Make An External Battery For Your MacBook For Under $60 [How-To]

Make An External Battery For Your MacBook For Under $60 [How-To]

This isn't the easiest hack in the world, but it'll save you around $190.

External batteries for our Apple notebooks aren’t cheap, but they’re hugely worthwhile if you’re frequently on the road with little access to a power outlet. But before you shell out $250 for a ready-made solution, why not make your own for less than $60?

Evan Rodgers over at The Verge has put together this 8-minute clip that takes you through the process of creating your own external battery for a 13-inch MacBook Pro, or a MacBook Air. All you need is a willingness to “get down and dirty with a soldering iron,” and the following:

Then all you have to do is follow the steps in Evan’s video to put this hack together.

Make An External Battery For Your MacBook For Under $60 [How-To]

You may be wondering why you need two CCTV batteries when Evan uses only one in his video, but he explains why this is best:

In the video I only use one CCTV battery, which does work, but because of voltage droop on the battery the car charger will power off after about half of the battery is depleted. This is actually a good thing, since it prevents strain on the voltage regulator which, if this fail safe were not present, could overheat the regulator. To remedy this, attaching two CCTV batteries in parallel with a diode between each battery will allow for a much higher current draw before the voltage droop takes effect. The blocking diodes prevents current from traveling back into the battery. This could happen if you were to use one charged battery and one depleted battery.

It’s also worth taking a look at Evan’s guide over at The Verge for a more detailed look at how this hack works. And if you do decide to try it yourself, let us know how you get on.

  • rafmac

    A great idea, but :-
    (a) I’m concerned the video doesn’t highlight that the positive and negative wires must be insulated from each other before the final heatshrink is sealed in place. At the very least a short circuit fire could result, or at worst, a battery explosion.
    (b) It would also be prudent to put a 3 or 4 amp fuse in between the battery pack and the charger, so that the mac doesn’t sacrifice itself to save the charger.
    (c) Another thing that isn’t pointed out that a special Lithium polymer balance charger is required to charge battery, and
    (d) that if the battery is drained to 100%, the life of battery will only be about 300 cycles. If the battery is only discharged to 80% or even better 60%, there will be substantially longer life, in the order of 800 to 1200 cycles.
    See http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries
    for a comprehensive discussion on Lithium based batteries.
    Cheers
    Raffy

  • jb510

    A great idea, but :-
    (a) I’m concerned the video doesn’t highlight that the positive and negative wires must be insulated from each other before the final heatshrink is sealed in place. At the very least a short circuit fire could result, or at worst, a battery explosion.
    (b) It would also be prudent to put a 3 or 4 amp fuse in between the battery pack and the charger, so that the mac doesn’t sacrifice itself to save the charger.
    (c) Another thing that isn’t pointed out that a special Lithium polymer balance charger is required to charge battery, and
    (d) that if the battery is drained to 100%, the life of battery will only be about 300 cycles. If the battery is only discharged to 80% or even better 60%, there will be substantially longer life, in the order of 800 to 1200 cycles.
    See http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries
    for a comprehensive discussion on Lithium based batteries.
    Cheers
    Raffy

    Ditto on the video not showing taping the pos/neg wires… Otherwise cool video… I’m off to hunt for high capacity batteries now…

  • Theo Davies

    Would this power a macbook without a battery for a short period of time?
    perhaps just in sleep mode?

    The reason I ask Is, I can change my official battery when using the mains PSU. I’m looking to change it whilst not around a mains supply without shutting the computer down.

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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