Unhappy Canadian
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Proper Battery Management

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https://www.dell.com/support/manuals/en-us/dcpm2.1/userguide_dell-v1/battery-settings?guid=guid-0fbb... 

According to Dell, you can extend your battery life by using AC power most of the time.

  • Primarily AC — Extends battery life by lowering the charge threshold, so that the battery never charges to 100 percent capacity. Recommended for users who primarily operate the system while plugged into an external power source.

You can also see this on your Dell Power Manger App, in the settings, where it says this can extend the lifespan of the battery.

Good thing, right?  This would seem to say "don't use the battery if you don't have to" and then you might get extra years of a being able to "use the battery when you need to".

But other Dell technicians have told us this might not be a good thing, that one should let you battery drain, etc.

So which is it?

 

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jphughan
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Re: Proper Battery Management

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@Unhappy Canadian Happy to help.  When I say batteries do not like those things, I mean it imposes wear and tear on them and reduces their longevity a bit, in the sense that they will more quickly reach a state at which they are unable to retain as much of a charge as they could when they were new.  Wear and tear shouldn't be considered "damage", but it's wear and tear.  But as I hinted at in the post that I linked, essentially you have to make a choice between whether you want to maximize your day to day convenience, or maximize the long-term usefulness of your battery.  If you optimize for the former, you may find that your battery won't hold as much charge sooner than otherwise.  If you optimize for the latter, you'll reduce the impact of that, but you may encounter some inconveniences on a day to day basis.  For example, my "set it and forget it" routine is to set the maximum charge level to 80% and the minimum charge level to 50%.  That is an excellent setup from a longevity standpoint, but it comes with some drawbacks.  For example, if I ever have to disconnect my system from AC power unexpectedly, I might only have a 50% charge.  And by default I'll never use more than 80% of my battery's total capacity.  Not everyone is ok with that tradeoff.  Some people would rather use their battery to its fullest potential even it means having to replace it sooner -- or maybe they don't keep laptops long enough for this to matter.

But in my own case, my laptop spends almost its entire life on my desk plugged into AC power, so if I ever need to use it on the battery, I typically know about it a little while beforehand.  In that case, I can temporarily turn off these custom settings and have the battery operate normally.  At that point, the system will immediately begin charging the battery, even if it was above the 50% minimum charge level I normally use, AND it will charge it up to 100% before I need to disconnect it.  That way, I still get to use my battery to its fullest extent when I actually NEED to use the battery, but when I'm not using my battery, I've got it configured in a way that maximizes its longevity by minimizing its actual usage.  But not everybody uses their laptop in a way that they'll have "advance notice" when they'll need to run on the battery in order to give themselves time to enable typical charging if needed.  And others just need to use their laptops on battery a lot more often than I do and therefore wouldn't want to deal with switching configurations like this on a regular basis and also might not be willing to put up with never using more than 80% of their battery and potentially having as little as a 50% charge even if they'd been connected to wall power for hours before disconnecting.  Like I said, you can optimize for everyday convenience, or long-term lifespan.  The optimal choice will vary from use case to use case.

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jphughan
7 Gold

Re: Proper Battery Management

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@Unhappy Canadian  See the post I wrote over here.

Unhappy Canadian
3 Argentum

Re: Proper Battery Management

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Thank you @jphughan !

Your post is very helpful!  Would you mind reposting a version here?

What we would like, of course, is something to set and forget, together with an easy protocol to follow.

Too bad it seems that plugging the computer in whenever it is convenient, and you don't need to use the battery, is not the right method.

You mention that there is no perfect or ideal solution, that any option has its drawbacks:

"The more detailed answer is that lithium-ion batteries do not like any of the following:
- Being fully discharged
- Being kept at 100% all the time
- Discharging and charging in general, since each cycle adds wear, even partial cycles."

What does it mean when you say that these batteries "do not like" these things?

Do they just affect future performance or do they even cause permanent damage which cannot be remedied?

Thank you again for your information.  I've been on these boards for only a few days and have found it difficult to ferret out things that are actually useful.

It is much appreciated!

