Extend Your Laptop’s Battery Life with Windows 7’s Power Efficiency Report

Last month, we talked about how Microsoft and Intel engineers worked on improving laptop battery life with Windows 7. Beyond simply improving the efficiency of the Operating System, Microsoft has also introduced energy-saving applications.

One of the cool new features of Windows 7 is the Energy Efficiency Report. Basically, this will find out what’s eating up your laptop battery power and analyze the efficiency of your computer.

How do you run this report? Just follow these steps:

  1. Go to your start menu, type in “cmd” and right-click on the Command Prompt result to “Run as Administrator.”
  2. From there, type in “powercfg -ENERGY“.
  3. Your computer will run a report, which you can access by typing “energy-report.html” and you’ll see all the efficiencies and settings changes that Microsoft recommended implementing in your browser.

Windows 7 Power Efficiency Report Example

In this report, all the items in pink are Errors, items in yellow are Warnings, and white items are Informational. You can go through these items and correct as many issues as you can.

This excellent report is only available in Windows 7 and can significantly extend your battery lifetime. If there is something in the report you don’t understand, Microsoft provides documentation on their website.

So, if you are having problems with laptop battery life or just want to get some more run time, give the power efficiency report a whirl!

Note: Some builds on Windows 7 can have difficulty opening the energy-report.html file. You should be able to fix this by copying the file from the C:\Windows\System32 folder to another location (your desktop, for example).

Disposable Batteries vs. Rechargeable Batteries: Which Should You Choose?

Making a choice between disposable batteries and rechargeable batteries can be a tough choice. Should I stick with disposables and their low cost? Should I spend a little more up-front and go with rechargeable? What are all my different options?


Disposable Batteries

AA Alkaline Disposable BatteriesDisposable batteries commonly power low voltage devices, such as clocks, flashlights, and toys. Life and endurance of disposable batteries vary, depending on the device and drain on the battery.

Disposable battery sizes include AA, AAA, C, D, and 9-volt. There are also disposable 6 and 12 volt lantern batteries. Chemistry types include Alkaline, Super Alkaline, Air Alkaline, Silver Oxide, and Zinc Air.

These batteries are not rechargeable and should be disposed of once dead. Since they are non-hazardous, these batteries can be disposed of with your normal household trash. The normal shelf life of alkaline batteries is 3 to 5 years (when stored at room temperature). You can gain longer shelf life by putting the batteries in a zip lock/air tight bag and storing them in your refrigerator. This can help if you live in a very hot location.

Disposable batteries work great for low-drain devices like smoke detectors, alarm clocks, and remote controls.


Rechargeable Batteries

9 Volt Rechargeable BatteryThe two most common rechargeable batteries are nickel cadmium (Ni-Cads) and nickel metal hydride (NIMH). The energy provided by these batteries is adequate, when compared to regular disposable batteries. Disposing of rechargeable batteries, however, is more hazardous to the environment because of toxic metals and should always be recycled.

Rechargeable batteries are accessible in quite a few sizes and voltages. Your choices of rechargeable battery sizes are similar to disposable batteries. You can find rechargeable AA, AAA, C, D, and 9-volt batteries. Two way radios and cordless phones commonly use NiCad and NiMH batteries, too.

The biggest advantage is the rechargeable feature. However, depending on the application, the run time of rechargeable batteries may be less than Alkaline batteries. Most rechargeable batteries are rechargeable between 200 and 300 times. Towards the end of the life cycle, you will notice the run time start to diminish.

In many cases, rechargeable batteries will ultimately save you money. This is especially true with items that you use frequently. Changing batteries frequently can quickly add up overall costs. At times like these, it’s best to invest in some rechargeable batteries and a charger to charge.

If rechargeable batteries make sense for you, consider keeping some extra batteries and keep them charged. If your power runs out, just quickly swap the batteries (and remember to charge the old ones when you can!). This makes it extremely easy to have a consistent power source for all your favorite devices.


Lithium Batteries

AA Lithium BatteriesLithium Batteries tend to stand apart from other batteries. This generation of batteries includes lithium, lithium-ion, and lithium-polymer technologies. Lithium-ion and lithium-polymer are rechargeable batteries, while lithium batteries are not. All forms of lithium batteries are hazardous and should always be disposed of properly.

