Does My Laptop Need a Battery to Work?

If your laptop has a dead or malfunctioning battery you may have found that a replacement battery is expensive. If you use your laptop at home and have it plugged into a wall outlet most of the time, you may have wondered whether the laptop will function without a battery, and whether or not it is safe to operate it without one. This article will address some of these questions.

Most laptops are able to run without a battery. The simplest way to find out if your laptop will run without a battery is to try running it without one. Before you do, however, take a few simple precautions. First, save any open documents or files and shut down the computer completely. Second, make sure the AC adapter is connected and the laptop is receiving AC power. Windows will often show a power indicator in the taskbar in the lower right of the screen that shows the battery status and whether the AC adapter is connected.

Now you can shut down the laptop completely and remove the battery. Make sure the AC adapter is firmly connected and plugged into the wall and press the power button on your laptop. If the laptop starts up and seems to run normally, it will most likely operate without a battery.

There are a few concerns that you should be aware of before you operate your laptop without a battery in the long term, however. Some laptops, such as the MacBook Pro, have been shown to have degraded performance when running only on AC power without a battery. You could test this by running performance tests with and without the battery to see if your system is affected. The other concern is that AC power cables are meant to be removed from the laptop easily, and could get knocked out by accident. With no battery to keep the machine running, it will shut down suddenly, possibly losing your open documents and other important information.

You are unlikely to encounter major problems running your laptop without a battery, strictly on AC power. However, consider buying a replacement battery for emergencies or for the extra peace of mind of not having to worry about a disconnected power cable. Compatible batteries are available for most laptops for a fraction of the cost of OEM batteries and still provide the same charge.

Main Factors That Affect A Laptop Battery’s Life

There are many factors that affect battery life. Some, users have control over, and some they do not. Let us look at a few of the main factors that affect laptop battery life.


Laptops have many components, and though they are all designed to use as little power as possible, some still require a large amount of power. The component that requires the most power is the display monitor, followed by the hard drive. This is the reason power settings center around dimming and turning off the display and shutting down the hard drive when not in use.


Another major factor that affects laptop battery life is temperature. Lithium-ion batteries, the most common type of laptop battery, are susceptible to problems caused by extreme heat. Excess heat can cause the batteries to malfunction, have a shorter battery life, lose capacity, or in the most extreme cases, catch fire or explode. Leaving a laptop in a hot car or keeping it in an area with poor ventilation, therefore, is not recommended.

Laptop Design

When it comes to laptop battery life, one of the largest factors to affect it is the laptop design itself. For example, laptops and notebooks designed for high-end video editing or other processor-intensive tasks will use more battery power than small netbooks designed for web surfing and email. Laptops that consume the most power will need to recharge the battery more often, shortening its laptop battery life. Also, the physical design of the laptop can affect laptop battery life. Laptops that are designed to stay cooler when running will also keep the battery cooler, and as mentioned above, heat is the enemy of a notebook or laptop battery.


Lastly, all laptop batteries have a limited life. Even a battery that sits on the shelf will begin to degrade. Having to replace a laptop battery at some point is inevitable, but make sure to recycle any old laptop batteries, and keep them from ending up in a landfill, where they can leak toxic chemicals into the air or water.

5 Biggest Battery Drainers for Laptops

Every laptop user at one time or another has run out of battery power, and it seems that you always run out of battery power at the worst possible moment. Getting more out of your battery starts with knowing which components drain the battery the most, so that you can minimize their impact on your overall battery life. Here is a list of the 5 biggest battery drainers for laptops.


The LCD Display

The LCD display is by far the biggest battery drainer in a laptop. In some models it can account for more than 50% of the power used. To combat this, sleep the display as often as possible. Turn down the screen brightness whenever possible as well.

The Chipset

The chipset includes the motherboard and graphics processor. Models that have a dedicated graphics processor will require more battery power. Sleeping the display or putting the machine in standby will help to minimize the need for chipset power.

