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Did airport X-rays damage the battery?

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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February 1, 2010 1:16:14 AM

My wife and I just went on a trip and she brought her laptop along. When going through security, she passed her macbook through the x-ray machine without shutting it down. I was a little ticked off to see the laptop come out of the x-ray machine with the sleep mode light on. [:mousemonkey:2]

Sure as heck, the battery won't hold a charge now. It runs when plugged into the wall but the battery is at 0% and won't charge up after two days of being plugged in. Before all of this, it was holding a charge and working just fine. I am hoping that just the battery got screwed over in this ordeal but has anyone had this happen before or ever heard of airport x-ray machines killing off lithium batteries?
February 1, 2010 1:18:50 AM

Never heard of this before. If anything a metal detector is more likely to cause damage as it uses large magnets to detect the metal. I'll do some research and see if I can come up with a concrete answer for ya
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May 31, 2010 10:29:58 AM

SpinachEater said:
My wife and I just went on a trip and she brought her laptop along. When going through security, she passed her macbook through the x-ray machine without shutting it down. I was a little ticked off to see the laptop come out of the x-ray machine with the sleep mode light on. [:mousemonkey:2]

Sure as heck, the battery won't hold a charge now. It runs when plugged into the wall but the battery is at 0% and won't charge up after two days of being plugged in. Before all of this, it was holding a charge and working just fine. I am hoping that just the battery got screwed over in this ordeal but has anyone had this happen before or ever heard of airport x-ray machines killing off lithium batteries?


I have just had the same thing happen. My 3-year-old laptop battery had only been partially discharged a few times and was in perfect health. After putting it through the airport x-ray the faulty battery light flashed constantly and the battery would not charge at all. So I upgraded the bios after advice from Dell tech help. Now the battery charges to 99% but the light is still flashing. I reckon the battery was damaged by the x-ray at the airport? What else could it be? It was with me, in it's case, turned off the whole trip. I'm not looking forward to the airport x-ray on the way home.
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January 6, 2011 2:29:08 PM

Mine is not as serious, but my netbook was in sleep mode when it went through the x-ray. It is only six months old and before the x-ray, always charged to 100%. After x-ray, max was immediately 89% and has been declining slowly for a week (currently max is 84%). A good battery is the one thing this netbook has going for it. Now that has been compromised with airport security.
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a c 433 D Laptop
January 7, 2011 2:27:45 AM

I think the electronics that indicates the battery level has been damaged. whether the electronics is in the laptop or the battery itself, I don't know.

Do you have a friend with the same model so that you can try out his/her battery in your laptop?
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March 4, 2011 5:29:47 PM

I flew last summer from Denver to Seattle and my Blackberry and Sony wireless headphones (both have built in rechargeable batteries) have never worked since. They get no power, so it's obviously the batteries.
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Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 10, 2011 12:11:25 AM

Obviously nobody here knows jack about batteries.
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a b D Laptop
October 10, 2011 3:55:54 AM

When I travelled last year, I have my laptop, phone and camera with me.

They are the same after about 20+ x-ray scan. The laptop was on standby when it was scanned at one time and the phone was always on when scanned.

I know that x-ray cannot harm HDD and the electronic component in there but you you always get the hunch of something may get damaged by x-ray.

As it turns out, nothing happens and I am still using the same laptop and phone. X-ray damage electronics is myth busted for me.
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Anonymous
a b D Laptop
February 3, 2013 10:27:46 PM

I have had similar experiences as the above.

Three times, I have carried my MacBookPro in the hand luggage in sleep mode, that is just with the lid closed, and the battery was 95-100%.

After the security check x-ray, the computer goes dead. Cannot start up on the battery. It needs to be plugged in via the electrical cord. Then it starts up and shows 0% battery. It charges alright though to a 100% and works normally.

No doubt that the x-rays affects the battery. Three times the same.

Next time I shall try to turn it off completely before going through and see if that makes a difference.
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a c 433 D Laptop
February 3, 2013 10:42:27 PM

It is generally recommended that you turn off any electronic device before putting it through an X-Ray machine...

... unless you do not mind spending money to replace expensive electronic devices...

I've had my laptop scanned a few times when it was off. No issues whatsoever.
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February 3, 2013 10:51:01 PM

Generally, shooting volatile radiation at an electrically active object is poorly advised.
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February 4, 2013 4:53:24 AM

As others have said, the battery itself will not be damaged by going through an X-Ray machine. I've done crazy things with lithium chemistry batteries (various sterilization techniques, including radiation) and the batteries are fine. But the key is to make sure you don't have active electronics in the machine. If it's on and drawing power you run the risk of any circuitry that is energized. Most device manufacturers don't design around this or test for it, so some devices may be fine and some may break. In my experience, I've flown with the same laptop for 6.5 years and the battery still holds a decent charge. I always turn it off before security.
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