14 Replies Latest reply: Feb 21, 2011 7:10 PM by DrJonT
NonTechKaren Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
A couple of months ago my iBook's battery started losing its charge while the laptop is plugged into the power cord. It seems to be about every other time I'm using the iBook. One time the battery charge will go down, and the next time I use it the battery will start recharging during use.

I recently bought a new battery and power cord, but the battery charge still goes down while I'm "plugged in". I bought this iBook last spring, and the seller told me it had been stored for most of its life, so it was in like-new condition when I got it.

Can anything been done to stop the battery un-charging when it's plugged in? When summer comes I'll want to use it away from a power cord, and I want to know I'll be starting out with a 100% charge.

iBook clamshell, Mac OS X (10.3.x), Processor 300 MHZ Power PC G3, Memory 160 MB SD RAM
  • 1. Re: Battery loses charge while iBook is plugged into power cord.
    S.U. Level 6 Level 6 (8,360 points)
    Hi Karen,

    Have you tried resetting the PMU?

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1431?viewlocale=en_US

    Good luck!
  • 2. Re: Battery loses charge while iBook is plugged into power cord.
    NonTechKaren Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I tried resetting the PRAM (not sure if that's PMU) and I ended up with a screen that had nothing but a circle with a slash mark through it - which I was told was the broken file icon. I had an earlier post about fixing that horror story. So I'm not up to resetting anything.

    I have another iBook that won't charge a battery (even a new one) so I just use it plugged in. I'm hoping my Internet iBook won't meet that fate.

    Would changing the Open the Energy Saver setting do any good?
  • 3. Re: Battery loses charge while iBook is plugged into power cord.
    S.U. Level 6 Level 6 (8,360 points)
    Yes I think I remember something about that. It is no fun to get the prohibitory sign. I got one on our PowerMac G4 MDD, and it took a lot of doing to get it resolved.

    However, resetting the PMU is what you need to do if you want the battery to charge. It is not the same as setting the PRAM, which is a completely different reset. In the article I linked, read the section titled "*About the Power Manager*" to see why I think you need to do this reset.

    On your iBook, which I believe is one of the original "flavored" iBooks, there is an actual physical button that you push. If you scroll down until you get to "*Original "flavored" iBook and iBook (Firewire) Computers*", you will see a picture showing the reset button.

    It is important to follow the instructions exactly, and very important to press the reset button only once.

    Resetting the PMU on your second iBook should make it charge its battery too. If it's the same model with the same reset button, the procedure will be exactly the same. If it's a different model, you will have to look for the right set of instructions.

    I don't think changing any of the Energy Saver options would do any good except that you can set them for better battery life.

    I know it seems pretty scary to do any resets after your previous experience, but I think it is the only thing that will get the Power Manager working properly.

    Good luck!
  • 4. Re: Battery loses charge while iBook is plugged into power cord.
    NonTechKaren Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Dear S.U.
    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I don't have Internet at home, so I waiting for my neighbor to use her WiFi so I could "hitch a ride" with my AirPort card.

    I printed off the Resetting PMU article you linked to your reply. Since I have a tangerine colored iBook I used the instructions for "flavored" iBooks. After I did the reset I turned on my computer, reset the date & time and waited to see what happened. In the past 90 minutes my battery charge indicator has gone from 99% down to 97%, and now it's up to 100%.

    It may stay at 100%, but I'll have to wait a few days and see what happens when I shut down and turn on my computer various times. I'll let you know whether this fixes the problem or not.

    Thanks for posting the article.
  • 5. Re: Battery loses charge while iBook is plugged into power cord.
    S.U. Level 6 Level 6 (8,360 points)
    Hi Karen,

    One thing to be aware of is that once the battery charges up to 100%, charging will stop. Generally the battery charge will slowly drift down to below 95%, at which point it will start to charge again. So a certain amount of fluctuation between 95% and 100% is to be expected. This is by design. Here is an article that explains why:

    http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1909

    You might also be interested in this article about batteries:

    http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1764220

    It gives a lot of information on how to get the most out of your battery.