External Devices

External devices such as USB hard drive, MP3 players, thumb drives, and other devices can use up a lot of battery power, especially those are powered or charged from the USB port. Unplug any unnecessary devices and accessories to save battery power.

The Processor

The processor generally uses around 10% of the battery power in use, though it requires more during heavy processing. Close unnecessary programs and background processes to reduce the load on the processor to prolong battery life.

The Hard Drive

The hard drive tends to use about 5% of the battery power in use, but uses more when the system is reading to and writing from the drive heavily. As with the processor, closing unnecessary programs and background processes will help, as well as avoiding programs that frequently write to the drive.

These guidelines give you an idea of the laptop components that use up the majority of your battery life. Following these guidelines and utilizing the laptop’s power management features should help you prolong the battery life of your machine.

5 Common Problems with Laptop Batteries

The laptop battery is an integral part of a notebook computer, as it provides the portable power needed to use your laptop on the go. Unfortunately, laptop batteries can experience a number of issues, and even in the best case, a laptop battery only has a limited life before it will need to be replaced. Let’s take a look at the 5 most common laptop battery problems.


  1. Age or loss of capacity

Laptop batteries have a capacity, usually measured in milliampere-hours or mAh. Over time, the batteries capacity will shrink, as it loses the ability to fully charge all of its cells. Laptop Batteries that have lost a significant amount of capacity will need to be replaced.

  1. Heat or swelling of the battery

If a notebook battery becomes too hot, it can begin to swell and expand. This can be caused by poor ventilation or an overheating computer. It is important to replace a swollen laptop battery, as it can be very dangerous, and can cause damage to the laptop or injury to the user.

  1. Discharge

If a notebook battery sits unused for a long period of time, it can be difficult to recharge it. This affects older batteries more than modern batteries. If the laptop battery cannot be recharged, it will need to be replaced.

  1. Memory Effect

Older laptop batteries sometimes experienced what is known as “memory effect”. Notebook Batteries that were not discharged often would sometimes become unable to use some of the cells, reducing capacity significantly. If you have an older battery, especially a Ni-Cad laptop battery, be sure to discharge it completely at least once a month, to avoid the memory effect.

  1. Manufacturing defects

Many manufacturers have had to recall laptop batteries in recent years due to manufacturing defects that caused them to malfunction. Sony, Toshiba, Dell, and Apple were all affected. If you believe your notebook battery has malfunctioned, or is prematurely losing capacity, contact the manufacturer to see if a recall has been issued for your model.

Common Issues with Lithium-Ion Batteries

Over the past several years, lithium-ion batteries have been the preferred technology, not just for laptop batteries, but also for a number of electronic devices such as cell phones and MP3 players. Some of the main reasons for their popularity are that they are inexpensive to manufacture and that they don’t exhibit many of the issues that plague older technologies, such as the “memory effect” which can cause a dramatic decrease in capacity. Lithium-ion batteries can still have problems, however. Here, we will explore a few of the main issues that can affect lithium-ion batteries.

Decreased Capacity

The main problem with lithium-ion batteries is that they tend to lose some of their capacity over time. This is caused by deposits that form inside the electrolyte of the battery, which eventually inhibits the transport of ions. Eventually the battery loses a large amount of its capacity and needs to be repaired or replaced.


Lithium-ion batteries tend to heat up when being charged or discharged. Generally, this is not enough heat to cause any concern, but if the battery malfunctions, it may cause a large amount of heat. In extreme cases, batteries may even bulge or catch fire, though these cases are very rare. Li-ion batteries have many safety features to protect against these kinds of malfunctions.

Not Charging When Plugged In

In some cases, a laptop battery will not register as charging even when the laptop is plugged in. Check to make sure the battery is correctly inserted and that the AC adapter is connected securely to the laptop and the wall outlet. In most cases, this problem is caused by a bad AC adapter or a defective DC jack on the laptop instead of the battery itself.

