Got a laptop plugged in 24/7? You could be ruining your battery life, so prepare to do the charger dance

A charging cable plugged into an Asus Zephyrus G16 gaming laptop
(Image credit: Andy Edser)

There are few things more nerve-wracking than a dying battery. Ok, there are quite a few things more nerve-wracking than a dying battery, like getting chased by a bear or receiving a missed phone call from your bank. Still, those of you who like to keep your laptops plugged in all the time to avert such anxiety—and I count myself among you—are in for a nasty shock, as it might be the worst thing you could do for your battery life.

That's according to Kent Griffith, an assistant professor at the University of California, whose research on battery degradation has led him to the conclusion that leaving your laptop sitting at 100% charge for weeks or months at a time can leave you with potentially half of your initial capacity (via Gizmodo). As someone who's been in the habit for years myself, I have to say that tracks rather perfectly with my own battery life experiences. Gulp.

So what to do instead? Well, according to Griffith the optimal state for your battery is roughly between 20% and 80% charge, meaning that the best course of action would be to charge your laptop fully before letting it discharge throughout the rest of the day, plugging it back in again when you reach the magic 20% mark.

Terrible news for battery anxiety sufferers such as myself then, who reach for the charging cable at around 60% at best, and mostly leave it plugged in when possible to be extra sure.

To be fair, as a fan of high-powered gaming laptops I hardly expect my battery life to go much beyond a few hours, but it does make me wonder exactly how many laptop batteries I've ruined simply by connecting the charger and leaving it plugged in whenever I'm near a convenient plug socket.

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There are steps you can take to make sure your laptop lasts as long as possible once it's unplugged, including dimming the screen brightness, culling power-draining background apps, and keeping your laptop away from excessive heat, all of which should help you stay away from the pesky power outlet for a bit longer.

Still, there seems to be no getting away from the fact that leaving your laptop plugged in is essentially ruining one of the core functions of the device, and this is troubling news indeed.

However, maybe I'm acting like a spoiled brat here, but the idea of plugging and unplugging my laptop from the wall several times a day while keeping the charge percentage in the ideal range is the sort of thing that sets my teeth on edge. Nevertheless, for the good of my devices, and indeed yours, I suppose we should all learn to be a bit more careful about how long we charge our laptops.

Prepare to do the charger dance with me, my friends, as it seems our batteries may well thank us for it.

Andy Edser
Hardware Writer

Andy built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 12, when IDE cables were a thing and high resolution wasn't. After spending over 15 years in the production industry overseeing a variety of live and recorded projects, he started writing his own PC hardware blog for a year in the hope that people might send him things. Sometimes they did.

Now working as a hardware writer for PC Gamer, Andy can be found quietly muttering to himself and drawing diagrams with his hands in thin air. It's best to leave him to it.