Why Do Laptop Batteries Degrade So Fast?

As you use your laptop battery, its ability to hold a charge decreases, eventually becoming almost useless. These batteries degrade through hundreds of charge cycles, but many bad usage habits can cause them to degrade significantly faster.

Why Are Laptop Batteries So Bad?

Compared to the other components inside your laptop, your laptop battery has the shortest lifespan.

While it might seem strange that laptops would be sold with such a short-lived part, there are a few reasons laptop batteries degrade so quickly:

  • The battery’s power often reaches zero. When a laptop battery has no charge left, the computer will automatically shut down as a protective measure. Doing this regularly places undue stress on it and can cause it to degrade faster. 
  • You often leave battery-draining applications open. Leaving one or more battery-guzzling applications open on your laptop can cause it to overheat and become damaged. The same is true if you leave your LED headphones plugged in when you’re not using them. This effect may worsen if you use your laptop in a hot environment.  
  • There are unintended chemical reactions inside the lithium battery. The movement of lithium ions through the battery is essential to its function, but over time, the ions react to the electrolytes in it and become trapped. Since charging the laptop causes ion movement, the battery gradually degrades over time and eventually becomes useless.

How Long Do They Usually Last?

Laptop batteries usually last 2 to 4 years before becoming less effective.

Abstract art of the battery longevity from a laptop.

However, how quickly it lasts depends on your laptop usage habits. You can generally expect to charge your laptop battery between 500 to 1,000 times before it becomes too degraded to hold a charge.

Depending on the battery’s specifications, you may be able to make it last much longer, and a high-quality lithium battery will last the longest.

You should keep your battery within a 40 to 80 percent charge range in ideal temperatures to ensure it lasts longer. 

The ideal temperature range for a laptop battery is between 32°F to 66°F (0°C to 18.9°C). 

How Can I Protect My Laptop Battery From Degrading?

Below is some more information on ensuring that your laptop battery lasts as long as possible: 

Keep Your Laptop’s Battery Within 40 to 80 Percent Charge

One of the best ways to reduce laptop battery degradation is to ensure your laptop stays between 40 to 80 percent charged.

It won’t destroy your laptop’s battery if you need to break this rule occasionally. But by following this general rule, you can increase your laptop’s charge cycles from 300 to 500 to as many as 4,000. 

Ensuring your laptop doesn’t charge above the ideal range can be difficult, but luckily, you can install software to prevent your laptop from charging above a set limit.

Depending on your laptop brand, you may have a built-in option to do so. 

Protect Your Battery From Extreme Temperatures for Better Battery Life

Heat is one of the most destructive factors affecting a laptop battery. Unfortunately, your laptop produces plenty of it. If your laptop is overheating, cool it down and address the heat source as soon as possible.

If you’re using resource-intensive applications, you should close them until your computer has cooled down and adjust the settings so your computer can handle them.

Always ensure your laptop has sufficient ventilation, and consider using a vented stand to prevent overheating

If your laptop is still overheating, you should clean it. A dirt-free laptop fan is essential for maintaining the correct temperature.

Prevent Laptop Battery Draining Fully

A laptop is being used with a low battery warning showing on the screen.

Having your laptop run out of power when you most need it is never fun. And if you’re using your laptop properly, you should never let your battery completely drain.

Your laptop battery can be charged a finite number of times, and charging it from 0% to 100% is significantly more inefficient.

Keeping the battery within a medium range can greatly increase its charge cycles while allowing it to fully deplete often can significantly reduce it.

Aside from the damage that comes with routinely allowing your laptop’s battery to drain, allowing it to stay at 0% for an extended period can cause it to power off completely.

This is referred to as a deep discharge state. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long to happen—especially with a battery that’s already damaged.

Recharge and Remove Your Battery When Storing Your Laptop

If you don’t plan on using your laptop for an extended period, you should recharge and remove the battery

According to Lenovo, you should charge the battery to around 50%.

Once the battery is charged to 50%, remove it and store it separately at room temperature. You should disable it in the BIOS settings if you can’t remove it. 

You can store the battery for up to 6 months before recharging it.

Best Tips for Extending Your Laptop Battery Charge

Concept art of a battery.

Having a sufficiently-charged laptop battery is always convenient. Here’s how you can extend its charge: 

Use Battery-Saver Settings

Laptops provide plenty of useful configuration options to help you save battery power. Here’s how to configure the battery-saver settings: 

  1. Navigate to your laptop’s power and battery settings. These will be in the Power Mode tab or System Preferences section.
  2. Set your laptop to Low Power mode or Battery Saver mode. 
  3. If your laptop has a powerful GPU, you should also configure it to use less power. Navigate to Graphics in Settings and ensure that the automatic graphics switching setting is configured correctly.

