Laptop batteries and charging are thorny issues.
There’s a lot of conflicting advice about battery and charger health and safety.
In this post, we’ll focus on one specific issue in that area: charging your laptop when it’s off.
Is it safe?
Will it damage your battery?
Or does it help with charging your battery more quickly?
Let’s answer these questions and more below.
Will A Laptop Charge When Shut Down?
Yes, it will charge and It’s completely safe to charge a laptop when it’s turned off.
A powered-off laptop will charge faster because your hardware and software won’t consume part of the electricity.
Also, you’re less likely to overheat and damage the battery as you won’t charge and use it simultaneously.
To make sure your laptop is charging even when it is turned off, ensure that the charging indicator turns on when you plug in the power adapter.
Depending on the model, the indicator light could be near the charging port, on the front panel, or on the edge of the laptop.
The light may change color or state when the battery reaches 100 percent capacity.
For instance, it may turn from orange to white.
Alternatively, the indicator light may stay on as long as the charger is plugged in, regardless of the battery level.
Does A Laptop Charge Faster When Shut Down?
Strictly speaking, a laptop doesn’t charge faster when it’s off.
However, it can retain more of its charge because the laptop’s components aren’t active.
Let’s explore that further.
Charging speed depends on the voltage and current that travel from the adapter to your battery.
When you multiply voltage (measured in volts) by current (measured in amps), you get energy (measured in watts).
So, your charging speed depends on how much energy the adapter can output to your battery.
For example, fast chargers on modern smartphones generate between 10 to 15 watts, while regular laptop adapters operate at 65 watts.
When you turn off your laptop, the power adapter doesn’t change.
Therefore, your laptop battery won’t receive more energy—it still gets 65 watts.
However, your CPU, RAM, GPU, and other components won’t consume that energy.
So, your laptop can store it all in the battery and reach 100 percent capacity faster.
Laptop Won’t Charge When Turned Off
You should investigate the issue further if your laptop’s charging indicator light doesn’t turn on when you plug in the charger.
Follow these steps to identify the root cause:
1. Check The Outlet
It might sound silly, but you may have forgotten to plug the charger into the outlet, or the plug may have come slightly loose.
Always start by checking this simple solution before moving on to more extensive problems.
2. Check The Surge Protector
If you use a surge protector, check the on/off switch.
If the switch is off, electricity won’t flow through your charger.
Although unlikely, there might also be an issue with the surge protector.
Plug your charger into the wall outlet to see if the issue disappears.
3. Check The Laptop’s Charging Port
The charging ports on laptops tend to be flimsy and wear out quickly.
You may break the power jack if you forcefully push the charging tip in.
The jack could also break due to wear and tear.
Wiggle the male plug in the port and see if the indicator light comes on.
Also, check for dust and debris.
If you notice any object blocking the port, try to extract it with a sharp needle.
If the power jack looks broken or bent, there isn’t much you can do yourself.
A technician must replace the jack.
4. Turn The Laptop On
If you don’t see any visible damage to the power jack, try to turn on the laptop.
Hopefully, the battery has enough charge to power the laptop for a few minutes.
Once Windows loads, plug the charger back in and check the system tray.
Does the battery icon have a small plug on it?
If so, your laptop is charging, and your charger is fine.
The issue is then likely with your indicator lights.
For instance, the LED may have died.
You should have a technician look at your laptop, but you don’t have to lose any sleep over the problem.
On the other hand, if you can’t turn on the laptop, unplug it and hold the power button for one minute.
This way, you discharge the static electricity that may prevent your laptop from booting.
Note: If you have a removable battery, take it out before pressing the power button.
If you have no success turning on your laptop, move on to the next step.
5. Replace The Power Adapter
Like batteries, power adapters are considered consumables, meaning they tend to lose functionality after a while.
So, if your laptop won’t charge, try another compatible adapter.
Before plugging in the new adapter, ensure it operates at the same voltage as your old one.