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jphughan
7 Gold

Re: Proper Battery Management

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@Unhappy Canadian Happy to help.  When I say batteries do not like those things, I mean it imposes wear and tear on them and reduces their longevity a bit, in the sense that they will more quickly reach a state at which they are unable to retain as much of a charge as they could when they were new.  Wear and tear shouldn't be considered "damage", but it's wear and tear.  But as I hinted at in the post that I linked, essentially you have to make a choice between whether you want to maximize your day to day convenience, or maximize the long-term usefulness of your battery.  If you optimize for the former, you may find that your battery won't hold as much charge sooner than otherwise.  If you optimize for the latter, you'll reduce the impact of that, but you may encounter some inconveniences on a day to day basis.  For example, my "set it and forget it" routine is to set the maximum charge level to 80% and the minimum charge level to 50%.  That is an excellent setup from a longevity standpoint, but it comes with some drawbacks.  For example, if I ever have to disconnect my system from AC power unexpectedly, I might only have a 50% charge.  And by default I'll never use more than 80% of my battery's total capacity.  Not everyone is ok with that tradeoff.  Some people would rather use their battery to its fullest potential even it means having to replace it sooner -- or maybe they don't keep laptops long enough for this to matter.

But in my own case, my laptop spends almost its entire life on my desk plugged into AC power, so if I ever need to use it on the battery, I typically know about it a little while beforehand.  In that case, I can temporarily turn off these custom settings and have the battery operate normally.  At that point, the system will immediately begin charging the battery, even if it was above the 50% minimum charge level I normally use, AND it will charge it up to 100% before I need to disconnect it.  That way, I still get to use my battery to its fullest extent when I actually NEED to use the battery, but when I'm not using my battery, I've got it configured in a way that maximizes its longevity by minimizing its actual usage.  But not everybody uses their laptop in a way that they'll have "advance notice" when they'll need to run on the battery in order to give themselves time to enable typical charging if needed.  And others just need to use their laptops on battery a lot more often than I do and therefore wouldn't want to deal with switching configurations like this on a regular basis and also might not be willing to put up with never using more than 80% of their battery and potentially having as little as a 50% charge even if they'd been connected to wall power for hours before disconnecting.  Like I said, you can optimize for everyday convenience, or long-term lifespan.  The optimal choice will vary from use case to use case.

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Unhappy Canadian
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Re: Proper Battery Management

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Wow!  @jphughan  This was extremely helpful, straightforward and practical.

Like you, and especially during our current situation, it is very easy and convenient to keep our system plugged into AC power.

But of course, we do not wish to damage the battery in doing so.

Extending the lifespan while preserving most of the functionality is the desired outcome.  We wouldn't generally need to use the battery to its extreme limits (that is, if our system was working properly, but that is another matter) and even if there was not enough warning to be able to do a reset, even 50% wouldn't necessarily be a disaster.

Thank you once again.  Ferreting out the relevant information in the Dell articles has been like trying to read tea leaves.

This has been a breath of fresh air, an oasis in a vast desert...ok, I guess that is enough with the effusive praise.

But you earned it!

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jphughan
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Re: Proper Battery Management

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@Unhappy Canadian  Ha, thanks for all the kind words! 🙂  I try to focus my time here on answering questions that are not obvious/intuitive, not well known/documented, and/or require a deep understanding of technical nuances in order to properly tackle.  Batteries are somewhat in that category, partially because the belief that it is good for batteries to be fully discharged and recharged periodically -- or even essential to do so in order to keep them retaining their max capacity -- still lives today.  That is true of NiCd batteries, but laptops switched to lithium ion a LONG time ago.  And most people don't even realize that the options of specifying maximum and minimum charge levels even exist!

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Unhappy Canadian
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Re: Proper Battery Management

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@jphughan  Much respect. Truly.

Perhaps you might indulge us with some further assistance?  This may be out of your field of expertise, but allow me to present the issue anyways, which I have posted elsewhere and is the main reason for coming to these boards after a lot of extremely frustrating encounters (lasting almost 2 months now) with Dell Customer Support and Technical Support.

I will try to make it as brief as possible.

Not surprisingly we have had severe battery issues, which may or may not be the cause of the battery.

We actually got our battery replaced (it took some doing before Dell agreed) and it turns out the old battery was bad...extremely swollen.

