Surface battery life – how to maximize it

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How To: Diagnose Surface Battery Drain Issues

This article focuses on how to take care of your battery so that you can enjoy longer lasting battery even after many years of Surface use. This is not an article to talk about how to make your Surface battery life last longer on each charge – there are plenty of articles written on that topic.

 

Battery Life Cycle

Every type of rechargeable battery invented by human has a restricted number of life cycles. Each life cycle is defined as 100% of full capacity. So if you drained your battery 50% then fully charged twice, that’s one full cycle. Typical modern lithium batteries can last 500 to 1000 life cycles although some claim over 2000! This of course, depends on your usage habit. As long as your usage pattern isn’t very harmful for the battery, your device should last well past the lifespan of your device.

Here’s how you can find out how many life cycles you have consumed so far:

  1. Press <Windows> + R
  2. Type ‘CMD‘ then <Enter>
  3. Type ‘powercfg /batteryreport‘ within the Command Prompt window then <Enter>.
  4. This will create a file called ‘battery-report.html’ at some location that you need to note down in the Command Prompt.
  5. Use the file explorer to navigate through to the report file.

When you open it, you will see the report with lots of information on the battery usage. You will also find the number of life cycles you have consumed on your Surface (see – ‘CYCLE COUNT’ field).

Depth of discharge seriously impacts number of life cycles as seen here (from batteryuniversity.com):

  • 100% discharge: 300 – 500 life cycles
  • 50% discharge: 1200 – 1500 life cycles
  • 25% discharge: 200 – 2500 life cycles
  • 10% discharge: 3750 – 4700 life cycles

 

You shall not do

There are couple of things you should be aware that negatively impact the Surface battery life. Here are couple of them:

  • Heat – high temperature is very bad for batteries in general. Many cell phones damage batteries when it is used under load (such as playing games) while charging. I use a laptop cooler when I use y Surface Pro 4 extensively.
  • When you are using the device on battery, try not to go lower than 40%. Then charge back to 100%. This will pretty much ensure you will get at least 1000 life cycles. Most modern devices have some kind of built-in protection – they tend to report conservatively at the low end to discourage people from draining too low. Going down to 0% is bad but in reality, the controller will likely have stopped discharging well before the actual level dropped to 0%.

 

You shall do

  • Use ‘hibernate’ instead of ‘sleep’ mode. Yes, it is a bit slower but when your device is in hibernation mode, it discharges at far slower rate than when it is in ‘sleep’ mode. The problem with the sleep mode is that sometimes people forget that their device is set to sleep mode and leave them for a long time. This gradually brings the battery level to 0%.
  • Microsoft recommends to completely drain then fully charge about once a month. This is to recalibrate the battery monitor for the maximum accuracy. Remember, under a normal circumstance, this is considered bad but it needs to be done at least once a month, at least according to Microsoft.
  • Try to use as little battery as you can before charging. More frequently you charge, the better without going deep discharge.

 

In short

Getting the best Surface battery life isn’t really that hard. Here’s what the Surface Team said on their batteries:

“The batteries on our Surface products are designed with some of the highest charge cycles for consumer electronic devices. This means that the battery can get charged daily (5 days a week) for over 4.5 years and still maintain 80% capacity.”

This is probably good enough for just about anyone.

Might be interesting to see how your device compares to others. Please post the age of your Surface and your life cycle consumed below.

 


5 COMMENTS

    • I tend to keep it charged all the time and on those rarer occasions when I need to use it on the battery, I let it discharge to 30-40% then charge it back. Never had issues. Modern chargers will make sure you don’t overcharge and damage the battery.

  1. I use the MS Surface PRO 2. I pretty much always have my PowerCover attached and when i use the device, i pretty much always have my charger plugged in. I have had the device since early 2014

    This is my report :

    BATTERY 1 BATTERY 2
    NAME X863568 X863568
    MANUFACTURER SDI SDI
    SERIAL NUMBER 291E 291E
    CHEMISTRY LION L ION
    DESIGN CAPACIT 42,002 mWh 26,950 mWh

    FULL CHARGE CAPACITY 38,436 mWh 24,875 mWh

    CYCLE COUNT 96 118

    As you can see my surface has only had 96 cycles in 2 years and my power cover has had 118 cycles.

    The fact that i am leaving plugged in all the time, does this harm my batteries ? Or have i unwittingly preserved my batteries by having it always plugged in to the AC plug?

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