You should also consider setting your display to automatically turn off after a certain period when the laptop isn’t used.

This will allow your laptop’s charge to last significantly longer since battery life that might have been wasted on idling will be saved for use later.

Use Your Laptop With Reduced Screen Brightness

If you use your laptop at maximum screen brightness, it will drain the battery much faster. Unfortunately, this can also cause it to degrade sooner.

If you want to extend your laptop’s battery charge, use the keyboard shortcuts or display settings to adjust the brightness to the lowest setting you can comfortably use. 

Unplug Devices and Disable Features You Aren’t Using

Some devices can be a huge drain on your laptop’s battery, whether it’s a mouse or a pair of earbuds. If you’re not using a plugged-in device, remove it to save battery power. 

Your laptop also uses significant power to keep the WiFi and Bluetooth services running. If you aren’t currently using them, consider disabling them until you need them again.

You can toggle each individually in your device settings or use airplane mode to disable both quickly.

Shut Down Demanding Applications in the Task Manager

A graphical representation of an extensive collection of apps on a laptop screen.

The Task Manager provides information about your apps’ CPU, memory, and disk usage. This makes it an excellent tool for identifying battery-draining applications.

Visit the Task Manager regularly to save battery power and shut down demanding applications.  

Ignore Common Myths About Lithium Batteries

A fully-charged lithium laptop battery makes it more challenging for the lithium ions to move around inside it.

Keeping the battery between 40 and 80 percent is best unless you need the battery fully charged. 

A common myth about lithium laptop batteries is that you shouldn’t use them while charging. It’s perfectly safe to do this and won’t harm the battery. 

You may be better off keeping the charger plugged in as much as possible to relieve the number of charging cycles and to reduce overall heat in the battery’s lifespan.

Turn Off Your Screen Saver

While screen savers are great for adding a dash of personality to your device, they also drain your laptop’s battery life.

Keep your screen saver turned off whenever possible, or configure it to display when the laptop is plugged in to save it further.

If you’re not using your laptop for an extended period, shut it off.

While putting your laptop in sleep mode or shutting the screen reduces its battery power, it still uses little energy.

Only Open The Applications You Need

One of the most common bad habits regarding computer usage is leaving dozens of applications and tabs open.

After all, it won’t be long before you click on that Word document or useful website again.

Even when tabs and applications are only opened in the background, your laptop uses memory and other resources to ensure they’re ready for you.

Unfortunately, multiple inactive tabs and open applications can quickly drain your laptop’s battery. 

With this in mind, make it a habit to close apps or tabs you aren’t actively using.

Update Your Laptop’s Operating System

Update concept art for computers.

When your laptop functions inefficiently due to an outdated operating system, it can use excessive battery power. 

Updating your laptop’s operating system ensures that it has the upgrades and patches to keep it working efficiently and with the least amount of power possible.  

To ensure you never forget to update your laptop’s operating system, consider configuring it to automatically download software updates.

It’s also worth periodically checking the updates since automatic updates can sometimes fail.

Use An External Battery Pack

Portable battery packs are not just for cell phones. Some of them can also be used with laptops. Keeping an external battery pack on hand can add hours to its life

You can buy external battery packs for laptops online or in electronics stores.

They typically cost between $100 and $300, depending on the battery life and the features included, and are designed to be compatible with your laptop’s existing charger.

Use Simple Applications To Save System Resources

Using these system resources consumes power, whether it’s your computer’s memory or processing power. And not all applications use these resources equally.

Compared to a simple text editor with only the essential features, applications like Microsoft Word and Google Docs consume significantly more power. 

To save power, consider using simple alternatives to applications when possible. Many applications have built-in alternatives that use minimal resources and power.

You can buy minimalist software online if you don’t find an alternative on your laptop. 

Use Applications In Dark Mode

Like reducing your laptop’s screen brightness conserves battery, using applications in the night or dark mode can also help.

Compared with the typical white screen, your laptop’s display doesn’t consume as much power to display a black screen with white text.

You can change an app or program to dark mode by navigating to its preferences and adjusting the display settings. 

Consider Increasing Your Laptop’s RAM

Laptop RAM is installed.

RAM is responsible for storing data on your laptop for short-term use. If your laptop has limited RAM, it may not work as efficiently and can drain the battery power faster.

Increasing your laptop’s RAM will improve the laptop’s overall speed and battery charge length.  

You can buy extra RAM for your laptop online or from a computer store. Once you have it, you can place it in the RAM slot.