Poor Battery Life on Latitude D620

Dawid Lorenz, myself, and a number of other folks (read the comments on Dawid’s page, and also on the product pages for the D620 batteries) have all experienced poor battery life on Dell Latitude D620’s that are typically less than six months old. There may or may not be a high failure rate for this battery model, and this page details my experiences in diagnosing the health of my battery and obtaining a replacement under warranty.

Determining Battery Health

There are several methods of determining your battery’s capacity relative to it’s initial specification (aka “health”).

  • Press and hold the status button located on the bottom of your battery. The five LED lights will initially display your battery’s current charge (five lights is charged, zero lights is discharged), and if you continue pressing the status button for three seconds the lights will blink off and back on again, now displaying the health of your battery. If zero lights appear your battery is operating at greater than 80% of its specified capacity, if five lights appear your battery is operating at less than 60% of its specified capacity. This information was pulled from the D620 User Guide.
  • If you enter the system BIOS by pressing “F2″ during the Dell logo while booting, there is a “Battery Health” option under the “Sytem” menu which gives a qualitative assessment of battery health.
  • The power manager under FC6 tracks the maximum capacity of your battery at its last full charge and generates a health percentage based on the factory spec charge for your battery. To view this information, right-click the battery meter in your gnome panel, select “Information”, and expand the “More” area of the “Device Information” panel.
  • If you kept your initial Windows XP install, there is a battery health meter under the Dell Quickset applet in the lower right hand corner of the screen that gives the same information that is available through the system BIOS.

Obtaining a Replacement Battery

Of course, you always have the option of purchasing a replacement battery from Dell (9-cell or 6-cell), or simply living with degraded battery life. There are some circumstances where you may be able to obtain a replacement under warranty, though. If the BIOS/Quickset health gauges are showing the battery as failed even though it’s less than a year old, Dell will replace it under warranty. According to the phone rep that I spoke to, a battery is considered to have failed when operating at less than 50% of its rated capacity. When I called, my battery was five months old and operating at 50%-60% of it’s capacity (5 death lights, BIOS noted lowered battery life but did not pronounce failure, FC6 power manager rated health at 56%, observed battery life was 50%-60% of expected). I was able to successfully make the case that the battery was clearly borderline and would certainly be replaced within a month or two, and that doing so now was an opportunity to provide excellent customer service whereas forcing me to wait would serve no purpose other than irritating me. To his credit, the phone rep immediately acknowledged that my line of thinking was reasonable, spoke to a supervisor, and was able to authorize the early replacement.

Conclusion

I love my laptop, and in general I’m very happy with it. It does look like there’s a trend toward premature battery failure, though, and if your situation is severe enough you may be eligible for a warranty replacement. Once your replacement arrives, go read about how to monitor and optimize battery performance.

23 thoughts on “Poor Battery Life on Latitude D620

  1. My first 6-cell battery lost ~40% of its capacity ‘just like that’ after around 3 months of using it. Second battery haven’t lost much capacity (around ~15% according to GNOME Power Manager), but its performance was still poor, giving me less than 2.5h away from AC adapter. I’m getting third battery replacement this Tuesday (6/03), as soon as I could be able to check its performance, I’ll post some notes on my website. Stay tuned. :)

  2. I bought two 85Wh D620 batteries last May with my new laptop. The batteries seemed pretty stable for 3 months or so … then they seem to go down hill quickly … Both batteries have had five death lights since Jan. They use to last > 4 hours now they are down to about 40 minutes.

  3. @Sean: Thanks for the comment, it sounds like you need replacements. You know what to do. Hopefully once the returns start piling up they’ll change to a new battery model.

  4. Hi guys,

    Actually also have the same problem, I have D620 from July 2006 and uuring this period I replaced my battery once around May after experiencing almost dead battery (last no more than 20 minutes!). Now the performance of the second battery started to fall down from 2hrs 45mins to not more than 50 minutes. Some of my colleagues at work didnt experience this problem with their D620s (Wonder why?!). I was thinking that it might be getting worse cause am using a docking station. but as I can see that all of u guys suffer the same problem.