The new battery is better, but only gets around 2 to 3 hours life, despite remote diagnostics by Dell, with updates, tweaks, etc.   We can push this to around 4 hours, but only if we shut down and disconnect everything possible...including bluetooth, wifi, etc. and do absolutely nothing...except leave the computer on.

Every technician has told us that 2 hours is normal and "as per design".  We even have this in writing in an email from a Dell agent in Advanced Resolutions Solutions.  (He says 20 - 30 minutes per cell, so do the math for a 4-cell on the XPS 13).

Of course, all the ads, the sales agents, Dell's own website promise "incredibly long battery life...up to 19 hours", etc.

Everyone at Dell has refused to address this contradiction.  Tech has nothing to do with sales or support and sales or support sends us back to tech and round and round we go...for almost 2 months now...pushing our system out of warranty.

Saying 2 hours is normal of course absolves Dell from having to repair or replace our system.

For us, there is something very obviously wrong.  Not only does it not get "incredibly long battery life" but it is often hot, with the fan running constantly, even when not being actively used.  It has to be shut down or put to sleep to make it stop or cool it down.

So again, really sorry to bother you, to take advantage of your kind heart.  We have been so frustrated by all this.  We have found no way to escalate the matter above ARS and they just keep repeating that our system is "working as per design".  We don't know where else to turn.

Whether or not you can provide more help here, you have been a true angel.

 

 

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jphughan
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Re: Proper Battery Management

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@Unhappy Canadian  I was reading along about your battery experience thinking to myself, “Ok, well the model of the PC in question hasn’t been specified yet....”  I was shocked when you said XPS 13, since my wife owns an XPS 13 9350 and I’ve used a few of the newer models here and there, and I would think you’d really have to work to get that system to drain its entire battery in just 2 hours.  Admittedly 19 hours may be a bit optimistic if you’re trying to get even basic work done, and if you have the 4K display rather than the 1080p version then that can take a non-trivial chunk of runtime away, but on the latest models, 6-8 hours should be achievable without much effort at all.  Just to isolate variables, have you tried testing a system that contains nothing but a fresh install of unmodified Windows 10, i.e. not a corporate image if you normally use one for system builds, plus all necessary drivers obtained via Dell Update, and no other configuration changes?  From there, just try setting the display to 50% brightness and looping a YouTube video or something.  How long does your battery last in that setup?  If you can’t get more than 2 hours just doing that, then I would ask Dell ARS to account for how 2 hours can be normal when they’re advertising 19.  I’m actually stunned that ARS said that to you unless there were other caveats or qualifiers in their response.  If on the other hand you DO see solid battery life in that test and also normally use a corporate image for system deployments, then I’d be wondering what’s in that image — or potentially NOT in that image, e.g. power management drivers — that might account for the difference. Having temps and fans running high when nothing much is going on is definitely not normal.  Does Task Manager show any obvious processes that are consuming CPU cycles?

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Unhappy Canadian
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Re: Proper Battery Management

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@jphughan 😀

We so much appreciate all the time you are taking in helping us!

Our model is an XPS 13 7390, FHD display, 16gb ram, 512gb hd.

We don't do much out of the ordinary, mostly browsing using Firefox and watching movies or TV shows.  We have antivirus and antimalware programs and a VPN. (Bitdefender, Malwarebytes and Express VPN)

But we have tested the system with all these shut off.

I would say the average usage is around 3 hours with the brand new battery.

The 2 hours is the figure all the tech support people and ARS keep insisting on.  They were very reluctant to even replace the older battery, which was getting 1 1/2 to 2 hours and tried to make us feel that they were doing us a big favor in doing so.

I am not very knowledgeable and so would be hesitant to do a fresh install... I actually wouldn't have a clue where to start, lol...we just use what Dell provided.  We of course feel that it is Dell's system so should live up to Dell's promises.

I have confronted Dell technicians many times regarding how 2 hours is normal and they all say the same thing...that is the way the battery is designed.

I was only able to get to a supervisor... and then eventually ARS ...by forcing them to confront the contradiction of this with Dell promotions on their website...hard to deny that!

There were multiple attempts made to convince us that the promises were for an upgraded battery, perhaps a 9-cell, but again, no, it was confirmed that the only possible configuration was that of a 4-cell.

So, up to ARS.

