Just like all rechargeable batteries, a laptop battery will eventually lose its ability to hold a full charge. When its performance has gone too low that it’s a concern, you have another option other than watching it die slowly.
You can recondition a laptop battery to boost its performance and extend its life. After a successful reconditioning procedure, the old battery works fine. Though you obviously don’t expect it to be as good as new, it will be able to hold a charge for longer. All your worries about what could happen if the power went off will be gone for good.
This guide will describe the steps to disassemble the battery packs in general, check their operation and recondition the recovered batteries for later use.
The aim is the recycling and reuse of electronic material. Some skill is required using simple tools and an electronic soldering iron.
This guide is valid only for removable battery packs where the inscription Li-ion or Li-Ion is observed. This type of battery is usually narrow and elongated, with rounded shapes at the ends, which reveal the presence of “something” cylindrical inside. Some manufacturers use Li-Ion battery packs, but the batteries inside are not cylindrical (type 18650).
Battery packs can fail for various reasons. The most common is that they stop loading or that their discharge is premature. Before dismantling a battery pack, other problems should be ruled out with the manufacturer, as there will be no possibility of repair, repair or replacement by the manufacturer due to the destructive process of the battery pack.
Inside the battery packs, there are cylindrical batteries with different series-parallel configurations that define the capacity and voltage of the pack. If one of the batteries fails for any reason, the circuit is left open and the battery simply does not charge.
There is also a control and security electronics inside, used to monitor the state of the batteries: charge, temperature, cycles, etc. When this electronics detects a problem, it opens the battery circuit to prevent further damage, such as excessive heating or even an explosion. Sometimes it is not possible to recover the operating status again or, simply, the manufacturer considers it appropriate that his battery pack has reached the cycles for which it was designed and the electronics is responsible for disabling said pack.
Safety Precautions With Batteries
The handling of batteries is always a task that carries risks. When a battery or battery is short-circuited (positive ground connection with negative pole), it tends to heat up. In Li-Ion and LiPo batteries, this can have serious consequences for the person who is handling them or for objects that are nearby. If one of these batteries short-circuits, they can become hot at very high temperatures, even spilling the electrolytic liquid pressurized by lithium ions inside, they can suddenly catch fire or, directly, explode.
Special attention should be paid to the metal objects and tools with which you work. The wiring inside the battery pack should be cut one at a time to prevent short circuits.
If someone is not trained or does not want to run these types of risks, it is best to deposit the battery pack in a clean place. Otherwise, the use of eye protection goggles and the process in a ventilated place is mandatory. In case any of the batteries starts to overheat and to avoid damage to objects around it, it is best to have a container nearby, not plastic, with water to throw the battery, to avoid the risk of fire.
The waste that is obtained from carrying out this process are the following:
- Plastic, which should be thrown into the yellow container.
- Cables and electronics, which must be deposited in the clean point.
- Batteries not reusable, in the places where they collect used batteries or in the clean point.
The minimum necessary tools to carry out this recovery and recycling guide, in addition to eye protection goggles, are the following:
- Universal pliers
- Cutting nose pliers
- Cutting pliers of small dimensions or electronics
- Something to cut, like a cutter, knife or similar
- Flat-tip screwdriver, medium size
- Multi-tool and grinding accessory
- Soldering iron with at least 25W
- Welding flux
- 18650 battery charger
How to Open a Laptop Battery Case
Taking into account the previous considerations and precautions, the recycling and recovery process does not involve much difficulty. The most complex task is to open the pack since the cylindrical batteries are encapsulated in a sealed plastic wrap. The way to approach said packaging varies from one model to another and there is no unified way to do it. There are no screws to remove or tabs to “pinch”, but rather to apply some expertise to hack the wrapper.
Tip: It is very useful to remove all the stickers that the battery pack brings since some parts that help to open them can be uncovered.
It is a laptop battery of the year 2004/2005. The batteries of this brand and later this year no longer have 18650 batteries inside.
Step 1: How easy is it for those from Cupertino, just make some force with your hand to take off the lid.
Step 2: The disposition of the batteries is already observed. The next step is to attack the rest of the casing.
Step 3: With tipped pliers and cutters are breaking pieces. Be careful not to cut any wires.
Step 4: All plastic parts must be removed with extreme care not to touch the metal parts.
Step 5: Finally, the electronics is released, taking special care to avoid short circuits.
Step 6: Only when all the plastics have been removed does the wiring begin to be cut. With a cutter and one by one.
