How to Charge Your Nintendo Switch at Home and On the Go

Plus, Some Tips on How to Extend the Console's Battery Life

Child playing Nintendo Switch outside with a low battery

Lifewire / Derek Abella

The Nintendo Switch is a great way to play games on your big screen television and to switch to mobile play in the car, on the bus, or in the middle of the park. But all this fun can drain the console's battery quickly. Here's how to keep the Nintendo Switch charged in all of these situations.

The instructions in this article apply to the latest version of the Nintendo Switch (8.0.1), as well as earlier versions.

How to Charge Your Nintendo Switch and Joy-Cons in Console Mode

To charge the Switch when you’re at home, place it in its dock. When it's properly charging, the console screen lights up briefly and shows a battery icon in the upper-left corner.

The battery icon also shows how much power the Switch has left. It gets about three hours of gaming on a full charge, depending on the game being played. For example, when playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild, the Nintendo Switch's flagship game, the battery lasts about three hours. When playing smaller indie games, which generally require less processing power to run, the Switch battery may last longer.

When the Switch is plugged into the dock, it takes about as long to charge as it does for the battery to drain. On average, it takes about two and a half hours of charge time to get 100% battery life.

The Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers last approximately 20 hours on a full charge and it takes about three and a half hours to fully recharge the controllers. To recharge the controllers, attach them to the console while it’s docked. When using the Switch in handheld mode, the Switch charges the Joy-Cons when they’re low on battery power and stops charging at around the halfway point to prevent draining the console battery.

Joy-Con charging grip

If the Joy-Cons need to be recharged, the Switch is low on power, and you don't want your play session interrupted, consider purchasing the Joy-Con Charging Grip. This accessory is similar to the grip that turns the Joy-Cons into a single controller except it uses a USB-C cable to charge the Joy-Cons while you play. Just place the Joy-Cons in the Charging Grip, then connect it to the Switch dock with the USB cable.

How to Charge Your Nintendo Switch and Joy-Cons in Portable Mode

If you're playing a normal game by yourself, charge the Switch by plugging a USB-C cable into the port on the bottom of the Switch and keep playing. If the Joy-Cons are attached to the sides of the Switch, you should be fine.

If you're playing a game like Just Dance 2017 or multiplayer Mario Kart 8 and using the kickstand on the back of the Switch while it's on a solid surface like a table, the USB port on the bottom of the console is awkward to use. To get around this, place a few books around the Switch to lift the main unit up and create a cavity of space for the cable. Another option is to purchase an accessory like the Nintendo Switch Adjustable Charging Stand.

How to Charge Your Nintendo Switch While Not at Home

When you're away from home and you don't have access to the Nintendo Switch dock, use portable power when the 2 to 3 hours of battery life runs out.

USB-C battery charger

One way to use portable power is to charge the Nintendo Switch by plugging it into a laptop. Charging the Switch this way takes longer than when using a wall outlet. Before plugging the Switch into a laptop, power it down. When the Switch is powered on, it charges the laptop.

If a laptop isn't available or if you want a separate portable power source, invest in a battery pack that uses USB-C. USB-C is the newest standard for USB ports. The Nintendo Switch uses USB-C for high-speed data transfer, video output, and rapid charging. Two battery packs that support the Nintendo Switch are the Anker PowerCore+ 20100 Portable Charger and the Jackery Titan.

How to Get More Mileage Out of Your Nintendo Switch's Battery

The Switch doesn’t have a low power mode like a smartphone or settings like the iPad that extend battery life. When you’re away from home and want to get the longest battery life from your Nintendo Switch, try these tips:

  • Use the Joy-Cons in detached mode. If the Joy-Cons are plugged into the sides of the Switch, the battery drains faster.
  • Turn off Wi-Fi and Near Field Communications (NFC). Go to Settings > Airplane Mode and turn on Airplane Mode. This turns off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC. Turn Bluetooth back on to use the Joy-Cons in wireless mode.
  • Turn down the screen brightness. Go to Settings > Screen Brightness to adjust the display. Auto-Brightness can be turned on if you prefer this setting.

If your Switch doesn't charge properly, troubleshoot the Nintendo Switch to find a solution.