Laptop released by Dell in 2005, features a 15.4" display and Intel Centrino processor.

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Battery tear-down and refurbishment

Can I disassemble my Dell Li-ion 11.1V 7200mAh battery and manually replace the cells instead of spending $100+ on a new battery from Dell? I tried an after-market battery once for about $45, but it failed within a few months. Thanks.

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Well the point of replacing is you replace the battery, as for replacing the cells, you'd probably have to be a decent electrical engineer and know a good source for the cells (you can't exactly get them at staples). What I suggest you do is find out what type of battery you need (most PC laptops don't use proprietary batteries) and you then don't have to get OEM, you can just find any reliable battery meeting your requirements, I'm guessing it'll be a lot cheaper. Just make sure not too cheap, and buy from a reliable source.

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although there are vendors who specialize in batteries including individual cells (you'd need to verify what's inside your Dell battery pack), I agree with rab777hp - i think you're better off just buying a replacement battery pack from a reliable vendor. Dell doesn't make the batteries themselves, after all, so just buy from a reliable source.

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The fact remains that battery packs, original or substitute, are mighty expensive, and there is no guarantee how long the substitutes might last, since there is no way that one can figure out the manufacturer and quality of the cells inside the sealed battery pack when buying it. So it would perhaps be worthwhile to refurbish the original Dell battery packs if at all possible.

Is there anyone who has been able to open a Dell Inspiron 6000 6-cell and/or 9-cell battery pack and re-close or seal it adequately, and can give or has given precise illustrated or video instructions on how to do so on YouTube or elsewhere? Replacing the depleted cells with fresh ones like Sanyo (best, with highest mAh) inside the battery pack would be a relatively easy project provided one is careful with the procedure and polarity.

But what is worrisome is that despite doing so, I have been given to understand that there is a special electronic circuit in the battery pack which is intentionally programmed by Dell to block the PC's access to the battery cells (even if the cells are OK), after a specific number of hours of use or a specific number of recharge cycles, so even after changing the cells inside, the battery pack will remain dead, i.e. inaccessible....unless this circuit is reprogrammed. Can anyone please confirm this? If so, is the circuit reprogramming software available anywhere on the net? Or would the battery work if the circuit is bypassed? and with what limitations?

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A few things.

1. This is possible, if not exactly easy. It is also definitely cheaper, and you can produce a battery pack that's as good or better than the original if you make sure to purchase high quality cells.

2. This claim: "But what is worrisome is that despite doing so, I have been given to understand that there is a special electronic circuit in the battery pack which is intentionally programmed by Dell to block the PC's access to the battery cells (even if the cells are OK), after a specific number of hours of use or a specific number of recharge cycles, so even after changing the cells inside, the battery pack will remain dead, i.e. inaccessible" is not true.

What is true is that charging lithium cell is not like charging your old NiCd batteries or your car battery. If they aren't charged properly they can catch fire in a most spectacular fashion. Lithium batteries degrade relatively quickly, used or not. They are also sensitive to temperature. Right now, that's the price of high performance.

If you completely discharge your battery (any battery, for that matter), you can throw it away.

So you need a battery controller that will:

- keep the temperature within a safe range

- prevent overcharging

- prevent overdischarging - even as the battery performance declines with each charge cycle.

- accurately estimate the remaining operating time

The battery electronics "learn" the discharge curve of the cells in the battery. (How that discharge curve looks depends on the number of charge cycles, ambient temperature, and discharge rate, among other things.)

To know how to do this "learning", the circuit in the battery is programmed at the factory using volatile memory. If you just yank the old cells out without ensuring operating voltage to the battery controller, the memory gets erased and your battery and laptop-specific programming is history (and the battery is now a doorstop, no matter how new and fabulous your replacement cells are).

That is the reason why these retrofits so often fail. The battery controller can't go without juice for very long. The memory will hold for a while, but not forever: stopping for a break in the middle of the job is a mistake.

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So how much voltage does it need?