    Good luck!
  • 6. Re: Battery loses charge while iBook is plugged into power cord.
    NonTechKaren Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    SU,

    I read the battery articles. It make sense that my battery charge will waiver between 95% to 100%. But today I have my computer on and plugged into the power adapter. The battery kept losing power, and it's now down to 67%

    Several years ago I was given an iBook that wouldn't charge a battery - not even a new battery. A friend told me that her husband's iBook won't charge a battery. I'm afraid that will be the fate of me "new" iBook. I bought it because it has an AirPort card. Last summer I would walk to the library after hours, sit outside and use their WiFi. I don't want to lose the freedom of doing that. I want to use my laptop as a laptop.
  • 7. Re: Battery loses charge while iBook is plugged into power cord.
    S.U. Level 6 Level 6 (8,360 points)
    Hi Karen,

    Sorry that the PMU reset didn't help--usually it does. It may be worth trying again.

    I assume that you have a third-party battery, since I don't believe that you can still get original Apple batteries. I have a third-party battery in my MacBook Pro--a NewerTech one from OWC. I had similar problems, and when I called, they had me reset the PRAM:

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1379?viewlocale=en_US

    That seemed to fix it, but I recall that you are reluctant to do that because the last time you tried you got a kernel panic (prohibitory sign). However, if you do have a NewerTech Battery, it may be worth calling OWC tech support on the phone and see if they have any suggestions.

    One question. Your battery isn't at zero %, and you said it was recently in the 90% range, so I wonder if it does charge intermittently, but that the charging cycle doesn't get triggered until a much lower percentage. Or something along those lines. Or maybe doesn't charge when your computer is asleep, but only while awake? I know that my NewerTech battery doesn't seem to want to charge if I plug the power adaptor into my MBP when it is asleep. However, once I wake my Mac up and start working, the power adaptor eventually starts to charge the battery. It's possible that your battery also has some similar quirks.

    For the iBooks that absolutely will not charge a battery no matter what, the culprit is often the DC In Board, which is what contains the power port. It can be replaced, but I suspect that a DC-In Board for your Tangerine model would be difficult to find and probably rather expensive. What happens is that the solder joints are stressed from plugging the power adaptor in and out, and they crack, leading to intermittent contact. The usual sign of this is that you have to wiggle the power adaptor end to get it to make good contact, and the more you wiggle it, the worse it gets. However, that doesn't seem to be the case with yours as far as I can tell.

    If your battery is from OWC, I'd recommend you call the and see if they have any other ideas for getting it to charge properly. If it came from somewhere else, post back with what it is and any information you can get from the System Profiler.

    Good luck!
  • 8. Re: Battery loses charge while iBook is plugged into power cord.
    NonTechKaren Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    When I turned on my computer this morning the charge was down to 55%, then went down to 22% before beginning to recharge. It's now at 78%. In the battery articles there was talk about calibration, where you let the battery completely uncharge and then charge it again. I was reluctant to do that because I once had a battery that worked until I tried to calibrate it by letting it run out of charge. After that it wouldn't hold a charge at all. It may have been that the battery was close to death when I did that, but I tend to remember the results, and it's hard for me to trust that the same results won't always happen when I try something.

    I'll keep an eye on the battery charge. Perhaps it has now "calibrated" itself, and will be alright. (I'm now up to 82% charge!) If it goes back up to near full charge, and just varies a little when I'm plugged in I'll be happy, and mark this question answered. If the battery doesn't seem to be charging properly I'll take it out to find the manufacturer and see if I can get help from them.

    Thank you, my guardian angel of all things Mac.
  • 9. Re: Battery loses charge while iBook is plugged into power cord.
    S.U. Level 6 Level 6 (8,360 points)
    Hi Karen,

    Here's something you might want to download:

    http://download.cnet.com/Battery-Health-Monitor/3000-18512_4-143742.html

    It will let you see a lot of useful information about your battery, and this might be helpful in evaluating it. It's always possible that you got a defective battery, and if so, the manufacturer should be willing to replace it if it's still in its warranty period, usually one year. It will display the battery's health along with the cycle count among other things. If you feel the battery isn't working right, it will give you some specific information you can cite if you end up calling the manufacturer.

    According to Apple, your battery should retain up to 80% of it's capacity after 300 cycles. What calibrating does is to give you a more accurate idea of battery health. Often the health will seem to be less after a calibration, but that is because it is a more accurate reading. I had a new battery that said 108% health, but it was more like 99% after I calibrated it, a much more realistic figure.

    It's good practice to calibrate your battery occasionally, and if it is still under warranty, it would be especially good to do it, because if it isn't good, you would want to report this to the manufacturer and get a replacement.

