Rebuilding a Laptop Battery

When your laptop battery is about to give up the ghost, you are probably thinking of the typical three alternatives. The most obvious, of course, is "wow, what a great justification for buying a new laptop". With laptop prices falling and no such luck with battery prices, this almost makes sense. But, most of us will probably just bite the bullet and buy a new battery. The third alternative would be to replace the cells in the battery you already have.

This article is about the third alternative. If you are not fairly skilled in working on electronics, this is not necessarily a good alternative. But, it is possible. Personally, I was inspired to do this the first time because the small (3-cell) battery for my ASUS laptop was very ill and I couldn't find a replacement.

Financially, it also looked like a good choice. The out of stock new battery cost $129. I found the cells for a bit over $5 each. So, I ordered the cells and, expecting to have a success, ordered six more for a sick battery for one of my T23 ThinkPads.

The first trick is to open the old battery without destroying the plastic or anything important inside. What you need to do is find where the two parts are glued together and work on the glue line with something sharp until you can open the battery.

In the case of ThinkPad batteries, there are labels over parts of the glue line. So, first cut through the labels with a sharp knife. I then chose to use a wood chisel to first find parts of the plastic that will flex because there is open space behind them and then start opening in these areas. You may have better luck with a utility knife.

Once you get the opening process started, a utility knife works best in some parts, the wood chisel in others. Just be careful not to cut too deep or you could damage circuitry or wiring inside. Also, remember that the goal is to be able to glue the battery case back together and have it fit in the laptop so cutting out a little plastic (possibly with a fine saw) may be better than an attempt to just open it up with the result of warping or breaking the plastic.

Once you have the battery pack open, it is analysis time. The most common battery packs contain three, six or nine Li-ion cells of size 18650. Typically they are in strings of three in series (that gives you about 11V) and then each string is paralleled. But, that may not be the case. Do a bit of analysis before you start cutting wires.

Note that the cell size is not something that indicates that there are at least 18,649 other choices. It is actually the diameter of the cell in millimeters (18) followed by the length in millimeters (650). The big advantage with this system is that if the cell isn't marked with a size, a metric ruler can help you out.

As Li-ion batteries need special "care and feeding", you will find a circuit board within the battery pack, Wires will go from the circuit board to each cell junction so that the voltages can be monitored. Also, there will be a thermistor and a thermal circuit breaker within the pack.

There are lots of places that sell replacement Li-ion cells. One is Battery Junction. On their site you will find all the common battery sizes. They also have both PC boards to protect sets of cells and a special 18650 cell with a built-in protection circuit. Assuming you are replacing cells in an existing pack, you just need to buy regular cells. One thing you do need to watch for, however, is tabs. Typically you can ask to have solder tabs spot welded to the cells. This is the right way to go rather than trying to solder directly to the cell which could easily damage the seals.

Once you have all the pieces, it is time to actually build the new battery pack. I cannot empathize enough that an error here can be dangerous. First, you are dealing with batteries that if abused, can explode or burn. Additionally, the monitor circuit is always active so you are working on operating electronics. Consider yourself warned.

I have found the best way to build the new pack is first take all the cells, the circuit board and the connector out of the plastic case. Figure out how things are wired. That is, which cells are in parallel, which are in series and, most important, which is the positive and which is the negative end of each cell. There is also usually a thermistor (it looks like a little lump on the end of two wires) and a thermal breaker attached to the batteries. Figure this out and, better still, take a picture of it.

In the T2x series ThinkPad batteries, things are quite well organized. The black wire goes to the negative end of the cell string. The red and orange together (one is the thermal breaker) go to the most positive. White goes to the 3.7V tap and yellow to the 7.4V tap.

You are most likely going to have to solder the battery tabs together or connect them with short pieces of wire. Try to make the connections as compact as possible. While everything may appear fine, when you try to put the top on the battery pack you may discover you need to re-solder connections and/or file down any lumps.

I start building the new pack within one half of the battery pack case. Double-stick tape will hold the cells in place as you work on the battery. Hot glue can be used to stick cells together and hold down the thermal breaker and thermistor.