Otherwise, you may damage the laptop’s components, especially the motherboard.
If you can’t find the right adapter, take your laptop to a technician.
They usually have matching adapters for all the popular brands and models.
6. Remove The Battery
We mentioned this point last because it’s probably the least helpful recommendation on our list.
Most modern laptops that are less than five years old feature non-removable batteries.
However, if your laptop’s battery is removable, unplug the laptop, take out the battery, and plug the adapter back in.
If this doesn’t fix your problem, unplug the laptop and press the power button for one minute.
As mentioned, the objective is to discharge the electrostatic buildup that may cause strange charging and booting behavior.
How to Make Your Laptop Charge Faster
You can take three basic approaches to increase your laptop’s charging speed:
- Use an adapter with a higher wattage.
- Eliminate factors that waste energy.
- Use USB Type-C fast charging.
1. Higher Wattage Adapter
The first approach can be risky because your laptop’s battery and power supply circuit may not support higher wattages.
Connecting an unsupported adapter to your laptop may damage its hardware and even result in data loss.
If you decide to use a more powerful adapter, make sure its voltage matches your previous one.
In most cases, the new adapter’s higher amperage won’t be an issue.
But you need to check your laptop’s specs to make sure.
2. Eliminating Wasted Power
The rationale is that if we prevent energy from being wasted or consumed, more of it can be stored in the battery, resulting in a quicker full charge.
The most extreme case is when you turn off your laptop before charging it.
However, if you want to quickly charge your laptop while using it, you’re not out of options.
Here are a few recommendations to try:
- Put your laptop in power-saver mode.
- Dim the screen.
- Disconnect from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
- Close background programs and Chrome tabs.
- Quit your games to reduce your GPU’s power consumption.
3. USB Type-C Fast Charging
Fast charging has become the standard for charging smartphones.
However, it’s a relatively new phenomenon for laptops since these devices draw more power.
For example, a smartphone only needs 15 watts of power, whereas many laptops need at least 65 watts.
And gaming laptops with high-end graphics cards can easily consume up to 300 watts when running an intensive title.
The new standard for fast charging laptops using UBS Type-C, dubbed Extended Power Range, delivers up to 240 watts of power to your device—48 volts with 5 amps of current.
Given the high voltage, it uses a new non-backward compatible cable standard to increase safety.
The new cables feature a USB 240W logo.
You also need a compatible USB charger with the USB Charger 240W logo.
To see if your laptop supports fast charging via USB Type-C, find the exact make and model.
Then find the specifications page on the manufacturer’s website.
Look for USB Power Delivery 3.1 or USB Type-C 2.1.
Note: These specifications were announced in 2021.
So, if your laptop was built before, you can’t get USB Type-C fast charging on your device.
USB fast charging has undergone multiple iterations to increase its capacity and reliability.
This YouTube video will tell you all about those standards:
Is It OK To Charge Your Laptop Continuously?
You shouldn’t leave your laptop continuously plugged in as it causes significant damage to your battery.
Unplug the adapter once the battery reaches 80 percent capacity for maximum longevity.
Also, avoid charging your laptop overnight as it exceeds the time required to charge the battery.
You’re probably wondering why overcharging is such a problem.
The reason has to do with how lithium batteries store electrical energy.
When your battery is empty, electrical current rushes through it, delivering ions that can be discharged later.
As these ions accumulate, less room is available to store the incoming ions.
Therefore, the electrical current decreases, and a higher voltage is required to push more ions in.
If you keep your adapter connected beyond 80 percent, the buildup of ions starts to create significant pressure on the battery.
On the one hand, the stored ions want to get out.
On the other hand, more ions keep coming in (because the adapter is plugged in).
As this pressure increases, it degrades the cells in your battery and reduces their ability to hold a charge.