    Also, be sure to use your battery on a regular basis. The worst thing for batteries is to leave them on the charger all the time and never use them--it doesn't make them last any longer, but just the opposite--they tend to fail prematurely.

    It's encouraging that your battery is now charging--that at least means that in all likelihood, the DC In Board I told you about is still good. The battery has its own little microprocessor, and evidently it is set to start charging at an unusually low percentage. I don't know if calibration would fix this, but it might. If not, it may just be a quirk that you will need to learn to live with as long as your battery will charge reliably when it hits this point.

    Good luck!
  • 10. Re: Battery loses charge while iBook is plugged into power cord.
    bund Level 3 Level 3 (755 points)
    When the color of the charging light often turns from green to orange while plugged in (you can also look at the battery symbol which changes when the iBook ist plugged in or running on battery) :

    DC-in board: soldered joint defective
    http://www.sterpin.net/connecteuralimpalourde.htm

    or

    PRAM Capacitor defective
    http://reviews.ebay.com/iBook-Clamshell-Battery-Issue_W0QQugidZ10000000007193925

    Charger board defective
    http://cgi.ebay.de/Apple-iBook-Colored-Clamshell-Charger-Board-922-4765-/2207282 47110?pt=LHDefaultDomain0&hash=item33646dc346
  • 11. Re: Battery loses charge while iBook is plugged into power cord.
    NonTechKaren Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Dear Bund,

    Thank you for links to the battery information. I have copied the 2 that are in English, and will refer to them later. Right now I've run out of ambition to completely solve my problem, but if things get worse I will look into the good information your links give me.

    Karen
  • 12. Re: Battery loses charge while iBook is plugged into power cord.
    NonTechKaren Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Dear SU,

    Thank you for the Battery Health Monitor download. In the future I'll be able to check on the life expectancy of my battery.

    I did another PMU reset, which didn't seem to change anything. Since I was told it's healthy to run my laptop off the battery, I used it off the power adapter until the battery was down to about 57% charge, then plugged it back in. The battery continued to drain much lower before beginning to recharge. I'm not happy about that, but I've basically reached the point where it's time to put other concerns at the top of my Things to Worry About list. (Finding a job that's closer to being full time, and getting the arthritis in my back calmed down are both vying for top worrying honors.)

    So, while I could try to find out how to contact my battery manufacturer, for now I'm going to live with the probability that I have a flawed battery that often drains when it should be charging, but eventually does charge itself.

    I will go ahead and mark this problem as solved. All batteries fluctuate between fully charged and not-quite charged. If it fluctuates too much, resetting the PMU usually fixes the problem.

    Thank you for all your help SU. I'm sure you could have come up with some more things to try to fix my laptop / battery problem, but I'm tired of messing with it.
  • 13. Re: Battery loses charge while iBook is plugged into power cord.
    S.U. Level 6 Level 6 (8,360 points)
    Hi Karen,

    I'm sorry that your problem is not completely resolved, but it sounds like you've gotten to a point where the battery is working to a degree, even if not perfectly. I assume that when it does finally start to charge, it will charge up to 95% or 100%? As long as your battery consistently takes a full charge, and always starts to charge at some point, I think you can probably just live with its quirks. If it ever fails to charge, then it would be time to talk to the manufacturer if it's still in its warranty period.

    Bund has given you a treasure trove of information. The French link and the German link are for repair parts should you ever need them. The EBay link sounds like good information as well. At some point, you might want to try the PMU reset as described, allowing the capacitor to completely discharge and then doing the PMU reset.

    Resetting the PRAM and VRAM can be done at a later time if you decide you want to do them as well. These three resets--PMU, PRAM, and VRAM--are independent of each other and can be done individually at any time you feel they are necessary. They don't have to be done together.

    It may also be that the battery will behave better once it has been charged and discharged on a regular basis. I think it's good to do what you did--discharging it to about 60% and then plugging it back in. Do this several times a week. Lithium ion batteries just seem to do better if charged and discharged on a regular basis.

    Good luck on finding a job--chances should be better now that the economy is starting to recover. Hope your back feels better too. Many thanks for the stars, although I'm not sure I really deserved them since your battery problem isn't completely resolved.

    Good luck, and happy computing!
  • 14. Re: Battery loses charge while iBook is plugged into power cord.
    DrJonT Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks! Worked for me just like that!