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How long does a laptop battery last? Well, that depends on the battery type and computer usage pattern. Most Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) laptop batteries will last up to two hours at a sitting, while Lithium Ion laptop batteries may last up to three hours between charges. Over time, as a battery is repeatedly drained and recharged, its life cycle will gradually shorten, until a charge lasts only ten or fifteen minutes — too short a time to perform useful work without a power adapter attached. This may be a symptom of a battery memory problem, which can sometimes be resolved by completely draining the battery and recharging it several times. If this does not solve the problem, it is probably time to order a new laptop battery.
Battery manufacturers rate their laptop batteries' capacity in milliamps per hour (mAh). The higher the mAh rating, the longer the battery will last between charges. For example, a laptop battery rated at 4000 mAh is designed to provide 4000 milliamps of current for one hour (or 1000 milliamps for four hours) — at room temperature.
Batteries for laptop computers and notebook computers are generally available from the computer manufacturer; these are known as OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) batteries. In addition, compatible batteries are available for most laptops and notebooks at substantially lower cost.
Most contemporary laptop batteries use lithium-ion (Li-ion) or lithium-polymer (Li-polymer) technology. Li-ion batteries use a liquid electrolyte between their positive and negative electrodes, while Li-polymer batteries use a gel-like electrolyte. Li-ion batteries are relatively inexpensive and efficient, but they can catch fire if the barrier separating the electrodes is breached. Li-polymer batteries are more expensive to produce and less efficient than their Li-ion cousins. To learn about lithium battery care and maintenance, read this informative Apple notebook batteries article.
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