All laptop batteries can handle a certain number of charge cycles. The specific number of cycles depends on the manufacturer. You can usually find detailed information about the battery from the laptop maker (e.g., Apple, Dell, Lenovo, HP, etc.)
Batteries are consumable items, and while the battery in your laptop will hopefully last for many years — its performance degrades over time as you use it. Unfortunately, that means the battery doesn’t last as long, even at a full charge.
What Is a Battery Cycle?
A battery cycle refers to one complete drain of the battery’s charge from 100 to zero percent. It doesn’t have to happen all at once; for example, if your laptop battery drains from 100 percent to 33 percent, then you charge it back up to 100 percent and drain it to 33 percent again. That counts as one cycle.
Cycle counts measure the health of a laptop battery; the lower the cycle count, the healthier the battery. A healthy battery will hold close to its factory-maximum charge, compared to a battery that is older or has been heavily used.
Tips for Managing your Laptop Battery
- Routinely unplug your laptop and let the charge drop down to the 40 or 30 percent range.
- Don’t let your battery run down to zero (e.g., fully discharge).
- Reduce the brightness of your laptop screen. Powering the screen accounts for a significant amount of a laptop’s battery consumption.
- Use battery saver functions within your operating system (Windows and macOS).
Watch out for Excessive Heat
When a laptop battery gets too hot, it produces a lot of energy that it cannot use. Which then creates more heat, compounding the problem.
Prolonged excess heat will eventually damage the inside of the battery, which also wears the battery out sooner than expected.
Today’s laptop batteries (usually lithium-ion) are durable, but they can only take so much heat. So, for example, if you are charging your battery and the laptop starts to get overly warm — maybe the CPU or graphics processor is working hard — or the environment is excessively hot, then shut the device down and disconnect the power. If you can, remove the battery from the laptop as well.
Sometimes the laptop’s location is the reason for excess heat; for example, don’t use a laptop on your lap. You always want to make sure that the vents on the side, or bottom, of a laptop, are not blocked.
Cold temperatures aren’t usually a problem to a point, and storing a battery in a cool place is recommended, but don’t leave your laptop in freezing temperatures. Too much cold can also reduce the lifespan of a battery.