Will Removing My Laptop Battery When It’s Plugged In Extend Its Lifespan?

by Anil Polat · 8 comments

pug sitting in sunBattery life is an especially precious commodity when traveling and the normal luxuries we take with electricity become magnified when there’s no outlet around. Since one way to keep your laptop strong is to recalibrate it from time to time by draining it completely, you may be thinking removing it all together when not needed will extend its lifespan.

Unfortunately, if you do so, you’ll be doing the opposite, while putting your laptop at risk at the same time.

Why Doesn’t Removing The Battery Save It?

Laptop batteries vary in their composition but they are all chemical based. Meaning, the atoms inside a given battery are manipulated to produce electrons and the chemicals in the reaction (oxidize) and decay over time. Something a bit similar happens in our own bodies and why anti-oxidants help us live longer. Energy has a price; but these reactions occur whether a battery is in use or sitting on a shelf.

Think about couch potatoes sitting in front of the TV all day, they still get old. And usually faster than the rest of us.

Engineers Design Things By Design

Modern (lithium-ion) laptop batteries are designed to be in laptops and used; most manufacturers and operating systems will actually perform slight calibrations automatically. (The reason you often see your battery at 98% capacity even when it is plugged in.) You’ll be better served by performing a series of ‘shallow’ discharges with the occasional recalibration to extend battery life when traveling.

macbook pro charging

A bit of use it or lose it; similar to our couch potato analogy.

Laptop Batteries Do More Than Charge

Finally, one important point about your laptop battery is that it does more than give you delicious electricity. Batteries also help to condition the power coming in to the rest of your laptop’s vital (and expensive) components. While the charger “brick” in your wall plug does a good job, in case of a large spike, that laptop battery might just save you from having to buy a new laptop or replace costly components.

In short, your laptop battery will last longer and serve as a protective barrier from the rare moment where you have too much electricity if you keep it in your computer at all times.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dave Brett July 19, 2012 at 09:22

Great post,

Luckily for me its built into my Mac Air, don’t have the pleasure of doing this.

BTW you might no the answer to this question:

Is it true that you should run your new laptop to full charge before you use it? Then drain it flat once till it turns it self off? does this effect the battery at all or is it just a myth?

Also I have heard that temperatures also ruins batteries so you must be careful when blogging in the arctic or the sahara desert.


2 Anil P. July 19, 2012 at 12:40

Hi Dave,

Yes and no. You should recalibrate (full charge/discharge) about once a month, otherwise use shallow discharges. This post explains the best practices in more detail:


As for the temperature, most certainly it can hurt battery life and longevity. Especially high temperatures. Keep your laptop cool when possible!


3 Kristen Sarah - Hopscotch the Globe August 22, 2012 at 12:26

Great website you have here. I’ll definitely being following since I’m a traveller and I love techy stuff:) I just read this article on Travel + Escape, do you have all of these gadgets or would you recommend them too: http://www.travelandescape.ca/2012/08/5-top-high-tech-travel-gadgets/


4 Anil P. August 22, 2012 at 12:35

Thanks – it depends on exactly where and how you’re traveling. Here’s all of the gadgets I have with me:



5 Michael September 12, 2012 at 10:01

So this is how the battery works. I’ve learned so many things on laptop battery. Is there some specs that we should look into when buying a laptop battery?


6 Anil P. September 14, 2012 at 11:57

Most modern laptop batteries (made in the last 18-24 months) are manufactured similarly so it’s hard to generalize. I will say though you should look to find professional online reviews of actually battery life – which is often very overstated by manufacturer specs.


7 Jonathan Look, Jr. March 12, 2013 at 04:14

Great post and thanks for the information. I was just considering removing my battery for home use on my laptop.


8 tomin June 21, 2013 at 02:41

Of course, shallow discharges are ideal for Li-ion batteries but extreme shallow discharges are not good. So if you pull the ac power cord, make it sure that it runs on battery sometime. I use dell quickset to turnoff battery charging.


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