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Arsingenia, Thank you very much for the information.

Much of the theoretical aspects have been clarified. But your reply does raise more questions for non-highly technical people like myself who simply want to know the practical aspects on how to ~

a) Open the battery case of the Dell Inspiron 6000 6- or 9-cell battery pack without excessive irreparable damage to the plastic case,

b) Replace the 6 or 9 cells inside with quality cells and connect it through the "battery controller",

c) Ensure that the battery controller still actively/dynamically holds the volatile memory/software to control the battery pack and has not completed its specific number of hours of usage and shut itself and the battery pack down,

d) Re-program the volatile memory of the battery controller with software off the internet,

e) Possibly make a preliminary open-battery-case test of the battery pack with the new cells to ensure connectivity and controller activation,

f) Close up the battery case.

Though my Dell Battery Module Rechargeable Li-ion Battery Type U4873 Rating 11.1V DC Capacity 80WH Made in Japan by Sanyo has been dead for some months now, I have kept it connected in place on the underside of the laptop while using the laptop PC directly off the mains electric power. Would this mean that the battery controller has been receiving its modicum of power to keep the battery controller's volatile memory alive?

To summarise, are you in effect stating that ~

i) All generic branded and unbranded substitute battery packs available in shops and on the internet also have volatile memory programmed battery controllers in them?

ii) There is really no way for us iFixit enthusiasts to reprogram the battery controller's volatile memory via the internet or in some similar way?

iii) There is therefore no really foolproof way to refurbish a battery pack with quality new Li-ion cells and reprogrammed battery controller? That it would be an extremely complex and therefore a pointless exercise for dead battery packs?

iv) There is nothing on the internet anywhere, nor can anyone provide a practical step by step guide on what to do to refurbish a dead Dell Inspiron 6000 battery pack?

v) All videos on the internet showing how to replace Li-ion cells in various other battery packs with no sign of any battery controller in them are too unreliable and dangerous to follow due to the possible danger of battery explosion?

vi) If the battery controller is bypassed, the battery will not work? Or it will work with the clear danger that the battery may explode at any time?

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"a) Open the battery case of the Dell Inspiron 6000 6- or 9-cell battery pack without excessive irreparable damage to the plastic case,"

The Dell cases are known for being glued shut in such a way that it is next to impossible to cut them open without damaging the casing. My suggestions:

- a Dremel tool with a cutting wheel and EXTREME caution; cut into a cell and it's kaboom. Keeping a bucket of sand nearby in for the possibility of fire is a good idea.

- Buy a dead or second-hand battery on-line and experiment with that and some blunt, non-conductive tools first.

"b) Replace the 6 or 9 cells inside with quality cells and connect it through the "battery controller","

There's no hardware manual anywhere that describes how to do this, so you will have to do what everybody else who has done this has done: make a careful diagram of the circuit and layout before disassembly, mark all your wires, and proceed carefully.

"c) Ensure that the battery controller still actively/dynamically holds the volatile memory/software to control the battery pack and has not completed its specific number of hours of usage and shut itself and the battery pack down,"

You keep saying this -- the battery has no "specific maximum number of hours". The cell performance simply declines, and the charge controller cuts off the battery when a specific minimum voltage is reached for any given cell. That's because a further discharge will kill the cell, and an excessive discharge rate will cause the battery to overheat (an excessive discharge rate will make the battery heat up excessively, just as much as an excessive charge rate will -- this is why li-ion batteries are equipped with a thermistor. If things get too hot, the charge controller cuts off the battery).

As for the controller power supply -- yes, this is a pain. You can either use an external power supply with a 100 Ohm resistor in series, or you can keep the old cells connected and bring in the new cells one at a time.

I should qualify my earlier post by saying that not all charge controllers have this kind of volatile memory, but the Dell batteries have been a problem. People have bricked their battery controllers.

