Is It Bad To Leave Your Laptop Plugged In All The Time?

It is common to hear people telling you not to leave your laptop plugged in all the time. The main reason for this is that in doing so, you will ruin your laptop battery. In the past, it was strongly advised against leaving your battery charging for longer hours. With the new technology used in making laptop batteries, there is a change. Plugging in your laptop at all times won’t damage your battery like before. You may still be wondering if it’s bad to leave your laptop plugged in all the time.

Leaving your laptop plugged in all the time is not bad. New laptops are equipped with an advanced technology battery. Unlike traditional nickel-cadmium batteries, the lithium polymer battery will not take more charge than it can handle. Therefore, your battery will remain unharmed. 

Incidences of overcharging were common with the old generation laptops. Overcharging was, in fact, the most common way that laptop batteries were being damaged and couldn’t hold power for a longer time. It was recommended to unplug your laptop immediately after your battery reached a full percent. All these were logical reasons meant to help you lengthen your laptop’s battery life.

HDMI to USB c connected to laptop

What Is The Difference Between The Old Generation Laptop Batteries And The New Generation Laptop Batteries?

The old generation laptops were equipped with a nickel battery that had a “memory.” This memory required that the computer had to be unplugged once fully charged. Failure to do that, the battery would continue to take in power that was more than it could hold.

The difference between the old and the new generation laptops is the battery technology. The new technology batteries use lithium-ion battery and lithium polymer, while the old laptops were using a nickel-cadmium battery.

Lithium polymer and lithium-ion batteries have advanced technology that allows them to only take in power that they can hold. Once their limit is reached, the battery will stop charging automatically.

 The excess energy will be transferred elsewhere in the laptop, and thus, you won’t have the case of your laptop battery losing memory as was the case with the old model laptop batteries.

The nickel-cadmium batteries had the problem of continuing with the charging process even when they reached the maximum charge capacity they could hold.

 This usually led to their memory loss. The memory loss was in such a way that they could indicate a charging percentage that was beyond the maximum capacity. Overcharging, therefore, made the old generation batteries spoil faster.

How Good Are Laptops With Lithium-Ion Batteries Compared To The Old Nickel-Cadmium Ones?

With the technological improvements, we have seen many people go for the new laptops run with lithium-ion batteries and avoid the old nickel-cadmium. How good are the laptops powered with the new lithium-ion batteries?

Laptops using lithium-ion batteries will save you many worries when it comes to charging. You will not have to keep track of your charging progress and unplug it immediately your battery reaches a hundred percent. Leaving it plugged in the power when it is fully charged will not damage your battery at all.

Leaving your laptop plugged in most of the time has some benefits for your lithium-ion laptop battery. This is because it will reduce the rate of discharging or even prevent discharging all together. Keeping your laptop plugged in will slow the battery’s charging cycles and help maintain your battery in good condition for a long time.

 Charging cycles are the number of times your battery drains to zero and charges to a hundred. The cycles determine the life span of the battery. Since most of them are made to withstand up to only a number of charging cycles, mostly 500, they will go wrong if the cycles are exceeded and become inefficient in charging and power storage abilities.

Leaving your laptop plugged in will therefore reduce the rate of discharging and consequently reduce the charging cycles. This will be ideal for saving the battery and lengthening its life span to serve you for a much longer time. Hence, you will enjoy a long-lasting battery for a longer time saving on the cost of frequently replacing it.

Laptop battery

Does It Matter If Your Laptop Is Always Plugged In?

Keeping your laptop plugged in at all times has numerous advantages. However, even though your laptop will have a regular power supply, some disadvantages will reduce the discharging rate and hence charging cycles, which will directly affect your battery. There are significant disadvantages that come with leaving your laptop plugged in all the time.

Keeping your laptop constantly plugged in matters because of the following reasons. First, it is not advisable to keep your battery charged to a hundred percent. Secondly, keeping your laptop plugged in will increase its temperatures, directly affecting the battery.

Keeping your laptop plugged in will mean that your battery will continuously operate at a hundred percent. The new-tech batteries can’t be overcharged, they will stop charging at a hundred, and the laptop will run directly from the power cable from there.

 However, when the battery slightly discharges, the charging gear will kick in and charge it back to a hundred.

When lithium-ion batteries charge to a maximum of a hundred percent, they will hold up to about 4.2 volts of power per cell. This can be estimated to 300-500 charge cycle lifespan. To add to that, when your battery is nearly full, the volts in the cells are also high. When the battery charge reduces, the volts in the cells also reduce gradually.

Every volt decrease in the cells comes with an increase in the charge cycle. It is estimated that with every decrease of 0.1 volts below the maximum 4.2 volts in the battery, the charge cycles increase by almost double. This, however, means that the battery will carry less charge in it.

This means that your battery will be able to withstand more charge cycles at a slightly lower than a hundred percent charge. The optimum charge level that will see your battery live for long is estimated to be around 80%. The battery can withstand up to 600-1000 charge cycles at this charge level compared to 300-500 if it’s kept at 100%.