These batteries almost always out perform and offer a much longer battery life than disposable or rechargeable batteries. Always make sure your application can use lithium-based batteries as they have higher voltages and will cause damage if used improperly. Also, you must always make sure your charging system or chargers can charge lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries.

Lithium-based batteries are especially common in electronics like cell phones, laptops, and GPS receivers.


Is it possible to upgrade the device’s battery to a newer chemistry?

NiCad, NiMH and Li-Ion are all fundamentally different technologies and cannot be substituted for one another unless the device has been pre-configured from the factory to accept more than one type of rechargeable battery. The difference between them stems from the fact that each technology requires a different charging pattern to be properly recharged. Therefore, the portable device’s charger must be properly configured to handle a given type of rechargeable battery.

Refer to the owners manual to find out which rechargeable battery types the particular device supports or use our QuickFind search engine to find the device in our database. The database will automatically list all of the battery types supported by the machine.

What’s the difference between F1 and F2 terminals?

In this post, we will show you a comparison of F1 and F2 terminals.

The most common sealed lead acid batteries (SLA) use blade connectors. These are a single wire connection using a flat ‘blade’ which is inserted into a receptacle. Usually, both the connector and receptacle have wires attached through soldering or crimping. Sometimes, pushing the receptacle onto the blade forms a connection.

These connectors come in two sizes: F1 and F2. F2 terminals are slightly wider than F1 terminals. There are terminal clips available to convert an F1 terminal into an F2.

Here are some comparison images (enlarged for clarity) showing the sizes of the terminals:

F1 Terminal

F1 Terminals are 3/16″ (0.187″, 4.8mm) wide.

F2 Terminal

F2 Terminals are 1/4″ (0.25″, 6.35mm) wide.

Terminal Adapters

There are adapters to convert F1 terminals to F2 terminals and F2 terminals to F1 terminals. These are small blades that fit right over the battery’s terminals. They are inexpensive and can save you some money if your battery is the right size for your application, but the connectors need a different sized terminal.

Deep Cycle Battery Care and Maintenance

For more information on maintaining your batteries when they are not in use, you can also read our article on winter battery maintenance.

  • New batteries should be given a full charge before use.
  • New batteries need to be cycled several times before reaching full capacity (20 – 50 cycles, depending on type). Usage should be limited during this period.
  • Battery cables should be intact, and the connectors kept tight at all times. Systematic inspection is recommended.
  • Vent caps should be kept in place and tight during vehicle operation and battery charging.
  • Batteries should be kept clean, free of dirt and corrosion at all times.
  • Batteries should be watered after charging unless plates are exposed before charging. If exposed, plates should be covered by approximately 1/8″ of acid.
  • Check acid level after charge. The acid level should be kept 1/4″ below the bottom of the fill well in the cell cover.
  • Water used to replenish batteries should be distilled or treated not to exceed 200 T.D.S. (total dissolved solids…parts per million). Particular care should be taken to avoid metallic contamination(iron).
  • For best battery life, batteries should not be discharged below 80% of their rated capacity. Proper battery sizing will help avoid excessive discharge.
  • Battery chargers should be matched to fully charge batteries in an eight hour period. Defective chargers will damage batteries or severely reduce their performance.
  • As batteries age, their maintenance requirements change. This means longer charging time and/or higher finish rate (higher amperage at the end of the charge). Usually older batteries need to be watered more often. And, their capacity decreases.
  • Avoid charging at temperatures above 120°F or ambient whichever is higher.
  • Deep cycle batteries need to be equalized periodically. Equalizing is an extended, low current charge performed after the normal charge cycle. This extra charge helps keep all cells in balance. Actively used batteries should be equalized once per week. Manually timed charges should have the charge time extended approximately 3 hours. Automatically controlled chargers should be unplugged and reconnected after completing a charge.
  • In situations where multiple batteries are connected in series, parallel or series/parallel, replacement battery(s) should be of the same size, age and usage level as the companion batteries. Do not put a new battery in a pack which has 50 or more cycles. Either replace with all new or use a good used battery(s).
  • Periodic battery testing is an important preventative maintenance procedure. Hydrometer readings of each cell (fully charged) gives an indication of balance and true charge level. Imbalance could mean the need for equalizing, is often a sign of improper charging or a bad cell. Voltage checks (open circuit, charged and discharged) can locate a bad battery or weak battery. Load testing will pick out a bad battery when other methods fail. A weak battery will cause premature failure of companion batteries.
  • Always use a matched voltage charger and battery pack system. An undersized charger will never get the job done, no matter how long you let it run. An oversized charger will cause excess gassing and heat; this situation could cause explosions or other damage.

