Technology

4 ways to damage your laptop battery

A yellow laptop on a yellow background.
Child of the 80s/Shutterstock.com

Take care of your battery portable? As chips become more efficient and battery life increases, avoiding a few mistakes can help prolong your laptop’s battery health in the long run.

Charge it constantly

The idea that keep your laptop plugged in all the time is “bad” stems from the myth of overcharging, but laptops and other gadgets that use such batteries switch to trickle charge when approaching capacity. Your laptop won’t explode or “overload” if you leave it plugged in all the time.

With that in mind, the lithium-ion battery inside your laptop will last longer if it doesn’t maintain a high voltage level for extended periods of time. If we talk about Battery health, your battery life can be extended by not constantly keeping it at 100%. This means using your battery by unplugging it during the day, rather than keeping it plugged in.

It can help to think of your laptop as a giant smartphone. Your phone’s battery technology is the same as your laptop’s, but the idea of ​​leaving your phone plugged into the wall is constantly nonsense to most people. Just like your smartphone, your laptop battery will be degrade over time no matter what you do to it.

You can try to prolong it by sticking to best practices most of the time, but for most people, being a model citizen when it comes to battery best practices is impossible. Your battery’s capacity will likely have degraded to about 70% of its original capacity in about three years, by which time you may decide to replace it for a small fee if you’re not planning an upgrade.

RELATED: How to Generate a Battery Health Report in Windows 10 or 11

Let it get too hot or too cold

Nothing kills batteries like exposing them to extreme temperatures. It’s common knowledge that extreme heat is bad for lithium-ion cells, but so is extreme cold.

Leaving your laptop in a car exposed to sub-zero temperatures (below 0c or 32f) can cause irreversible damage to the cell. Some electric vehicles (EV) who use lithium-ion batteries are implementing temperature management systems in their cars to limit damage in particularly cold weather and achieve better performance on cold mornings.

A laptop computer in a car passenger seat.
KPG-Payless/Shutterstock.com

Your laptop does not include such systems, so you should be especially careful. If the worst happens and your laptop is exposed to the cold, it’s a good idea to let the battery warm up before trying to use it.

Another cause of laptop battery damage is heat, and it’s a problem you’ll likely encounter any time of the year. Leaving your laptop in the sun for hours is a recipe for disaster, as is letting it get so hot that the safety mechanisms engage which cause the power supply to fail.

You can avoid this by not putting your laptop under load without adequate air circulation, in a room that is not stuffy. Take extra care when using your laptop on a bed or other fabric surface, as many have vents on the sides and back of the lid that can easily be blocked by upholstery.

Laptop on a bed next to a diary and a cup of coffee.
Ilya Oreshkov/Shutterstock.com

If you notice your laptop running particularly hot under normal use, consider how serious the situation is if you tax it with 3D applications or video rendering. Dust and other debris can accumulate in the vents and inside the laptop, so remember to clean it to improve airflow (especially if it is a few years old).

Keep in mind that opening of certain brands of laptops will void the warranty. If your machine is still under warranty and you notice heat buildup, it may be a good idea to contact the manufacturer to have the problem investigated. If nothing else, they can blow dust away without voiding your warranty for future repairs.

RELATED: How to Diagnose and Fix an Overheating Laptop

Do not carry out superficial discharges

Lithium-ion batteries last longer when left at around 40-80% of their maximum capacity. Letting the battery drain too much can shorten its life, and so can keeping it above 80% for extended periods. Many manufacturers now offer battery-preserving “long life” modes to help with this, as summarized battery university:

“A laptop battery could be extended by lowering the charging voltage when connected to the power grid. To make this feature user-friendly, a device should have a “Long Life” mode that keeps the battery at 4.05 V/cell and offers an SoC of approximately 80%.One hour before moving, the user requests “Full Capacity” mode to bring the load to 4.20V/cell.

Some laptops allow you to limit the charge percentage to around 80% to extend your battery life. This feature is supported by specific manufacturers using their own applications, such as MyASUS for ASUS users and the “Battery Limit Mode” setting for Microsoft Surface users. Other users can try the free software Battery Limiter app for Windows.

AlDente Pro for macOS

On macOS you can use Al dente at set a load limit or use Apple’s built-in Optimized Charging feature if you stick to a regular schedule. Optimized Charging learns from your schedule by keeping your laptop at a reduced capacity until you need it. If macOS recognizes that you turn your laptop off to work at 8 a.m. every day, it won’t fully charge to 100% until morning, even if you plug it in the night before.

RELATED: How to Keep Your MacBook Battery Healthy and Extend Its Life

Not unloading it once a month

This may seem contradictory given that we have already stated that allowing a battery to completely discharge is bad news. But never letting a battery fully discharge can make it inaccurate when communicating its current charge level.

This is bad for several reasons. For starters, you might not know how much battery you have left and you might be caught off guard. Many other best practices (like keeping your battery above 40% or limiting charging to around 80%) rely on knowing your true charge level.

Battery percentage on MacBook Pro

This is especially true if you’re trying to limit the battery charge to less than 100%, using an app like AlDente or Battery Limiter. This type of use may require more frequent recalibration of your battery levels, so we recommend fully discharging it once a month.

Also take care of the battery of your smartphone

Since your smartphone is a pocket-size portable computer powered by a smaller lithium-ion cell, much of this advice applies here too. Features like Optimized charging exists on iOSalso known as Adaptive loading on Android.

Eventually, your battery will need to be replaced. learn to say it’s time to replace the old cell. Once your battery is in good shape, make sure you never let it drop too low (more than once a month) by getting a good laptop charger.




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