Laptop battery life depends upon several factors. The factors can be directly or indirectly related to the computer. We will discuss some of these factors and possible actions to make your battery life longer in this article.
1. Know your battery
Currently there are two types of batteries available in the market. Maintaining both types of batteries is different. The newer batteries are Lithium Ion based, and have no problems with partial recharging or discharging (this is called memory effect). This means you can recharge the newer Li-On batteries any time you want.
The older batteries are Nickel Metal Hydride based, and have memory effect problems. This means that from time to time, you have to drain the battery completely and then recharge it to full, to minimize any losses in battery capacity.
Editor’s note: The latest research reveals that the new sulfur-based battery is a lot safer and more powerful than Li-On battery. It can save charge four times than that of Li-On battery as it has a lot more energy density. See more about Lithium sulphur battery here.
2. Know your Energy Profile
All major Operating Systems including Windows come with default energy consumption profiles for controlling PC performance while on battery. When you are not doing processor and graphics intensive work (such as gaming, photo/video editing), you can switch to battery saving profile for longer battery life.
This is especially easy in Windows 7, where you can tap Windows + X hotkey to bring up the Windows Mobility Center which enlists energy consumption profiles in an easy to select drop down menu.
Another way to do the same is to click on the battery icon in the notification area (bottom right of your screen in Windows), which brings up the last three used energy consumption profiles.
Editor’s note: In case of Windows 8, you will need to press Windows Key + X + B shortcut key to open the mobility center.
3. External Devices
Devices plugged into USB ports, such as external hard drives, external optical drives, iPods or cell phones are a huge drain of battery. The best way is to unplug or turn off the devices not currently in use. Also, avoid charging cell phones or other portable devices when laptop is running on battery.
Usually 500mA power is available for each USB port. You can save this power by turning off all the USB ports while running on a battery.
To automatically turn off USB ports when on battery do the following:
- Go to Device Manager (Windows Key + X + M)
- Expand Universal Serial Bus Controllers by click on the + button
- Right click Universal Root Hub and select Properties
- Under Power Management tab, check “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power“
You will need to do this for each Universal Root Hub to make sure that all the USB ports are powered off.
4. Memory beats Hard Drive
Not having enough memory (RAM) in laptops can be a big energy drain. Operating systems use a procedure called Virtual Memory, which is when a part of hard disk is used as extension of memory, to run more applications in limited memory. This results in frequent use of hard drive, which is an energy intensive part of your laptop.
To avoid this, always have enough memory installed in your laptop.
5. Keep your laptop cool, your environment cooler
Heat is a waste of energy. The more your laptop heats up, the more power is drained from battery. So clean your laptop’s air vents regularly. Use air blowers to remove dust residuals. Use laptops in regulated temperature environments.
Also, don’t use laptop in open daylight. Laptops are not designed to radiate external heat, which means they can absorb sunlight and heat up much more quickly. This is a surefire way of killing your battery, and your laptop’s performance too.
6. Keep your drivers updated
Newer drivers are usually released to increase performance and decrease power consumption. While this may seem like an inept commentary, latest drivers can help your laptop increase the battery life.
This is especially true for gaming laptops which have powerful GPUs. GPUs are leading contenders for energy consumption when it comes to gaming. So having latest drivers can help cut energy consumption.
7. Invest in cooling pads
If you use your laptop in bed or in sofa a lot, it can heat up quickly and cause load on battery. This is because clothes, and other such material decrease (or completely shut down) air flow to the heat vents, thus causing intense heating of the system which can not only drain the battery, but damage it (and other components also).
In order to avoid this, you can buy a portable USB stick connected cooling pad for your laptop. Pads come in cheap and have drastic effects at the temperature of your laptop. Always make sure that your laptop has a space to breathe, because no air flow means no cooling, which might decrease laptop performance.
8. Control screen brightness
Screen display requires lighting up multiple arrays of LED lights, which can put a lot of burden on the battery, decreasing its life. One way to control screen brightness in Windows 7 or Windows 8 is through the mobility center. Another way of controlling screen brightness is through the ‘function’ keys, which come in most of the newer laptops. Also, energy consumption profiles come with default settings for screen brightness.
Editor’s note: Flux is a wonderful utility which can automatically change the screen brightness according to the time of the day. For nights, it will decrease the brightness while at day time, the brightness will increase automatically making sure that your eyes stay safe as well as your battery performs better.
9. Prioritize the running programs
If you are working on a spreadsheet, listening to you MP3 collection, downloading your favorite TV Show, updating your software packages and installing a chunky program, all at the same time and without plugging in your power cord, the battery will drain before you can finish any work. Whenever using battery power, avoid overloading useless or otherwise uncritical programs. You can set the updates for night, when you would be watching your TV Show. You can install the program when listening to music during afternoon. Don’t expect more from your battery than it can offer.
Editor’s note: The best way to do this is to change the Power management plan to Power Saver. This will force the processor and other PC components to run slower than normal.
10. Disable graphics accelerated display options
Windows Vista, 7 and 8 come with ‘Aero’ theme which uses the graphics resources for aesthetically pleasing display experience. But using graphics resources all the time can be a huge drain on the battery. High end graphics cards consume more power than hard disks and RAM combined, so be careful with what display settings you use.
In Windows 7, you can revert to a ‘basic’ theme which does not use graphics resources by going to Control Panel -> Appearance and Personalization -> Personalization and selecting any theme from the ‘Basic and High Contrast Themes’.
You can also adjust performance settings by going to System Properties (Right Computer and select Properties) –> Advanced System Properties –> Adjust for best performance.
Hopefully these tips will help you to make better use of your laptop battery. If you have any suggestions or would like to share your experience, please leave a comment below.