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5 Ways to Prevent Laptop Battery Life Deterioration
Guest blogger Kat Cole from the Comet Laptops Team gives us an insight into preserving laptop battery life.
Laptops are ideal for those who need – or desire – on the go computing, which explains the ever increasing popularity of such devices. Problematic however, is the fact that lithium ion (Li-ion) laptops batteries do not have an infinite lifespan, and very rarely recharge to their full capacity once they are more than six months old. Infact, Li-ion batteries start aging the very moment they are manufactured – even those which are not in use!
You can of course keep your laptop permanently connected to a power source should your battery decide to stop operating correctly, or buy a replacement. This does impact your mobility (you’ll have none) and your wallet however.
‘Prevention is always better than the cure’, as the proverb goes, and so you should keep reading to learn five preventative measures you can take to prevent early deterioration of your laptop battery.
#1: Do use your laptop battery occasionally
You might think the best way to conserve the life of your laptop battery would be to not use it at all, keeping the machine permanently hooked up to a power source. This is not the case however. Laptop batteries continually kept at full charge age more quickly for two reasons. Firstly, charging and discharging cycles are imperative for keeping the chemical reactions which occur inside working as they should (this is especially true for older models). Secondly, batteries left in the back of laptops are exposed to significant heat, which can damage the ions’ ability to retain energy over time.
Using your laptop’s battery a few times each month then is recommended, but do take note of the draining advice in the next section of this article. It is also wise to remove the battery from the laptop whenever it is plugged in to reduce heat exposure (remember to remove your battery when the laptop is switched off).
#2: Avoid completely draining your battery before recharging
Experts from Battery University contend that regularly charging electronic devices which utilise a rechargeable battery is advantageous. The educational website discovered this to be one reason mobile phone batteries do not decline as quickly as those found in laptops – the large majority of people charge their phone on a daily (or nightly) basis. This means batteries rarely become completely drained.
The less power remaining before recharging occurs; the higher the DOD (or depth of discharge). Recharging often from shallow depths allows a higher number of charging cycles to occur – therefore increasing the lifespan of a battery. Battery University explains:
“Similar to a mechanical device that wears out faster with heavy us; so also does the DOD determine the cycle count. The smaller the depth of discharge, the longer the battery will last. If at all possible, avoid frequent full discharges and charge more often between uses.”
Be sure to actively monitor the remaining battery power of your laptop when it is unplugged, by placing your curser over the meter in your task bar. Always aim to recharge your battery before the remaining charge drops below 40%.
#3: Change your laptop settings to conserve energy
When you have no choice but to ditch the power pack, you will want your battery to last as long as possible without nearing the damaging 100% drained status. There are a number of settings you can alter on your machine to conserve battery power:
- Turn on your laptop’s ‘Power Saving’ mode. This mode prevents the CPU from working at its full capacity, saving battery power. If this mode does not automatically turn on your laptop’s ‘hibernate’ option (instead of the demanding ‘standby’ alternative) be sure to change this through your Control Panel also.
- Switching to ‘Power Saving’ mode will no doubt lower the screen brightness a little, but you should also enter your Control Panel to decrease this even further to aid your battery life. Don’t lower the brightness so much you have to strain your eyes though.
- Turn of the audio if it is not required – unnecessary Windows notification noises can drain a battery more than you might think!
Here are some additional energy-saving steps you can take to extend battery life:
- Use your task bar to check for unrequired programs operating in the background and close them. If you know you will be using your laptop battery soon, you might also like to consider checking the content of your Startup Programs list. Once again; remove any that are unnecessary to conserve power.
- Try not to multitask when your laptop is not plugged in, since CPUs have to work harder.
- Do not charge any external devices (phones, iPods etc.) as this will obviously drain your battery.
- Defrag your hard drive regularly to keep your system operating more smoothly (therefore putting less strain on the CPU and battery).
- Do not use the optical drive – a lot of energy is required to spin CDs and DVDs!
#4: Store your laptop battery correctly
Laptop batteries which are not in use need to be kept cool and dry. This might seem like an obvious point (particularly in the wake of the advice offered in point #1) but many people do store laptop batteries in hot cars, or on a window ledge where it can be exposed to much ion-negating sunlight.
In addition, laptop cells being placed in storage should ideally be charged to around 40% of their full capacity. Li-ion batteries stored with higher charge deteriorate faster, while those with lower charge can drop below the low-voltage threshold, resulting in permanent death.
#5: Buy an energy efficient laptop
Energy efficient laptops comprise features such as solid-state hard disks, low voltage processors, display off buttons and power-saving LED screens. Such features will see the battery put under less strain when it not connected to a socket, slowing draining as a result.
Energy saving laptops can also protect batteries left in the back from excessive heat exposure, since they are designed to excrete less energy through warmth, helping them to stay cool.