When you get all the cells in place, start soldering the wires from the circuit board. Once again, remember that the circuit is live so touching a wire to the wrong battery terminal can mean so long circuit.

Once all the connections are made, it is a good idea to check the voltages to see if they make sense. Starting at the negative end, each cell or set of parallel cells should add about 3.7 volts to the total. The exact voltage will depend, of course, on the state of charge of the cells but a fairly fresh cell should read 3.5 volts or more with no load.

If everything checks out, put the top on the battery case. If it doesn't fit, file, adjust, re-solder and such until it does. It is then a good idea to test the battery in the laptop. A bit of tape can be used to hold the battery together for testing.

If all goes well, you need to glue the two battery halves back together. While model cement can be used, I prefer a hot glue gun. Work slowly, preparing one side or part of a side, holding it together and let the glue set. Then move along until the entire battery is sealed. Then, with a knife, cut off any glue that extends beyond the seams.

That's it. You just proved you could save $100 by spending half a day playing with hand tools and glue.

______________________

Phil Hughes

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We ran a typical battery of tests

jack's picture

We ran a typical battery of tests, including games, applications, and a couple other areas. Time constraints limited the amount of testing we could get done before the NDA lift (and it's already a few hours late), but we will be providing a follow-up article with further testing and information. That said, if there are any specific areas that you'd like to see tested, feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment.

anyway

nb-4l's picture

the 'memory' of the old, crappy cells appears to have lingered in the on-board electronics of the battery management. That is to say, the meter reports my battery as running down fast. Funny thing, though, when it gets to about 2 - 3%, it stays there for about 2 hours or more before the laptop finally cuts off. I hope that this situation will rectify itself after a few charge/discharge cycles as the management circuitry 'learns' the new cells capacity

i think this will fix the memory issue

Abz's picture

my vaio fz series was charging in a few minutes and losing charge in a few, i had bought it not working and had it fixed - hence the battery must've remained dormant for centuries. i took it apart to check the cell size and tested the cells with a multimeter to find that they were working fine, so i put it back together again and still had the same issue.......it ran flat before windows finished loading.

so i put the charger in, started it, and pulled it out after 3-5 seconds, put it straight back in (1-2 seconds)repeated the procedure around 5 times, and hey presto - it's charging up very very slowly now which can only mean a good thing (i hope!), i'm not pulling it out again until i get a 100% charge, drain it 100% - and repeat the process 3 times to fix the memory.
i believe the memory chip gets confused and resets or starts re-reading.

Try to re-calibrate your

Anonymous's picture

Try to re-calibrate your battery using the battery calibration feature in your computer's bios. It will associate the proper charge level in your battery with the reading in your computer. Hope this helps.

i agree your mind

battshoping's picture

This is an awesome howto that shows just how easily these can be replaced, thanks!

replace the battery cell

Jack's picture

A good article about how to replace the battery cell inside the laptop battery. If you can make a video about it, it is more great.

my hp 9000dv

aussieOZ's picture

if you add all the cells up that your buying it is more then what your paying for a new battery if i buy all the cells for my battery it is $70 and for my battery on ebay its $50

yes, and...

rhombus's picture

...your $50 Ebay replacement is also junk.

Doing it this way, you can buy top quality cells. The stuff in those cheap aftermarket packs is usually also cheap :)

And...

Anonymous's picture

Good point, and this needs to be hammered home: cheap == old...those "value" laptop batteries can be very deceptive. A Li-Ion has about 3 years from birth before it starts to die, regardless of whether it sits in a warehouse or it sits in a laptop getting used regularly. Whenever you buy a battery you better be sure exactly when it was made.

Touch Screen LCD Monitor

Anonymous's picture

That is to say, the meter reports my battery as running down fast. Funny thing, though, when it gets to about 2 - 3%, it stays there for about 2 hours or more before the laptop finally cuts off. I hope that this situation will rectify itself after a few charge/discharge cycles as the management circuitry 'learns' the new cells capacity.
It's so easy to mock others not knowing what could be around the corner.

