Laptops, the portable incarnations of full-size desktops, is what many of us swear by today. Whether we work in the IT or just from home, laptops can come in handy anytime. With added portability and wireless capabilities, laptops can sure make work easier.
There are some of us keep our laptops hooked on to the power outlets whenever we can find one, while others wouldn’t want to plug in even when the battery level drops below 10%.
The question – is it the best way to optimize your laptop’s battery life?
Laptop Batteries and their Common Concerns
When it comes to laptop worries, batteries are one of the first things to keep in mind. They will need replacing every few years, even if the laptop works great otherwise since batteries are bound to get exhausted from use.
The more you charge and discharge it, the sooner would you have to find a new battery. Typical laptop batteries come in two types: lithium-ion and lithium-polymer.
Although they are technologically different, they broadly function in the same way – with the charge being generated with the movement of electrons.
These can be fully charged and discharged for about 300-500 times before they show any signs of stress or overuse.
Should You Keep Your Laptop Plugged In?
Here are some of the things that you should know which can help you answer your question easily.
- Know if your battery can be overcharged
A laptop’s battery can never technically be ‘overcharged’. There are numerous fail-safe systems built into your laptop that cease the charging process once the system knows the batteries are at 100%.
- Know what causes battery damage
Fully discharging a battery and leaving it over time will damage it. Batteries can be permanently damaged if left without a charge for weeks along. This is so because, without any charge, the chemical composition of the battery will be susceptible to change if kept in the discharged state for too long and it can render the chemical process irreversible.
This doesn’t mean you should leave it on 100% as storing them in this state is also not ideal. It will take months together to cause catastrophic damage to it.
Nevertheless, if you plan on not using your laptop for a month or two and would like to have a longer battery shelf life, charge it to about 50% and remove it and store it someplace safe, cool and dry.
- Try To Keep Your Battery in the Optimum Condition
It is a good idea to shut down your laptop when you are not using it. This ensures that your battery does not drain out unnecessarily, which can help prolong the battery shelf life. Additionally, you need to note that the longer you use the battery, the shorter would its shelf life become.
- Remove the battery If You Can
If you are not going to use your laptop for a while, it is a good idea to remove the battery from the back. You can only do this if your laptop has a removable battery but doing so ensures that your battery isn’t exposed to any heat which could lessen its battery life.
So can we leave laptops charging indefinitely?
With all this being said, is it okay to leave your batteries charged for all eternity? Well, not quite so.
- Batteries may not be affected by ‘overcharge’ as people think. However, they definitely are sensitive to the heat generated.
- Elevated temperatures, in excess of over 50 degrees Celsius will certainly shorten the lifespan of the battery irrespective of all the other factors.
- Various components in a laptop will give out heat and leave your laptop powered on for long amounts of time will certainly cause more trouble than you think.
- Although they may not be immediately apparent, various studies conducted have shown that a typical laptop battery used for about 10 hours in its maximum capacity with the charger connected decreased the charge cycles it could withstand by almost half.
This is why industries often express concern with keeping their batteries connected for long. If you’re absolutely concerned with causing no damage and extending your battery life to it’s maximum, you can remove the battery and leave the laptop connected in order to keep it away from the heat.
What If You Buy a New Laptop?
Newer advancements in heat dissipation technologies are changing the situation. Newer laptops come with a clock and can protect itself if it gets a tad bit too warm.
Even Apple, whose website asked users to not leave batteries in their Macbooks plugged in for a long time, doesn’t say it anymore. Dell doesn’t have a problem with leaving their batteries in charge indefinitely.
However, HP advises against leaving them plugged in for more than two weeks.
Different tech companies have different opinions; some say their batteries will never be affected when kept for a charge for a long time. Others advise against it.
The bottom line:
Is it okay to leave your laptop charged for a long time? Possibly so.
However, it isn’t a good idea to try and have your laptop at the 100% level all the time. Sure, your battery will wear down with time either way, but you do need to carry out discharge cycles once a while to have a healthy battery. Occasional discharges and recharges, for instance, is known to help your battery calibrate better with the device. Put the battery through full charge cycles occasionally – like once a month.
It can help them get the right battery level to you. So, you won’t have your Windows laptop telling you there is around 20% power left when it’s actually zero and you find your laptop just shutting down suddenly in the middle of work.
No matter what you do, do remember that your laptop’s battery will have less capacity or energy with time and you will need a replacement sooner than later. Ensuring proper practices just helps you get a better battery for a longer period of time.
Do note that your laptop battery will decrease its effectiveness over time no matter what you do, saving them from the heat will only increase the time left before they die out.