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Does leaving the laptop plugged in all the time ruin its battery?

Laptop-battery-issues

Because of the global crisis, everyone is forced to spend more time online, whether it’s for a work-from-home or online class situation. Indeed, our laptops have become indispensable for our digital lifestyle that we obviously need to maximize their battery life. It’s no wonder many of us are worried on whether leaving our laptops plugged in all the time can ruin the battery or not. Here’s the answer.

Can a laptop battery overcharge?

One fear of many is that the laptop battery may overcharge if it’s kept plugged in even after it has reached full capacity. While there were legitimate concerns of overcharging in the past, a modern laptop battery nowadays has smart mechanisms so that it stops charging when it’s full. The laptop will then just run on external power. So, no, your laptop battery is not at risk of overcharging even if it’s plugged in all the time.

No universal answer

Beyond the issue of overcharging, experts and laptop manufacturers can’t seem to agree on whether a laptop that’s plugged in all the time can be harmful to the battery or not. BatteryUniversity thinks not removing the AC power even when the battery is full is just fine under normal circumstances. ASUS and Dell think the opposite.

Laptop-charging

Heat is the real enemy

When concerning heat, however, everyone agrees that it deteriorates the battery at a significant level. At all times, laptop batteries need to be kept cool, and certain use cases should be avoided. These include playing resource-intensive games and ultra-fast charging. If your system constantly hits temperatures above 35° C because of high operation load, removing the battery from the laptop is recommended to avoid exposing the battery to excess heat. Alternatively, consider cooling solutions.

Sooner or later, your laptop battery will die

It’s not so much of a question of if your laptop battery will die, but rather more a question of when it will happen.  All laptop batteries undergo normal wear and tear and have a finite number of charge cycles. At some point, after so many charging cycles, the battery life will noticeably shorten. After two years, a regularly used laptop battery may even no longer hold a charge at all and needs a replacement. 

Another big no-no is discharging the laptop battery completely, since that shortens the number of charge cycles of the battery. To get the most charge cycles out of a battery, BatteryUniversity recommends keeping the state of charge of the battery between 30 and 80 percent. 

See also: 22 technology myths you need to stop believing

Laptop-troubleshooting

So what do you do?

All things considered, your battery will worsen over time no matter how you handle it. But to slow down the rate of its deterioration, consider the following tips:

Only reach a full state of charge when necessary

If you keep moving around with your laptop in tow, charging the battery to 100 percent is best especially for long travels. Reaching a full charge every now and then is also useful for the battery to calibrate, which helps your laptop get an accurate reading of how much juice is left. Without proper calibration, your laptop might, for instance, claim its battery still has 25% left and yet it suddenly turns off after a few minutes. 

Check your laptop manufacturer’s support page

Some manufacturers offer battery-related applications that change the charging behavior of your batteries and help extend their battery life. Asus, for instance, has an app that has your laptop automatically stop charging the battery as it reaches 80%.

Consider long-term storage

If you see in the foreseeable future that your laptop will be used in one fixed location, you might as well remove the battery from the laptop. Drain the battery down to around 50% percent, and store it in a cool, dry environment. Similarly, do these tips if you won’t be using your laptop for a while and the battery is non-removable. If it’s long-term storage, remember to use the battery every six months, then store it half-charged again.

Clean your laptop occasionally to reduce heat

Make sure there are no dust buildups inside the laptop and the laptop cooling fan is working as intended. Every two months or so, get a can of compressed air and blow away the dust.

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