Laptops are great for people always on the go or for those who aren’t quite ready for the commitment of a desktop computer. Modern laptops are getting more and more advanced, and that benefit also comes with improved battery lives.
They still do need to be juiced up to get through the day though. Maybe more than once too, depending on the laptop usage. This brings us to our concerns for battery life and how to conserve or optimise it.
Another thing is that laptops batteries do need to be replaced after a while, as they do fail over time. If you’re noticing that the battery runs out a lot sooner than it used to, you might be looking at a laptop battery replacement very soon.
Laptop batteries also come in different sizes and capacities for different laptop models. Its configurations change depending on the design and size of the laptop, as well as its performance. The more powerful the laptop, the more power is needed to match it. Ultrabooks like the Dell XPS 13 and HP Spectre models boast both great performance and battery life. So those batteries may come more expensive than others.
In this guide we’ll be talking all about laptop batteries: how you can optimise its battery life, some misconceptions about them, and what to do when you have a faulty battery.
Most laptop batteries these days are lithium-ion batteries. Other than laptops, lithium-ion batteries are also commonly used in small electronics like watches and digital cameras. These batteries can be used and recharged many times during its lifetime.
They also come with a circuit mechanism that stops charging when it reaches full charge, even while plugged in. This prevents the battery from overheating or burning if it continues to go after full charge. With this, you don’t have to worry too much about overcharging the battery while it charges overnight. Though if you do find that the battery seems to be quite warm while it’s charging, it might be on its way to failing.
While you can recharge the battery many many times, a battery does not last forever and will fail eventually. After a couple hundred charging cycles, the battery may start to hold less charge, and eventually no charge at all. Taking proper care of the battery can help you keep your battery as healthy as you can.
Some misconceptions about laptop batteries
Some people think that a battery failure can cause their laptop to fail. The battery of a laptop is one of the biggest scapegoats for computer issues. In fact, when a laptop dies, it is most probably not the battery’s fault. This could actually be caused by motherboard failures, or some other faulty component that is essential for startup.
Surprisingly, a laptop does not need a functional battery to work. Unlike electronics like toys or appliances, the laptop’s battery is not as essential as other computer components are. As long as the power adaptor is plugged in, the laptop should turn on and work as normal. Some might try to replace the battery when they find that their laptop is dead, which does not solve the problem. This is quite understandable, as we view batteries like we do with other battery-powered electronics.
When your battery does start to fail, you should then replace the battery. There’s not really a way to “repair” the battery on its own. Though if your laptop still doesn’t turn on while it is plugged in, you might have a different hardware issue that needs tending to.
Laptop battery saving tips
The easiest way to maintain battery life is to remove the battery while your laptop is plugged in. But as detachable batteries are less common on modern laptops these days, we are left with less battery care options. There are still a few things you can do to keep your laptop battery healthy, though. With a few tweaks to your computing habits and system settings, you’ll be able to improve the battery’s life and performance.
Avoid extreme weather conditions
This can be said for the whole laptop, as we don’t all own military-grade devices that can be used in all weather conditions. Lithium-ion batteries can become volatile under extreme temperatures, so it might be best to keep it safe from harm. They can overheat or burn under hot temperatures. Don’t leave it out on a hot summer day where it is under direct sunlight. Same goes with extremely cold weather too.
Adjust device brightness
This is more about improving battery life while your laptop is unplugged. There are a few brightness settings that you can adjust to save battery life. This includes turning down the screen brightness, and keyboard brightness if you have a backlit keyboard.
The screen is one of the most power-draining parts of the laptop. Higher brightness and advanced screens can take large amounts of battery to maintain a great-looking display. So turning it down from maximum brightness could save you some battery life.
Having a backlit keyboard can be useful for dark environments like watching a movie at night, but keyboard lighting can also drain power. As keyboard lighting is not essential all the time, it might be a good idea to turn it on only when you need it. It’s all about prioritising what you need and turning off certain things that could be taking up all that battery.