Battery Safety Tips for Travelers

PHMSA Launches SafeTravel Initiative

Yes, it’s safe to bring batteries and battery-powered devices on board passenger aircraft, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) – as long as you take a few simple precautions. DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) wants to let everyone know what those precautions are.

“Americans increasingly own – and travel with – portable telephones, computers, cameras, camcorders, entertainment devices, and medical equipment – even cordless power tools,” stated PHMSA Chief Safety Officer Stacey Gerard.

“Batteries are becoming more and more powerful, using more and more varied technologies, to provide longer life for the devices an ordinary traveler may carry today. Laptop computers, camcorders, DVD players, and other modern conveniences demand that battery power, but the extra power means potential risk,” Gerard said.

“Portable battery-powered devices and batteries are safe for transportation when packed properly. But they must be handled and packaged appropriately.”

PHMSA is bringing this message to travelers through a coordinated media and stakeholder outreach campaign called SafeTravel, which aims to raise battery safety awareness among travelers nationwide.

“PHMSA doesn’t want to ban your MP3-player, video camera or laptop from commercial flights. We want you to understand how to carry your battery-powered devices, and your spare batteries, safely,” Gerard said.

Working with a broad coalition of other government agencies, individual companies, trade associations, and other stakeholders, PHMSA has developed a variety of educational SafeTravel materials. Printed guides explain safe travel with batteries. A web page, https://phmsa.dot.gov/safetravel, presents tips to the traveler describing a variety of battery safety solutions, covering everything from safely packaging batteries (do keep them in a device, don’t put them in checked baggage,) to what to do about loose batteries (protect the battery’s metallic connections, or terminals.)

PHMSA recommends the following steps to minimize the hazards of flying with batteries and battery-powered

Keep batteries in devices

  • Leave batteries in your equipment – it is the safest place. Batteries pose little risk when contained in the devices they power.

Pack for safety

  • Keep spare batteries in the store packaging they came in. If you do not have the store packaging, tape across the battery’s metal parts (terminals), or place each battery in its own protective case, plastic bag, or package.
  • Be sure to keep all loose batteries away from metal objects, such as coins, keys, or jewelry.
  • If you must carry a battery-powered device in any baggage, package it to prevent inadvertent activation. For instance, you should pack a cordless power tool in a protective case, with a trigger lock engaged.

Carry them with you

  • Carry your laptop, cell phone, electronic devices, and spare batteries with you. Do not put them in checked luggage if it can be avoided.
  • Battery-related incidents are more easily detected and handled by the flight crew if the battery is located within the passenger cabin.

Handle with care

  • Never use or carry damaged or recalled batteries or devices. Check battery recall information at the manufacturer’s website, or at the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website (www.cpsc.gov.)
  • Prevent crushing, puncturing, or putting a high degree of pressure on any battery.
  • Avoid dropping laptop computers or other devices to prevent battery damage.

Ensure quality and compatibility

  • Purchase batteries only from reliable sources.
  • Use only chargers designed for your type of batteries. If unsure about compatibility, contact the manufacturer. Don’t mix and match!
  • Never try to charge non-rechargeable batteries.

“We’re trying to reach the traveler to help prevent a fire or other incident from happening either in the air, or on the ground, either awaiting takeoff or after touchdown.”

And if an incident does occur?

“Immediately alert the flight crew. Let the flight crew handle the incident.”

PHMSA is joined in the SafeTravel campaign by the Federal Aviation Administration, the Transportation Security Administration of the Department of Homeland Security, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Portable Rechargeable Battery Association, the National Electronics Manufacturers Association, Underwriters Laboratories, Air Transport Association, Air Line Pilots Association, U.S. Postal Service, and the National Association of State Fire Marshals. Manufacturers of battery-powered devices are also partnering with PHMSA in the effort, including Panasonic, IBM, Hewlett Packard, and Black and Decker.

