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I just bought a brand new battery to replace one that had seemingly died. I followed the instructions that came with the battery and charged it overnight, then ran my computer on battery until it was in a critical state and charged it overnight again. Now the battery appears to be 100% charged and at the same time at 0% capacity—when it's plugged in it doesn't charge and when it's unplugged the computer immediately goes into low power mode.

I've taken the battery out and checked the contacts. I've rebooted the system with and without the battery. Nothing seems to help.

I'm not sure if I should blame the battery, the laptop, the charger, or the power management software for this state of affairs. The obvious answer would be the battery but I bought this battery because another year-old battery exhibited similar behavior—I assumed it was dead and a Dell tech came to the same conclusion. I'm loathe to order another new battery without first exploring other explanations.

What can I do to diagnose this problem?

Here's the /proc info:

$ cat /proc/acpi/battery/BAT0/state
present:                 yes
capacity state:          critical
charging state:          charged
present rate:            1 mA
remaining capacity:      0 mAh
present voltage:         9754 mV

$ cat /proc/acpi/battery/BAT0/info
present:                 yes
design capacity:         6600 mAh
last full capacity:      6789 mAh
battery technology:      rechargeable
design voltage:          11100 mV
design capacity warning: 660 mAh
design capacity low:     200 mAh
cycle count:          0
capacity granularity 1:  66 mAh
capacity granularity 2:  66 mAh
model number:            DELL WK
serial number:           4043
battery type:            LION
OEM info:                SMP

[UPDATE] It turned out to be the AC adapter. I find it very strange that a faulty adapter can cause the charging state to be "charged" on an empty battery.

I'll still up-vote answers that give good debugging strategies for this situation—swapping out the battery and adapter, in turn, is obvious but one doesn't always have a spare battery or adapter around to play with. As noted below, Dell was actually prepared to send a technician to my house to replace the motherboard, which would have been a phenomenal waste of time and money.

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3 Answers 3

You can see from the voltage and current readings that the battery is not being charged. My Dell laptop has a blue battery icon on the F2 key and if I press Fn+F2, it will enable/disable charging. If you have a key like that try pressing it and see if it starts charging.

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Almost definitely this is a problem with the battery. If you have windows you can confirm this on windows as well. I ran into the same issue with a new battery of mine (even though it reports an incorrect percentage, and in doing some research, I found out that it is simply a common problem with LiON batteries :( - if they get too hot, are charged too long, or any other mixture of random silly reasons, they exhibit this exact behavior -- reporting an incorrect charge state to the system.

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Heat and age actually reduce their capacity over time, not make it immediately zero. –  psusi Feb 19 '11 at 3:22
    
Actually they can, I know because it has happened to me. In reality it isn't that the battery is literally at 0, but just that it reports itself incorrectly. –  RolandiXor Feb 19 '11 at 3:29
1  
incorrect reporting is not caused by heat or "any other mixture of random silly reasons". Incorrect reporting happens because the battery has not been fully charged and discharged in a long time, so the gas gauge has not been calibrated to know where full and empty are. –  psusi Feb 20 '11 at 0:20
    
I'm speaking from experience and from what I read up on after my experience... but I refuse to argue, since obviously, you are correct. –  RolandiXor Feb 20 '11 at 2:00
1  
@izx, sure, it could be a hardware bug. My point is that it is not common for "random, silly reasons" to cause incorrect reporting. This is just hand waving, and not an answer at all. –  psusi Aug 6 '12 at 23:15

This happened on my dell inspiron 1525 with a newer but not brand new battery. I have already replaced the AC adapter a year or so ago due to battery charging issues.

This time around after running the battery down to 0% it would not charge (gave the battery 100% at 0% capacity)

I went to the bios setup and checked the battery and ac adapter status and the ac adapter said "unknown". After unplugging and plugging back the adapter it then recognized the adapter as '90 mA'.

The adapter not being recognized seems to be a common dell issue, a side effect related to fending off cheap imitations and unlicensed replacement parts:

http://search.dell.com/results.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=gen&cat=cmu&k=inspiron+1525+power+adapter

Anyway after going to boot ubuntu, the battery status went back to charging.

Hope this helps...

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