What To Do If Your Laptop Or Tablet Battery Won’t Charge

   What To Do If Your Laptop Or Tablet Battery Won’t ChargeOccasionally we receive a question on MakeUseOf Answers about a battery that refuses to charge. This isn’t surprising. Batteries are known to only last so long, and poor conditions can drastically reduce their life. Issues with chargers or excessive power draw can also be a problem.

Let’s address this common concern. Just what do you do when your battery is on the outs? There are several answers, and they apply to most devices with batteries – laptops, smartphones and even tablets.

Are You Drawing A Lot Of Power?

ipad3gaming   What To Do If Your Laptop Or Tablet Battery Won’t Charge

Every single electronics device in your home, including your DVD player and microwave, has a power supply. The power supply is designed to handle a certain mount of juice. In a device without a battery there is a maximum amount of power draw that must be handled – but no more.

Devices with batteries are different. They come with adapters that are meant to handle a certain mount of power, but what happens if you’re charging the battery and using every bit of juice the device can draw? Your charging may slow or stop.

The most extreme and popular example of this is the iPad 3, a device that badly outmatches the capacity of the adapter. Apple’s latest tablet will sometimes use up battery even though it’s plugged in. Power coming in through the adapter is outmatched by power used by the tablet.

Many phones and tablets exhibit similar behavior. USB charging is a common culprit because a USB connection delivers less power than a connection to a wall socket. Laptops are less likely to have this problem, but I have used gaming laptops that charged slowly if they were used for gaming while the battery in for a fill-up.

Is Your Battery Connection Secure?

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This is the re-incarnation of “is it plugged in?” for the wireless world, and just like that old bit of embarrassing advice, this one is equally valid. In fact, I say it’s more valid now than ever before – unlike power plugs, batteries come in all shapes and sizes.

What can you do? Take a very close look at your battery and, if you still have the device’s manual, consult it as well. Make sure there are no gaps and that the battery is flush with its mount.

If that seems to be the case, remove the battery again and check its connectors. It’s rare, but a connection can become blocked by debris, a portion of the connection might become bent or a connector may have suffered corrosion.

Should you find any of the above to be the case you’ll need to clear the connection. Wipe away debris with a soft cloth, re-position any bent metal with a small pair of tweezers and remove corrosion with a small amount of an appropriate cleaner (which may just be water) – just be sure to let the connection dry before using the battery again.

Is The Power Adapter Working?

poweadapters   What To Do If Your Laptop Or Tablet Battery Won’t Charge

Sometimes a battery won’t charge because the adapter meant to charge it is broken. The easiest way to check this is to remove the battery, plug in the adapter and see if the device turns on.

With that said, a wounded adapter might appear to work at first but fail to work when you attempt a demanding task. Don’t just plug in the adapter and see if the device works. You should see if it continues to work when the device draws a lot of power, such as when you’re playing a game or watching a high-definition movie.

Re-Calibrate The Battery

In some cases a battery may seems to no longer be charging because of a calibration issue.

Calibration issues occur because a battery does not have a gauge inside it. The battery life gauge you see in your operating system is only a prediction. Battery size, current power draw and known past battery life are some of the variables used to calculate how long your device will last – and sometimes, the calculation can be badly skewed.

Resetting the battery can solve the problem. Allow the battery to discharge fully and then charge back up. The re-charge process may take many hours and may not seem to proceed as it should, but give it time. With luck, your battery will suddenly register a 100% charge and your troubles are solved.

Give The Battery Time To Recover

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A battery that appears to be dead may have been deeply discharged. This means that the amount of charge taken out of the battery was more than it was designed to handle, and as a result there’s so little charge left that it appears dead.

Batteries found in consumer electronics don’t often have this problem, but I’ve run across it three times, all with laptop batteries. In each case the laptop had been discharged until it automatically shut down. A laptop is supposed to shut down automatically at around 10% charge, depending on the operating system and user settings, but these laptops hadn’t done that. They’d consumed the battery until nothing was left and then shut down cold.

Reviving a battery from a deep discharge, if it can be revived, requires that you turn the device off entirely and allow it to charge for an extended period of time (at least two or three hours).

It’s Still Not Working!

I handle a lot of electronics of various types, so I’ve run across more than a few batteries that appeared to be malfunctioning, not charging or dead. Every single one of them eventually returned to normal behavior after I followed the tips outlined above.

