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Old 12-01-2005, 06:26 PM   #1
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Question Improving low battery life on Thinkpad T41

I'm not sure which forum this best belongs in, but I assume it has to do with software so I'll put it here. I have an IBM Thinkpad T41 laptop, which I purchased, among other reasons, because IBMs are supposed to have great battery life. I've ended up almost always using it connected to AC power so I haven't really noticed anything about the battery, but lately I've been looking at using it on battery power, and noticed that it has a very short life.

Despite playing with BIOS settings, if I unplug the system and run "apm" (I use APM, not ACPI, which I believe either doesn't work with this laptop or my kernel: 2.4.26), I'm told that a full battery should last about an hour and ten minutes. It's my understanding that any basic laptop should last 3 or 4 hours on battery power, so that number makes me wonder. I know there are little tweaks that can be done to improve life, but is there a major reason why the number is so low? What can I try that will have the biggest impact on improving it? One other detail... as I was playing around with BIOS I booted into Windows once and the number was the same, which makes it seem more like a hardware thing than a software thing.

Thanks in advance.
Old 12-02-2005, 10:01 AM   #2
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Yep. Replace the battery.
Old 12-02-2005, 12:28 PM   #3
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It's just over a year old, what would cause it to go bad that quickly?
Old 12-02-2005, 12:54 PM   #4
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cheap American time try Chinese stuff <:^)

My Acer runs about 2 hrs on batteries under KDE, much longer & cooler under Gnome (same Slack kernel) and probably longest under XP. Not totally surprising as the hardware was designed for XP but desktop setting seem to make a difference especially stuff like powering down the hdd, killing the display and speed stepping the centrino.

You got access to any of that under Flux/CC?

Last edited by otchie1; 12-02-2005 at 12:59 PM.
Old 12-02-2005, 02:47 PM   #5
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It looks like BIOS kills the display after x-screensaver has had it for long enough, and I haven't been able to get powering down the hard drive or speed-stepping to work, and I don't quite remember why (I think they wanted a 2.6 kernel).

But if my battery's gone I guess a new one is the solution, does anyone know how long these (on IBMs) are supposed to last? Is there something I can do to confirm that's the case before spending more money or something that might be the same?
Old 12-03-2005, 01:00 AM   #6
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here's a link to article about a 'new' feature in the kernel called laptop mode I'm going to try this sometime during the next few days. Let me know if you want to know how it goes.
Old 12-03-2005, 01:01 AM   #7
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I use 2.4.26 so it doesn't sound like I can do exactly that, but sure, let us know how it goes in this thread.
Old 12-03-2005, 02:10 AM   #8
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A typical, fully charged, standard capacity battery should last at least 2 to 3 hours under a normal load, if not longer, with high capacity batteries ranging somewhere in the 4 - 5 hour neighborhood. There are numerous factors that can shorten the useful charge of a battery:

1. Excessive screen brightness -- turn it down to a mid-range setting
2. Running multiple, power-hungry tasks -- avoid certain activiites until you can plug your laptop into a wall socket, ie, avoid the temptation to play a CD or watch a DVD with the volume cranked up, while wirelessly downloading the latest release of your distro, while also backing up your personal data to a USB stick.
3. Battery age, or lack of battery "exercise" -- don't be afraid to let your battery drain all the way down to the point where you start seeing low battery warnings, but then let it fully charge up overnight. If you are using a Li-ion battery this is not as much of an issue as it is with other batteries, but over time Li-ion batteries gradually but steadily lose their ability to hold a charge, regardless.
4. Higher hard drive RPM's = shorter battery life. It's just simple physics that it takes more energy to spin a disk platter at 7200 rpm than 5400 rpm, so if you happen to be using a faster drive, the improved speed comes at the cost of shorter battery charges. As economists always say, there's no such thing as a free lunch

If your battery is less than a year old though, and you are getting terrible performance, it may just be defective, and it may still be under warranty. If I were you I'd check that out possibility before shelling out for a new battery. Lastly, if you do buy a new battery, buy it from IBM (errr, umm, Lenovo now) rather than to go with a no-name or off-brand manufacturer. Good luck with it. FWIW, I own a T40, and typically get about 2.5 - 3 hours from the standard (6 cell) battery, and approx 4.5 hours with the high capacity (9 cell) battery.


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