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Despite the few issues mentioned above, lithium-ion batteries tend to be very robust and reliable. Lithium-ion will continue to be the battery of choice for quite a few more years, even as it is slowly replaced by newer technologies.

Troubleshooting a Laptop AC Adapter

All laptop parts have the potential to fail at one point or another. The most likely components to fail are often those with a number of moving parts, as wear and tear will eventually take their toll. A laptop AC adapter failure, however, is common. Since the adapter has no moving parts, it is much less likely to encounter mechanical problems, but failures can still occur.

When troubleshooting a laptop AC adapter, there are a few steps that can help rule out other causes and narrow down the issue that is causing the problem.

  1. Ensure you have the correct AC adapter

Ensure that you have the correct adapter for your laptop. Especially in a house or office environment with multiple laptops, it can be easy to grab the wrong one by mistake. Most laptop AC adapters are incompatible with other laptop models. In many cases, the tip will not fit into an incompatible laptop, but this is not always true.

  1. Check for damage

If your AC adapter seems to be failing, check for signs of visible damage. Inspect the tip which inserts into the laptop, as well as the entire cord, looking for extreme kinks or frayed wires. Also check the transformer or “brick” for any signs of wear, such as cracks or bulging. If any of these signs are present, you should replace the AC adapter immediately to avoid any risk of electrical shock or damage to the laptop.

  1. Try another adapter

If you have a second adapter or can borrow a compatible adapter from someone with the same model of laptop, you can rule out the possibility that the problem is caused by another component. Often, problems with the other internal system components can cause charging issues and other symptoms that aren’t caused by the AC adapter itself.

If you have tried these steps and believe your laptop AC adapter needs to be replaced, make sure you find a compatible replacement for your model. Many online retailers offer a parts locator tool for finding replacement parts specific to your laptop model. Many reputable sellers also offer customer support by phone to help you find a suitable replacement.

Finding the proper HP Laptop AC Adapter

If your HP laptop is not charging the battery while your AC adapter is plugged into the laptop, you probably need a replacement Laptop AC Adapter. It is important to ensure you have the correct AC adapter for your specific HP laptop, as using an incorrect adapter could potentially cause damage. Here are a few methods for finding the proper HP laptop AC adapter.

The simplest method is to use an online parts locator tool. Many online retailers offer such a tool. Simply enter your HP laptop’s model number into the search and the tool will provide you with the proper replacement parts that are compatible with your specific model. The benefit of this method is that you are often given a choice of both OEM and third-party Laptop AC adapters for your HP notebook. Third-party adapters are often much less expensive than their OEM counterparts, and as long as they are purchased from a reliable source, should perform every bit as well as the OEM version.

Another method of finding the correct AC adapter for your HP laptop is to use the support software provided. Click Start, the Help & Support. Here you will find the product name, model number, and serial number. This will help you locate the correct part for your HP laptop. The product’s serial number is usually located on the bottom of the machine as well. You can call HP support directly to order a replacement AC adapter, though this will usually be the most expensive route. Another option is to call or email an online retailer with your model number and serial number, and they can often help you locate the correct part.

Finding replacement parts for an HP laptop is not as difficult as it once was, with the benefit of online parts locator tools. It is now a simple process to find parts even for older models. Take advantage of the many tools available for finding an AC adapter for your HP laptop.

How to Test an AC Adapter with a Volt/Multi-Meter

If your laptop is no longer receiving a charge, or is only intermittently receiving a charge, there are a few different components that could be the cause. The AC adapter is a likely culprit, but it can be difficult to determine if a fault DC jack or another component could be causing the problem instead. By testing your AC adapter with a multi-meter or volt meter, you can determine if it is outputting power and eliminate the possibility of a failed AC adapter. Here is how to test the AC adapter and determine if it needs repaired.

