First of all, it’s necessary to unfold a myth that persists in many peoples head.
In lithium-based batteries this is, in fact, a myth, it only applies to older Nickle-based batteries. So fully discharging and charging the battery is completely useless and even harmful as we will see below.
|The modern lithium battery can be charged regardless of its current percentage, given that it has absolutely no negative effect on its performance.
Should I remove the battery when A/C is plugged in?
Many laptop users have this question and we will answer it right now:
Having a battery fully charged and the laptop plugged in is not harmful, because as soon as the charge level reaches 100% the battery stops receiving charging energy and this energy is bypassed directly to the power supply system of the laptop.
However there’s a disadvantage in keeping the battery in its socket when the laptop is plugged in, but only if it’s currently suffering from excessive heating caused by the laptop hardware.
– In a normal usage, if the laptop doesn’t get too hot (CPU and Hard Disk around 40ºC to 50ºC) the battery should remain in the laptop socket;
– In an intensive usage which leads to a large amount of heat produced (i.e. Games, temperatures above 60ºC) the battery should be removed from the socket in order to prevent unwanted heating.
Full battery discharges (until laptop power shutdown, 0%) should be avoided because this stresses the battery a lot and can even damage it. It’s recommended to perform partial discharges to capacity levels of 20~30% and frequent charges, instead of performing a full discharging followed by a full charging.
Laptop batteries contain a capacity gauge that allows us to know the exact amount of energy stored. However, due to the charging/discharging cycles, this sensor tends to be inaccurate over time.
Some laptops include in their BIOS, tools to recalibrate this battery gauge, which is nothing more than a full discharge followed by a full charge.
An inaccurate gauge can lead to the fact that the battery capacity values are wrong. The battery may report that it still has 10% of capacity when in fact it has a much lower value, and this causes the computer to shutdown unexpectedly.
Discharge (or charge) cycles consist of using all that battery charge (100%) but not necessarily all at once.
How to perform a calibration (full discharge)?
An adequate method to do a full discharge (100% to a minimum of 3%) consists of the following procedure:
After the calibration process, the reported wear level is usually higher than before. This is natural since it now reports the true current capacity that the battery has to hold a charge. Lithium Ion batteries have a limit amount of discharge cycles (generally 200 to 300 cycles) and they will retain less capacity over time.
Many people tend to think “If calibrating gives higher wear level, then it’s a bad thing”. This is wrong, because like said, the calibration is meant to have your battery report the true capacity it can hold, and it’s meant to avoid surprises like, for example, being in the middle of a presentation and suddenly the computer shuts down at 30% of charge.
To store a battery for long periods of time, its charge capacity should be around 40% and it should be stored in a place as fresh and dry as possible. A fridge can be used (0ºC – 10ºC), but only if the battery stays isolated from any humidity.
Purchasing a replacement battery
If you intend to purchase another battery, it’s recommended that you do it only when the current battery is very degraded. If it’s not the case, the non-usage of a battery leads to its degradation.
Advantages of using BatteryCare
BatteryCare allows you to have the control over the discharge cycles number, and when this reaches 30 (or other configured value), it notifies you that it’s time to perform a full discharge in order to keep the battery gauge calibrated.
Besides, when using the battery, there’s the possibility to suspend some Operating System features that help to degrade the autonomy (only in Windows Vista or higher):
– Windows Aero, the theme that allows for visual effects like window transparency, requires graphics card acceleration, which obviously will help to decrease the battery lifetime;
– SuperFetch, ReadyBoost and SearchIndexer are three Windows Vista (and higher) services that, even in battery mode, are using the hard disk a lot and increase total power consumption, thus decreasing battery lifetime. Suspending these services has absolutely no negative impact on the performance or security of the system.
These features are resumed once the laptop is plugged into A/C power.