A Philosopher's Blog

Freezing Laptop Batteries

Posted in Technology by Michael LaBossiere on February 23, 2008

I have some modest amount of nerdastic powers when it comes to technology, so people often ask me to solve their computer problems. In return, people often dump truly broken hardware on me. Not in the sense of “dropping it on me with the intent of harm”; but rather in the same sense that a person drops junk off at the dump.

Fortunately, I hate to let things go to waste and I love a repair challenge. One recent challenge involved a 1998 Compaq laptop my ex-wife had “beaten to death.” The power supply was dead, the battery was dead and the case was cracked and broken in many places.

Replacing a laptop power supply is fairly easy-numerous companies sell “universal” replacements that come with a variety of tips. I use a Targus adapter that has served me well with a number of rescued laptops.

Fixing a cracked and damaged case is also easy. As long as the damage does not affect the safe operation of the machine, some glue and electrical tape will fix most cosmetic damage. Electrical tape also matches the black of many laptops quite closely.

The battery is a tough part. I had heard that freezing a battery can restore it. Since the laptop battery was dead, I figured it was suitable for an experiment.

The battery itself is a 1998 NI-MH battery for a Compaq 1275 Presario laptop. I took the battery and placed it within a ziplock bag. The bag is important to keep moisture off the battery and to otherwise protect it from what might be in the freezer (like leaking ice-cream).

I froze the battery for 24 hours and then removed it from the freezer. Since the battery was cold, I kept it in the bag to protect it from condensation. I then waited for the battery to warm up. After checking it for damage and wiping it down, I put it in the laptop and let it charge up.

Initially, the battery would take a charge but would discharge in a matter of seconds. The software also failed to recognize the batter. Then I charged the battery for a long time (several hours) and the software recognized the battery and it held a charge. Naturally, the battery is not as good as new and my trust in it’s staying power is quite limited. However, it does work again.

I tried the same technique with a Lithium Ion battery for a a Gateway laptop my ex-wife had also beaten to death. No luck with that. It might be the difference in the battery or it might be that the abuse inflicted on the Gateway damaged the charging mechanism (the titanium case was broken in some places). I did manage to repair its power supply to some degree. The Solo 3350 has a weird connector that apparently was only used in that model and hence my Targus adapter is of no use. It works reasonably well, but the battery is kaput.

So, freezing laptop batteries can return them from the dead. Before you freeze your batteries, I’d suggest only using ones that are already dead. Freezing a battery that is in decent shape might not help it and might actually do it some harm.

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34 Responses

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  1. mlabossi said, on February 23, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    An update on Lithium Batteries: I did some research and found that when Lithium batteries die, they stay dead. Keeping them in a refrigerator is supposed to prolong their life. Interestingly, they start to die whether in use or not-hence the importance of storing them in cool conditions.

  2. Matt Kelley said, on February 23, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    The most interesting thing I gleaned from this post is that your ex-wife apparently beats laptops to death (physically!) on a regular basis…that brings several disturbing images to mind…
    :)

  3. mlabossi said, on February 25, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Everyone needs a hobby. :)

  4. battech said, on July 1, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Good Information it is good foe everyone….

    http://www.battech.co.uk/

  5. laptop battery guy said, on November 6, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    …or you could just buy a new laptop battery!

  6. lance said, on August 20, 2009 at 2:03 am

    buying a battery is just crazy talk… Freezing is the way!

  7. Anonymous said, on September 1, 2009 at 12:58 am

    i have the power!!!! now who needs to waste money! thanx

    • Anonymous said, on July 21, 2013 at 11:10 am

      its rather I HAVE THE ICE !

  8. capnmike said, on October 21, 2009 at 11:45 am

    I have had great success with freezing rechargeable batteries from cell phones, cordless drills, etc. By putting them in a plastic zip-lock bag to keep them dry and freezing them a minimum of 3 days. This won’t work if the battery is truly “dead”, but can restore many almost-dead batteries to almost-new condition…apparently freezing erases the chemical “memory” accumulated in the battery. I was first told about this by a Ryobi Tools factory rep as a way to restore cordless drill batteries, but it seems to work with just about all rechargeables. Just freeze them, allow them to warm up a little, put them back on the charger for 24 hours and voila! New Battery!

  9. Hernandez said, on May 25, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Who were your favorite relatives?

  10. [...] might not work with Lithium batteries [ source ], although Lithium batteries should be safe from damage even as low as -40C [ source [...]

  11. Thomas said, on August 7, 2010 at 3:47 am

    I tried to revive a new Lithium ion battery using the freezer treatment after it had been too long in storage and it’s charge had dropped too low. I’m not sure how it works so maybe someone more knowledgeable can correct me but if the charge falls too low I think they short circuit. This means that they can no longer be charged. Anyway the freezer treatment didn’t work in this case. It’s worth a try though.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 8, 2010 at 7:47 pm

      Lithium batteries are a bit like milk: they go bad over time and when they are gone, they are gone. To be less metaphorical, they eventually lose the ability to hold any useful charge. Freezing them does nothing to restore them.

