Getting the Most of a Laptop Battery

By: Fingers
August 9, 2011

Do you want to try to get the most out of your laptop battery life?

Many problems with battery life can be traced back to poor battery charging techniques. I have seen laptop batteries go 3 or 4 years or longer with little loss in battery usage and only minimal shortening of life. To get the most out of your battery life you need to STOP plugging it in every time the battery is down a little bit from full. You need to allow the battery to run down (deep cycle) often which is good for the battery. You do not need to let it shut down due to low battery, but you should often wait until you do get the first low battery warning. You should let it run down to around 20% battery capacity or below as much as possible. This does not mean that you need to stress out if you occasionally need the full charge for an important day, meeting, heavy school day, etc., on those days, just charge it the night before. You can however work at home (or watch a DVD) until the battery is getting low and then plugging it in, finishing, and then leaving it to charge. You also should never 'cook' your battery by leaving it plugged in for more than the time required to charge it (when not actually using it). This means if you plug it in at night then unplug it in the morning even if you are not going to be using it that day. Leaving your battery on the charger when it is not necessary just causes you to loose some of the electrolyte in the battery by 'boiling' it slowly away. You also should use the power intelligently which means that you should use hibernate when you are taking short breaks (going between classes, driving short distances between clients, etc,) of up to maybe 20 minutes. Use Sleep for longer breaks (longer drives, lunch breaks, etc.) up to about 2 hours. Turn off the computer when you are not going to be using it for hours (an evening out, overnight, long trips, etc.). These will reduce unneeded drain on the needed battery life (hibernate and sleep use a certain amount of power to keep the memory active and reduce other problems as well. This will work for all battery types including Nickel Cadmium, Nickel Metal Hydride, and Lithium batteries.

My daughter has a laptop at college and she is about to begin her senior year (3+ years) and it is only now that she is beginning to see a noticeable battery life loss but it is still manageable.
Another example of this is that I have a cell phone that is more than 3 years old and I still get 5 to 7 days on the battery with light to moderate usage using the deep cycle technique I outlined.

You can even use a few deep cycles, 3 or 4 days in a row to help improve your battery usage (at least moderately) on an older laptop that has a moderate problem with battery life. When it gets bad though (or really annoying) the just replace it.

I hope that this helps everyone at least a little.

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