Comments on: Apple MacBook Shutdown Power / Battery Problem
REBOL Technologies

Comments on: Apple MacBook Shutdown Power / Battery Problem

Carl Sassenrath, CTO
REBOL Technologies
18-Aug-2006 5:06 GMT

Article #0289
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My original article: Serious MacBook Shutdown Power Problem

You should also know that Apple laptop batteries have been recalled. Check your battery to see if yours is included.

As a computer systems designer/engineer, after using my MacBook for a few months, I've developed a few helpful solutions for Apple MacBook users who are having problems with sudden power shutdown or with their battery:

  1. Don't trust the battery indicator on the screen. I've seen it get stuck at the wrong level for long periods of time. When in doubt, press the little button on the battery to view the charge level directly.

  2. If you do a shutdown, wait a few seconds before closing the lid. (Otherwise your Mac may continue running while the lid is closed and totally discharge the battery without you knowing it. See Serious MacBook Shutdown Power Problem.)

  3. For the first few weeks of ownership, recharge your Mac every time you use it. (And, it's a good practice all the time.)

  4. Whenever possible, keep your Mac charging until the little power cable light goes green.

  5. If the battery seems hot, do not charge it. Wait an hour or more until it cools down. Heat ruins batteries.

  6. Avoid discharging the battery below 30% (when possible), otherwise you will shorten its lifespan.

  7. To start charging, it is a good idea to disconnect the power cable and reconnect it. You may want to do this even if you normally keep your MacBook plugged-in.

  8. Do not use or charge your MacBook on any surface that 1) blocks the flow of air under it (e.g. avoid cloth, bed, pillow, seats) or 2) could catch on fire. (Yes, that has happened to MacBook owners, and it is a bummer.)

If you are doing all this, and you think you still have a serious problem, by all means contact Apple Computer. If your dealer is treating you poorly, contact Apple directly. I've worked for Apple, and I know they really do care about their products and their users.

Disclaimer: No, I do not currently work for Apple, nor do they compensate me in any way. I'm just a lone "rebol".

14 Comments

Comments:

Thomas
18-Aug-2006 5:33:03
I agree with your points except point six. Even though li-ion batteries supposedly have no "memory effect", they actually still do to some degree. The way to keep a battery healthy and at high capacity (I've had good luck with this on previous Apple laptops) is to let the battery discharge completely around once a month - this is also what Apple recommends. The battery circuitry can sometimes be off and leave a too large buffer of available power and that will come right out of your regular battery capacity. I've actually seen laptops run for 30 minutes after the charge level said 0%. Those 30 minutes can come back to your regular battery capacity.

I've had no ill effects from discharging far below 30% on a regular basis. YMMV.

Carl Sassenrath
18-Aug-2006 11:24:55
It's a funny thing... For years and years manufacturers have been advising doing a complete discarge like that. But, my experience, more often than not, has been that doing so reduces the battery life significantly. (I even wrote a blog here asking for other user experiences a few years ago.)

Over the last year, information that I've obtained directly from battery manufactures supports my claim. It states the opposite: Never deep cycle and recharge as often as possible. Even this: recharge the battery every few weeks, even when not in use.

I now do that on all my devices, and I'm seen an improvement in lifetimes. But, that's just been my experience on a few dozen devices. Do what works for you. I'm just a scientist rebelling against the deep cycle myth. I think its origin could be the battery makers trying to sell us more batteries.

Joel
22-Aug-2006 8:33:10
Make sure that you properly calibrate your battery. There are instructions in both the manual that came with your computer and on the Apple support homepage. This will fix all of your problems.
Carl Sassenrath
29-Aug-2006 0:46:37
You don't "calibrate" a battery, although it is true that the Mac manual incorrectly says that. That method of fully charging then fully discharging (deep cycling) is the commonly suggested procedure for laptop batteries to help give them a full range. However, in my experience, that procedure is not helpful, nor necessary. If you examine batteries that make it through more than 1000 cycles (e.g. outdoor solar lighting), they are rarely, if ever, deep cycled like that.
Thomas
29-Aug-2006 6:29:01
Not to argue about it, but I have indeed seen calibration issues - whether they're truly calibration issues or something similar. Like I mentioned in my first post I did get at least an extra 30 minutes of battery time thanks to a deep cycle. I've seen it more than once and I've seen it on several friends' laptops.
Thomas
3-Sep-2006 12:18:47
If you're suffering from sudden shutdowns I've just discovered something that might help.

No matter which OS I'm running or even if I boot into single user mode, I can crash the machine within minutes if I put 100% load on both cores.

I installed the CHUD tools from Apple's developer site and disabled one core, and so far I've been unable to crash the machine. I've tried 3D-intensive games, heavy duty multitasking and doing a yes > /dev/null while exporting video in Quicktime. I can not crash the machine with only one core active.

It's not exactly a perfect solution, but I'd rather have one core that runs stable at 2 GHz than two cores that run relatively stable at 1 GHz (holding down the power button for 15 seconds or so at startup will start it up in this mode and this can help if you're having trouble booting in the first place).

The CHUD tools can be downloaded here: http://developer.apple.com/tools/download/

I hope this will be useful to some.

steven
1-Jan-2007 15:01:13
sorry can anyone help me i just got my macbook a few days ago and somehow i CANT recharge the battery : the indicator show that there is 0% left, but however when i plug in the magsafe charger it show a GREEN light and when i close my laptop the light keeps on flashing orange and green at the same time ... please help me
Justice~!
7-Apr-2007 12:06:43
Wait, so I'm not supposed to use my Macbook on a solid desk? (don't use it on anything that blocks flow of air underneath it?)
Jess Bearce
12-Apr-2007 12:09:26
I have a problem. We just bought a new battery for my macbook, but the little symbol shows a battery with an x on it. The light is green. Do you know whats wrong?
samuel
28-Sep-2007 1:12:29
sorry can anyone help me i just got my sony notebook a few days ago and somehow i CANT recharge the battery : the indicator show that there is 0% left, but however when i plug in the magsafe charger it show an orange light and when i close my laptop the light keeps on flashing orange and green at the same time ... please help me
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