Should I Leave My Laptop Plugged In All The Time?

Leaving Laptop Plugged In

Should you leave your Laptop Plugged In and charging when you’re not using it? What is best for the battery? What’s best for your user experience? Read on as we investigate.
Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-drive grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

More than one SuperUser reader was inquisitive about the whole matter of laptop batteries and wall current. ClickUpvote inquires:

When your laptop’s battery is 100% charged, should you leave it plugged in so any battery power doesn’t get used, or will that cause overcharging, overheating, etc.? Should the laptop be unplugged when the battery level is 100%?

He echoes a similar question asked by Moayad Mardini:

When I’m at home, is it better to use the laptop plugged into AC power, or with just the battery, for the overall battery life?

So what was the verdict? Should you leave your laptop almost perpetually tethered to the wall or only charge it when the battery charge is running low?

The Answers

The answer to the question is “Yes, leave it tethered” or “No, unplug it” because of the variety of laptop designs, their battery types, and the integrated charging circuit that recharges the battery. That said, the statistics provided by SuperUser contributors cover the most common scenarios laptop owners will come across.
Contributor Charles Roper writes:
It is not totally different. What will shorten battery life is temperature.If it gets hot, it will shorten the battery life. Best thing to do, if you are able, is to remove the battery while you’re at home and keep it somewhere cool.

If it’s a Li-ion battery, then they don’t like to be completely discharged, so make sure you charge them regularly. Wikipedia:

Lithium-ion batteries should not be frequently discharged fully and recharged (“deep-cycled”), but this may be necessary after about every 30th recharge to recalibrate any electronic charge monitor (e.g. a battery meter). This will access the monitoring electronics to more accurately estimate battery charge.This has nothing to do with the memory effect.

More tips can be found here:

How to Prolong Lithium-based Batteries
Top 15 Ways to Extend Your Laptop’s Battery Life
Prolonging battery pack life
How do I maximize my battery life?

What about “Remove the battery!” camp? It turns out that while removing the battery can be beneficial, the situations in which it is beneficial are fairly limited. Splattne writes:

This page has a good answer: “it depends”
The answer is: YES and NO, it depends on the situation.

If your battery is fully charged and the laptop even if it is plugged in still it isn`t harmful because as fast as the charging reaches 100% then the battery stops getting charged and this energy is directly passed to the laptop power supply system.

Usually when the laptop is plugged in, there’s a disadvantage in leaving the battery in its port , but only if it’s currently suffering from excessive heating caused by the laptop hardware.

So:

Generally, if the laptop doesn’t get to hot (CPU and Hard Disk around 40ºC) the battery should remain in the laptop port.
In an intensive usage which leads to a excessive amount of heat produced (i.e. Games) the battery should be removed from the socket in order to prevent unwanted heating.
The heat, among the fact that it has 100% of charge, is the great enemy of the lithium battery and not the plug, as many might think so.

The best plan of attack then, is to monitor your hardware to ensure you are not overheating your battery and be concious of the limitations of the type of battery in your device–for the majority of users, a Lithium-Ion battery.

For more battery saving tips, laptop-oriented and otherwise, make sure to check out some of our feature articles on the subject, including:

Complete Guide to Maximizing Your Android Phone’s Battery Life
Improve Battery Life in Windows 7 with the Built-In Power Troubleshooter
How to Maximize the Battery Life on Your Linux Laptop
How to Maximize Battery Life on Your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch


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