Dell Inspiron 5150 power weirdness

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I have a Dell Inspiron 5150 laptop computer.  It is over 4 years old
and out of warranty.

This week I was using it and it told me my battery was nearly dead.
But I didn't think I was using the battery, the external power supply
was connected to the computer and was plugged into a wall socket.  The
power supply light was on.

So I powered off the computer and waited an hour or so and when I
powered it back up, the battery had recharged, but it was still
powered by the battery, not the external power supply.  It's like the
power supply was able to charge the battery but not run the computer.

So I powered off the computer, removed the battery and powered it back
on.  The machine booted and worked fine without the battery.  I left
it on for a while then I powered it back off, installed the battery
and booted again.

It started this time and ran from the external power supply.  So
basically it's back to normal.

So what's the problem, battery, power supply, motherboard, weak/strong
electricity and/or something else?

Would the setting on the Power Control Panel affect this?

It's an old machine but I'm happy with it for now, I'd like to use it
for another year or so if possible but  I don't want to throw good
money after bad on repairs.

Thanks for any help you can give!

David Swanger

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