Rebuilt IBM A31 laptop battery pack...

leccyrob's picture

Hi,
I've just purchased 6 x 18650 2.8Ah batteries and rebuilt my old A31 pack. I had already bought an 'after-market' replacement pack for $43AUD and so had nothing to lose by having a bash at re-celling the old pack.
I paid $20AUD for the 6 cells and spent about 1.5 hours doing the re-build (I'm a TV repair technician and so have about 20 years experience with messing about soldering wires).
As reported by others here, the 'memory' of the old, crappy cells appears to have lingered in the on-board electronics of the battery management. That is to say, the meter reports my battery as running down fast. Funny thing, though, when it gets to about 2 - 3%, it stays there for about 2 hours or more before the laptop finally cuts off. I hope that this situation will rectify itself after a few charge/discharge cycles as the management circuitry 'learns' the new cells capacity.
I have disabled the low-battery standby feature within XP to make sure that the cells become as discharged as possible.
I'll report back to this discussion any new findings.......

Re-calibrate your battery

Anonymous's picture

I think you can recalibrate your battery using the feature in the bios setting of the computer. This feature allows you to calibrate the battery in association with the charge circuitry. It will automatically discharge your battery then charge it again, as it associates the proper reading of the charge level for the battery.

How to Increase 6 cells to 9 cells - Laptop Battery

Khan's picture

i hv a compaq 6710b as with many laptops you can buy them with 6 cell battery of if you add more money, you get 9 cells

i was wondering if i could replace the batteries and make it a 9 cell battery

my question is wouldn't it add more volts to the battery if you add 3 more cells to an ordinary 6 cell battery?

anyone any idea about difference in 6 cell and 9 cell, how it is made to work with same laptop?
would i be able to use the same chip board as 6 cell one with 9 cells?

my battery v10.8 55wh 6 cell

laptop batteries

laptop battery's picture

What the commenter before me doesn't realize is that some of these laptops have lost their worth and wouldn't pull more than $300 - $400 on ebay. http://www.adapterlist.com is a good laptop battery online shop.It's not viable to spend %25-30 of your laptops worth to replace the batteries. Now if it were a spanking new $2000 laptop by opinion would be different, but then it would probably be covered by a warranty still.

Not worth the effort or price

Anonymous's picture

I took my Lenovo X60 Tablet Pc battery appart. First I had to really mangle the case to get it open. Second, mine had two different shaped batteries 4 where round 4 where rectangle. Finally, the model numbers on each battery where different and I was not able to find exact matches or the rectangle ones at all. When I did find simular batteries they were $8.95 each x4 $36 and I was only half way. Plus there were too many wires, solder joints and gluing I would need to put it all back together with no warranty if it didn't work. I found a complete battery alreay in the case from gogo-power.com for $49 with free shipping and a warranty. So for me rebuilding my own battery was not worth the effort or price.

http://www.gogo-power.com/4000mAh-Laptop-Battery-ThinkPad-X60-X61-Tablet...

X60 battery replacement

Anonymous's picture

Thanks for the info on the X60 replacement try and the cheap alternative. which battery did you have on your X60? i have the large capacity (7-hr) battery, and wondering if that's the same one you have or the smaller, 3-hr battery. still great info though, thnx again.

help me

dida's picture

hey, i have a IBM t20 and the batt is dead ... i do not know how to find tha battery cell model so can anybody help me pleae.. my email is soldier1@mail.org

which battery to use

Ramesh's picture

please suggest me some nice battery brand of 3.7volts and 2500mAh. i also want to rebuild my lenovo laptop battery pack.

Li-Ion cells

Anonymous's picture

I rebuilt my Dell E1505 6 cell battery yesterday. I used cells from www.batteryjunction.com 18650 cells 3.7V 2600mAh. The 6 cells with metal tabs welded on the ends were ~$52.00 including shipping. You can get cheaper cells with less mAh, but you don't want to put smaller capacity batteries in your pack, for a number of reasons.

The battery works just fine and the battery meter on the computer seems to be adapting slowly to the new higher capacity pack. The hardest part of the process is getting the battery case apart.

Good luck.

