Are you using the right laptop power plan?

 

Many people buy a laptop, install their favourite software and then just assume everything else is set up right, but is it? Perhaps not. One issue of interest to laptop users is the battery life and there are different power plans that can extend the time the battery will last or boost performance, whichever is required (you can’t have both).

Prolong battery life

With most things, the more you use them, the faster they will wear out, but batteries in laptop computers are the exact opposite. The more they are used, the longer they will last and the worst thing you can do to them is to keep them full charged or discharged.

Many laptop computers are used on desks while connected to mains power. It is bad for the battery to use it this way for long periods of time. You should occasionally use it on battery power to keep it in tip top condition. Use it once a week if you can. If the battery runs out of power, it should be charged up as soon as possible because leaving it discharged is bad for it.

Pick a power plan

Left click the battery/power icon at the right side of the taskbar on the desktop to access the menu. Here there are two power plans – HP Recommended (because this is an HPO laptop) and Power saver. You can switch from one to the other.

 Windows battery menu

These are not the only power plans and there is a link at the bottom to access More power options.

Right clicking the battery/power icon displays a different menu, although it still has a Power Options link.

 Windows power menu

The menu link opens Power Options in the Control Panel and this is a busy screen with lots of functions. Down at the bottom is Screen brightness. To reduce the battery power consumed, you should reduce the brightness as much as possible. The screen consumes a lot of power, which is fine on mains, but turn it down when the laptop is not plugged in.

 Windows Power Options in the Control Panel

It is possible that some power plans are hidden. Click the Show additional plans button (the down arrow) if necessary. The battery/power menu in the first screen shot always shows two power plans, the HP one and the last one selected, either High performance or Power saver. There does not seem to be a way to get all three on the menu.

Customise a power plan

Select Power Saver and then Change plan settings. There are options to turn off the display and put the computer to sleep after a certain period of time, with separate settings for battery and mains power. Adjust these as required. Set the default brightness level for battery and mains too. The brightness can easily be adjusted with a hotkey on most laptops, such as F2/F3 for decrease/increase brightness, but it is useful to set the default too.

 Windows power plan

Click Change advanced power settings. Expand each of the sections and customise the On battery and Plugged in settings. My own preference is to leave the On battery settings as they are, so that the battery lasts the maximum length of time. Then I set most of the options to the maximum performance when plugged in. This way I get the best of both worlds and the laptop runs as fast as possible on mains power and more slowly, but with greater power efficiency on batteries.

 Customise the power plan

The same effect could have been achieved by selecting the High performance power plan and editing the On battery settings to use the minimum power.


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