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The secret to getting more juice out of your notebook battery

The secret to getting more juice out of your notebook battery

April 2014

With the rise of the notebook PC, we’ve been able to stay productive, creative and entertained almost anywhere. We’re no longer tethered to our desks or a certain location—that is, until it’s time to recharge.

How we use a notebook and all its features controls how long the battery runs without recharging. Here are a few tips to follow that can help improve overall battery performance —and keep us on the go.

Charge-cycle care
One of the more commonly-known strategies revolves around how often you connect and disconnect the charger. This method also largely depends on the type of battery and notebook model you’re using. Many older notebooks feature nickel-metal batteries, while modern notebooks are built with lithium-ion batteries. For the nickel-metal variety, it can help to completely drain your battery until it shuts down, and then fully recharge it. Doing so for lithium-ion batteries, though, has been known to have a negative effect on battery efficiency.

Strategies for maximizing power based on the charging method vary by battery type. To find out which type of battery you have, shut down your PC and release the battery. On the top or bottom of the battery, there should be a “Li-ion” for lithium-ion or “NiMH” or “Ni-Cad” for nickel batteries.

Screen brightness
The brighter your notebook screen, the more power it consumes. To save energy, simply reduce your screen brightness when you don’t need it at 100%. This is especially helpful when using a program that has a light background, such as Microsoft Word or Excel.

To adjust the screen brightness for PCs using Windows, open your Control Panel and select “System and Security” and then “Power Options.” There will be a slider at the bottom of the screen that reads “Screen Brightness,” which you can easily adjust. Alternatively, most notebooks have shortcut buttons on the keyboard or function keys that allow you to adjust the brightness with the touch of a button.

Tools and tasks
Want a surprise? Open your Task Manager and check out just how many programs and applications are running on your computer. There’s probably more than a few you didn’t even know were running. These tools and tasks require a lot of energy.

Check to see which programs are currently running using the notification bar on the bottom right of your screen, plus look for any hidden tasks or tools. Switch off the programs that aren’t critical and deactivate any unnecessary ones that run automatically. Just remember to manually run certain tasks in the future.

Sleep mode
When you’re not using your notebook, putting it into sleep mode can greatly conserve battery power, especially if you’ll be away from your notebook for extended periods of time. You’ll need to access your power management features to control these settings and specify when you want sleep mode to turn on. Settings can vary from five minutes to one hour or longer.

Screen savers
Interestingly enough, enabling a screen saver on your notebook won’t save energy. Screen savers that use complex graphics and animation don’t save battery power and, in fact, might actually consume more energy. So instead of using a screen saver, stick with the sleep mode.

Wi-Fi
While wireless internet is a key element in allowing us to roam wherever we want, it can also drain a lot of power. So, turn off your Wi-Fi capability if you’re not using it, as your notebook will continually search for a signal when Wi-Fi is turned on. There are different ways to disable Wi-Fi, depending on which notebook you’re using. Most likely, accessing your software settings will be the easiest way to turn off any Wi-Fi connections.

Multimedia and games
Stunning graphics and increased processing power have made notebooks perfect for enjoying multimedia content and games. However, video watching and other entertainment usage can easily consume energy. If you’re looking to conserve power, it’s best to wait until you’re plugged in before the entertainment starts.

Back it up
With professional users expecting to work unplugged for longer periods of time, it’s no wonder that some of the larger battery manufacturers have come up with a solution: external batteries that can be recharged and used when needed to give your notebook an extra boost. Just be sure to find a solution that is compatible with your notebook, as many are brand- or model-specific.

An even easier alternative is to purchase an extra internal battery made for your device and keep one fully charged in your notebook bag. That way, when your original battery is getting low, you can just pop it out and keep working.

Staying power
Today’s notebooks feature more powerful and efficient batteries than ever before. And every new notebook model raises the bar even higher. Nevertheless, it’s important to monitor your battery in order to maximize its performance, especially when you’re on the go and want to stay productive. In doing so, you can make sure you’ve got enough notebook energy to keep up with your daily life.

More to read
Understanding Lithium-Ion and Smart Battery technology
5 tips for stress-free traveling with your notebook

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