Now, if you find it a hassle to manually maintain the battery levels, you have two options:
1. BIOS Settings
Some manufacturers include battery management settings in their BIOS to let you manage the maximum level of charge your battery receives.
For example, with Dell and Alienware laptops, you can define “Custom Charge Start” and “Custom Charge Stop” values.
The ideal values are 50 and 80 percent, but you can tweak them to your liking.
This way, the battery will start charging when it drops below 50 percent and stops at 80 percent capacity.
Alternatively, you can use “AC Only Mode,” which maintains your battery level at 85 percent and only uses the adapter to run the computer.
2. Manufacturer Software
Almost all reputable laptop manufacturers have an application that lets you tweak hardware settings and monitor your components.
These apps also offer various battery controls to manage maximum charge levels.
If the application isn’t already installed on your laptop, download it from the manufacturer’s website.
3. Take The Battery Out
Although we said you have two options, there may be a third depending on your laptop’s model.
If your laptop has a removable battery, charge it to around 60 percent.
Then remove it and store it in a cool, dry place.
Unfortunately, removable batteries have become exceedingly rare in laptops.
If yours is packed, don’t manually remove it as you risk damaging the components and explosion.
How To Check Your Battery’s Health
If you’re worried that keeping your laptop plugged in all the time has damaged its battery, Windows has the tool to let you investigate further.
The Windows Battery Report gives you a detailed look into your laptop’s battery performance.
Follow these steps to generate that report:
- Press the Windows Key + R simultaneously.
- Type in cmd and hit Shift + Enter to run the command prompt as an administrator.
- Type in this command: powercfg /batteryreport.
- Press Enter.
Windows will generate an HTML file and store it in your boot drive under your user folder.
Once you open the file with your browser, you’ll see recent battery usage trends and historical data.
Pay attention to “DESIGN CAPACITY” and “FULL CHARGE CAPACITY” under Installed batteries.
The first value indicates your battery’s capacity immediately after being manufactured, whereas the second one is its current capacity.
The current capacity is often smaller than the design capacity as batteries degrade over time.
Under “Battery capacity history,” you can see your battery’s gradual decrease in capacity.
This report lets you spot trends and abnormalities in your battery health and consumption so that you can optimize its longevity.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I Restart My Laptop While Charging?
Restarting your laptop won’t damage its battery even when it’s charging.
So, you don’t need to unplug the laptop before restarting it.
Having your laptop plugged in may even be helpful if you have an update to install after rebooting your laptop.
That’s because you don’t know how long the update may take, and you don’t want the laptop to shut down in the middle of an update.
2. Does A Laptop Recharger Waste Electricity When The Laptop Is Not Connected?
Because your laptop charger has a transformer, it’ll draw power even if it’s not connected to your laptop.
Keeping the adapter idle wastes a small amount of energy and may gradually damage the transformer.
The exact amount of energy consumption depends on the adapter specifications.
In general, it’ll be between 0.1 and 1.5 watts.
If you have a particularly inefficient adapter, it’ll feel warm to the touch even when idle.
To avoid problems and reduce waste, unplug the adapter.
Or, if you use a surge protector, turn off its switch.
3. Do Laptops Stop Charging When Full?
Many laptop manufacturers say they cut the power supply to the battery once it’s fully charged.
However, you should unplug your laptop at around 100 percent.
The reason is that battery levels vary by one or two percent at any given time.
So, once your laptop detects that the battery is 98 percent, it immediately reconnects the circuit.
Continuously toggling the power to the battery has more detrimental effects than letting your battery drain and recharging it again.
4. Can I Leave My Laptop Plugged In Overnight?
You shouldn’t leave your laptop plugged in for long periods.
Most laptops only need one or two hours to reach 100 percent capacity.
Leaving your laptop plugged in longer doesn’t improve its performance or battery health; instead, it damages the cells.
Doing this for a few months will cut your battery’s lifespan by almost half.
For optimal longevity, keep your battery levels between 25 and 80 percent.
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