Had the common problem with this laptop and am unable to run off AC power. I bought an external battery charger (cheap) and an extra battery (generic-very cheap) and have been running the computer off battery power (charging the other battery when one is in use) with no issues from either battery for a couple of weeks.
Last night when I swapped batteries, the computer would not turn on from the more recently ordered battery. The computer still runs fine using the original battery, and the new battery shows as fully charged in the external battery charger. I have since then used the original battery to the point of being out of power, charged it again and again successfully used it, so the charger is working. The new battery had been working perfectly until this time. There does not appear to be anything unusual stuck in the battery, it still fits into place securely in the computer and on the external charger, but the computer does nothing when I try to turn it on with this battery.
So my questions are: Is there a way to fix this battery so that it will work? If not, then since I will obviously want to buy another battery should I avoid the lowest tier of batteries or use only Dell brand products to avoid recurrence of this problem? Could this possibly be indicative of any deeper problem? (I'm thinking not since it runs fine using the other battery, but would like to know if anyone knows otherwise.)
If the battery die in just a few week, it is really of the lowest quality. I will suggest not to fix it. I am more concern about your safety (they can short circuit and explode). Just dispose it appropriately.
Possible safety is an excellent point since the battery was so cheap.
However, one thing that I don't understand is the battery does not appear to be dead-the external battery charger reads it as >80% charged, and indeed when I last had it in the computer it was reading at >60% and more than 2 hours of life-I took it out only because I was done for the time being and wanted a fully charged battery when I next used it.
I am more or less resigned to not being able to use this battery again (for the safety reasons you mentioned) which is not a huge loss at a cost of less than $15, but what I am wondering is how likely this problem is to reoccur if I order another generic battery. Dell brand batteries are like over $100, and although there is a variety of prices for the generic ones I am not sure I can distinguish their qualities by looking at their listings online. I don't want to order another battery to have the same problem occur again, but the computer is not very useful when I only have one battery that must be recharged every couple of hours.
As its been discussed over this tread, safety is definitely a concern here. That is why Dell always recommends to use geniun products as we test it on our systems.
However I do see that the actual issue here is with the Dell charger than the battery as the original battery works here. If possible you can try a known good AC Adapetr from any of your friends who have a similar Dell system and then if it works, you can purchase a AC Adapter for your system from our website and that fixes the issue.
If another adapter fails it could be an issue with the motherboard itself. Please get in touch with our tech support and we can help you diagnose the issue. If you have any concerns getting help over the phone, reach out to us at @dellcares on twitter or facebook.com/dell and we would be glad to help.
In reply to Shridhar, your advice is correct, but I tried this diagnostic a long time ago and the problem is not the adapter itself. The problem is indeed related to the connection to the motherboard. I had previously had this problem twice before while the computer was under 3 year warranty and both times they sent someone who replaced the motherboard and fixed the problem. As I'm sure you're aware, this is a serious design flaw in this model and a common problem (and a reason that I will never purchase another Dell in spite of the good service.) It is no longer covered by warranty, and spending ~$200 to replace the motherboard on a 5 year old laptop does not seem like a wise investment, so instead I looked for the cheaper alternative of running off of battery power. Until this problem with the battery, it has been a very cost effective solution.
More generally: For diagnostic purposes/curiosity, I used the external battery charger to discharge and recharge the generic battery. It now works normally in the laptop. However, I will probably dispose of it anyway since the previous failure suggests reason to be concerned.