Being stuck inside a room with your computer can be as bad as being behind the bars or something, so laptops were a must to invent back in the days. Laptops are built for mobility and they couldn’t be mobile without a battery inside. The bad news is even though it’s been quite some time since laptops were invented, there haven’t been astonishing improvements in terms of battery life for these devices…
Over 30 years of progress resemble today in some maximum 18 hours of battery life for laptops, and obviously, those which can provide 18 hours are anything but cheap. You have to pay a heavy price for that long lasting battery and there’s even some worse news: they won’t last forever 18 hours. Every battery functions by the same rules and they wear out in time.
Scientists say that a mobile world battery, Li-Ion, will wear out 30% every year… So, after 2 years of use, if you buy some Dell XPS laptop with 18 hours battery life, you will be able to keep that laptop on for less than 7 hours… It seems like batteries were Achilles’ heel from the first time they were used with laptops and so are nowadays… But don’t be afraid to buy a laptop because of short battery life. Batteries can be replaced and there are even tips for improving their life while you use your laptop.
How to improve your laptop’s battery life
Even though batteries don’t last forever, you can get extra life out of them by following some simple and kind of logical 17 tips. You won’t be able to prevent wearing out, but you can slow down the process and enjoy maximum battery life for a longer period of life.
17 tips for improving your laptop’s battery life
- Make use of Battery Saving Mode – or ECO Mode. You can find this setting in Power Management tab in any kind of Microsoft Windows. Whenever you let the laptop idle, don’t forget to activate Battery Saving Mode. It will lower screen brightness and take offer important process for achieving longer battery life.
- Be careful with Bluetooth. If you don’t use a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse, turn that off, otherwise your battery life is going to suffer. We all know that Bluetooth is one of the most power hungry internal component of any device. Be careful with Wi-Fi as well. Deactivate it if you don’t use it.
- Turn off the backlit keyboard. If you don’t use your laptop at night or in a low light environment, try to turn keyboard lights off completely because they will drain your battery. Many people don’t consider this a key step for improving battery life, but as time passes, the wear out takes place.
- Lower screen brightness. Everybody knows that the screen drains batteries in general: laptops, smartphones, tablets, 2in1s, etc. Lower the screen brightness beyond 50% and you will get a lot of extra battery and help slowing down wear out process.
- Lower the screen resolution. You would be surprised if you knew how many minutes of extra battery someone can enjoy if he lowers screen resolution from 1080p to 720p. That means from 1920 x 1080 Full-HD, to 1366 x 768 HD.
- Stop useless background processes. If software runs in the background, that means trouble for your battery, unless of course you need that software. If you don’t need it, stop it from System Tray or hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete and go to Processes tab. Shut down things like TeamViewer, Google Drive, Dropbox if they are not needed.
- Don’t multitask. If you let programs run in background, you will drain the battery much faster. My advice is to multitask when you are connected to wall, otherwise you will turn on power hungry tasks which will make your battery life so miserable.
- Don’t remove the battery. There are some myths that say you can improve battery life and avoid wear out by simply removing the battery when connected with the power cord. That’s pure bullshit. You will break the battery and this is one of the most stupid myths regarding laptop batteries. We’ll discuss them all later.
- Buy an extra battery. You can double your battery life by simply attaching another battery. This advice is good for travelers who have that kind of laptop which has a removable battery and don’t mind changing batteries on the road. Laptop batteries are big and heavy too. Keep that in mind…
- Buy a SSD. SSD means better efficiency. Because it doesn’t have moving parts inside, it uses less power than a mechanical HDD and that means more battery life for the user. Of course, the impact of the upgrade from HDD to SSD is not huge, but combined with other advice it can bring some improvements.
- Provide maintenance. Even though these are Li-Ion batteries which can’t forget their maximum capacity it’s a wise thing to perform some basic maintenance like discharging up to 5% than charging it back to full, to help calibration.
- Don’t let battery die. If you are full discharging the battery all the time up to 0% and the laptop shuts down, that battery will wear out more quickly. People from Cadex Electronics say that there’s a sweet spot for plugging in, somewhere between 40% and 80%… When it gets to 80%, unplug power cord.
- Be aware of temperature. What’s above 95F means trouble for your battery, which can be seriously damaged. Batteries weren’t made to take that hit. Avoid to use laptops, charging laptops in excessive heat environments. Avoid letting your laptop in direct sunlight, or in your car in summer for a long period of time. This will kill the battery. As for cold, the cold doesn’t affect batteries that much but don’t put them in the freezer.
- Get rid of dust. From time to time, once every 2 or 3 months detach your battery (if it’s detachable) and give it a nice clean. Clean those metallic contacts with some napkins and be sure nothing else stands between laptop and its battery. Perform this maintaining ritual more often if you use the laptop outside.
- Be careful with hibernation. A lot of people think that putting the laptop in hibernation mode will help improving battery life and avoid wearing it No way, hibernation won’t make it better because the laptop will struggle to wake up and consume much more power than saves.
- Keep it above 50% if you don’t use the laptop. It’s not a good idea to let the laptop with 0% battery for 6 months or even years. If you are going to park that laptop and let it to rest, make sure it has at least 60% power and charge it from time to time, otherwise, the battery will die forever.
