How To Run Your Laptop On AC Power Only

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There may be several reasons why you would want to run your laptop on AC power. Sometimes it is because your battery might encounter a reverse charging scenario (more on that later in the article), or you might think your laptop battery will overcharge after 100% (which doesn’t happen these days, by the way), or maybe your battery is not as good as it was before and it malfunctions by showing different percentages while plugged in.

No matter the reasons, I will try to explain in detail about—should you run your laptop on AC power ONLY, advantages & disadvantages of doing so, and two ways you can run your laptop on AC power.

If you don’t want to read all of the stuff mentioned above (recommended to read), you may jump straight to the tutorial >>

Okay, let’s dive right in.

AC vs DC power—Which one of these your laptop uses?

Laptops work on DC power, and the battery provides it that. DC stands for direct current. It is a one-directional flow of electric charge. On the other hand, AC stands for alternating or alternate current. It is a type of electric current that periodically reverses direction and changes its magnitude continuously with time.

Now you may be wondering that why do we use mostly an AC power adapter to charge our laptops. Here’s why—A DC power source is usually very low in voltage that is not enough for a typical laptop battery to charge, hence, we mostly use an AC adapter. An AC adapter converts the alternating current into a direct current which helps the laptop battery to charge by giving it enough power as opposed to DC power.

Should you run your laptop on AC power ONLY?

Reasons to run your laptop on AC power ONLY

There might be several reasons to run your laptop on AC power. Here’s a list of some of them:

  • Defective battery: Your laptop battery could be defective and becomes too hot everytime it charges. The defective battery might produce a significant amount of heat which is always a bad sign for laptops. So running your laptop on AC power only, just like a desktop PC, would be a better thing to do until you buy a new battery for your laptop.
  • Reverse charging issue: It is a phenomenon that occurs when your battery charge (percentage) starts decreasing even when the power cable is plugged in. When power drawn from the AC adapter is lower than the power used by your laptop, this phenomenon occurs. There may be many reasons for this to be happening.
  • Set a charge limit: You would want to put a limit on the charging of your laptop battery. In other words, you would want your battery to stop charging beyond a certain percentage, let’s say 85%. Surprisingly, it is a good thing and will help increase the longevity of your laptop battery. Read this article for more information.
  • In case of emergencies: For example, if your friend has borrowed your laptop battery, or your laptop battery seems to be puffed up (it happens & you should immedietly remove it from your laptop and get a new one), and so on.
  • Old battery: Your battery is old and has lost it’s power with time. In this case, the battery seems to be charging so fast and also discharges faster.
  • Battery is not charging: It happened with me once. I bought a local AC power adapter for my laptop, since the old one was not working anymore. But each time I plugged the local charger into my laptop, it showed a plugged in status but was not charging even a little bit. The more I used my laptop, the more the existing battery depleted.
  • Just for fun!: You would want to impress little kids or your friends by showing how your laptop is working without a battery in it. 😉
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Disadvantages of running your laptop on AC power ONLY

  • You could lose unsaved projects: In case of a power outage or a fluctuation in voltage, you could lose any unsaved projects you’ve been working on.
  • Your operating system might get currupt: In addition to losing important projects & files, you could lose your entire operating system when there is a power outage. The probability is low for this one, but it might happen.

How to run your laptop on AC power only

There are two ways to run your laptop on AC power only. Here are the ways:

Remove the battery

This is an obvious one but should be done with caution. Removing the battery while your laptop is running could corrupt your operating system and you may lose any unsaved important projects. So proceed with caution.

NOTE: All laptops are built differently, hence the battery installation locations are different. Moreover, Macbooks and most 13-inch notebooks have integrated batteries in them, meaning, you can’t remove them. Even if you could, it would be a pain to do so. Therefore, please be cautious while removing the battery.

Here’s how to remove your laptop battery safely.

  • Step 1: Make sure your laptop is turned off and unplugged from the AC adapter.
  • Step 2: Turn your laptop over so that the back of your laptop is facing up.
  • Step 3: Locate the battery compartment and find the latch that is holding it.
  • Step 4: Carefully slide the latch switches in the opposite direction and hold it like that until the battery is released.
Battery removal process in Lenovo G50-80 laptop
Battery removal process in Lenovo G50-80 laptop

Some laptops manufacturers like Lenovo, make it easier to remove the battery (as shown above). You would not have to pop out any screws from the back of your laptop. While for some laptop manufacturers like Acer, for example, you will need to remove some screws from the back to remove the battery.

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Use dedicated software from your laptop manufacturer

The other way to run your laptop on AC power only is to use dedicated software created by your laptop manufacturer. It will allow you to set a limit on the battery charge and your laptop will automatically switch to AC power if the battery charging crosses the set limit threshold.

Here’s a list of software from different manufacturers to help you limit your charging and run your laptop on AC power:

Dell Battery Meter for Dell laptops

It is an application provided by Dell. It has many features related to the battery of your laptop. But the one we are going to see is the “Turn Off Battery Charging” feature (as shown below).

This feature stops your battery from charging further and directs all the AC adapter power directly to your laptop. Hence, making it run on AC power without the battery interfering in between.