    Joe

    PS: I really have to mention and appreciate Toshiba battery! My brother has Toshiba Satelitte A-Something, his battery used to last up to 4 hrs for more than 3 years!!

  5. I also have a 9 Cell battery and right after a year the battery will say 100% and after a bootup and 10-15 mins of use it dies. Dell will not replace either.

    You know it’s sad when your other laptops being 10+ years old still run on the same batteries and last longer than the “NEW” technology!!

  6. I’ve had this same problem as well, with a D620 from July 2006. I had the 9 cell battery, and got a replacement in December 2006 because the Dell battery health meter reported that it should be replaced. My second battery was great until just recently. It only lasts 2 hours, and shows 4 lights on the battery health meter. It’s pretty disappointing that I’m going to have to shell out money for a new battery, since I’m pretty sure I’m out of warranty.

  7. I’ve also had the D620 battery problem. I bought mine new in August 2006 with a 9-cell battery. I started getting the “your-battery-is-at-the-end-of-its-life” pop-up message less than a year later. I replaced the battery last May (2007), and now (January-February 2008), I’m getting the “your-battery-needs-to-be-replaced” pop-up.” The battery used to run for hours; now it runs for about 40 minutes and then shuts down with no warning. I’ll try to get it replaced but I’m not optimistic.

  8. I just got the “You should replace your battery” and I think I have the 9-cell (I paid for the extra on the phone). I got my Inspiron 1501 about 13 months ago. The guy on the phone said the 9 cell would increase my life from 1-2 hours to 4-5 hours. Now 13 months later I get about 2-3 hours. Why would I get this message if my battery is still OK?

  9. My Dell Latitude D620 is suffering from the same issue with terrible battery life, but I’m unfortunately just out of warranty. What do you all recommend as a suitable replacement that one wouldn’t have to replace again in another year?

  10. I haven’t done any research into whether there is a *different* battery available, as mentioned in the post, Dell did replace mine which has been fine since. For systems that are still in warranty, I would check on the warranty implications of third-party batteries before buying one.

  11. has anyone tried ordering third party manufactured batteries instead? maybe they won’t have the same issues… (ordering one now!)

  12. Any good recommendations on a third-party battery? Like other posters, the 18 month old 9-cell battery for the 620 only lasts a few minutes. I figure there’s no point getting another Dell “genuine part” at “genuine prices” when I already know what the quality will be.

  13. I’m a college student trying to replace my Latitude D620 for minimal cost. Any suggestions? I’m TERRIFIED of buying a 3rd party battery in case it messes up my computer and they won’t fix it cuz I used foreign parts in it. But those seem to be the cheapest. Has anyone tried them? Comments? Suggestions? Your help is MUCH appreciated

  14. First of all, this page is terrific, after weeks of hunting for this kind info, I finally rolled the right search.

    I have a D620 and primarily run it off of a docking station. My battery life (like everyone else) had decayed to the point of barely making it past the boot. I just purchased another Dell 6 cell and it is too early to tell, but, appreciate the tips on how to check the battery health, particularly the status button check on the battery.

    I Need a little clarification on the status indicator test.

    This is cut from the Dell D620 documentation link posted above, I am quoting it only for the purposes of describing my question and hope I am not violating any copyrights.

    “To check the battery health, press and hold the status button on the battery charge gauge for at least 3 seconds. If no lights appear, the battery is in good condition, and more than 80 percent of its original charge capacity remains. Each light represents incremental degradation. If five lights appear, less than 60 percent of the charge capacity remains, and you should consider replacing the battery.”

    When I perform the status check on both the old and the new battery, I am getting the same response. I press the status button and get 5 lights, hold for 3 secs, all lights go off and then 5 lights come on for about 3 secs then all lights go off.

    Does the second flash of 5 lights mean both batteries are bad? or just an indicator that that status test is occurring?

  15. @Xipper: Sounds like you have 5 “death lights”, meaning that your battery is operating at less than 60% of its rated capacity. You can verify this with the other tools I’ve mentioned (bios or operating system tools).

  16. My D620 has the same issue. I just ordered my FOURTH battery for my D620 that is about 2 years and 4 months old.

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