4 Ways You’re Damaging Your Laptop Battery

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Are you taking proper care of your laptop battery? While chips are getting more efficient and battery life is increasing, avoiding a few mistakes can help extend your laptop’s battery life in the long run.

Constantly charging it

The idea that keeping your laptop plugged in all the time is “bad” stems from the overcharging myth, but laptops and other devices that use these types of batteries switch to a trickle charge as they approach capacity. Your laptop won’t explode or “overload” if you keep 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 are talking about battery Health, the life of your battery can be prolonged if you do not keep it at 100% constantly. This means using the battery by unplugging it during the day, rather than keeping it plugged in.

It can be helpful to think of your laptop like a giant smartphone. The battery technology in your phone is identical to that in your laptop, but the idea of ​​leaving your phone plugged into the wall constantly is ludicrous to most people. Just like your smartphone, your laptop battery Will it degrades over time, no matter what you do to it.

You can try to stick to good practice most of the time, but for most people, it’s impossible to be a model citizen when it comes to good battery practice. Your battery capacity has likely degraded to around 70% of its original capacity in about three years, at which point you may decide to replace it for a modest fee if you don’t plan on upgrading.

RELATED: How to generate a battery status report in Windows 10 or 11

Allowing it to get too hot or too cold

Nothing kills batteries like exposing them to extreme temperatures. It’s well known that extreme heat is bad for lithium-ion cells, but the same goes for extreme cold.

Leaving your laptop in a car exposed to sub-zero temperatures (below 0c or 32f) can lead to irreversible cell damage. Some electric vehicles (EVs) that use lithium-ion batteries implement temperature management systems in their cars to limit damage in especially cold weather and get better performance on cold mornings.

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

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

Heat is another cause of damage to your laptop battery, and it’s a problem you’re likely to encounter any time of year. Leaving your laptop sitting in the sun for hours is a recipe for disaster, as is letting it get so hot that safety mechanisms kick in and cause the power to go out.

You can avoid this by not putting your laptop under load without adequate airflow, in a room that isn’t stiflingly hot. Be very careful when using your laptop on a bed or other cloth surface, as many have vents on the sides and back of the lid that can be easily blocked by soft furnishings.

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

If you notice that your laptop gets particularly hot with normal use, consider how bad things might get if you tax it with 3D applications or video rendering. Dust and other debris can collect on the vents and inside the laptop, so consider cleaning it to improve airflow (especially if it’s a few years old).

Please note that opening some brands of laptops will void the warranty. If your machine is still under warranty and you notice a buildup of heat, it might be a good idea to contact the manufacturer to have them look into the problem. At the very least, they can blow the dust away without voiding the warranty for future repairs.

RELATED: How to diagnose and fix an overheating laptop

Do not perform surface discharges

Lithium-ion batteries last longer when they remain between 40-80% of their maximum capacity. Letting the battery discharge too much can shorten its life, and so does keeping it above 80% for extended periods. Many manufacturers now offer battery-conserving “long life” modes to help with this, as summarized by Battery University:

“A laptop’s battery could be extended by reducing the charging voltage when connected to AC mains. For this feature to be easy to use, a device must have a ‘long life’ mode that keeps the battery at 4 .05 V/cell and offer a SoC of around 80 percent One hour before traveling, the user requests the “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 the life of your battery. This feature is supported by specific manufacturers using their own apps, such as MyASUS for ASUS users and the “Battery Limit Mode” setting for Microsoft Surface users. Other users can try the free Battery Limiter app for Windows.

AlDente Pro for macOS

On macOS, you can use AlDente to set an upload limit or use Apple’s built-in Optimized Charging feature if you keep 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 unplug your laptop to go to work at 8am every day, it won’t 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

Don’t download it once a month

This may sound counterintuitive considering that we’ve already said that allowing a battery to fully discharge is bad news. But never allowing a battery to fully discharge can cause it to become inaccurate in reporting its current charge level.

This is bad for several reasons. For starters, you may not know how much battery you have left and you could find yourself short. Many other best practices (such as keeping your battery above 40% or limiting your charge to around 80%) are based on knowing your true charge level.

Battery percentage on MacBook Pro

This is especially true if you are in the business of limiting your battery charge to less than 100% using an app like AlDente or Battery Limiter. This type of use may require battery levels to be recalibrated more frequently, so we recommend fully discharging the battery once a month.

Take care of your smartphone battery too

Since your smartphone is a pocket-size laptop powered by a smaller lithium-ion cell, much of this advice applies there as well. There are features like Optimized Charging on iOS, which is also known as Adaptive Charging on Android.

Eventually your battery will need to be replaced. Learn how to tell it’s time to change the old cell. Once your battery is in shape, make sure you never let it get too low (more than once a month) by getting a proper portable charger.