I have been using laptops for about 8 years now. Just like everyone else, I have always wanted to make my battery last for a really long time. Not in terms of back up time, but in terms of how long it keeps working until I have to replace it. When I say working, I mean decently, with a backup time of at least about 20 minutes. But how many of us have had trouble with this. I would say most.
There are so many blog posts around, with so many ways to go about it. Some say, its better that you keep charging and discharging it. Some say, keep charging and discharging only between 40 to 80 percent. That would be around 3 to 7 times a day for someone who works on his laptop all day, depending on the laptop and the battery. How would that work out? I am not sure. Some say that it is better to just work without the battery when ever you can. So what is good and what is bad. Over the years, I have tried a lot to keep my batteries running the best way possible. So I wanted to list out some of the things that I do at the moment and why I do it. Maybe it could help you out. But if you don’t agree with any of it, let me know why. Maybe I can adopt your logic. But please talk only out of experience, and not based on things you have read. The reality is really different from the theory.
I work with my power supply connected all the time. I work on my laptop for about 10 to 15 hours a day. Typically, my battery lasts for about 2.5 hours. That would mean that I would have around 2 to 4 charge-discharge cycles a day assuming 2.5 hours to discharge and 1.5 hours to charge back up again. This would mean that my battery would last for only a year if I go around charging and discharging it. I did some investigation as to how my power supply works. I visited my laptop manufacturer’s forum and I found out that once the batteries are full, the supply gets directed away from the battery so I will not be overcharging it. I think this has helped me a lot.
I sometimes work without the battery as well. When ever possible. But there is a lot of fuss associated with that, so I don’t do that much these days. When you are done working and you want to pack up, you have to shut it down before you connect your battery. I don’t think it is a good idea to plug in the battery when the laptop is on. I don’t think I want to face the electrical mess that may happen. Most of the time, I like to have my laptop on standby, to continue working from home. I don’t like the trouble of booting up all my tools again. I don’t shut it down.
Standby’s are perfectly Ok. Some always shut down their laptops thinking giving it a rest would be a good idea. But when your laptop is on standby, only your RAM is being used. So its not really a big deal, unless you are thinking that you are straining your RAM. We leave our phone ON all the time, but we apply a different logic when it comes to the laptop. But also consider this, there is a theory that when you reboot your system, it actually puts more pressure on the electronic components than just being On all the time, because of the temperature changes that they go through. I shut it down once in three or four days probably. I work on linux and I have come to realize that going to a standby state and coming back up again does a few things specific to my hardware. So when I sense some hic ups, I reboot it. But coming back to the battery! Being on stand by consumes ~1 percent per hour on my laptop that lasts 2.5 hours normally when it is up and running. So if I leave my laptop on stand by over night, I would probably only lose about 10 percent..
If I discharge it, I discharge it. What I mean is that, once I let my battery discharge even a little, I count it as one discharge cycle, and I let it fully discharge. I wait for it to reach 25% and I start charging it back again, and continue using it with the power supply plugged in until I vacate the place. The reason behind this is the theory that the life of a battery is based on the number of charge-discharge cycles. Although some people refute that, I assume it is an active theory and just do it, and it works for me.
I saved the most important one for last. If you read any blog any where, you would see one aspect that is common to all of it. It is that Heat Kills your Battery. It is its worst enemy. So no matter what precaution you take and what you do, if your battery is unnecessarily heating up, you would definitely see some degradation in its health. The best way to prevent it would be to get a good cooling pad. “Oh, come on man. The laptop already has a fan inside. You think the makers of the laptop, who took into consideration all those design aspects would have forgotten this one?”. Eh, well I think, for a number of good solid reasons, that they do compromise on this (looks, weight,..). So I think we better do something about it ourself. Especially if you are from a hot city, which naturally provides a good environment for your batteries to heat up. 90% of the time, I run my laptop only on a cooling pad, and I think I am seeing a lot of difference. I think a good cooling pad has a lot of uses, the batteries are just one of it.
How do you treat your batteries? Let me know.