How to extend the life of a laptop battery

The main difference between a laptop and a stationary computer is the presence of a battery, which makes it possible to work autonomously. But it is she who is considered the most unreliable part of it, since it loses capacity over time. Sub-optimal operating conditions significantly reduce the battery life, but if you follow a few simple rules, you can significantly increase its service life.

There are many myths associated with laptop batteries, dating back to the times when nickel batteries with a “memory effect” were used. Nowadays, such batteries are no longer used, but some users still apply tips that are suitable only for outdated devices and have now become “harmful”. For example, they try to discharge the laptop battery to zero or “save” it by removing it from the laptop for a long time.

Most often, the rules for optimal battery use are not followed, which quickly reduces its capacity, and after two or three years the laptop becomes “stationary” and requires replacement of the battery. To understand how to properly handle a laptop battery and maximize its life, you first need to understand what types of batteries are used in modern devices, in their pros and cons, and find out how manufacturers recommend to act.

What batteries are used in modern laptops?

The most widespread in modern technology are lithium-ion Li-ion batteries, which became widespread in the 90s of the XX century. They came to replace the capricious NiCad and NiMh nickel batteries. They have two electrodes, which are separated by a porous separator impregnated with a liquid electrolyte (ethylene carbonate or diethyl carbonate). In such batteries there is practically no “memory effect”, they are quite cheap and have a high power consumption. Li-ion batteries are most often made in the form of cylinders, from which a laptop battery is assembled.

 

Usually, a controller is built into the battery case, which monitors the charge current and temperature. It is designed to prevent excessive discharge and to protect against short circuits and high current consumption. Thanks to such controllers, laptop batteries have become much more durable, but they failed to fix all the shortcomings of lithium-ion batteries.

The main disadvantages are the risk of fire if damaged, the possibility of spontaneous combustion, the aging process that goes on even if the battery is not used, a strong decrease in capacity at low temperatures and the fear of high temperatures. The number of charge-discharge cycles is limited, although it has noticeably increased in the latest batteries and can reach several thousand.

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A new stage in the development of lithium-ion batteries has become lithium-polymer Li-pol batteries, in which a polymer material is used as an electrolyte, which makes it possible to create compact and flexible batteries of various shapes. The range of operating temperatures of batteries has expanded, the fire hazard and weight have decreased, but the price has increased significantly. Among the shortcomings remained the effect of aging of the batteries and the limitation of their charge-discharge cycles.

If you look at the range of laptops in DNS , you can see that most of them use li-ion batteries . However, the number of laptops with Li-pol batteries already exceeds 40% of all laptops. Li-pol batteries are often used in Apple technology.

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Now, having figured out what batteries are used in modern laptops, you can move on to tips that will maximize their life.

Do not overheat or overcool the laptop

Overheating of the laptop battery accelerates the electrochemical reactions that take place in it, at the same time accelerating the aging process of the battery. Aging is especially fast when the combination of 100% charge and high temperature occurs, according to Phil Jakes, chief engineer at Lenovo. It is worth noting that using a laptop with 100% battery power and high heat is a fairly common scenario, especially for gaming models that often use it plugged into a power adapter, since gaming sessions usually last several hours.

 

There are a few simple steps you can take to reduce laptop heat build-up: keep the cooling system clean, and avoid placing the laptop on a blanket, knees, or fluffy surfaces to block the ventilation holes. It is not recommended to use the laptop in hot rooms and especially in direct sunlight. Cooling pads with fans help a lot in cooling the laptop . And if you are used to working with a laptop on a bed or sofa, a special table with a perforated surface can help out.

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And the most compact and inexpensive solution is a small laptop stand that lifts it off the table, allowing air to flow into the cooling system. Considering that the rest of the laptop components, like the battery, do not like overheating, and the performance of modern processors and video cards directly depends on the temperature, any measures to reduce it will be very useful. Software undervolting , or “reverse overclocking”, used by experienced users, has shown itself well in lowering laptop temperatures .

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A low temperature is no less harmful for a laptop battery, because even at a temperature of 5 ° C, its capacity drops by 5-7%, and at temperatures below zero, the drop can reach tens of percent. In subzero temperatures, battery degradation accelerates, and a laptop, after spending several hours in an unheated room or in cold weather outside, will no longer be able to hold a charge as before. Charging batteries in low temperatures is also fraught with problems, so it is better not to use the laptop outdoors in winter.

Do not discharge the battery to zero

Most engineers at laptop companies agree that you shouldn’t drain your batteries to zero; this speeds up battery degradation. The generally accepted safe minimum charge value is 20%, at which many devices are already signaling a low energy level. By targeting this charge level, you will avoid data loss when you turn off your laptop and keep your battery in optimal condition.

Do not store an idle battery for a long time

Some users working on a laptop that is always plugged into the outlet, trying to conserve life, remove the battery and put it in long-term storage. It is not recommended to do this: prolonged inactivity can completely destroy the battery. Even though the battery controller has over-discharge protection, deep discharge will damage the lithium-ion battery, and a battery that has been on the shelf for several months, especially in a hot room, may no longer turn on.

It makes no sense to store an inactive battery on a shelf also because the aging process of Li-ion and Li-pol batteries does not stop, even if they do not work. And if for some reason the battery is not used for a long time, you should first charge it by about 40% and only then put it away for storage, periodically checking the charge level and recharging it.

Protect laptop and battery from shocks and drops.

The laptop battery is sensitive to physical impact: a banal fall on the floor can damage it. And more severe damage can even provoke a fire, so you need to handle the battery with care. A special bag will help to protect the equipment from shocks, and at the same time to make the transportation of the laptop more convenient. When choosing a bag, pay attention to the diagonal of the laptop.

Do not use the laptop constantly connected to the network

It is equally harmful for the battery to constantly operate at 100% charged, as is often the case when the laptop is plugged in, for example, in games or resource-intensive work tasks. In this mode, there is a particularly rapid degradation of batteries and a loss of capacity, which will be amplified by high temperatures. If you are going to play or work on a laptop for several days, using it as a stationary PC , it makes sense to remove the battery for this time, or turn it off in the power settings.

What is the most efficient way to use the battery if it is undesirable to discharge it to zero, take it out of the device for a long time and keep it constantly connected to the charger? HP and Microsoft engineers recommend sticking to a 20% to 80% charge level, adjusting the laptop’s operating mode to maintain that charge level as infrequently as possible. And the following tips will help with this.

Enable hibernation

When working with a laptop, users often use standby mode, which allows them to get back to work as quickly as possible. But in terms of battery consumption, this is not the most optimal mode: when it is activated, power continues to be supplied to the processor and RAM. Hibernation mode, when the contents of the laptop’s RAM is flushed to the drive, will help conserve battery. In modern laptops with SSD drives exit from hibernation is very fast, and the difference with the standby mode is very small.

Disable apps that drain your battery

In Windows 10, when the battery level is low, it automatically activates “Battery Saver Mode”, which reduces power consumption. It can also be turned on forcibly to increase battery life.

Some unoptimized background applications can use up too much CPU time, quickly draining the laptop battery. They should be disabled or replaced with more optimized counterparts. Windows 10 has a handy tool for finding these apps. To start it, you need to go to “Parameters”, then – to the “System” section and select the “Battery” subsection. Then open the list of applications, which was formed in 24 hours of device operation.