With that said, batteries do eventually die. My old Lenovo laptop reached a point where it would only last twenty minutes on a charge. Its battery was clearly ready to shed its mortal coil, and no doubt would have if I had not replaced it.

Once your battery issues are resolved, be sure to treat it right to preserve its future endurance. Check out Tina’s article about how to care for your battery to find out more.

Image Credit: Nerrad, Mac Power Adapters

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31 Comments -

Toby

I had a problem with my netbook battery dying. i had no clue they cost so much to replace. the OEM battery cost almost $200. I went to Batteries plus and bought an after market Rayovac battery. It was ~85-$100 +$5 for overnight shipping. first battery was a dud, but they replaced it and this one works. I recalibrate it once or twice a month, but this thing screws with my power meter in Ubuntu. If my computer is idle for a while, it will read that my battery is low even though it’s fully charged. it will say my max life is 6hrs even though it’s 3.5. Sometimes, but not often it will randomly cut off by itself in the middle of working or if I have it hibernating between classes and I forget my volume is up. when I pull it out a loud blasting siren/alarm goes off like it’s stolen or something lol. For the most part it works. I just have to cut it completely off when i’m not using it or my laptop will give the wrong readings which will make it cut off prematurely.

Matt Smith

Sounds like that battery may not be the best.

Vipul Jain

you can always take out the battery and try to rotate it on a table from both sides.
If it does, even from one side, it means it has swollen & is dangerous, might even explode soon.
So time to get a new one. :p
This at least works for cellphones, never tried for tabs or laptops.

Matt Smith

Most laptop batteries aren’t flat like cell phone batteries, so this probably won’t work as well with them.

Knut Flottorp

Your point is correct, and it is a simple way to test most batteries.
Matt: Sometimes you can freeze the battery and remove traces of previous abuse. So, place it at the bottom of the freezer, and charge it while cold. Sometimes wasted batteries then charge, and keep on charging until max capacity – overnight. (Semi-conductors like Iodine cause the swelling, it sublimates, freeze to around -32C and the gas turns solid.)

bben

I have seen a different kind of battery problem in several Dell laptops. After replacing the battery with an aftermarket unit – the battery works, but will not charge. Then replace the charger – still will not charge. The computer works fine when plugged in. The battery charges in a different computer. AND the charger works with a different Dell. My internet investigations show this to be a common Dell problem with several models – possibly related to a poor ground inside near the power connection. One of several reasons I refuse to recommend Dell laptops.

Matt Smith

Why blame Dell for a faulty aftermarket battery?

bben

The battery, and the charger both work on another laptop computer. The charger works to power up the computer – but not to charge the battery. As I said I ‘m not the only one to see this in Dell laptops.

If I charge the battery on the other computer, It works in that Dell as long as the battery has a charge.

dushko

matt smith you’re clearly an idiot, maybe you write these idiot makeassof articles yourself

TD

Hi, I recently purchased a replacement charger. And since them when my computer is powered on this battery indicator will say charging status not available. Also when looking at the old charger versus the new charger the Part No is different. Could that be a reason why I’m not able to tell the battery status, the computer shuts off at randoms times, and the computer is getting hot?

Tina

TD,

I believe an answer would be based very much on speculation. However, if you are still looking for suggestions, please post your question on MakeUseOf Answers. Thank you!

SteveFromFerndale

Most Lithium Ion batteries contain protection circuitry that will cut off all voltage if the voltage drops below a certain level. Usually, your device will automatically shut off before this happens but it can still occur if the battery is left in a fully discharged state long enough. The battery will then show 0 volts and most smart chargers will refuse to work if positive and negative can’t be determined. If the batteries voltage can be “boosted” there will be enough voltage to charge it.

dushko

lol these makeuseof and ehow articles are so useless…I would gladly shut these sites down-they just mess up google searches and are a big waste of electricity and computing resources.
With idiotic instructions like “download a crappy shareware for this”, “buy a paid app to do a simple registry hack for you”, “if you car has a clogged air filter, take it to a repair shop”, “if control light sdhghfgs524548 keeps blinking, have a tech identify the problem”….
really stupid

Alex Ginnsz

NOTE: these tricks work on an Acer Aspire One, model NAV50 (160GB/2GB/1.6GHz Atom/Win7) and may not work on your computer, even if it’s the same model…

Lately, now and then, my netbook’s battery stops charging at around 62%. The first thing I do is unplug the power, wait a few secs, and plug it back in. Sometimes it works right away, sometimes it takes a couple tries, and sometimes it doesn’t work. When it doesn’t work, I reboot the computer and the battery starts charging again, usually all the way up to 100%.