For more information, visit the SafeTravel website at //SafeTravel.dot.gov, or call PHMSA’s Hazardous Materials Info-Line at 1-800-467-4922.



Short Battery Life Tech Alert

Short Service Life Experience with Batteries

It has come to our attention that two dominant powersport vehicles are sometimes experiencing short battery life. These are V-Twin large cubic-inch custom motorcycles and SeaDoo personal watercraft

V-Twin Custom Motorcycles

With the introduction of large cubic-inch engines, i.e., 108-120+, required starting energy is at minimum double that of stock smaller cubic-inch V-twin engines. The old rule of thumb is that it takes 20 minutes of highway riding to recharge the battery for a single start. These larger engines require at least 40 minutes. These custom bikes generally are ridden more in town, short distances and don’t receive the required ride time to get a full recharge on the battery. This sets up the scenario for the battery to be discharged more than it is charged and after a short time, sometimes-just days, the battery no longer starts the bike. Typical run-down battery voltages are less than 12 volts. Full charge battery voltage is 12.84 volts.


Purchase a Deltran Power Tender Plus 12 Volt 5 Amp Waterproof Battery Charger P/N 022-0157-1. A quick disconnect wire harness capable of carrying 6 amps could be installed for easy connect/disconnect. Always disconnect the charger AC power before connecting or disconnecting from the battery. Use the charger at the end of the riding day and it can be left connected and operating until the next ride.

SeaDoo Personal Watercraft

Most models of this brand of watercraft experience an electrical load on the battery during storage, caused by a control module monitoring the lanyard socket. If the lanyard is left installed the electrical drain is 18 ma after 10 minutes of shutting down the engine. If the lanyard is removed, the electrical drain is 7 ma. These electrical loads are continuous and can accumulate to be significant over time. At 18 milli amps, the battery will lose 1 amp/hour of capacity in 55.5 hours or 10 amp/hours (Ah) in 23 days. On a PC 625, 10 Ah is 59% of battery capacity.


For Sea-Doo watercraft always disconnect the lanyard from its socket when not riding the watercraft. Disconnect the negative battery cable from the battery when the watercraft will not be used for 3 weeks or more. A simplified method of disconnect is to install waterproof battery switch. In both cases, check battery voltage periodically for full charge which is 12.84V. Batteries with voltages less than 12.6V need to be recharged per procedure.


Batteries that are deeply discharged and not fully recharged or batteries that are stored with an electrical load applied with a resultant loss in delivered capacity are not covered by warranty.

Send Questions to: [email protected] or call 800-405-2121.

How a Battery Works

To help illustrate how a battery works, let’s begin by using a more simple battery like the alkaline. All batteries have a cathode (positive) and an anode (negative) portion of the battery.

How batteries work

The alkaline cathode is a mixture of manganese dioxide, graphite and an electrolyte. This mixture is granulated, aged in storage and then compacted into hollow cylinders called preforms. These preforms are inserted into a steel can. The steel can and mixture now become the cathode, or the positive charge of the alkaline. To keep the material from leaking, an indentation and sealant are used.

The cathode and anode can not come into contact. Therefore, a separator is placed in between the cathode and anode. This separator is soaked with an electrolyte that aids in ionic or electrolytic conductivity once the battery is in use.

The anode (negative) is made of mostly zinc powder and several other material. This is in the form of a gel. This gel is inserted into the steel can against the separator. At this point, the battery could give off a charge. However, the battery would not be able to work for long because it is not sealed.

The seal is made up of a brass nail (the nail acts as the current collector), a plastic seal and metal end cap. The three items are inserted into the steel can against the indentation formed earlier.

What Is The Shelf Life Of A Battery?
Silver Oxide: 2-3 years
Alkaline: 4-5 years
Lithium: 5-7 years
NiCad/NiMh: Will self-discharge 1% – 2% per day, but will fully recover after few charge cycles. Practical shelf life: 5 years.
Sealed Lead Acid (SLA): 1 year without charging. Charging every 90 days will extend shelf life to 1.5 – 2 years.
Automotive: 6 months without charging. Charging every 90 days will extend shelf life to 1 – 1.5 years.

