X240: Sudden battery death

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X240: Sudden battery death

Jochen Spieker
Hi,

about one and a half years ago I bought an X240 with the 6-cell/72Wh
battery.  From almost the beginning I monitored the battery status using
a small custom munin plugin. Here's a static copy of the current state
(previous year/month/week/day from Munin):

http://well-adjusted.de/~jrspieker/battery-death/

What you can see is that the battery health appeared to be pretty stable
over the last 12 months. But in less than two weeks, the remaining
capacity ("last full" from /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/energy_full)
dropped from 94% to 18% in three steps!

I usually use the laptop on AC, but every or every other week I need to
unplug it anyway and then try to discharge at least the external battery
completely. Unfortunately, I cannot tell how many charging cycles it had
because cycle_count returns 0 for some reason.

Aside from running "tlp recalibrate", is there anything I can do to
revive the battery? The wiki article is a bit dated.

Isn't this behavior a little bit surpising? I am aware that my usage
pattern isn't the best way to treat a battery, but I still didn't
expect the health to detoriate that quickly. I probably cannot expect a
gesture of goodwill from Lenovo either?

Regards,
Jochen.
--
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individuality.
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Re: X240: Sudden battery death

Jeffrey L. Taylor-9
Quoting Jochen Spieker <[hidden email]>:
[snipped]

> What you can see is that the battery health appeared to be pretty stable
> over the last 12 months. But in less than two weeks, the remaining
> capacity ("last full" from /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/energy_full)
> dropped from 94% to 18% in three steps!
>
> I usually use the laptop on AC, but every or every other week I need to
> unplug it anyway and then try to discharge at least the external battery
> completely. Unfortunately, I cannot tell how many charging cycles it had
> because cycle_count returns 0 for some reason.
>

Why are you discharging the external battery completely?  If it is NiCad
(Nickel Cadmium) this is resonable behavior (the memory effect).  If it's a
lithium battery, this will kill it quickly.

Jeffrey
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Re: X240: Sudden battery death

Christoph Schmees
In reply to this post by Jochen Spieker
Am 07.12.2015 um 21:48 schrieb Jochen Spieker:

> Hi,
>
> about one and a half years ago I bought an X240 with the 6-cell/72Wh
> battery.  From almost the beginning I monitored the battery status using
> a small custom munin plugin. Here's a static copy of the current state
> (previous year/month/week/day from Munin):
>
> http://well-adjusted.de/~jrspieker/battery-death/
>
> What you can see is that the battery health appeared to be pretty stable
> over the last 12 months. But in less than two weeks, the remaining
> capacity ("last full" from /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/energy_full)
> dropped from 94% to 18% in three steps!
> ...

typical symptom of a dead cell. Do you have warranty? Otheriwse give
the battery to refurbishment or just dump it. And get a new one.

Best regards,
Christoph

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Re: X240: Sudden battery death

Jochen Spieker
In reply to this post by Jeffrey L. Taylor-9
Jeffrey L. Taylor:

> Quoting Jochen Spieker <[hidden email]>:
>>
>> I usually use the laptop on AC, but every or every other week I need to
>> unplug it anyway and then try to discharge at least the external battery
>> completely. Unfortunately, I cannot tell how many charging cycles it had
>> because cycle_count returns 0 for some reason.
>>
>
> Why are you discharging the external battery completely?  If it is NiCad
> (Nickel Cadmium) this is resonable behavior (the memory effect).  If it's a
> lithium battery, this will kill it quickly.
"Completely" as in "down to 5%, then the internal battery takes over". I
don't do a deep-discharge, of course.

Mainly I want to avoid only ever charging from 80 to 95% and since I
have bought extra warranty for the internal battery, I want to make use
of that, too.

As I said, I am aware that this is not the best way to treat a battery.
But I am still surprised by it becoming almost useless in less than two
weeks.

J.
--
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Re: X240: Sudden battery death

Jeffrey L. Taylor-9
Quoting Jochen Spieker <[hidden email]>:

> Jeffrey L. Taylor:
> > Quoting Jochen Spieker <[hidden email]>:
> >>
> >> I usually use the laptop on AC, but every or every other week I need to
> >> unplug it anyway and then try to discharge at least the external battery
> >> completely. Unfortunately, I cannot tell how many charging cycles it had
> >> because cycle_count returns 0 for some reason.
> >>
> >
> > Why are you discharging the external battery completely?  If it is NiCad
> > (Nickel Cadmium) this is resonable behavior (the memory effect).  If it's a
> > lithium battery, this will kill it quickly.
>
> "Completely" as in "down to 5%, then the internal battery takes over". I
> don't do a deep-discharge, of course.
>
> Mainly I want to avoid only ever charging from 80 to 95% and since I
> have bought extra warranty for the internal battery, I want to make use
> of that, too.
>
> As I said, I am aware that this is not the best way to treat a battery.
> But I am still surprised by it becoming almost useless in less than two
> weeks.
>

The advice I have seen is don't discharge to less then 20-30%, comparable to the
don't charge to more then 80-90%.  But it is also possible you received a
reconditioned instead of new battery.