Step 7: They remove the temperature sensors and the wiring.
Step 8: The electronics are separated from the batteries, cutting the wires one by one and without short circuits.
Step 9: Finally, the batteries are separated with great care. With the universal or fine-tipped pliers, the soldered contacts to the batteries are started.
This model has an inscription that says 11.1 Vdc 4800mAh. By making a quick count you get three batteries in series of 3.7Vdc and 2400mAh in turn in parallel with three other batteries in series.
Step 1: By twisting the battery slightly, it gives way on one side, but it is not the best way to access the interior.
Step 2: Removing the large sticker shows the batteries and the way to access them.
Step 3: With a screwdriver, you can pry, or use a cutting to remove this piece.
Step 4: With fine-tipped pliers and a cutter, pieces of the casing are removed. Be careful not to touch the cables.
Step 5: To remove the electronics and the rest of the plastic, simply cut the wiring.
Step 6: Finally the batteries are separated and the metal contacts are cut.
Step 7: Remove the metal contacts with pliers.
Step 8: Six 18650 rechargeable batteries ready for checking.
Step 1: If you twist this model a little, you can see an opening through which you can access the interior. It can be prized with a screwdriver or by hand.
Step 2: Using a hand or universal pliers, the casing yields very easily.
Step 3: One of the battery covers can be removed very easily.
Step 4: It is enough to remove all the plastic to obtain the batteries and electronics. All that remains is to cut the wiring.
Step 5: After cutting the wiring and removing the metal contacts, six more rechargeable batteries are obtained.
Checking and Reconditioning
Once all 18650 batteries have been obtained, we proceed to check their charge. With a multimeter, in the Vdc position if it is an auto range or in 20 Vdc if it is not, check the charge of the battery by touching the tips at the ends of the battery:
- Vdc is greater than 2 volts: FANTASTIC, the battery can be reused.
- Vdc in less than 2 volts: it is possible that the electrolyte or some other material has decomposed or degraded and the load capacity is impaired. Still, there is hope that it can be reused after a full load.
- Vdc is 0: the battery is completely degraded. Its internal components do not work and the circuit is open. There is no possibility of recovery. Discard the clean point.
The next step is to clean the battery so it can be used in any device, such as flashlights, chargers, battery holders, etc. To do this, use the electric multitool together with a grinding accessory to eliminate all the burrs at the poles of the battery.
- When starting the metal contacts, there may be remains that must be removed.
- It is necessary to remove the remains of the positive and negative poles.
- With an electric multitool and a molar accessory, it is easy to remove the burrs. Work this part carefully so as not to grind more than necessary. It is mandatory to use safety glasses.
Finally, once the welding points of the metallic connections have been eliminated, it is necessary to provide the battery with a terminal that projects slightly from the positive pole, for this it makes a correct connection when it is to be used, as in commercial batteries.
The method to do this is to drop a few drops of tin at the positive pole. For this, the soldering iron must be used. A welder capable of reaching 370 or 400ºC is necessary since a lot of heat must be applied in a short space of time. Otherwise, the battery can overheat and either degrade the internal components and stop working or directly combust due to excessive heat.
Support the battery in a vertical position, on the negative pole. Apply flux in abundance at the positive pole, which must be free of impurities. Then heat the pole with the soldering iron and apply a generous amount of tin, distributing it evenly over the entire surface. The process of applying heat to the positive pole with the soldering iron should not exceed 8 seconds and should never exceed 10 seconds. In case you need more quantity of tin you should wait for the battery to cool down again before re-applying heat.
The final booty is 18 operational 18650 Li-ion batteries and donated to BricoLabs for projects that are necessary.
To finish, the last step before loading the new batteries recovered, it is necessary to mark the characteristics of the batteries to avoid confusion with other models. All batteries are marked with reference numbers. After a search by the Internet, the manufacturers offer information on their batteries: type, nominal voltage, nominal current … among many other values. With an indelible marker, it is necessary to mark, at least, this information to have a reference.
- Do a search on the Internet with references printed on the battery body.
- Indicate the basic characteristics of the battery: type, voltage, and capacity, as well as its polarity.
You can learn how to recondition a laptop battery today and avoid buying a new battery for some more months or years. With the EZ Battery Reconditioning program, you’ll quickly gain the required skills and start practicing them for personal use and for business. More people are demanding reconditioned batteries, and governments are rewarding any efforts geared toward reducing pollution. Who knows what could become of your newly acquired expertise?