Battery Terms and Definitions

Last updated: 7/6/2021

Active MaterialThe chemically reactive material at the positive or negative electrode that engages in the charge and discharge reactions.
Ampere Hours (Ah)The number of minutes a battery can maintain a useful voltage under a specified load.
AnodeAn electrode through which electric current flows into a polarized electrical device.
BatteryOne or more cells connected to form one unit supplying voltage and having provisions for external connections. Batteries produce electrons through chemical reactions.
CapacityThe ability of the battery or cell to supply current.
CathodeAn electrode through which electric current flows out of a polarized electrical device.
CellElectrochemical device capable of storing electrical energy.
Cell Jar / Cell CaseThe vessel holding the cell components.
Charge CollectorThe structure within the electrode that provides a current path to/from the active material.
Cold Cranking Amp (CCA)The rating used in the battery industry to define a battery’s ability to start an engine in cold temperatures. It is the number of amps a new, fully maintained and charged battery can deliver at 0°F for 30 seconds, while holding a voltage of at least 7.2 volts for a 12 volt battery. The higher the CCA, the more higher the starting power of the battery
Continuous Discharge Rating (CDR)Also known as an amp limit, this is the maximum amount of current (amps) that you can continuously draw before the battery heats up to unsafe levels (typically 75&degC / 167°F).
CycleIn a rechargeable battery a cycle consists of a charge followed by a discharge.
Dry Cell BatteryBatteries that can be mounted in any position because they are completely sealed & won’t leak acid. Most of these bare either AGM (absorbed glass mat) or Gel type batteries.
Duty CycleThe use pattern for a battery including charge, overcharge, rest and discharge.
ElectrodesAn electrical conductor used to make contact with a nonmetallic part of a circuit (e.g. a semiconductor, an electrolyte or a vacuum.
ElectrolyteAny substance containing free ions that behaves as an electrically conductive medium, usually when in a solution. Because they generally consist of ions in solution, electrolytes are also known as ionic solutions, but molten electrolytes and solid electrolytes are also possible.
Energy DensityA term used for the amount of energy stored in a given system or region of space per unit, volume, or mass.
FloatMaintaining a battery on a continuous, long-term charge, normally for batteries that sit unused for longer periods.
Flooded CellA cell where the electrodes are immersed in a pool of electrolyte.
Gas RecombinationRecycling gases formed within the cell rather then venting them to the atmosphere. This mainly pertains to sealed lead acid battery.
Leclanché CellA French electrical engineer chiefly remembered for his invention of the Leclanché cell, one of the first modern electrical batteries and the forerunner of the modern dry cell battery.
LifeThe length of acceptable performance received from a battery, measured in years or in charge/discharge cycles.
Maintenance-Free BatteryA battery that where no electrolytes can be added.
Open-Circuit VoltageVoltage of a battery with no load applied to it.
Operating VoltageVoltage of a battery under load.
OverchargeThe application of charge current after the battery has reached full charge.
OxidationDescribes the loss of electrons or an increase in oxidation state by a molecule, atom or ion.
ParallelInterconnecting cells or batteries by joining all like terminals which doubles battery amp hours/run time & cca (cold cranking amps).
PlatesLead plates used within a battery to hold a charge.
Primary CellIs any kind of electrochemical cell in which the electrochemical reaction is not reversible. A common example of a primary cell is the disposable battery.
ReductionPart of a reduction-oxidation (redox) reaction in which atoms have their oxidation number (oxidation state) changed.
Reserve CapacityThe capacity of a battery, measured in minutes, to keep a vehicle operating if the charging system fails.
Sealed CellA cell where all reactants are retained within the container. May contain a vent for release during abusive overcharge.
Secondary BatteryA backup or spare battery used to replace the primary battery when discharged.
Self-DischargeIs a phenomenon in batteries in which internal chemical reactions reduce the stored charge of the battery without any connection between the electrodes. Self-discharge decreases the shelf-life of batteries and causes them to have less charge than expected when actually put to use.
SeparatorMaterial which provides separation and electrical insulation between plates of opposite polarity.
SeriesInterconnecting cells or batteries by connecting the positive terminal of one unit to the negative terminal of the next, which doubles the battery voltage.
WoundInterior cell construction in which plates are coiled inside.