"d) Re-program the volatile memory of the battery controller with software off the internet,"

There's a commercial product called "Battery EEPROM Works". It isn't cheap.

http://be2works.com/index.html

There's a Czech fellow who wrote a couple of Linux routines in C that dump the registers on the most common controllers:

http://frantisek.rysanek.sweb.cz/battery...

The stuff is pretty old (he used it with 2.4 kernels -- we are on 2.6), but could probably be made to work.

"e) Possibly make a preliminary open-battery-case test of the battery pack with the new cells to ensure connectivity and controller activation,"

A multimeter helps here. You can insert the battery pack unsealed into the laptop for testing.

"f) Close up the battery case."

A case that was originally glued will probably have to be taped shut.

"Though my Dell Battery Module Rechargeable Li-ion Battery Type U4873 Rating 11.1V DC Capacity 80WH Made in Japan by Sanyo has been dead for some months now, I have kept it connected in place on the underside of the laptop while using the laptop PC directly off the mains electric power. Would this mean that the battery controller has been receiving its modicum of power to keep the battery controller's volatile memory alive?"

Don't misunderstand me. Although the battery seems dead to you, all that is happening is that the charge controller is disconnecting it. There is most likely a residual charge in the batteries that is keeping that controller memory alive.

To summarise, are you in effect stating that ~

"i) All generic branded and unbranded substitute battery packs available in shops and on the internet also have volatile memory programmed battery controllers in them?"

No. But some do. There is no way to know without opening up the battery.

"ii) There is really no way for us iFixit enthusiasts to reprogram the battery controller's volatile memory via the internet or in some similar way?"

There is a way (see above). I never said it was easy.

"iii) There is therefore no really foolproof way to refurbish a battery pack with quality new Li-ion cells and reprogrammed battery controller? That it would be an extremely complex and therefore a pointless exercise for dead battery packs?"

There is no foolproof way, sorry. If there were, everybody would be doing this. These are complex devices.

I should qualify what I said about cost, too. If you buy cheap cells, it's cheaper. If you want quality cells from a reputable manufacturer, and if you factor in the value of your own time, you are probably better off buying a replacement.

"iv) There is nothing on the internet anywhere, nor can anyone provide a practical step by step guide on what to do to refurbish a dead Dell Inspiron 6000 battery pack?"

There is lots of stuff on the Internet -- you need patience and you need to search for it. Whether you will find something specific to this very battery pack, I can't say, but the principle is the same for all of them.

"v) All videos on the internet showing how to replace Li-ion cells in various other battery packs with no sign of any battery controller in them are too unreliable and dangerous to follow due to the possible danger of battery explosion?"

ALL battery packs for laptops have a battery controller in them. Trust me on that one. If you don't see one, it's because it wasn't shown, not because it isn't there.

"vi) If the battery controller is bypassed, the battery will not work? Or it will work with the clear danger that the battery may explode at any time?"

The battery will not work in the laptop, no. Most laptops will refuse to turn on if they cannot talk to the battery controller. Yes, the fire risk is then huge. Don't do this.

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Wow, Arsingenia, thank you.

What you have stated is clear and lucid, and you have given me real reasons to pause on grounds of safety alone.

What I will now consider doing is to perhaps look around for someone more competent who has done this before, provide him with the quality cells after he has opened the pack, get him to connect them up and possibly see everything as he does it if he allows me (!)......after, of course, ensuring the exercise is worthwhile, instead of buying a replacement at ruinous cost. I live in the Far East, and I know there are people around who do this kind of thing. I just need to find a "reliable" guy.

Am more than a tad disappointed.....I like tinkering around and was quite excited about the project, but I admit this may be a bit beyond me for now, with its low margin of error.

In any case, I am sure our exchange here is not a waste. It should be of help to relative novices like me before they decide one way or another.

Thank you once again.

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This is an old thread but I'll post this anyway... it is easy to open up the battery pack, there is no glue, look it up here:

http://www.laptop-junction.com/toast/con...

Be careful replacing the batteries, they need to be identical cells and don't mess up the wiring or they can explode / fire, etc.

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bradyb23 will be eternally grateful.
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