- Don’t forget about software updates. Operating Systems as Windows and MAC are constantly improving and engineers behind Microsoft and Apple products are trying every day to offer a better experience to users. There are OS updates which can improve battery life and prevent wear out.
These are the most important 17 tips related to improving laptop battery life and slowing down the wear out process. Next, we’re going to talk about battery problems and how to fix them if there are any solutions.
How to fix battery issues
Batteries are part of technology and until now, nobody invented some piece of equipment that would last forever. Everything obeys the laws of Physics and this should make you understand that batteries will always wear out or get broken. When a battery stops being recognized by laptop there’s not much you can do. If this happens, there are two possibilities: battery is dead, or the laptop needs a serious check. In 95% of the cases, it seems to be a dead battery. If the battery dies, the only solution is to buy another one because they are considered to be consumables. Think at your car battery, after a few years not only that it becomes weaker and weaker, but there’s a high chance to die. Of course, you can make a laptop check to see if the motherboard is ok or the metallic contacts are in good shape, not oxidized, but don’t get high hopes about that.
Plugged in, not charging
If this type of error shows up, don’t despair. Of course, there are high chances of having a dead battery in your laptop, but you might be lucky and resolve this one. Be aware of the fact that you must have a laptop that runs Windows Vista or above OS. The problem is linked to power management software in Windows, which must be uninstalled and installed back. There are 5 steps to do that…
- Go to Device Manager
- Go to Batteries
- Expand Batteries category
- Right click on Microsoft ACPI Compliant Control Method Battery and select UNINSTALL . Be careful, do not remove Microsoft AC Adapter driver or any other ACPI compliant driver.
- Click the small button on Device manager called Scan for hardware changes. Windows will see that power management software doesn’t exist and will reinstall it.
After this 5 steps, you should get rid of Plugged in, not charging error. If not, you should get used with the idea that your battery is dead and gone forever and you should look for some replacement.
How to protect your laptop battery
We talked about improving battery life and fixing battery issues, so now we’re going to talk about how to take care and protect your battery. Having a healthy battery means having a good laptop which will serve your purpose for a longer time. After all, the battery is first to wear out on laptops and make them not so future proof… There are some simple ways for protecting your battery, let’s talk about them a little bit.
- Don’t remove battery if you are using your laptop as a desktop replacement. I saw this done by many and it’s not ok. That battery needs some charging – discharging cycles, otherwise it’s going to die. Nothing lasts forever, you know…
- If you don’t use the laptop for a long period of time, charge it at least once a month. The same as above, battery needs charging – discharging cycles and if you drain it out and stays drained for months, it’s going to be already dead by the time you remember that there’s no charge in the laptop.
- Don’t let your laptop in your car in the summer days, in excessive heat. There are situations like road trips when we are just forgetting the laptop inside a boiling car in summer days. If you do so, expect to worst for that battery.
- Clean metallic contacts every month. Obviously, you have to do this very often if you are using that laptop outside your house or in a very humid environment.
There are a lot of battery myths regarding Li-Ion units so next we’re going to tackle the most known ones and the most ridiculous ones. People talk a lot but not always they tell the truth about laptop batteries. With that being said, let’s see…
You must disconnect charger when battery full
Many people do this thinking the battery will be damaged. This is false, operating systems have power management applications which pause charging when battery is full. You have nothing to worry about if you let the charger connected to your laptop all the time.
Full discharge will damage battery
Because we’re talking about Li-Ion batteries, there should not be any problems discharging up to 0%, but the reality sometimes can be quite different. Even though modern batteries can’t forget their maximum capacity, scientists recommends never draining the battery out and try to charge when it drops around 40% of capacity.
Replacing battery is piece of cake
Replacing the laptop’s battery is actually a pain in the butt because by the time you need a replacement, at least 2-3 years after you bought the laptop, you won’t be able to find so easily some replacement because laptops became obsolete much faster than 3 years and manufactures stop selling them. Which makes it worst is the fact that you need the same capacity battery, it’s not a good idea to disobey V-A stats even though the battery fits. You will need an identical one as replacement.
Buy this laptop and enjoy 20 hours of battery life
Well, this is the biggest bullshit ever. All manufactures advertise their machines a little bit enthusiastically. You will never get 20 hours of battery life from a laptop if you use it as you normally do, with max brightness Wi-Fi ON, gaming and stuff like that. I personally have no idea how manufacture get around those numbers, because when you get your hands on those laptops, the reality is quite different. Apple says 12 hours of battery life browsing the web via Wi-Fi but if you will watch some twitch.tv action I am quite concerned about those 12 hours of battery life.
You need original charger
The original charger can sometimes get fried or you just lose it, or break it. Is it necessary to pay a lot for some branded charger? Let’s say you have a HP laptop, do you need a HP charger designed especially for that laptop? Well, no. There are compatible chargers too, much cheaper or you can use other laptops charger too if they have close stats to yours and if the jack fits yours. Be careful at volts – amps stats and everything will be all right. The manufacturer’s interest is to rip you off every time you need some specific part as replacement.
Put the battery in the freezer
I saw many times this tip on the internet and my question is how that battery will support condensation? I hope you will never try this because to be honest, once a battery starts to die on you, there’s no way back. Putting it inside a freezer won’t revive the battery.