How to Get More Run Time

Have you ever wondered why it is that the battery life on your laptop seems to vary each time you use it? If it's the same battery being used, what causes it to either last longer or die quicker from time to time? To get a better understanding of why this happens, think of your laptop battery as if it were a car. Just like a car, laptop batteries have a 'gas tank' that stores the energy it needs to function. This is what is often referred to as the 'reservoir' or capacity of charge per cycle of the battery. And as is the case with a car's gas tank, the amount of usage provided by a battery with a full reservoir is greatly affected by how the machine is operated.

Adjust Power Management Settings

The simplest way to get the most out of your laptop battery is by adjusting the Power Management settings located in the Control Panel of your laptop. Most are familiar with these controls, and they generally have three different settings you can select from. If you plan on using your laptop for several hours in between charges, you'll probably want to select the setting that saves the most power.

Take a Look at Your Battery

Just like your car; laptops also have a gas tank; which is the battery. Unlike you car, you can increase the size of your laptop's gas tank (the battery) by replacing it with battery that has higher cell count and capacity.

In the example to the left, we have a 4400mAh (44Whr) Dell Laptop battery. When we open this battery pack, we see that there are 6 individual battery cells that make up this battery, and there is room for more.  So this laptop battery isn’t being used to its full capacity capability. If we were to add an additional 3 cells to this battery back, we raise the cell count from 6 to 9, and increase the capacity.  This would give us a longer run time on the battery and the laptop.

Identify Power Hogs

Another way to get the most out of your laptop battery is to identify the main consumers of energy and make adjustments so that they aren't pulling as much power as they typically would. Here are a few 'battery consumers' that can be either turned off or limited for the purpose of getting the most out of a charge:

* The Screen (adjust brightness)
* Wireless Networking Cards
* Any other ‘Extras’

Let's say that an average laptop battery is 2500 to 4000 mAh (milliAmp hours). With EVERYTHING on your laptop in use, you could be using as much as 2500 mAh each hour. At this rate, you would be lucky to get two hours out of a charge. On the flipside, wise usage of your laptop could see that rate decrease by up to 80%, allowing for much more use per charge.

So the next time you get set to use your laptop and want to get the most out of your charge, envision it as if it were your car and use its power accordingly. You might be surprised at how much a few minor changes can help to get more usage from each charge.