Keeping your laptop plugged in most of the time matters. The reason being, it will keep your battery charged at full capacity and hence reduce the number of charging cycles it can withstand.

This is why you will hear many people advising that it’s best to charge your electronics only up to 80% to ensure they serve you for long and in good condition.

Keeping your laptop plugged in at all times will also keep its temperatures high. This is often due to the moving charges on the laptop. High temperatures are known to have a negative effect on the lithium-ion batteries that most laptops use.

 High temperatures often cause unnecessary chemical reactions in the battery that ends up destroying the battery.

 It will be wise for you to unplug your laptop when you are not using it or when the battery is charged. This will help save your battery by preventing cases of overheating and hence the unwanted chemical reactions in your device’s battery.

Finally, if you are that person that is more concerned with electric bills and carbon emissions, it is best if you unplug your laptop when not in user. This is because the laptop will still be drawing power from the socket even when it’s shut down.

This will hence translate to higher energy consumption and thus a higher bill. Furthermore, when the laptop is constantly drawing power from the socket, it will also be emitting carbon into the air, affecting the environment negatively.

Computer laptop charging battery on bed

Should I Unplug My Laptop Charger When Not In Use?

This is a common fear among most laptop users. Many people fear that keeping your laptop plugged in most of the time will ruin their battery. For the most recent batteries used in laptops, this may not necessarily be the case. Most of the new laptops have new lithium-ion batteries that won’t overcharge.

However, unplugging your laptop still has other benefits that will serve you a great deal. A laptop will draw power even if it is not being used or even when it’s off. This will lead to a higher electric bill and higher carbon emissions to the environment.

Keeping your laptop plugged in will occasionally raise its temperatures because of the constant power supply. As mentioned, high temperatures in your laptop will degrade your battery and accelerate the rate at which it will be damaging. Unplugging your laptop whenever you are not using it is a sure way to ensure that your battery remains in good condition for a long time.

Constant power supply to your laptop will not allow your battery to ‘exercise.’ Allowing it to exercise is one of the recommended ways to help lengthen its lifespan. This battery maintenance process is guided by several laptop manufacturers including, MacBook and Hewlett Packard.

Unplugging it will make it use the battery power and thus exercise the battery by discharging. The charging and discharging process helps calibrate the battery and make it be able to hold more power, thus serving you for a long time.

When it comes to increasing the volts your battery can hold in each cell, it is greatly recommended not to keep your laptop plugged in all the time. This is because, for the lithium-ion batteries, the cell holds more power when the battery is full. This may seem okay, but it is not that good for your battery in the long run.

Studies show that a fully charged battery can hold more volts in its cells; however, a battery charge cycle can be improved if the volts were reduced from the maximum. The maximum volts in each cell is about 4.2 volts. Reducing it by some values below the maximum can extend the charge cycles by almost double.

If you unplug your laptop, you will allow the battery to drain some of its charges, reducing the number of volts in the cells. A reduction of volts will increase your battery charging cycle from the standard 300- 500 to about 600-1000 cycles. Unplugging is, therefore, essential to help your battery life, especially when you are not using the laptop.

Is Recalibration Necessary For Your Laptop’s Battery?

Battery low message on mobile device screen

To boost your battery’s ability to hold power for long. It is recommended that you perform a recalibration procedure at least once a month.

Recalibration is a procedure meant to keep your battery readings accurate. Continuous battery usage will make your battery lose its calibration. It will be vital if you recalibrate it after every two to three months. This will ensure you don’t get false battery readings on your laptop.

Losing recalibration means that the battery will be showing more charge than it has. To recalibrate, you will be required to unplug your laptop and let the battery drain to around five percent. After that, plug it in power and let it recharge without interruption. This will recalibrate to start showing more accurate battery readings.

The recalibration procedure will not be possible if you always plug in your laptop even when not in use. Furthermore, a laptop that is always plugged in will tend to show inaccurate power readings most of the time. This always happens when the laptop sticks to showing a hundred percent reading all the time, even when it is not plugged, or the battery is not full.

With the ever-improving technology, we have witnessed a significant change from atrocious batteries to long-lasting batteries. This has led to the development of batteries that can last for more than the typical eight-hour workday.

Lithium-ion batteries and lithium polymer batteries have advanced tech. The tech was meant to correct the incidences of frequent damage that other batteries suffered due to overcharging.

In conclusion, the new laptop models do not require a frequent check on the charging progress.

With them, you need not worry that your battery will overcharge and thus get spoiled in the process.

They only take up the amount they can hold, and once reached, they will stop charging automatically. Even when you leave your laptop plugged in, you will experience any battery damage, as would have been the case with old-generation laptops.


I'm Rob, the founder of I’m a Marine Corps vet with a master’s degree in Information Systems and have been working in the technology field for over a decade.

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