Yesterday’s Thoughts

October 3, 2005

Swapping Batteries in Powerbooks

Matthew Russell has some ideas for extending the battery life of your Apple Powerbook. Since I just switched back to Macs and I was having some problems with my previous laptop’s battery life, this was an issue of keen interest. I knew about all of Matthew’s common suggestions, turn off Bluetooth (actually I had completely drained the power of my battery by carrying the laptop around with a Bluetooth mouse while the computer was set to “Allow Bluetooth devices to wake this computer”), dim screen and rip DVDs to disk.

His point was about ripping DVDs, but the commentors are most interested in swapping the battery without powering down (or plugging in.)

Better yet, I don’t even have to shutdown and reboot to swap out the battery. I can just close the screen, do the switcheroo , and open back up the screen. I didn’t even know that hot-swapping the battery was possible until my first battery got so low one time that my PowerBook wouldn’t come out of sleep. I was forced to change out the battery without shutting down (which I had been doing for well over a month by that time), but to my complete surprise, things came right back up and nothing missed a beat. I wonder if there’s anyone else out there that still doesn’t know this is possible? Was/am I the only one?

(Closing the screen puts the Powerbook to sleep.)

There were some questions in the comments about this and whether it would work on iBooks. jdodds says no for iBooks and points out that Apple recommends against it.

Sure enough. The title of the linked article is “Mac OS X, Portables: Batteries shouldn’t be changed when computer is sleeping.” The first paragraph:

Attempting to change a battery while the some portable computers are asleep (and started up from Mac OS X) causes an NVRAM and/or Power Manager reset. Connect the AC power adapter before swapping the battery, or shut the computer down instead.

Compare this to the “Powerbook G4 15-inch Users Guide.”

If your battery runs low while you are working, you can put your PowerBook to sleep and replace the battery with a charged one. The internal backup battery provides enough power to maintain the contents of RAM for up to three minutes while you change the battery.

Note: If you have installed additional memory in your PowerBook, the backup battery may provide power for less than three minutes. Also, changing batteries several times in a short period can shorten the length of time the backup battery can maintain data if the backup battery hasn’t had time to fully recharge.

According to the article at Apple, the article applies to:

  • PowerBook G3 Series
  • PowerBook G3 Series (Bronze Keyboard)
  • PowerBook (FireWire)
  • PowerBook G4
  • PowerBook G4 (12-inch) (all)
  • iBook (all)

There seems to be a bug in this list since the G4 (12-inch)(all) would seem to be included in the G4 line.

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