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Is it better to use laptop on battery or on AC power?

If I stay near a power source is it recommended to always have my laptop plugged in?

Or should I use the battery and let it drain before plugging in?

Which method is best for preserving the life of my battery?

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marked as duplicate by Arjan, Mehper C. Palavuzlar, Ivo Flipse Oct 30 '10 at 17:16

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3 Answers

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Most laptop batteries are Lithium Ion now.

Although constant charging cannot hurt lithium ion batteries, it looks like you may want to periodically run the battery all the way down so the digital circuits can correctly calibrate:

Although lithium-ion is memory-free in terms of performance deterioration, batteries with fuel gauges exhibit what engineers refer to as "digital memory". Short discharges with subsequent recharges do not provide the periodic calibration needed to synchronize the fuel gauge with the battery's state-of-charge. A deliberate full discharge and recharge every 30 charges corrects this problem. Letting the battery run down to the cut-off point in the equipment will do this. If ignored, the fuel gauge will become increasingly less accurate.

As for battery life, temperature is apparently a factor -- the hotter the environment, the more capacity loss over time. And storing the battery at 100% charge is actually unhealthy for Lithium Ion batteries!

Great set of Lithium Ion battery use tips here: http://www.batteryuniversity.com/parttwo-34.htm

  • Avoid frequent full discharges because this puts additional strain on the battery. Several partial discharges with frequent recharges are better for lithium-ion than one deep one. Recharging a partially charged lithium-ion does not cause harm because there is no memory. (In this respect, lithium-ion differs from nickel-based batteries.) Short battery life in a laptop is mainly cause by heat rather than charge / discharge patterns.

  • Batteries with fuel gauge (laptops) should be calibrated by applying a deliberate full discharge once every 30 charges. Running the pack down in the equipment does this. If ignored, the fuel gauge will become increasingly less accurate and in some cases cut off the device prematurely.

  • Keep the lithium-ion battery cool. Avoid a hot car. For prolonged storage, keep the battery at a 40% charge level.

  • Consider removing the battery from a laptop when running on fixed power. (Some laptop manufacturers are concerned about dust and moisture accumulating inside the battery casing.)

  • Avoid purchasing spare lithium-ion batteries for later use. Observe manufacturing dates. Do not buy old stock, even if sold at clearance prices.

  • If you have a spare lithium-ion battery, use one to the fullest and keep the other cool by placing it in the refrigerator. Do not freeze the battery. For best results, store the battery at 40% state-of-charge.

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(Just summing up your post a bit, that I fully agree) Lithium-based batteries is a very clean system and do not need discharge as nickel-based batteries do. The 1st charge is no different to the 5th or the 50th charge. Instructions to periodically run the battery all the way down may be a leftover from the nickel battery days. Every deep discharge cycle of Lithium-based batteries, decreases their capacity! Never deep-discharge them. Charge the early and often. –  Saxtus Oct 30 '10 at 12:15
    
Love you Jeff! Awesome answer. –  Fahad Uddin Mar 10 '12 at 17:22
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This is a good question. The only thing which i had been told so that battery life remains extended, is not to drain of the battery completely and then recharge it. You should see that the charge in your battery is 20% before you plug in the adapter. This ensures a good battery life. There could be other factors, but this is one.

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For Li-Ion battery, it is ideal to be at 40% charge. I have a laptop which has hw/sw to keep battery on 50% when plugged in, and "charge" button for full charge. After 4 years, battery can keep up about 2 hours (it could 3 when it was new).

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That surely applies to storing the battery for some longer time, when taken out of its hardware. I have never heard of it for normal usage, despite your laptop giving you that odd charge option. What laptop is that? –  Arjan Oct 30 '10 at 15:25
    
@arjan It is Compal IFL90, it is less known under that name, as it is rebranded as Marrast in Europe and Sager in USA. notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=3895 –  Goran Obradovic May 24 '11 at 10:14
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