Help Me Choose: Battery

When choosing a laptop battery, it's important to consider how your laptop is used:
  • Is your laptop plugged in on your desktop most of the time?
  • Do you spend more time unplugged than plugged in?
  • Do size and weight matter when you travel?
Today’s laptops typically feature two kinds of batteries: user replaceable, which can be easily and instantly switched out with a spare battery as needed, and built-in batteries, which are not user replaceable.

User-replaceable batteries are made of lithium-ion cells, and the number of cells inside a battery determines its size, weight and life between charges. A cell is essentially a smaller battery that is packaged with and connected to other cells to form one large battery. Generally, the greater the number of cells, the more power, weight and size a battery will have laptops with thinner designs, such as the XPS and Inspiron™ Z series, often include built-in batteries. These batteries are often made of lithium-ion polymer, but also have the extra benefit of fitting into nontraditional shapes. This shape flexibility is instrumental in optimizing laptop design for thinness.

Finally, it’s important to note that battery life is always subject to demands and usage. For laptops that include a user-replaceable battery used for extended periods away from an outlet, you might want to consider purchasing a second battery for your laptop from For laptops with built-in battery batteries, a travel adapter or a second power adapter that stays in the backpack can help maintain productivity when you are on the go.

Battery sizes
Dell typically notes either the number of cells and/or the watt-hour (WHr) of a battery. More cells (for example, 6-cell versus 4-cell) or higher WHrs on the same system under the same operating conditions will generally deliver longer battery run time.
Battery life is how long your battery will last between charges. Battery pack lifecycle is how often a battery can be recharged before its charge capacity starts to degrade (for example, when a fully charged battery is reduced to 60 percent of the original battery charge capacity). This reduction of charge capacity in turn leads to a significantly reduced battery life. The reduction in charge capacity is normal on all rechargeable batteries.

Extending battery life
The easiest way to get the best battery life out of your Dell laptop is to select one of the pre-configured power plans, such as power saver, or balanced by right-clicking on the battery symbol in the bottom right corner (or system tray). The pre-configured power plans automatically adjust key settings that can have a significant impact on battery life, such as reducing screen brightness or dimming the display when you are not actively using your laptop.
For those who need to extend battery life as long as possible, there are a few additional steps you can take that will help extend battery life, such as: 

  • Turn off wireless — The F2 key is the quickest way to toggle wireless on and off. If you don’t need to be connected, then turning off wireless will help extend battery life
  • Limit workload — If you limit the number or applications you have running or the number of windows or tabs you have open, this can help extend battery life
  • Selective usage — Batteries will last a lot longer if you are reading emails and editing documents than if you are watching a movie or playing a video game

Extending Battery Lifecycle

For selected Inspiron™ laptops introduced in 2012, Dell has taken steps to extend the battery pack lifecycles of user-replaceable and built-in battery packs. The Dell Inspiron R (3rd Gen), Inspiron R Special Edition and Inspiron Z laptops have battery packs designed to last up to 600 full discharge/recharge cycles.* Purchasing a laptop with a 600-cycle battery pack may reduce the number of battery packs you need to purchase (and discard) and may help reduce your contribution of hazardous waste to landfills.

Desktop Mode Battery Charge Technology
Laptop owners can also take additional steps to extend a laptop battery pack lifecycle. For example, leaving your laptop plugged in to AC power with the battery charged 100 percent all the time can actually contribute to accelerating the reduction of charge capacity and shortening the battery lifecycle.

Dell has also introduced a new battery charge setting, called Desktop Mode battery charge, that helps extend a laptop’s battery pack lifecycle. When enabled, Desktop Mode monitors the charge status of the laptop battery, and if it spends most of the time at 100 percent charge while connected to the power adapter, Desktop Mode will automatically adjust the charge levels of the battery. The adjustments include regularly allowing the battery to discharge, even while plugged in. This helps slow the reduction of charge capacity over time and may even decrease the need to purchase a replacement battery during the life of your laptop.

Note: If Desktop Mode is enabled, users will see battery charge vary between 50%–100% while the power adapter is connected. To ensure batteries are charged to 100%, disconnect and reconnect the power adapter and the battery will charge to 100%.