When you buy a refurbished Macbook direct from Apple, is the battery in it new? I cannot seem to find a definitive answer on their website or on the internet. I am concerned that the savings from buying a refurb will be cancelled out by having to replace the battery in less than a year.
I called Apple's Sale Support, and I asked them what their policy was for batteries in a refurbished Macbook. Their answer is that the battery will be replaced if it has a defect, but if nothing is wrong with it, then the laptop will include the original battery which may or may not have many used cycles.
This is not answering your question, merely providing a data point, but my refurbished MacBook Air (purchased very late December 2011) currently has a single cycle on its battery. I didn't check the machine when it came out the box, but I'd imagine it was probably at zero cycles when I received it (as I've probably put that cycle on it myself in the month I've had it).
mine had 3 cycles when i received it. currently at 7% life left and have not yet charged it since I got it.
I just received a refurbished 2015 MacBook Pro today (April 20, 2017) and the power cycles shows 0. The product also looks brand new.
I have bought several refurbished iPads before, and the same thing.
I would guess the only way Apple leaves the original battery in there is if it had a relatively low power cycle count. Apple wants you to buy the refurbished products from them. And I stand by it. Every refurbished product I have bought through them looks brand new. Well worth it!
I was told by an Apple employee (not a store employee) that most refurb computers are just returns and open boxes, and not computers that were actually used by anyway.