One of the most stressful experiences in our daily lives is receiving a notification on your laptop that your battery is draining. That red sign with a number around 10% is terrifying. More, as the times go by, we may notice that our batteries drain sooner and we have less working time. So, what do you do to get to the sad moment of a dead battery as late as can be?
There’s a ton of advice on the subject, and not only on the web. The downside is that some of that advice is not for modern batteries. So, here’s a quick guide on what to do, what not to do, what matters, and what matters not.
Now there is no essential difference between MacBooks, Windows, or Linux laptops, as they all run on Lithium-ion batteries. Some of the implementation techniques may and do differ.
I am going to focus on the method in this post. Leave a comment under this post if you want me to dive into the most effective ways to get there on different systems.
The key to a long high-performance battery is tracking its health. Maintaining that health is the second stage of the process, not less important, but highly dependent on the previous activity.
So, how do you track the health of your laptop battery?
The system gives you that information; you just need to dig a little, depending on your operating system. On Windows, you need to generate the report from PowerShell; on Mac, you can see that in the System Report; and on Linux, you can use the “upower” command. To understand how healthy your battery is, you need to compare the “full charge capacity” at the given moment with the “design capacity” of your laptop model. In case you have a Mac, you will need to find the designed capacity in your laptop’s technical information, as it does not give the number in the report, unlike Windows or Linux.
It is good practice to develop a habit of checking on your battery health monthly.
Now that we have a habit of checking our battery’s health let’s look at what we can do to maintain that health.
Here I feel the need to talk about a particular myth. Although technically, this is not a myth, an outdated piece of advice stuck in our minds. That is, you need to fully discharge your battery from time to time. This was true for your old school Ni-cad batteries. But the modern Li-ion batteries will not benefit from this. On the contrary, you should never let your battery fully drain. The single occasion for having a fully drained Li-ion battery is the calibration of the fresh, newly installed one.
In modern Li-ion batteries, you need to make sure that your battery does reach less than 40%-30%. Fully draining your battery will age your battery relatively soon, as these batteries are designed to withstand a certain number of full charging cycles. This number varies between 300 and 500 in general.
The optimal battery charge to keep is between 40% and 80%. This means that you want to keep an eye on your charge level and not strive to keep your laptop fully charged all the time. And yes, I understand that this may cause some stress, but it’s worth it.
We are all of us very tempted to break this next one. Don’t keep your laptop plugged in all the time. It generates additional heat, which is harmful to your laptop’s longevity. You want to keep your battery going, you unplug that cord.
Next, don’t let your laptop get too hot. High temperatures will enhance the battery’s electron movement, which is not a fully reversible process and will cause your battery to degrade at high speed. Cold is also harmful to the batteries, but not as much as heat. You should take care to keep your laptop at room temperature, where you feel comfortable.
You should keep in mind where the cooling vents are on your particular laptop in the same logic. For most models, they are on the bottom surface. Make sure they are not blocked and face a cool, firm surface, like your table, most of the time. And don’t leave it on the couch or an armchair when you put it on the sleep mode; drop it on a table to stay cool and well ventilated.
Twinkle your operation systems battery usage settings. For most usage cases, you will be able to find a nice balance between productivity and battery care. Play with the settings a little bit to find the balance that is optimal for you. Most laptops have this software built-in, but there are several small programs you can download.
Have a look at the apps that are running on your laptop. You might find some power-killers running in the background that you don’t really have use for or even don’t know you have on your laptop. That’s ok, just kill them, especially if you need to prolong your existing charge at the moment.
Another pair of things that constantly drain your battery is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. If you don’t use them, just turn them off. While you most likely need your Wi-Fi connection, there’s a good chance that you are not using your Bluetooth but still have it turned on just in case. Don’t be lazy, just keep it off and turn it on when you use it.
So, to keep your laptop’s battery going, you need to simply keep it away from extremes.