Should you leave your laptop plugged in and charging when you’re not traveling? What is the best for the battery? This is a difficult question and there are a lot of conflicting recommendations.
You can not overload the battery of the laptop
It is important to understand the basics of how lithium-ion (Li-ion) and lithium-polymer (LiPo) batteries work in modern devices. There are many myths about drums .
There is no way to “overload” these batteries. When you arrive at 100% charge and leave your laptop plugged in, the charger stops charging the battery. The laptop will just run straight on the power cable. Once the battery is discharged, the charger will restart and the battery will be cut off. There is no risk of damaging the battery by charging it above its capacity.
All batteries use over time (for some reasons)
Your laptop’s battery will always wear out with time. The more the battery is charged, the more it will be used. Different batteries have different ratings, but you can often expect about 500 full charge cycles.
This does not mean that you should avoid discharging the battery. Storing the battery at a high charge level is bad for it. On the other hand, letting the battery completely discharge each time you use it is also bad. There is no way to tell your laptop to leave the battery at around 50% of its capacity, which could be ideal. In addition to that, high temperatures will also deplete the battery faster.
In other words, if you had to leave your laptop’s battery in a closet somewhere, it would be best to leave it at about 50% of its capacity and make sure the closet was reasonably cool . This would prolong the life of the battery.
Remove the battery to avoid heat, if you can
Here is one thing clear: the heat is bad. So, if your laptop has a removable battery, you can remove the battery from the laptop if you plan to leave it plugged in for a long time. This will ensure that the battery is not exposed to all this unnecessary heat.
This is very important when the laptop is very hot, like a powerful gaming laptop running demanding PC games, for example. If your laptop is working well enough, you will not see as many benefits.
Of course, many modern laptops do not have more removable batteries, so this tip does not apply in these cases.
But should I leave it plugged in or not?
Finally, we do not know what is worse for a battery. Leaving the battery at 100% capacity will shorten its life, but operating it through repeated discharge and recharging cycles will also reduce its life. Basically, whatever you do, your battery runs out and loses capacity. That’s just how batteries work. The real question is what makes it die more slowly.
Laptop Plugged makers are everywhere on this subject. Apple advised not to leave MacBooks plugged in all the time, but their battery advice page does not have this tip anymore. Some computer manufacturers say that leaving a laptop plugged in all the time is fine, while others recommend doing it for no apparent reason.
Apple advised charging and discharging the laptop battery at least once a month, but did not do it anymore. If you are worried about leaving your laptop plugged in permanently (even if it’s a laptop), you can have it go through a charge cycle once a month, just to be sure. Apple had the habit of recommending this to “keep the juice of the battery running”. But if it will help depends on the device and its battery technology, so there really is no single answer.
Occasional discharges and refills can help “calibrate” the battery
Putting your notebook under an occasional full charge cycle can help calibrate the battery on many laptops. This ensures that the laptop knows exactly how much charge it stays and can show you an accurate estimate. In other words, if your battery is not calibrated properly, Windows may think that you have 20% battery left while it’s really 0%, and your laptop’s Will extinguish without giving you a lot of warning.
By allowing the laptop battery to discharge (almost) completely and then recharge, the battery circuit can learn the remaining power. This is not necessary on all devices. In fact, Apple says explicitly that this is no longer necessary for modern MacBooks with built-in batteries.
This calibration process will not improve the life of the battery and will not make it more energy-hungry. It will only guarantee that the computer gives you an accurate estimate. But that’s one of the reasons why you should not leave your laptop plugged in all the time. When you unplug it and use it on battery power, battery life estimates may be incorrect and you may die before you have planned.
Your laptop’s battery will not last forever, and it will gradually have less capacity over time, no matter what you do. All you can do is hope that your laptop’s battery lasts until you can replace your laptop with a new one.
Of course, even if the battery capacity of your laptop decreases, you can still use it while plugged into a power outlet.
Image credit: Intel Free Press