Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dell Recalls Batteries

Ahh the news could not have come at a better time. I was having problems with the battery that came with my Dell Inspiron 9300. Just 7 days before Dell recalled the batteries, I found out that my laptop battery was getting very very hot. I usually put my laptop on my lap and so I could feel the severe heat coming from right under the battery. It became very hot at one concentrated location. May be one or two cells in the battery has problems and were heating up. So I immediately switched off my laptop. Opened battery pack and inspected it for any leaks or burns. But seemed perfectly OK. So I put it back in and this time it did not get so hot. I though the issue might have got fixed. How wrong I was!

A day after that incident occured, I unplugged my laptop's power supply to move it to a different room and that was my mistake (and my luck too). As soon as I unplugged it my laptop died because the battery was dead. I lost all my unsaved work :-(. I always leave my laptop on 24/7 and I like to keep it that way so that the random cron jobs on my Gentoo Linux, can do their thing. And I usually move my laptop from room to room and that is pretty much all I need the battery for. I have it plugged in all the time and rarely work on battery. So it was all too hurtful to buy a battery just for the few minutes I need my laptop to run on batteries. Anyway I decided to buy one. But kiss my good luck, Dell is recalling the batteries. Read more at

CPSC, Dell Announce Recall of Notebook Computer Batteries
Dell recalls 35,000 notebook batteries
Dell Recalls Batteries Because of Fire Threat

Before my battery died completely I was observing that it was holding less and less charge for the past 3 months. When I first brought my laptop I could get around 2 hours of battery life. But over the past month or two, the time came down from 30 minutes to 10 minutes to 5 minutes. I know batteries tend to loose the capacity overtime but not this drastic.

I was surprised that Sony with it's reputation for producing excellent products made this mistake. At least there is some good news for Dell since Sony has agreed to share the cost of battery recall with Dell. More information can be found at Sony to help pay for Dell recall.

An interesting comment from the above article, "The defect was caused by a short circuit that happens when microscopic metal particles break through the lithium ion cell wall and contact a battery anode, said Sony spokesman Rick Clancy." That explains why my battery became so hot near 1 or 2 cells. One more interesting quote from the same article "Dell is not known for their engineering prowess, are they? Sony is an engineering company, and Dell is a marketing and sales company."

For now I am happy my battery will be replaced for free. Good that I did not make a hasty decision to buy another battery!

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