Personal electronics have become such a normal part of life that they can cause panic should they ever fail. When you notice that your laptop battery life dwindling, no longer holding a charge for hours on end, it can feel like a death knell for your computer. However, there’s usually not a reason to worry. All batteries break down over time, but understanding how they work, what harms them, and what sorts of habits make them last longer will give your laptop battery a little boost of vitality.
Reality: No Battery Lasts Forever
All lithium-ion batteries break down with time. The rigors of frequent depletion and recharging will eventually take their toll. However, improved technology has given these types of rechargeable batteries longer lives, and better ways to extend their use. Good habits can make lithium-ion batteries last forever, but several commonplace myths exist that can actually make your battery age faster.
One of the most frequently told falsehoods about lithium-ion batteries is also one of the easiest ways to damage one. Many believe that depleting your battery entirely and then charging it to full is a surefire way to keep it strong, but the opposite is true. Rather than extend the life of a battery, this hastens the speed at which it degrades, shortening its overall life.
A tiny shred of truth exists in this. Bringing your battery to a low charge once or twice a year can be potentially helpful, but repeating this is not. Instead of a complete drain followed by a full charge, I recommend shorter, more frequent charging.
Imagine your laptop battery as a living muscle. Great strain can harm it, but regular, repeated use will help it to stay strong. With no existing benefit to letting your laptop’s battery drop to low levels, practice good behavior by charging it up whenever you can. Both your battery and your laptop have technology to prevent any dreaded “overcharging” of the battery, so don’t be afraid to leave your computer plugged in.
Heating up? Cool Down!
While your laptop is powered up, its components are generating heat. Under average load, this internal heat settles somewhere between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius. Heavy load from high-resolution image-editing or gaming can result in temperatures as high as 100 degrees Celsius! Testing has shown that anything above that average internal temperature can cause a battery’s cells to break down faster.
Always ensure that a laptop’s ventilation area is clear of obstruction, and keep your computer on a flat surface, rather than blankets or cushions. Throughout a laptop’s lifespan, dust and debris can easily build up in the vents. Using a can of compressed air to occasionally clean the fan’s ventilation area will help to prevent damage caused by excess heat.
While your computer is plugged into its AC adapter, removable batteries can actually set aside. If your laptop is running hot and also staying put, take the battery out and set aside. Do remember to replace it before unplugging your laptop, however!
Tweak Your Software Settings
The laptop’s battery life can also be saved by making changes in the computer’s operating system. Screen brightness, processor speed, and sleep settings can all be adjusted manually, but most operating systems feature easily adjusted preset battery options. Use these to keep your computer from working too hard when it doesn’t need to. Simple web browsing and word processing can easily be accomplished on the lowest power setting. Music and video streaming will work just as well with a balanced, mid-ranged setting. The highest battery settings should be reserved for intense tasks, such as demanding games or high-resolution image-editing.
You might also add precious minutes by reducing the resolution of your screen in your laptop’s display settings. Though that 1080p or 4k resolution might look brilliant, it’s taxing on your battery life. Select a less pixel-dense setting—such as 1280×800—to reduce the strain from your laptop’s screen.
Though there’s no way to prevent a laptop battery from eventually becoming weaker, the above habits will certainly give it a little more life.New laptop batteries can be expensive! Laptops that don’t have easily removable batteries can even require disassembly, which brings the cost of replacement even higher. Keeping your laptop’s battery healthy can keep you more efficient, and keep the cost of a new battery far, far away.