How to get the most out of your laptop battery

Should I completely discharge my battery? Is leaving it on charge all the time bad for its life?

SupportWise breaks down the do’s and don’ts of good battery management and helps you get every last drop out of it.

Dim the screen

Dimming the screen is the first step to ensuring that your laptop battery works for as long as it should. The brighter the screen, the more power your laptop is consuming. Dropping the screen brightness by 20-25% will not impact the viewing experience (unless in a brightly lit room) and will help keep resources low.

Turn off the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not needed

Whenever we’re travelling, we often forget to turn off the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, leaving our laptop to scan consistently for something we will never use. Take advantage of Airplane mode in Windows to turn off all additional features and simply switch it off on a Mac. If you have a hardware switch (i.e. on the side of the laptop) then even better. Same advice goes if you work on a fixed desk in an office and use a network cable.

Reduce the number of cycles

A charging cycle is very much like that of an aeroplane. When we look at the life of an aircraft, it has a limited number of flight cycles – i.e. the number of times which the cabin is pressurised and depressurised. The same goes for laptop batteries. If you charge from 0% – 100%, that’s 1 cycle. If you charge from 50%-100%, then that’s 1/2 a cycle. While we aren’t in a world where batteries lose memory and forget when they need to be charged, one should still be mindful as to how a lithium-ion battery works. The ideal situation would be to keep the battery above 20% at all times and continue a charge until it’s to 100%.

What about keeping it on charge all the time?

Nowadays, most laptops know when the battery is at 100% and they simply stop charging the battery, maintaining laptop power directly from the mains as opposed to constantly draining/charging the battery. So if you’re working at a desk, don’t worry about leaving it on charge all day. Just try to avoid constantly unplugging/plugging it in between meetings.

Find out which apps are draining your battery

In Windows 10, do a quick search for “See which apps are affecting your battery life” and see what’s going on under the hood. If you find that an app is constantly using more battery than expected (i.e. a certain web browser – no names mentioned), then evaluate whether it’s needed or simply broken. A quick re-install or an update may resolve the issue, or you may need to find an alternative.

Check your hibernation settings

When looking at hibernation settings, ideally the laptop would go into hibernation mode before the laptop loses power altogether. This will not only preserve battery life in the long run, but also prevent loss of data should the unexpected happen while you’re running round looking for the nearest socket.

Use the battery saver mode

This popular feature, now also available on newer mobile phones, allows your machine to redistribute power to system critical features only when your battery runs below a certain percentage. Normally set to 15%, Windows 10 will disable bluetooth, stop OneDrive/DropBox syncs and slow down fans/processors in order to extend battery life.

If you can….have a second battery

Laptops now come with a concealed battery which you can’t replace. However, if you’re the lucky owner of a Lenovo T440p, X220/230 etc. which have removable batteries, then picking up a spare (or larger – available from Lenovo) battery will allow you to swap these over when required. Just remember to shut the laptop down (we don’t advocate changing batteries while still plugged into the mains) before swapping them over.

A final point, there is an abundance of software out there (some built it) which allows you to monitor the health of a battery with relative ease (iOS now does this also). Once your battery starts to drop below 90% health and cannot hold a full charge, this would be the time to look for a new one. A simple battery swap can give your laptop a whole new lease of life without having to shell out for a whole new machine.