Getting the Most Out of Your Laptop Battery

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Want to get the longest performance out of your laptop battery? Use these tips to conserve battery power when you’re on the go.

• If you’re not using the Internet, turn off Wi-Fi (consult your owner’s manual for detailed instructions on how to do this). Your laptop constantly searches for new networks when Wi-Fi is on, resulting in unnecessary power usage.

• Dim your screen a notch or two (again, consult your owner’s manual). The display and hard drive are two of the most power-hungry components of your laptop, and dimming the screen even a little bit can have a dramatic affect on power consumption.

• Make sure your power management settings (Control Panel?All Control Panel Options?Power Options?Select A Power Plan, in Windows 7) are set to “Power Saver” mode. You can customize the settings to auto-dim your screen or put the machine to sleep even sooner than the default time.

Laptop batteries are often pricey and have a limited lifespan. Proper maintenance will help extend its useful life.

• Periodically remove the battery from your laptop and clean the contact terminals (both the ones on the battery and the ones on the computer) with a cotton swap moistened with rubbing alcohol.

• If you have a fairly new laptop, it most likely uses a lithium ion (Li-ion) battery. Li-ion batteries do not suffer from performance degradation due to partial discharges (i.e., before the battery’s power indicator goes all the way down), so charge the battery every chance you get, even if you’ve only used a little bit of its power. Never let a Li-ion battery fully discharge.

• If you have an older computer (3+ years, but check your documentation to be sure), it might run on a nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery. These batteries need to be fully discharged and recharged every few months. To discharge your battery, simply unplug the machine, adjust the power management settings (see above) so that it won’t go to sleep, hibernate, or otherwise power down, and let it run. Play a DVD from the optical drive to hasten the process, if you wish. After it’s completely drained, charge it fully.

• Keep your machine properly ventilated. Don’t let clothing, dust, or other debris block the cooling vents on the chassis. A hot machine runs less-efficiently, demanding more from the battery and shortening its operational lifespan.


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