How I bought a battery for my aged laptop

The aged battery in my aged Dell Inspiron E1505 held on better than I expected, but when I went to upgrade the machine–I upgraded it with two unsupported but perfectly functional 2 GB SODIMMs and then installed a Samsung 830 SSD–the battery went downhill fast.

I did the memory first, and the battery wasn’t happy with me. I literally went from about three hours of battery life to 20 minutes immediately after the change. Maybe it was a coincidence, and maybe not. Installing the SSD extended the battery life a little, but not enough to make it useful. It was time for a new battery.

There are pitfalls with buying batteries for aged hardware. Here’s how I negotiated them.

I went to Amazon.com and searched on the make and model of the laptop, plus the word “battery.” Then I looked at reviews. Some of the aftermarket batteries were clearly junk; if they have more than a couple of reviews and they’re pretty consistent, that’s a battery you don’t want.

I did find a couple of batteries that rated in the 3.5-4 star range. That was promising.

The next thing to check is to make sure that the seller of the battery is the manufacturer of the battery or somehow affiliated. That ensures consistency. If a lot of different people give positive reviews and some others are giving negative reviews, it’s entirely possible they purchased and received different products. Especially when you’re dealing with things like laptop batteries. (Toner cartridges for aged printers are similarly difficult to deal with.)

The better of the two batteries was out of stock, so I ordered the second best. I verified that the default seller when you clicked “Buy now” was the official distributor of the battery, then bought from that seller. The battery arrived about a week later, and I’m getting 5-6 hours of life out of it, depending on what I ask the machine to do.

That’s not bad, and the replacement battery only set me back around $30. A genuine OEM replacement, if I could have found an unused one manufactured sometime in this decade, would have cost at least four times that.

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