Utilise power modes and settings
Power modes and sleep settings could be an easier way to optimise your battery usage, by simply choosing the right mode. Windows computers have a power feature that lets you choose from different power modes. These modes range from “better performance” to “better battery life”. It allows you to maintain great performance of your laptop while keeping a steady battery life.
You can do this by picking the “power saver” mode from “power settings”. From “sleep settings” you can also adjust things to get your laptop into sleep mode sooner to preserve battery. That way your laptop doesn’t just sit idle and waste power while you’re not using it.
With these battery saving tips, you can sustain your battery’s life as much as you can. You may also be more aware of your battery’s status and when to replace it when it does start to fail.
What causes laptop battery failure
Like we’ve mentioned, batteries don’t last very long. They have an average lifespan of 2-4 years. Natural wear and tear will cause them to fail, and they’ll need to be replaced. Once the battery reaches a certain number of recharge cycles, the amount of power it can hold will start to reduce gradually. This will continue until the battery doesn’t work at all.
Accidental damage like liquid spills and blunt force could also hurt the battery. The battery is usually made with a protective plastic or metallic cover that can withstand a certain amount of damage. But with liquid damage, the protective cover can only protect the battery from a relatively small amount of liquid. The battery can still be destroyed by liquid spills or blunt force damage. So definitely be careful around your laptop, you never know what might happen.
Of course, your laptop should still work if you keep it plugged in and powered. It could last you a little bit more time before you get it fixed. But do be careful with a faulty battery though, it could lead to further serious damage like burns or leakages. You may want to pay attention to the signs so you can fix the problem quickly.
Signs of a failing laptop battery
The first thing you’ll notice with a failing laptop battery is that it doesn’t last as long as it used to. It might last you only half an hour or less, and gradually nothing at all. It could cause your laptop to shut off immediately after the power adaptor comes off. Some may also experience unexpected shutdown even while it is plugged in. This sort of improper shutdown could also harm other parts of the laptop, like the hard drive while it is writing information.
System error messages could also show when your detects a failing battery. For Apple Macbook laptops, errors like “service battery”, “replace soon” or “replace now” could appear. Windows laptops from Dell and HP also show similar warnings to recommend battery replacements. Hovering over the battery icon on the taskbar could also show messages like “plugged in, not charging”, which indicates a battery that cannot be recharged anymore. You may also use pre-boot diagnostics to run a quick scan on your system.
Physically noticeable battery failures involve some serious damage that can be quite dangerous. The battery can expand and push the touchpad up. This may also cause the touchpad to jam or break completely. The battery may also overheat while charging, leak corrosive liquid, or even catch on fire. Quite hazardous stuff.
Replacing a laptop battery
Can you replace a laptop battery by yourself? The short answer is yes. But should you replace the laptop battery by yourself? Maybe not.
Online guides on YouTube and ifixit can offer you detailed and helpful guides to replacing a laptop battery. These are the best resources to DIY repair projects. However, you may want to leave this to the professionals. This is due to the substantial hazard of battery repairs. Lithium-ion battery replacements require a high level of expertise and caution that you can’t really control in your own home. Choosing the right battery model would also need a little experience. Best not to pick “generic” or “after-market” models that may be cheaper but do not work well. We would recommend getting high quality genuine brand manufactured batteries that fit the specific laptop model.
As technicians, we have seen quite a few batteries catch fire while working on them. They can get extremely hot within seconds, and catch powerful fires that keep burning. So if you’re not looking into getting into any unwanted accidents, you might want to get your laptop battery replaced by a professional. Easy as!
A quick trip down to the nearest brand authorised service centre can probably get you what you need to solve your battery troubles. Make sure you still have a valid warranty though. Or else, that would bring you to a third-party repair service like us!
At Safemode Computer Service, we can help you find the right battery replacement and replace it for you. Our experienced technicians know the dangers of defected lithium-ion batteries and proceed with much care and caution. We are conveniently located in the Inner West, which might be a closer option if you can’t be bothered to go all the way into Sydney CBD. In our Inner West store, you can get a computer checkup and our highly rated services. Give us a call to set up an appointment at our Enmore store today.