How to Extend Your Laptop’s Battery Life
You have to wonder about the testing conditions surrounding most laptop manufacturers’ claims for battery life. The battery rated at seven hours use per charge may rarely last more than three.
Battery life has been a function of size: third party testing shows netbooks may get up to seven hours while a 15-inch PC laptop runs for around five hours.
Breaking battery records
Battery ratings jumped last week when Lenovo and HP introduced laptops claiming up to 32 hours of battery life.
Lenovo’s new T-420 series offers 33 percent longer battery life than its predecessors. With its standard 9-cell battery, the ThinkPad T420 delivers up to 15 hours of battery life and up to 30 hours of use with an extra snap-on 9-cell slice battery. The laptops will be available at the end of this month starting at $1,029.
HP has also introduced an extended-use laptop, the EliteBook 8460, edging out Lenovo’s battery claims by two hours. Pricing starts at $999 and they will be available March 15.
The power-battery life trade-off
Apple also unveiled its new line of MacBook Pro laptops with speedier Intel Sandy Bridge processors, higher-resolution cameras for video chatting, and new Thunderbolt data transfer technology offering twice the speed of USB 3.0 and 20 times the speed of USB 2.0 connections for transferring movies, photo and other large files.
While super performance usually comes at the expense of battery life, Apple said in a statement that its “new and improved real-world testing process” yields seven hours per charge for its new MacBook Pros.
Apple laptops have historically had longer single charge runs than their PC competitors. Batteries in Apple laptops must be replaced through the company. Prices for Apple laptops start at $1199.
Regardless of what laptop you use, old or new, there are things you can do to extend the life of your machine’s battery and work longer on a single battery charge.
Keep battery contacts clean. Turn off and unplug your laptop. Remove the battery. Use a cotton swab dampened with rubbing alcohol to wipe the metal contacts on the battery and inside the laptop. Allow them to dry completely before reinstalling the battery. Do this about every two to three months.
The type of battery your computer has determines how it should be charged. Unlike older-generation nickel-based (NiMH) batteries , modern lithium ion batteries can be partially discharged and recharged repeatedly with no harmful effects, but you should avoid letting the battery completely run down.
On the other hand, completely drain NiMH batteries periodically. Turn on your computer, unplug it from its external power source, and let the computer run. When it dies, recharge the battery fully. Repeat this every one to three months according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Keep your battery as cool as possible. Don’t rest it on a pillow on your lap, which can trap hot air from the machine. Keep the vents unobstructed. Also, let your laptop cool down before sliding it into a bag for storage if you’re traveling.
If you don’t expect to use your laptop for a week or more, remove the battery and store it in a cool place. Ideally, a battery should be about half charged for storage.
How to extend a single charge
Here are a few steps to extend the charge of your laptop battery:
- Just like idling wastes gas in your car , idle programs, peripherals and connections waste battery life. Close programs, turn off your Wi-Fi connection and unplug USB sticks and devices such as cameras and printers when not in use.
- Switch on the optimized battery or power feature. You'll find this option in your laptop system's built-in power management control panel.
- Use your laptop in the best possible lighting conditions and turn down the brightness on your display when possible.
As soon as you drive a new car off the lot, its value drops; so too with a battery’s charge capacity. After about two years, your battery may not hold a charge as well as when it was new. Consider a replacement. If you’re using an older NiMH battery, look for an energy efficient lithium ion replacement.