Awsome Post

Anonymous's picture

Such a great idea... I'm definitely going to try replacing the cells in my wife's Dell D610 laptop. We got it 1yr ago as an off-lease system. I've already replaced the battery once (with an ebay "genuine" replacement) but it only lasted a few months. Now both batteries will only hold a charge for approx. 45min. I've got some experience working with electronics / soldering so this process doesn't seem too daunting. If it works, it'd be a super economical way to breath new life into the laptop.

Rebuilding a Laptop Battery

Anthony's picture

It's good if you know how to or you have a knowledge in electronics coz if you try to risk your laptop it could be blown away. Some people are troubleshooting their laptop battery but the success rate isn't good... If you want a risk then try it....

I replaced it, but charge AND discharge really fast

diegugawa's picture

I replace the old cells from my battery as well, but when I charge the battery it charges really fast, and later it discharges at almost the same speed.
I put new 18650 with "2400ma" each, and the other cells were 1800ma. I wondering if the circuit doesn't like this higher amount of amps in the battery.

How can I fix this?!?!

I am using a apple powerbook G4 with Leopard in it. I have 2gb of ram... (just in case someone wondered)

Thanks!!!

I think the circuit inside

Cimo's picture

I think the circuit inside the battery records the charge of the battery and when new cells are installed the charge and discharge cycles are as they were last recorded (this is a protection mechanism) - to be able to use the new batteries I think you have to reset the microcontroller in the circuit.
The higher mA is OK - the higher it is, more time you can get. But there is also a limitation circuit inside some batteries that won't allow more current to flow than designed for.

Hope it helps.
regards.

I think the circuit inside

leo hemmerly's picture

I think the circuit inside the battery records the charge of the battery and when new cells are installed the charge and discharge cycles are as they were last recorded (this is a protection mechanism) - to be able to use the new batteries I think you have to reset the microcontroller in the circuit.
The higher mA is OK - the higher it is, more time you can get. But there is also a limitation circuit inside some batteries that won't allow more current to flow than designed for.

Hope it helps

how do you reset the microcontroller... i have the same problem..???

FUJITSU FPCBP192 replacement Notebook Batteries

battery's picture

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Oops

Jerry Spoor's picture

My previous message said to discharge the battery before hooking it up. This should not be done with a lithium battery. You should leave the batteries charged up and then connect them carefully as to avoid shorting anything out.

Once my project was completed the charging light on my notebook computer indicated everything was ok. So I published the previous article. It was not OK. When I disconnected the external charging circuit the computer shut down immediately.

I tried to charge the lithium batteries with an external charger and series resisters to limit the charge rate. The batteries appear to have an internal short and they will not charge up. Either an irreversible chemical change has occurred or a disabling circuit in the battery has activated.

All I am left with is a good control circuit for future battery repairs.

Yes, I would still encourage battery repair but you really need to know what you are doing.

Please note the following information from Wikipedia and I would advise reading the full article at Wikipedia.

Li-ion batteries are not as durable as nickel metal hydride or nickel-cadmium designs, and can be extremely dangerous if mistreated. They may explode if overheated or if charged to an excessively high voltage. Furthermore, they may be irreversibly damaged if discharged below a certain voltage. To reduce these risks, li-ion batteries generally contain a small circuit that shuts down the battery when discharged below a certain threshold (typically 3 V) or charged above a certain limit (typically 4.2 V).
This circuit prevents deep discharge in normal use. However, when stored for long periods, the small current drawn by the protection circuitry may deeply drain the battery. Some applications attempt to recover deeply discharged cells by slow-charging them.
Furthermore, this circuit adds to the cost of lithium-ion batteries, which is usually higher than that of comparable-capacity NiMH or NiCD batteries.

I paid 400$ for this laptop

Plasmatic's picture

I paid 400$ for this laptop 2 years ago, and it still does everything I need it for. No way I'm spending $129 for a new battery. Thanks guys!

Additional notes

Jerry Spoor's picture

This article has been incouraging and resulted in saving me a lot of money.

Before ordering new batteries you need to know if the batteries are bad or if it is the battery module electronics. If the batteries are very old and have gradually decreased in power then they should be replaced. If the problem occurred abruptly you may have one bad cell or a bad electronics chip in the battery pack.