Jeffrey
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Re: X240: Sudden battery death

Jochen Spieker
In reply to this post by Christoph Schmees
Christoph Schmees:

> Am 07.12.2015 um 21:48 schrieb Jochen Spieker:
>>
>> http://well-adjusted.de/~jrspieker/battery-death/
>>
>> What you can see is that the battery health appeared to be pretty stable
>> over the last 12 months. But in less than two weeks, the remaining
>> capacity ("last full" from /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/energy_full)
>> dropped from 94% to 18% in three steps!
>> ...
>
> typical symptom of a dead cell. Do you have warranty? Otheriwse give
> the battery to refurbishment or just dump it. And get a new one.
Thanks for your assessment.

Since the 6-cell battery is surprisingly cheap on Amazon (€67,
apparently genuine from Lenovo) I will probably just get a new one.

I did buy the extra 36 months warranty for the internal battery, but I
think the external one is only covered for 12 months. It's already down
to 73% of its design capacity so I guess I will get that replaced in the
upcoming months as well. Does anybody know the threshold for replacement
that Lenovo applies? I cannot find this information in the terms of
service I received after registering.

J.
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Re: X240: Sudden battery death

Henrique de Moraes Holschuh-2
In reply to this post by Jochen Spieker
On Tue, 08 Dec 2015, Jochen Spieker wrote:

> Jeffrey L. Taylor:
> > Quoting Jochen Spieker <[hidden email]>:
> >>
> >> I usually use the laptop on AC, but every or every other week I need to
> >> unplug it anyway and then try to discharge at least the external battery
> >> completely. Unfortunately, I cannot tell how many charging cycles it had
> >> because cycle_count returns 0 for some reason.
> >>
> >
> > Why are you discharging the external battery completely?  If it is NiCad
> > (Nickel Cadmium) this is resonable behavior (the memory effect).  If it's a
> > lithium battery, this will kill it quickly.
>
> "Completely" as in "down to 5%, then the internal battery takes over". I
> don't do a deep-discharge, of course.

5% is cutting it too close to deep discharge for Li-ION, especially because
you cannot really trust it to be 5% (and not, say, 3% or less) as the "fuel
gauge" can accumulate a lot of error very quickly.

Keep it above 20% if you can.

> As I said, I am aware that this is not the best way to treat a battery.
> But I am still surprised by it becoming almost useless in less than two
> weeks.

Well, yes, that steep device breakdown curve is quite surprising.  If it is
a 3-cell or 6-cell battery, it looks like each cell-group suffered a
breakdown, close together in time...

But if cycle_count returns zero, it might well be battery pack
microcontroller failure (there's one inside the battery pack that is *NEVER*
powered down -- so, it is the one thing that must not have software bugs
:p).

--
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  them all and in the darkness grind them. In the Land of Redmond
  where the shadows lie." -- The Silicon Valley Tarot
  Henrique Holschuh
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Re: X240: Sudden battery death

Jochen Spieker
Henrique de Moraes Holschuh:

> On Tue, 08 Dec 2015, Jochen Spieker wrote:
>>
>> "Completely" as in "down to 5%, then the internal battery takes over". I
>> don't do a deep-discharge, of course.
>
> 5% is cutting it too close to deep discharge for Li-ION, especially because
> you cannot really trust it to be 5% (and not, say, 3% or less) as the "fuel
> gauge" can accumulate a lot of error very quickly.
>
> Keep it above 20% if you can.
How so? This laptop has an internal and an external battery. It
automatically starts to discharge the internal one when the external
battery goes down to 5%. I would be glad if I could change that
threshold. I bought additional warranty for the internal battery
(already down to 74%) so the more I make use of it the better. ;-)

>> As I said, I am aware that this is not the best way to treat a battery.
>> But I am still surprised by it becoming almost useless in less than two
>> weeks.
>
> Well, yes, that steep device breakdown curve is quite surprising.  If it is
> a 3-cell or 6-cell battery, it looks like each cell-group suffered a
> breakdown, close together in time...

6-cell.

> But if cycle_count returns zero, it might well be battery pack
> microcontroller failure (there's one inside the battery pack that is *NEVER*
> powered down -- so, it is the one thing that must not have software bugs
> :p).

Interesting question. But it probably doesn't pay off to do a
post-mortem. I bought a new one and it works well (energy_full_design
71280mWh, energy_full 74800mWh). I even found it to be surprisingly
cheap (~65 EUR).

Also, this one now also shows 0 for cycle_count. The same holds true for
the internal battery. Maybe this is just a software issue (Debian/sid).

J.
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I can.
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