Should You Remove Your Laptop Battery While Plugged In?

Lithium-ion batteries pack considerable energy into a compact, lightweight space.
Lithium-ion batteries, such as this laptop battery, pack considerable energy into a compact, lightweight space. The batteries are very safe, but certain conditions can trigger an explosion or fire. Kristoferb, Creative Commons License

Removing your laptop battery—if that is something you can do with your laptop—while it is plugged into an AC outlet can improve the life of the battery. However, there are risks to running without the battery attached when plugged into AC is a power outage. If the battery disconnected, then a loss of power could cause you to lose data.

Given the inconvenience and risk of data loss from an outage, is the practice of removing the battery worth it? In some cases yes. For the best battery life, consider removing the battery from your laptop in the circumstances discussed here.

Heat Issues and Battery Life

Laptop overheating is one of the worst things for a laptop's battery, as well as other hardware parts, and can shorten the life of your battery when it is fully charged and hot for long periods of time such as when it is plugged in and in use. You have probably felt the heat produced in areas around the battery while the computer sits on your lap. Insulating your lap by placing a pillow or something similar between you and it will worsen the effect on your battery by interfering with air circulation and the laptop's ability to cool itself. Also, resource-intensive tasks like gaming and multimedia editing can further drive up the amount of heat your laptop produces.

Don't remove the battery or reinsert the battery while the laptop is running, or even in sleep mode. It is best to shut it down any time you're going to be connecting or disconnecting the battery.

When to Remove Your Laptop Battery

If you will be using your laptop for extended periods while connected to AC power, particularly if you will be engaging in those intensive heat-generating tasks, removing the battery is a worthwhile step to preserve its life. However, if the electricity often disconnects in your home or there's a storm outside that could cause a loss of power, you should keep the laptop battery attached regardless of how long you will be using it to avoid the risks of data loss. If you are plugged into an uninterruptible power source (UPS) then this is not a concern and removing the battery is fine.

On the other hand, if you're mobile and are only planning to stay plugged in for an hour or so before you'll need the battery again, keep your battery attached. The process of shutting down the laptop, removing the battery, and then booting back up only to power down again shortly thereafter in order to reattach the battery (and then have to turn on the laptop again when you get to your next stop) is inconvenient and a waste of time. Keep the battery plugged in for short stints when mobile.

If you won't be using your laptop for a long time, such as when you're on vacation or even over a weekend, it can be a good practice to detach the battery. This can give the battery a rest and potentially extend its life.

How to Remove a Laptop Battery

You should always follow these steps in this order when removing the battery from a laptop.

  1. Shutdown the laptop.

  2. Unplug the power cable from the AC outlet.

  3. Remove the battery.

  4. Reattach the power cable to the AC outlet.

  5. Power on the laptop.

Storing Your Laptop Battery

The most common recommendation for laptop battery storage is to have it charged to about 40% (or somewhere between 30% and 50%) and then keep it in a dry place. Some manufacturers recommend a storage temperature of 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 25 degrees Celsius), which isn't too cold or too hot.

Some people keep batteries in the refrigerator, but this is risky and unnecessary. Doing so can damage the battery when exposing it to humidity and thus condensation—moisture and computer components don't mix well. You also should warm the battery up to room temperature before using it, which is a hassle for little or no benefit.