Take a volt meter and check the voltage at each cell level of each parallel set of batteries. If one cell is shorted it will drain the voltage in all cells that are wired in parallel to it. If each of the 3 sets of series connections have about 4 volts each then there is a good chance the electronic circuitry is bad. It would be of no value to replace the batteries unless you have the right electronic circuitry that works for your battery pack and your computer. You do not want to blow out the charging circuitry of your computer.

My battery pack went bad abruptly and the computer will not accept it. Each bank of cells shows the same 4 volts. The battery pack will light up some bright automobile 12 volt brake light bulbs for a long time.

There is nothing wrong with putting the lamps on the battery and draining it completely. Then you can try recharging it again in the computer. This may reset the electronics and reestablish operation with the computer. This did not work with mine.

While draining a battery with about 12 volts you can easily see if one of the 3 sections discharges faster than another by measuring the voltage at each cell level. If there is an open battery in any section, that section or that battery voltage will drop faster. That is because the current going through each series section is equal and a bad section will discharge faster.

I will not replace the electronics unless I have a complete electrical schematic of the existing and the new electronic module. I must know they are compatible. Keep in mind that some electronic modules will last longer than others. The manufactures of computer batteries use sufficient technology to dissuade all but the most ambitious techies.

My old computer battery (3 years old) still runs the computer but the batteries are very weak. So I put the new batteries from the defective battery module in the older battery pack. This worked fine. Keep in mind I completely discharge the batteries before doing this. I do not want to hook the battery wires up in the wrong order or short things out.

The wire routing was different but the electrical connections were the same as viewed on an electronic schematic.

I test the battery before sealing the case and have not decided what type of glue to use. I want to be able to break it apart in the future if I need the electronics, the case or the batteries.

Now I need another spare battery. I have found the IBM $185 battery is good for 6.5 hours in my T41p notebook.(When new) The $80 online purchase from Comptick.com is good for about 4.5 hours when new. This is with the same purchase rating specifications. The main concern is the short life span of the electronic module in the Comptick.com battery pack. I have no idea where to get a good battery other than IBM and that may not be a sure thing for a replacement battery.

I got the right info about

Anonymous's picture

I got the right info about toshiba portege 4000 battery on http://www.adapterlist.com/toshiba/portege-4000.htm toshiba portege 4000 battery ,i sure it will fit my notebook .

What about 'blind' cells?

Anonymous's picture

I have a pack with cells that look the same, but the strange thing is, there is nothing on the net about the markings...

I have the in a red-translucent wrapping, with a big "B" on one side, and arond the other side it says: HJMFHHR
Now that's not a lot of information..

I tried to measure them, but all I get is 18 diameter and 62 in length. 18620 does not exist according to google..

The pack as 4 parallel cells, 8 in total.

It's rated 4000mA and 14.8v, now using that information, I think they should be 3.7v each, and have about 500mA, right?
If I just could find some cells that match the size.. What would cells with 2400mA do to the controller?
I guess it'd fry and have me cook potatoes on it..

How right is my direction?

Sorry for trying to resurrect an old post in here..

You might be missing the

Anonymous's picture

You might be missing the "button" on the end of the cell when measuring its length - 18mm X 65mm (18650) is pretty popular, my guess is this is what you have.

Also, your cells a probably setup like mine: two pairs in parallel inside of a pair of series.

(((b1)parallel(b2))Series((b3)parallel(b4)))
in Series with
(((b5)parallel(b6))Series((b7)parallel(b8)))

This would give you "2000"mAh @ 14.8V (or 3.7V*2*2)

Me too, me too!

Jeremy's picture

I was curious about adding cells that had more capacity then the originals as well.

Will the protection circuit be able to tell that there's a higher capacity, or will you be limited to the battery's original capacity? I found some that were rated WAY higher than my stock cells and I'd like to use them if they'll work, but if it'll just default to it's stock capacity then I don't want to waste my money on them.

I realize that nobody can/will provide guarantees that it'll work, anecdotal evidence is fine :) Thanks, in advance, for any help.

