Question from Chris: I’ve asked this question of several people who should know and received several conflicting answers.
I guess this is one of those things that boils down more to opinion than science.
I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while now and I think you really know what you’re talking about, so I thought I’d ask your opinion on it.
I primarily use this laptop sort of like a desktop computer and only rarely do I unplug it and take it to a different location.
So here’s the question: Is it safe to leave my laptop plugged into a wall outlet for extended periods of time even when the battery is fully charged?
I don’t want to damage the laptop and I for sure don’t want to burn my house down.
Rick’s answer: Thanks for the kind words, Chris. I really appreciate it.
To answer your question, it’s completely safe to leave your laptop plugged in even when the battery is fully charged.
When plugged in, from the user’s perspective the laptop receives its power from the wall outlet and the battery in effect serves as a “Battery Backup Device”.
That being said, there are a few things you need to consider:
1 – I strongly recommend that you keep your laptop’s charger plugged into either a high quality surge suppressor or battery backup unit in order to protect both the laptop and charger from power surges.
Note: If you opt for a battery backup unit you’ll have extra time to use your laptop in the event of a power outage since the laptop will run from the battery backup device until it dies, then switch over to its own internal battery.
2 – Any time your laptop’s charger is plugged into an outlet it is drawing power, even when the laptop is turned off.
If you’re budget-conscious you might want to unplug the charger when the battery is full and the laptop is turned off in order to save money on your electric bill. The current draw is quite minimal however, and the “savings” will be as well.
3 – While it’s completely safe to leave your laptop plugged into a wall outlet 24/7 it could end up reducing the overall lifespan of the battery by a small amount.
However, I have learned over time that the difference in long-term battery life will be so small that the convenience of keeping the machine plugged in at all times far outweighs what little time it will shave off the lifetime of the battery.
Bottom line: If you find it convenient to leave your laptop plugged in all the time, I say go for it.
I hope this helps, Chris. Good luck!
Bonus tip: This post explains how to save battery life by hibernating your laptop instead of putting it to sleep.