  1. Turn off the laptop if necessary and unplug the AC adapter from the laptop. Leave the adapter plugged into the wall outlet.
  2. Read the rating on the side of the AC adapter to find out its intended voltage. For example, the “Output” listing may say something like “9V DC”. This means the adapter output 9 volts of DC power.
  3. Set the multi-meter to DC and set the range to something slightly higher than the expected output voltage. For example, if the adapter is rated for 9 volts, set the range to 20 volts.
  4. Connect the leads to the ports in the multi-meter if they are not already connected.
  5. Stick the red lead inside the tip of the AC adapter and press the black lead against the metal around the outside of the tip. Keep both in place at the same time. The meter should read something near the rated voltage on the AC adapter. Some adapters output a much higher voltage than their rating, but it should be within a range of around 30% up or down.

If you get a rating that is somewhat higher or lower, the adapter is still likely functioning correctly. If you get no rating at all, or the voltage seems to be intermittent, your AC adapter may be damaged and should probably be replaced.

Troubleshooting Laptop Power Issues

A laptop cannot function without adequate power, and laptop power issues can sometimes be difficult to diagnose and to fix. Here are a few of the most common power issues and a few ways to troubleshoot them.

Laptop Won’t Power Up

When a laptop won’t power up, the problem usually lies in the AC adapter or battery. Try running the laptop from just the battery, then try running it with the AC adapter with the battery removed. If possible, try borrowing a working battery or AC adapter from a friend or at a repair shop. Replace the adapter or battery as necessary.

Battery Doesn’t Charge

The operating system usually gives an indication as to whether the battery is charging. When the battery does not charge correctly, even when plugged in, the problem is usually a faulty AC adapter or a bad DC jack. If replacing the AC adapter does not solve the problem, the DC jack (where the AC adapter plugs into the laptop) may need to be repaired. Take the laptop to a professional repair technician.

Laptop Turns Itself Off

If your laptop is turning itself off at random moments, there could be a few causes. Over-voltage or under-voltage from the AC adapter can sometimes cause the computer to turn off, but the most common cause is overheating. When the laptop becomes overheated, it will often power down to save components from being damaged. Use a can of compressed air to blow as much dust and debris from the laptop’s vents as possible, and check that the cooling fan is working correctly.

These are the most common power issues you will encounter with any laptop. Hopefully, the troubleshooting tips above will help you to diagnose and fix the problems you encounter and get your laptop back up and running properly. If you have tried the troubleshooting tips above and are still having problems, it is a good idea to take your laptop to a qualified repair technician.

AC Adapter Tip Sizes and Colors: What Do They Mean?

Anyone who has owned many electronic devices over the years can attest to the fact that AC adapters for recharging these devices can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. When it comes to laptops, one might think there is more of a standard, but this is often not the case. Laptop AC adapters generally come with a variety of different voltages, tip sizes, and sometimes even tip colors. Why is there so much difference between AC adapters and what do the differences mean?

First, let us look at why manufacturers choose to use differing tips and color markings for their products. For example, ASUS laptop AC adapters may use the same voltage and amperage as DELL laptop AC adapters, but they are often not compatible with each other. The first reason for this is to differentiate their products from each other and from those of other manufacturers. This can often be a safety concern, as plugging the wrong adapter into a laptop could cause damage to the adapter or the laptop. The second reason for the differentiation is that by requiring a unique tip shape or size, manufacturers require consumers to buy additional adapters exclusively from them.

When comparing tip sizes and color markings, there is very little standardization. The most common tip size is 5.5 mm in diameter and 9.5 mm in length, and is used in many laptop designs, but the size does not often correspond to specific voltages or amperages. Most manufacturers use a variety of tip sizes within their model line so that similar-looking adapters are not confused.

Color markings on the tips of adapters are most common on third-party adapters, particularly universal adapters. The colors are used to help users easily identify the correct tip for a particular device. For example, a user may remember that the blue tip should be used for their netbook, while the red tip should be used for the laptop.

Be sure to check out our online store to find a compatible AC adapter for your specific laptop model. This avoids much of the confusion when it comes to tips and color markings, and ensures you have a suitable replacement.