      I’ve read that the freezing trick does not work on other rechargeable batteries, although my own (very limited) experiment did show that freezing the battery restored it to a limited degree.

      However, even if freezing does have some impact, there seems to be no true substitute for a new battery.

  12. David Adi said, on September 15, 2010 at 6:20 am

    The information is very useful, I will take notice. thanks

    http://www-laptopcomputers.com/treat-battery

  13. luap said, on November 17, 2010 at 7:31 am

    My god, what exactly does your ex-wife DO to these laptops?

    “The power supply was dead, the battery was dead and the case was cracked and broken in many places.”

    Is she a little on the clumsy side, or is this deliberate laptop-rage type damage? If the latter, then cirkey, I can see why she is your ex-wife.

    My laptop is four years old and may as well be brand new. Respect your hardware I say.

  14. apple laptop batteries said, on April 9, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    I was reading some of your content on this internet site and I believe this web site is very instructive! Retain posting .

  15. Edwin said, on June 6, 2011 at 9:58 am

    I just did this on my Li-Ion Battery on my old IBM and it seems to work!

  16. Anonymous said, on July 30, 2011 at 9:28 am

    The only problem with the newer Lithium is the smart charger circuit board inside, once it does the amber led/green lights of death on comp and the 3 leds blinking on the battery (D800) there is no way to reset that without digging into the battery. It still will give about 40 min and I have a new one on order from Amaz.
    So I am going to try it anyway.
    Oh the wife abuse on laptop= wants a brand new one or a Diamond (laptop cheaper)
    Sean

  17. md said, on August 18, 2011 at 1:22 am

    i am thinking what your ex-wife should be doing with you :d

  18. [...] I don't know where you got the batteries to begin with and only mention that fact because recently I was looking for a replacement battery for my Moment. There were some advertised for like 5 bucks apiece. The reviews on them were all over the place and the story seemed to be that they were some kind of 'seconds', defective in some way and didn't make the cut. That is why they were so cheap. some people got them and were lucky, others went through 3 or 4 before they got a good one. Don't know if that applies. Otherwise, I sure do suspect the charger though. Not sure how you could check it though. Seems like if it was overcharging, your batteries would get noticeably hot. I have read some folk who claim to know what they are writing about say that actually fulling discharging batteries was not a good thing. That might have been laptop batteries though. That being said, I read where one idea was to freeze a laptop battery to get more use out of it. don't know if that really works or where I read it, but I'd study up on it before I tried it. let me know if you try it and it works. If it blows up or something, let me know that too. edit: He put it in ziplock bag, http://aphilosopher.wordpress.com/2008/02/23/freezing-laptop-batteries/ [...]

  19. FRE said, on October 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    The batteries failed on my old cordless telephone aandsets. When I checked the price of the batteries from the manufacturer of the handsets, they cost so much that it would have made more sense to replace the entire system, so I checked battery prices on the Internet and found replacements for a fraction of the price. I ordered them and immediately installed them. However, they got quite hot when recharging and would operate the handsets only for a short interval; recharging did little except produce more heat. Apparently they were counterfeit, even though they looked like the originals. I suspect that they were not actually rechargeable batteries.

    Probably the same thing could happened when ordering replacement laptop batteries.

  20. Hatin Ahuja said, on March 30, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    madarchod, battary khariney ke paise nahi hai to laptop ko apni gannd me daal lo

  21. Mark of Genuine Batteries said, on May 9, 2012 at 3:51 am

    Nice posted article, it really helps all the laptop owner for maintaining their laptop in good functioning. keep on posting. thank you.

  22. omalone1 said, on August 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    well this has surprised me, and is also very useful as my computer has no life if I do not walk with its leash.

  23. Admin said, on August 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    I tried freezing Li-Ion battery, big success! From 50min to 2hr battery life!

  24. Jonathan said, on January 25, 2013 at 10:30 am

    I was able to get in my mother-in-law’s good graces by getting a deal laptop to work (Dell) using this method. I think I did the overnight-freeze-in-ziploc followed by charge routine 2x, and we were able to run the laptop and get certain impt files off of it.

  25. Jonathan said, on January 25, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Oops I mean “dead” laptop

  26. This site has got all that I was looking for, thanks, I will bookmark this.Thanks for your helpfull tips,Cheers!!

  27. Anonymous said, on April 10, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    For anyone thinking that freezing batteries is crazy, its is not. And actually for some one used to “Bake” motherboards and graphics cards in a regular oven it actually sounds quite safe.


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