Are Third Party Laptop Batteries Actually Safe? {ANSWERED}

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Even the best made laptop batteries will eventually lose their ability to store charge and generate electricity.

This leaves many laptop owners (ourselves included) with the choice of either replacing their worn out battery, or replacing the entire device – which in the case of laptops these days is an expensive decision to make. 

Going with the more sustainable option of replacing the battery alone introduces a problem.

Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) laptop batteries are expensive and often difficult to source, whilst the alternative of batteries made by third parties, which are cheap and readily available, might not work as advertised and may even be unsafe!

Attempting to make cost savings by sourcing a laptop battery from an unproven third party may expose you to low grade cells that have poorly designed casings and circuitry that doesn’t prevent it from overcharging. When combined these shortcomings could mean the battery presents a real risk of catching fire. 

So what to do? Is it possible to get the best of both worlds and pick up a low cost battery that is safe and reliable? Well, yes!

You just need to know what to look for. 

In this article we’ll give you a checklist to identify a well made laptop battery from one that is poorly put together, and in doing so help avoid the ill effects suffered when a laptop overheats.

Is it safe to replace a laptop battery?

Replacing an old worn out battery in a laptop is a standard maintenance step that will help prolong the lifespan of your device. 

Replacing a laptop battery with an OEM part or a high quality unit is an extremely safe undertaking.  Risk is only introduced if you opt to install a cheap third party battery that may have been poorly designed and built.

What are the differences between genuine and third party laptop batteries? 

Chemically speaking the reactions that occur within a genuine and third party laptop battery are the same. 

Lithium ions pass between an anode (positive electrode) and a cathode (negative electrode) in a reversible reaction that allows power to be delivered to the device or stored as charge. 

The way in which genuine OEM and third party batteries are designed, manufactured and tested however can be vastly different, and this is where safety concerns can creep in. 

Here’s a few pointers to help you do your own due diligence, and identify the differences between genuine and third party laptop batteries that make some safer than others.

It starts from the very first time you set eyes on the product listing and continues right through to the first few charge cycles. 

Some of the differences between genuine and third party laptop batteries can be found by paying attention to the following aspects:

  1. Circuitry
  2. Cell grade
  3. Capacity
  4. Condition
  5. Warranty
  6. Safety accreditations of seller
  7. Reputation of seller

1. Circuitry

OEM batteries have in-built safety features that prevent it from overcharging or short circuiting. 

These are crucial to the design as fitting batteries with ever increasing capacity into smaller and slimmer cases has caused even the largest and most advanced tech giants difficulties (remember the issues Samsung had with the Galaxy Note 7?). 

Some of this essential circuitry may be absent from third party laptop batteries. 

Now the third party is hardly going to advertise that their product cuts corners on safety features so the best we can do when shopping around for a replacement battery is to check the spec contains a mention of what safety features it does contain.

Internal circuitry that prevents the battery from overheating when charging will not be visible when a new battery does arrive so to test if everything is in good working order you might have to judge by touch. 

Keep an eye on when the battery indicator on the laptop signals 100% charged, and note whether the temperature continues to increase. 

Do not install a low cost laptop battery and leave it charging unattended overnight – this is when the incidences of fires started as a result of faulty batteries is at its highest.

2. Cell grade

Laptop batteries are given a cell grade (A, B or C)  to reflect the quality of the product, safety and lifespan. 

It’s a subjective measurement assigned by each manufacturer in which Grade A is the highest quality battery, with Grade C being the lowest. 

So don’t be fooled into thinking that just because the listing contains the phrase Grade A batteries that you’ll be receiving a top quality unit. 

What this means in application is simply that Grade C batteries will need replacing first, and Grade B batteries will need to be replaced far earlier than Grade A. 

Moreover the lowest cost third party batteries will often resort to re-using the cells of previously discarded batteries. 

This is a good idea from a sustainability standpoint but useless if the ability of the battery is compromised to a point where it doesn’t fulfill its purpose.

3. Capacity

The capacity of the battery refers to the total amount of energy stored within the battery. 

Although not always the case OEM batteries tend to have a higher capacity and will provide a longer working time on a single charge. 

A lower capacity doesn’t imply lower quality, however it’s worth bearing in mind that poorly made third party units are reported to fall well below their stated mAh values. .

4. Condition

The Lithium-ion exchange in laptop batteries should allow energy to be stored and released slowly over time. 

Should this energy be released suddenly through a fault in a key component such as the separator that prevents cells from touching one another, there is the potential for the battery to become dangerous to the tune of extreme heat, fire and even a small explosion!

Physically holding and inspecting a battery in hand (whether third party or OEM) will often allow you to identify imperfections that point towards poor build quality.

Does the casing contain any imperfections like scores, depressions or scuff marks? Is the casing warped?

5. Warranty

A willingness to accept a refund or replacement is often a reflection of how confident the seller is in the quality of goods they have produced. 

It won’t take too long for a poor quality battery to begin showing its true colors so even a short warranty such as 90 days is extremely valuable as it should give you enough time to test run the battery and check for overheating or drastic reduction in charge delivery.

For reference, OEM products are often accompanied with a 1 year warranty.

Fitting a third party battery into your device may void any system warranty that came when you first purchased the laptop. Always read the fine print of the warranty T&Cs before making your decision.

6. Seller reputation

Third party laptop batteries from suppliers who have a brand that they value and want to protect are likely to pose no risk to the device or safety concern to you.

Bad news spreads quickly so the sentiment expressed in reviews by existing customers is well worth checking as they will quickly tell you if the seller is one to avoid.

Firstly check reviews to find out whether the product performs as advertised and expected.

In addition, and more importantly is the response taken by the company retrospectively to address customer concerns or faulty units – this is crucial to know before investing in a non-genuine product. 

It’s well known that reviews are subject to manipulation on even the largest of online marketplaces, and so its best to double check any brand name on a Customer Review site such as Trustpilot.

And if there are no reviews to be found on Customer Review sites, well then that in itself should be a bit of a red flag.

7. Seller accreditation

If the seller is a manufacturer, look out for indications of good quality control measures in the product listing. This might be reflected in one of the following accreditations. 

UL: Stands for accreditation from Underwriter Laboratories, an independent safety certification company. 

Fcc: Tested and found to comply with the Federal Communications Commission.  

CE Marking: Used by manufacturers to declare conformity with EU safety, health and environmental requirements. 

Where can you find the best aftermarket laptop batteries?

If OEM replacement batteries are not an option for your laptop either due to budget or supply issues, there are still a number of reputable manufacturers who cater for multiple tech brands.

Here are a couple well established companies that have proven themselves to be the best of the bunch. 

Third Party Name Manufacturer or Reseller? Laptop Brands Supported?
Manufacturer using Samsung Cells
HP, Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo
Reseller of Dell OEM parts
Dell

Takeaway

Summing up the feedback of laptop owners who have opted for the third party battery route – bad experiences stemming from safety concerns seem to be rare. 

Far more likely appears to be the case that the battery will begin life by performing well and as expected, only to fail far quicker than the genuine OEM products. 

Sometimes, depending on the price difference between genuine and third party units, it might make economic sense to go with the imitation products. However for the complete package of safety, performance and sustainability OEM products win out every time.

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