The agent, Mr Narendra Raj, provided the 20-30 minutes per cell quote.

I have tried multiple times to confront him with how this can be normal.

Mostly he refuses to reply and when he does it is only to reiterate... over and over... that our system is working as per design so there is nothing Dell can do for us.

Except offer to sell us an extended warranty!

You can understand why we are so frustrated... I think it is now 55 days that we have been dealing with this.

We have checked the task manager...as have Dell technicians doing their remote diagnostics... and nothing seemed to pop out.  We are in bed now so away from the computer but will check again tomorrow.

Oh...one more thing...my wife wants to send you a 😘... hope you don't mind!

 

 

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jphughan
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Re: Proper Battery Management

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@Unhappy Canadian  Happy to help out where I can. 🙂

I can certainly understand why your experience both with the system itself and with Dell Support has been frustrating.  Performing a clean install isn't too difficult if you really want to attempt it.  If you download Microsoft's Media Creation Tool, it will create a bootable USB flash drive that can be used to install Windows 10.  Just boot your system from that (by pressing F12 during startup to access the one-time boot menu and then selecting your flash drive), and at the step of the setup wizard asking where you want to install Windows, choose to delete each existing partition on your disk until you only see a single entry for the disk called "Unallocated space", and have Windows install there.  Then download and install Dell Update, and run that to have it download all necessary drivers.  That's your basic installation and what I would use to test battery life.

In terms of your comments about your setup, I've had a few soapboxes on this topic on this forum and elsewhere already, but I haven't used third-party anti-virus since Microsoft released Security Essentials for XP and Windows 7, and then rolled all of that into Windows Defender with Windows 8.  To be perfectly honest, in these days of new Windows 10 releases arriving every 6 months or so, my personal experience helping others and keeping up on tech news in general has been that third-party anti-virus simply causes more problems than it solves these days.  Windows Defender holds up quite well in independent lab tests these days, and it's free, and every Windows developer is basically forced to ensure compatibility with it.  Meanwhile, third-party anti-virus hooks the OS in all sorts of ways that Microsoft doesn't support or recommend, which can result in all sorts of problems especially when upgrading to a new release of Windows, including rendering the system unbootable.  And it can also interfere with legitimate application activity that the user wants to occur, and in many cases it won't give any visible indication that it's interfering with anything, which always makes troubleshooting strange problems more exciting.  And since there are so many options, application developers can't possibly hope to test against all of them -- and even if some are a problem, it's arguably the AV vendor's fault for stopping legitimate activity, not the app developer's obligation to work around a false positive.  And some AV vendors expect users to pay for the privilege of all of this.  Here are some of the issues I've seen reported with Symantec just in the last year:

  • When Microsoft changed the way they digitally sign Windows updates, users who had Symantec AV installed found themselves unable to install said updates because Symantec didn't support the new standard and was apparently interfering with the Windows Update process, which it should never have been doing in the first place because Microsoft has their own routines for verifying authenticity.  Symantec gave no indication that it was responsible for the problem installing updates.
  • When Google enabled some new security features in Chrome, users who had Symantec AV installed started seeing Chrome crash constantly.  Google rolled back the change to give Symantec a few months to get their AV in order, then released the new security feature again....and the same thing happened.  Again, Symantec gave no indication that it was responsible for the Chrome problems.
  • At one point there was a bug in Symantec's network traffic scanning code that meant that a remote attacker could achieve remote control of a system with Symantec AV installed simply by sending that system a certain type of network traffic.  It turns out that when your code hooks itself practically everywhere into your system, a bug in your code can allow it to be compromised from just about anywhere.

I don't know if Symantec is any better or worse than other AV solutions in those regards -- maybe it's just because they're a major shareholder in the market -- but I keep seeing problems with third-party AV and see very few cases of third-party AV stopping a legitimate threat that would have gotten past Windows Defender.

In any case, if you're running both Bitdefender and Malwarebytes, the possibility of dueling AV solutions seems like it might increase your risk of strange issues, possibly including causing your system to run at high resource utilization levels that will drain your battery.  I know that on my work system, whenever my fans and temps spike, I open Task Manager and see McAfee's scanning engine consuming nearly 100% of my CPU on some scan.  But I don't get to decide what's on my work laptop.