MBA is a 13" Mid-2011

    When the battery is calibrated, it lasts an appropriate amount of time and has a capacity beyond OEM, and will last many hours and show a healthy status. This issue only arises when the battery is put back on the charger before a full cycle.
     
  5. BittenApple macrumors 6502a

    BittenApple

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    Nov 29, 2008
    #5

    uhh no.
     
  6. _Kiki_ macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 13, 2017
    #6
    nice joke, good luck
     
  7. theLemur thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jan 6, 2008
    #7
    Well regardless, battery scientists aside, the battery has a LONG life and lasts plenty. The calibration on the software side seems to be the issue. So if anyone has any ideas I'd certainly appreciate them. My last resort is to reformat and reinstall the OS.
     
  8. kohlson macrumors 68000

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    Apr 23, 2010
    #8
    You might try something like Onyx (free) to clear out caches and such, though re-installing the OS isn't a terribly difficult task. How old was this battery? Or are you firmly convinced that is not the issue?
     
  9. theLemur thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jan 6, 2008
    #9
    The battery is 2 years old and with just 59 cycles. I'm open to it being the battery, but because it does perform well after calibration, and because it does last 5 hours even when it's suck at 5%, I'd say it's probably a software issue.
     
  10. kohlson macrumors 68000

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    Apr 23, 2010
    #10
    I would try Onyx, and if no luck re-installing the OS. From my personal experience I would suspect the battery, but I would try these two things first.
     
  11. velocityg4 macrumors 601

    velocityg4

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #11
    While Anker is a good third party brand. They are my preferred choice. Batteries do fail. Just because the battery can store a good capacity. Does not mean the circuitry which controls charging isn't faulty.

    It is also possible something is wrong with your power adapter. Is there another you can try?
     
  12. Rocko99991 macrumors 6502a

    Rocko99991

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    Jul 25, 2017
    #12
    Get a used real OEM battery on ebay for $30 and be done with it.
     
  13. theLemur thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jan 6, 2008
    #13
    I'm traveling through asia, not an option. I am literally on the river kwai.

    It charges just fine, it's the hang at 5% when discharging that's the problem. If I cycle the battery with a proper calibration it works fine a few times before it starts to find that 5% and stick with it for an hour or two.

    The battery life is perfect, the only nuisance with the 5% is the computer THINKS the battery is going to die and starts cutting back cpu availability.
     
  14. velocityg4 macrumors 601

    velocityg4

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #14
    Sounds like a battery issue. Not with the cells but the charge state monitor. Which is usually a part of the pcb of the battery.

    Before reinstalling OS X. You can make a bootable USB flash drive of Elementary OS. Then check if it reports an accurate battery charge.
     
  15. theLemur thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jan 6, 2008
    #15
    Thank you, this is exactly the kind of information I was hoping for. I will try to track down a flash drive the next time I am in town!
     
  16. Sedulous macrumors 68020

    Sedulous

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    Dec 10, 2002
    #16
    I suspect the data line from the battery may not be talking properly with SMC or there is some sort of incompatibility.
     
  17. theLemur thread starter macrumors regular

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    #17
    Did I maybe mess up the install?
     
  18. Sedulous macrumors 68020

    Sedulous

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    Dec 10, 2002
    #18
    I doubt it. As someone else mentioned, the battery houses some circuitry. One thing it does is "beep" at the SMC through data lines (notice battery has far more than just a positive/negative connection?). The beeping data lines inform the SMC about the battery state. This is why I think the battery data might be the issue. I've no idea if it is corrupt, incompatible, or whatever but I would be surprised if it were a bad cell (battery randomly dies even when there appeared to be sufficient power). Hanging at 5% when recharging, now that sounds like the battery not giving feedback to SMC.
     
  19. Rocko99991 macrumors 6502a

    Rocko99991

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    Jul 25, 2017
    #19
    How can you? It's a plug, it's either in or it's out.
     
  20. theLemur thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jan 6, 2008
    #20
    Thanks, I'll keep calibrating as much as possible and ride it out as long as I can. Eventually the value of the computer will be so low that the battery issue won't really even impact the value and I can sell it for parts. This is just a travel computer so it's nothing special, maybe worth $400? I sold my nicer MacBook Pro when I left to travel, and so I just use this old MBA. It's getting kind of slow though.....
     
  21. Sedulous macrumors 68020

    Sedulous

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    Dec 10, 2002
    #21
    Not sure calibrating will matter. If my guess is right, the problem is incompatibility of the battery with the SMC. Also, it is really bad for battery to be persistently connected to charger. It is good to let it discharge to around 75% before connecting to power supply.
     
  22. velocityg4 macrumors 601

    velocityg4

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    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #22
    I wouldn't. Confirm with Linux whether an accurate charge is read. If it can't read the charge accurately. You run the risk of the battery overcharging. KABOOM!

    I couldn't say how big of a risk it is. Li-ION is touchy enough as is. The voltage regulator should drop down the voltage when cell voltage is too high, cutting the charge cycle. If one part of the PCB is bad I would not count on it.
     
  23. theLemur thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jan 6, 2008
    #23
    Maybe when I'm in the city i'll try a dual boot or something, but I'm too far out in no mans land to get parts or a new computer

    It's been a bit happier when I let it cycle calibrate every time, it seems it takes a few non-calibrating cycles before it starts doing it's thing again..
     
  24. Sedulous macrumors 68020

    Sedulous

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    Dec 10, 2002
    #24
    Not sure booting to Linux will give you more accurate battery information than what system information will tell you in the "power" section. It basically just runs the terminal command [ ioreg -w0 -l | grep Capacity ]. So if the battery/SMC is feeding the system inaccurate data, the OS (macOS, Linux, etc) won't know it. But who knows, I may be wrong.

    You might "calibrate" the battery continuously but it will never hold because the battery logic does not seem to talk with the SMC properly.

    If it were my computer, I'd swap out the battery with a known "good" battery and test if issue is solved. Else, I might quickly check data line from battery... maybe the resistor on line is bad, otherwise maybe a light reflow of the SMC.
     

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23 September 10, 2017