There’s nothing more frustrating than running out of power at the worst possible time. But how long do laptop batteries last, in terms of their overall lifespan? How many years does a laptop battery last on average, and how much does it cost to replace a laptop battery when that time comes?
As you’d expect, there are many factors that play a role in determining average laptop battery life. In terms of battery cycle count – as in how many times a laptop’s battery can be charged – there are enormous differences between one product and user to the next.
Learning how to check laptop battery health is the first step towards maximizing laptop battery life, ensuring you get the best possible value for money out of your machine.
How Long Do Laptop Batteries Last?
There are three primary factors that come together to determine how long a laptop battery will last for, and when it needs to be replaced:
If you’re constantly asking “why does my laptop battery die so fast?”, it could be attributed to either the health of your battery or the way you are using it. By switching your usage habits around just a little, you could significantly extend both the battery life of your laptop and the lifespan of your battery.
Average Laptop Battery Lifespan
It’s often said that the average laptop battery lifespan is 18 to 24 months. What this means is that as you approach the two-year mark, you are likely to notice a difference in how long the battery lasts. It will continue to work for much longer than this, but with a decreased capacity.
That said, it depends largely on the type of machine you pick up in the first place. If you limit yourself to a machine way under 500 USD, it’s probably going to perform less impressively than a higher-spec machine for just under 1000 USD. The quality of the machine and the battery itself will largely determine its lifespan, which for a quality laptop will usually be in the region of 1,000 charging cycles.
How do I stop my laptop battery from draining so fast? First and foremost, you’ll want to put a stop to certain bad habits. For example, leaving Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity active when you aren’t using it can put a massive strain on your battery. As can having your screen too bright, or running your machine in ‘high performance’ mode when it isn’t necessary.
Shutting down background programs instead of leaving them running in the background when you aren’t using them can also help. As can turning down the volume of your laptop’s speakers and avoiding using it where it’s too hot, where its cooling system will need to run in overdrive to keep it running.
How to Care for Your Laptop’s Battery and Extend Its Life
In terms of extending the lifespan of the battery itself, it’s again a case of putting a stop to a few bad habits. For example, continuously running your battery all the way to 0% before recharging it is considered a bad habit by most technicians. Likewise, plugging and unplugging your machine into the mains an excessive number of times each day has also been known to affect battery lifespan.
There’s some debate as to which steps are most effective, though the vast majority of experts agree on the following as the best places to start:
Save Cycles, Save Your Battery
Every battery has a limited lifespan, in terms of how many times it can be recharged. Irrespective of how you use your laptop, this maximum number of charging cycles always applies. Hence, anything you can do to save cycles is probably something you should be doing.
Long story short – always keep your laptop plugged in while working on it, if close to a mains power supply at the time. Try to avoid connecting and disconnecting it too many times during the same day, but work by way of mains power and save cycles where possible.
Keeping Your Battery in Zone
For the most part, the old issue with ‘battery memory’ has been largely eliminated from the equation. These days, failing to charge your laptop to 100% (or anywhere close) really isn’t an issue at all. However, issues with a type of battery memory can still occur when a laptop’s charge is routinely depleted beyond 20%.
As a general rule of thumb, therefore, experts advise keeping your lithium-ion battery above 20% at all times where possible. Unless a mains supply is out of reach, try to avoid letting your battery fall below 20%. And if you don’t intend to use your laptop for some time, charge the battery to around 50% before storing it away.
It’s Getting Hot in Here, So Cool Down Your Batteries
As already touched upon, it’s important to avoid allowing your laptop or your battery to get too hot. Excessive temperatures can speed up the electro chemical reactions inside the battery, making it increasingly less efficient. Your battery discharges faster, needs to be charged more often and you edge closer towards its maximum number of cycles.
There are plenty of cooling trays and similar devices you can pick up these days for next to nothing, which are designed specifically to keep laptops cool and safe. When not in use, make the effort to store your laptop in a cool and dry place, where it will not be exposed to excessively high temperatures.
For obvious reasons, you’ll want to do your best to avoid using your laptop in direct sunshine, if working outdoors. Stay in the shade, or head indoors if possible for the benefit of your battery.
Download Software to Get Battery Health Reports
It’s not always easy to figure out how healthy or otherwise your battery is, given how each cycle (in terms of battery life from a full charge) differs. Depending on the environmental conditions at the time and how you are using your laptop, you may get way more or less out of it one day than the next.
This is where specialist software can help, which performs a detailed diagnostic on the health of your battery and provides a summary accordingly. There are various free and paid apps to choose from for both Windows and MacOS laptops – BatteryCare and Battery Monitor being two of the best. Along with providing detailed information on the overall health of your laptop battery, they also provide real-time insights such as temperature readings, discharge cycle monitoring and general information on performance and efficiency.
All of which will help ensure you’re being kind to your battery while working on your laptop.
Enable Battery-Conscious Modes on Your Computer
All operating systems feature a variety of adjustable settings to preserve battery life. In Windows 10, for example, you can activate Battery Saver mode to conserve power, or manually adjust things like brightness and the general performance of your machine.
Adaptive brightness can also be useful where available, enabling your screen to adjust its own brightness accordingly, in accordance with conditions at the time.
The simple fact of the matter being that if you don’t need your machine to perform at its best and you can cope with a slightly darker screen, you’ll be rewarded with improved battery life.
Update Your Operating System
Last but not least, operating systems like Windows 10 now feature mandatory automatic updates. If running an OS where updates are still technically optional, it’s worth keeping up to date with the latest patches and rollouts.
This is because some of the patches and updates released for Windows and MacOS alike are designed specifically to reduce power consumption and maximize battery life. The updates themselves may be pretty resource hungry (so be sure to plug your machine into the mains), but can actually result in more efficient overall performance and improved battery life.