- Will leaving my laptop plugged in after it’s charged to 100% decrease the battery life?
Does always charging the laptop cause damage to the battery?
How do I keep my laptop’s battery in good health?
- If you own a laptop, the above questions have probably crossed your mind. Just do a small Google search on this issue, and you will find more than a hundred suggestions.
- But what should you really do? What’s right and what’s wrong? I take a deep plunge into this mystery to try and simplify things for you.
What Happens When You Always Leave Your Laptop Plugged-in?
Lithium-based batteries (almost certainly what’s in your laptop) use the latest cutting-edge technology.
It stops charging as soon as it hits 100% and directs the power to your laptop. So, there’s no real danger of your battery being overcharged if you leave it plugged-in all the time.
Unlike their ancestors (like the Nickel-Cadmium batteries), Lithium-based batteries don’t suffer from the memory effect. They are generally known to be tolerant, low maintenance and are designed to be plugged in as often as possible.
However, at least once a week, you should unplug your laptop and let it drain to around 50% and then charge back up for keeping it working in optimal conditions.
Sigh! You don’t have to worry much about always having your laptop plugged-in. But then, what kills your laptop battery?
The Battery Killers..
Like all things in life, the batteries come with a fixed lifespan. Say about 2.5 to 3 years. All attempts to extend the life of the battery beyond 3 years may frankly not make much of a difference.
However, the ‘Battery Killers’ can greatly reduce the battery lifespan and kill it at the earliest.
Here is what you should avoid:
1. Heat Or High Temperatures.
Probably, it is the most important factor for batteries. A study from BatteryUniversity says that heat/high temperatures kill more than 90% of the laptop batteries worldwide.
This is one reason why I would suggest you use a Cooling Pad with your laptop. Also, it is essential to have a well-ventilated room. Keep the windows open or switch on the fan/AC if you have one.
Temperatures below 0°C or 32°F can also be an issue if you live in colder regions. Freezing temperatures are known to damage the material inside the battery.
2. Completely Discharging Your Battery.
I have just one thing to say in this regard – “Never do it.”
Completely draining any battery is very bad, especially if you don’t recharge it back ASAP (as soon as possible). A battery stores energy in the form of chemicals, and a completely discharged battery may not be able to fully restart those chemical reactions, making the battery lose its capacity to hold the charge.
Having said that, many laptop manufacturers do recommend that you perform a full discharge every few months to help keep the battery properly calibrated and to ensure the stats it reports are accurate.
So, once every 6 months, you need to completely discharge your battery (i.e. let your laptop shutdown itself by draining all the battery) and recharge it ASAP. (Remember: Do recharge right back after you have completely discharged the battery.)
3. Keeping Your Laptop Unused For Longer Periods
Even without being used, Lithium batteries keep draining. So, if you keep your laptop unused for long periods, the battery will eventually lose all its charge and enter a deep discharge state.
As I had already said, completely draining any battery is very bad. The battery will significantly lose its capacity to hold the charge and will die pretty soon.
What Do The Manufacturers Say?
Curiously, different manufacturers have somewhat similar suggestions.
1. Apple used to recommend against leaving a laptop plugged in all the time. Instead, it suggested using the laptop on its battery power on some days and keep it plugged-in on other days. However, recently, it has removed this suggestion from their webpage.
Now, Apple asks you not to expose your Mac to extreme temperatures and remove the laptop case (if present) during charging.
2. HP asks you not to expose your laptop to high temperatures. It says prolonged exposure to heat (inside a hot car, for example) accelerates the deterioration of battery cells.
3. Sony also asks you not to expose battery to high temperatures. They further suggest you remove the battery if you plan to not use the laptop for a month or longer.
4. Samsung asks you to clean your battery’s metal contacts every couple of months with a cloth moistened with rubbing alcohol for efficient power transfer (I personally advise against it).
Samsung doesn’t want you to leave a charged battery dormant for long periods. Also, it suggests the use of a cooling pad when playing high-end games.
5. Dell recommends you avoid exposure to extreme temperatures. Dell says that there is no problem if you always plug-in your laptop to power 24/7.
6. Acer asks you not to completely discharge the battery. It also suggests calibrating every few months.
7. Asus asks you to avoid frequently plugging and unplugging the power adapter to extend the battery’s lifetime.
Best Tips To Maintain Your Laptop’s Battery Life
Here are some of the simple yet powerful tips to keep your laptop’s battery in good health.
1. Keep Your laptop cool. Try and keep it at room temperature all the time. Ensure air can circulate around the laptop, keeping any vents clear and not resting it on a cushion. As I have already told you, cooling pads are a good option.
2. Never, just never completely drain your battery. It is better to shut down your laptop before your battery dies. If at all you completely drained the battery, remember to recharge it ASAP.
3. Please don’t leave your laptop plugged into a charger all day or all night when you’re not using it. For God’s sake, why would you want to do that?
4. Once every 6 months, do the battery formatting or what is called calibration. Let your battery completely discharge till your laptop shuts down. And charge it immediately afterwards.
5. I caution against repeatedly removing and installing a laptop battery for any reason. Neither the contacts nor the latches are designed for regular removal of the battery. A laptop is designed to work with a battery.
6. Do not plug/unplug your laptop unless necessary. The extra charge/discharge cycles will wear your battery down quicker than it should.
7. Always use the recommended charger/adapter. Never use third-party ones.
8. Some laptops have built-in programs to extend battery life or to use your laptop like a desktop. Check out these options by doing a simple right-click on the battery icon at the bottom-right on your laptop. (For example, Dell has a ‘Desktop Battery Mode’ and ‘Dell Extended Battery Life’ options.)
9. If you plan not to use your laptop for a few days, then drain the battery to 70% and shut it down. Later place it in a cool and dry place.
So, Is It Bad To Leave Your Laptop Always Plugged In?
The answer is a big NO.
However, as I had previously said, at least once a week, you should unplug your laptop and let it drain to around 50% and then charge back. As simple as that!
Laptop battery maintenance is easy. Just use it normally as you do. A few common-sense precautions and being aware of the factors that can shorten a laptop battery’s life will ensure your battery lives a long and healthy life.
If anybody asks you to do something extraordinary than what’s suggested in this article, please slap them and say thank you. Such people have made our already complicated life even more complicated. And all they give you are tips that are just battery folklore from older battery designs.
Sigh! You don’t have to worry much about having your laptop plugged-in and charging all the time.