I'm a student in Computer

Anonymous's picture

I'm a student in Computer Engineering, so things like this to me are a learning experience. I'll have to look at doing this to my laptop as it only has 56% of its original battery life.

I would get about 3hr 20mins, now I get about 1hr 45mins. Doesn't even last me a whole class and many don't have plugs.

-

Tomi's picture

Thank You for this article, i was searching for a site where i can see that it's possible to disassemble a laptop battery without wrecking it.I succeeded to do it too.

Cool, Very Cool

ridshack's picture

What! Come on you guys. One of the things that makes us geeks is our need and want to figure out how things work. This is a great tutorial, thanks for sharing. I am shocked to see how simple it is, +1 to Knowledge.

Ridshack

Careful

Freddy's picture

Always ask to have the pads already soldered on the battery because applying excess heat while soldering you risk an explosion.

Also I would advise NOT to travel with such a battery unless you want to be questioned for hours at the airport (especially in the notsofreeanymore US and Aiiiih).

While you're on the

Anonymous's picture

While you're on the fashionable anti-US bandwagon, you may want to include Britain which has also has all the dystopian Orwellian goodness you could ask for.

Great Article

waparmley's picture

I've rebuilt many NiCd and Nimh packs over the years -- looking forward to trying my first Li-ion pack sometime. Thanx!

Interesting... Thanks

Anonymous's picture

Thanks for the How-To. I found it interesting, and had no idea I could do this on my own.

nice tut

Anonymous's picture

you lot are getting off point and filling the comments page with rubbish.

point is, great tutorial for those interested.

will

Nice, but what about the memory chip?

cctsurf's picture

I've done exactly this process, however, you missed one large problem, the memory chip in the battery may (as it was in my case) be saying that the battery is too old to repair. Does anyone have any thoughts on that problem? I've thought of hacking it, but I'm rather a noob at hacking in that manner.

Poor measurements

Anonymous's picture

18mm diameter...OK. 650mm length = 25.5 inches...not likely. 65.0mm far more likely. Otherwise a nice tutorial.

Its not just $100...

Kumaran's picture

Great article...

This isn't just about $100 but it is more about being eco-friendly and even more...u had the fun of learing the trade..

Good Idea

tracyanne's picture

In fact there are several places here in Australia that rebuild laptop batteries. In fact I opted for that option fo a 6 year old Asus I had, I sent it to a friend, in San Antonio Texas, complete with Mandriva Linux 2008.1, because she was out of work at the time and couldn't afford a computer. The only problem with the battery rebuild was that the new cells have a higher charge density, so now the battery charge status reads wrong.

Nice way to save money

Anonymous's picture

What the commenter before me doesn't realize is that some of these laptops have lost their worth and wouldn't pull more than $300 - $400 on ebay. It's not viable to spend %25-30 of your laptops worth to replace the batteries. Now if it were a spanking new $2000 laptop by opinion would be different, but then it would probably be covered by a warranty still.

This is an awesome howto that shows just how easily these can be replaced, thanks!

Oh jeeze. You can't be

Anonymous's picture

Oh jeeze. You can't be serious, just spend the $100 to let someone else do the work for you. This way you don't short out your laptop because you did a terrible job rebuilding the battery.

I agree

augmentedfourth's picture

"Half a day" to save $100? I'll bet your time is worth more than that. Even applying a discount for the fun hackiness of the project, $100 is only worth it to me if the project only takes 4-5 hours.

8 hour work day * 1/2 = 4

Anonymous's picture

8 hour work day * 1/2 = 4 hours.

Obviously not a math major!

100 worth of who's time?

Anonymous's picture

When you live in the third world, 100dls a day means too much.

At the end of the day ...

Anonymous's picture

"When you live in the third world, 100dls a day means too much."

Exactly, and that is why augmentedfour's job could be outsourced to third world country. LOL. Nothing to worry though, he could then start his own business repairing laptop batteries for, say, $20 a piece. Maybe then he would appreciate this how2?

It's soooooo eeeeasy to mock others not knowing what could be around the corner. OMG, at least think before you spit!

Seriously, I do appreciate this nice how2. I guess I'll give it a try with my old G40.

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