You can download Dell Battery Meter from this link: https://www.dell.com/support/home/en-in/drivers/driversdetails?driverid=0kw7p (opens in new tab).

Dell Battery Meter

Dell Power Manager for Dell laptops

Dell has another, newer battery and power management software called, Dell Power Manager. It works similar to the previous one but with some more features.

You can download Dell Power Manager from this link: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/dell-power-manager/9pd11rq8qc9k

Dell Power Manager—Download from Microsoft Store.
Advanced Charge feature in Dell Power Manager.

Advanced Charge feature in Dell Power Manager:

It is a feature that increases the life of laptop batteries by charging them to 100% only one time per day. You would have to set the time of the day for it to fully charge. For the rest of the day, Advanced Charge sets a limit to the charge state, even when the laptop is plugged into an AC power source.

Asus Battery Health Charging for Asus laptops

Asus has also developed similar software for their laptop power & battery management.

ASUS Battery Health Charging Application Interface

There are three modes to control the battery charging limit:

  • Full capacity mode: In this mode, the battery charges to its full capacity, without any limits. It helps increase the usability of your laptop for longer period of time.
ASUS Battery Health Charging—Full Capacity Mode
  • Balanced mode: In this mode, the battery stops charging when it reaches 80%. It again starts charging the laptop when power reaches 78%.
ASUS Battery Health Charging—Balanced Mode
  • Maximum lifespan mode: In this mode, the battery stops charging when power reaches above 60% and starts charging again when it falls below 58%.
ASUS Battery Health Charging—Maximum Lifespan Mode

In both balanced and maximum lifespan modes, if you keep your AC adapter plugged in, it will directly power your laptop, bypassing the battery, once it reaches the upper limit threshold, which is exactly what we want.

Battery Limit feature for Microsoft Surface Notebooks

This is a BIOS feature that helps set the battery charging limit. When ON, this will limit the battery to a 50% charge and stop charging beyond that. It will keep it at 50% even if the AC adapter is plugged in.

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Here’s how to activate in Surface Notebooks:

  • Step 1: Boot into UEFI with the Power button and Vol Up button pressed together when turning on the device.
  • Step 2: Select Boot configuration > Advanced Options.
  • Step 3: Toggle Enable Battery Limit Mode to On.

Lenovo Vantage for Lenovo laptops

Lenovo also has an application for laptop battery & power management.

Battery Charge Threshold—Lenovo Vantage

Your ThinkPad or IdeaPad should already have Battery Charge Threshold driver installed, as it already comes with the Lenovo Vantage application. If not, go to this link and download it: https://support.lenovo.com/in/en/downloads/ds541411-lenovo-settings-power-manager-for-windows-10-version-1703-or-later-thinkpad

Lenovo Power and Battery driver formerly known as Lenovo Power Manager driver

Dragon Center for MSI laptops

If you have an MSI laptop, you can easily set charging limits with the Battery Master feature present in the Dragon Center.

There are three modes to configure the limits: “Best for mobility”, “Balanced”, and “Best for battery”. Try them all and see which one fits your needs.

Here is the link to download it: https://us.msi.com/Landing/dragon-center-download

MSI Battery Master in Dragon Center

Battery Care Function for HP laptops

HP laptops have a neat little feature called “Battery Care Function” hidden in the BIOS.

Here’s how to use it to limit the battery charge:

  • Step 1: Get into the BIOS menu by pressing F10 button rapidly while the system first starts to boot
  • Step 2: Go to “System Configuration” tab and find “Battery Care Function” and press enter
  • Step 3: There are three option to choose from: 100%, 80%, and 50%. Choose the one you like (recommended 80%) , save the changes and reboot your laptop.

NOTE: If you don’t see this function in your BIOS, your firmware might not be updated. Check this link to update your BIOS firmware: https://support.hp.com/za-en/document/c00042629

Battery Care Function for HP laptops

Acer Care Center for Acer laptops

Acer has a utility app to manage your laptop in many ways including the battery charge limit feature. Here’s how to activate it.

Step 1: Open up Acer Care Center.

Step 2: Click on the tab with the yellow UI and the battery icon on it, as mentioned in the image below.

Acer Care Center Software

Step 3: Click on the little right arrow in the “Battery health” tab.

Acer Care Center Software

Step 4: Now under the “Battery Charge Limit” tab, turn on the toggle by clicking on it.

Acer Care Center Battery Charge Limit Feature.

Step 5: Read the notice and click “Continue”.

Acer Care Center Battery Charge Limit Feature.
Acer Care Center Battery Charge Limit Feature Turned ON.

When on, this feature will limit the charging of your laptop battery at 80%. You can use the laptop with AC adapter without worrying about charging your laptop battery beyond 80%.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, I would not recommend removing your laptop battery entirely and running it only on AC power. It is because you will be at risk of losing important files & folders, even your operating system if there’s a power outage.

Having said that, putting a limit on battery charging is a better way to go about it. It will not only stop charging the battery at a set threshold but also keep the laptop running on AC power bypassing the battery.

I hope you learned something from the article. Please share your thoughts & queries in the comment section below, and share this article with someone who could use the information. See you in the next one.

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