PS: I don’t know what’s causing this. All I know is there are always so many problems with PC’s that you end up wasting all your time and energy troubleshooting instead of getting your things done. I have enough problems to solve as it is. I switched from Mac to PC a couple years ago to save money. I didn’t save any money and I wasted a lot of precious time. So I think the best and perhaps only solution to this problem is to get a Mac! I know I am.

roseann

My battery only charge when there is electric power supply. Onces it is off d laptop goes off. I need help on this.

Matt Smith

Sounds like the connection between your battery and the computer is faulty. Perhaps the connector is bent, or dirty, or otherwise obstructed? Look for the metal contacts on the battery and the laptop and see what condition they are in.

zeeshan khan

My laptop’s battery stopped charging, but after about a week it went back to normal and said that I need to get a new battery because this battery is running out of its life.

Matt Smith

HI Zeeshan, if your computer is telling you that your battery is on its way out, it probably is – though there could be some error. Try posting a question on MakeUseOf Answers and be sure that you include the model of your laptop and the operating system you’re using.

http://www.makeuseof.com/answers/

Steve Gillette

The battery wouldn’t charge on my year old Asus laptop, so I got a replacement. The malfunctioning battery went in the freezer for a few days, I vaguely remember somewhere on the web reading that this sometimes helps (realigns the lithium crystals or something). Anyway, the original battery now works fine. I let it thaw for a day before trying it. Maybe it was just the time it rested, or maybe the freezing helped. I’d be curious if this worked for anyone else.

Matt Smith

I’ve heard of the freezer trick for everything for CPUs to hard drives to batteries.

As far as I’m aware there’s no science behind putting a Li-Ion battery in a freezer. It shouldn’t have any impact. If you tried to operate the battery while it was cold there would be an impact on its output. There’s also a decent argument that placing Li-Ion in a cold environment for storage is a good idea because they degrade from heat, but that’s not going to bring an already dead battery back.

I’m sure some people have had their batteries come back to life after sticking it in a freezer, but that battery might just as easily resumed operation if they’d done nothing to it at all.

Maybe send a letter to MythBusters about it.

elani

hey my andriod tablet wont chaarge for bast 5 hours

tablet pc

Under normal circumstances, all the batteries down

Alex Olariu

keep the good articles coming

Akingbade femi

When i connect my charger to my dell it will spark at the connector in the system still can’t power the system what can be source of the problem . From Nigeria

Tia

I have a Dell XPS M1530. I bought it about 4-5 years ago and only replaced the hard drive once and the monitor once. It’s been really good.

However, just the other day I was unable to turn it on. The power cord was charging it the day before so I know it had been charged (also the power light on the power cord and the laptop lights up when it’s plugged in). I did the whole unplug cord and battery for 30 sec. to 2 minutes, then turn it on again. I even hooked it up to an external monitor to see if it was the monitor, but nothing showed up, so I’m assuming it is the power supply.

What do you think it is? Is it dead finally?

Tina

Tia,

For some thorough help with troubleshooting this issue, I recommend asking this question over at MakeUseOf Answers.

bala

My dell laptop battery suddenly stopped charging , but it maintains a stable power of 80% when connected to the charger . what is the problem? Can I continue using it this way?
It shows remaining time as 3655:54 hours as opposed to 3 hours when I remove the charger of the laptop.

Nidhi Jose

i have an HCL ME tablet and for a few days its not working when i charge i witt my adapter it works but it does not turn on can you tell any steps to make it on

David fit

i had a problem with my laptop hp compaq when i do plugged in the battery it will indicate charging But it won’t increase the battery mater till the computer will shutdown and i try to put the battery to another pc and is working correctly and put another battery to my pc still giving me the same problem what happen to my pc

collette mahoney

Installed new battery in lap top (Dell)
It never charges more than 10%. Unable to use it unplugged.
Would the problem be the addaptor, and how would I know?

callum mitchell

i have i Android iPad and it won’t turn on bet it was working 2 weeks ago what should i do can someone help me please!! :(