11/19/2015: Updated with instructions for manually downloading the original NEC battery drivers.
If you have a Surface Pro 4 or a Surface Book and noticed that your battery life isn’t quite what it should be, it could be because of your battery drivers.
It seems that both the SP4 and Surface Book have been shipping with battery drivers from 2006 and some folks have observed that a few weird battery related quirks, like Windows Hello eating battery while asleep, may actually be caused by the old drivers.
Update Surface Battery Drivers: Wait. Why does a battery need drivers?
It doesn’t. The drivers are really for the power regulation system of your Surface. That’s how it knows to switch to the battery when you pull the power plug, and vice-versa. In addition, it allows for other things, like the ability of the system to monitor the battery for remaining charge and evaluate it for errors.
Update Surface Battery Drivers: Do I have the old driver?
To find out if you have the old drivers you’ll need to do the following:
- Start Device Manager (tap and hold or right-click on the Start Button and select Device Manager)
- Expand the Batteries section.
If the battery entry(s) say Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery you have the old drivers. If you want to verify, you can go into the properties then select the driver tab for the battery. The old driver is version 10.0.10240.16384 and is dated 6/21/2006.
Funny enough, the “new” version of the driver is from 6/20/2013, so it’s not exactly recent. Regardless, it seems to solve many issues with battery drain so you’ll want to perform the upgrade.
Update Surface Battery Drivers: Fine, how do I update the driver?
If you have the old driver, follow these steps to update it:
- Ensure your Surface can access the internet.
- Tap or click the Update Driver button from the Battery Properties window.
- You’ll be asked if you want to Search Automatically for Updated Driver or Browse My Computer For Driver Software. Choose Search Automatically for Updated Driver.
- Your computer will download and install the driver.
- If you have a Surface Book, you’ll also need to perform the same steps on the second battery.
- You’ll need to restart your Surface for the changes to take effect.
Update Surface Battery Drivers: That didn’t work, now what?
Some folks have had problems getting the “new/old” drivers to install because the NEC drivers were missing from their system. So, after a lot of research, someone tracked down the correct NEC drivers. Here’s the steps for installing them on your Surface.
- Make sure you’re logged in with administrator rights.
- Next, download the NEC battery drivers from here: NEC Battery Drivers
- Extract the contents of the folder to a location you can easily find (like a new folder on the desktop).
- Start Device Manager and browse to the Batteries section.
- Click on the Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery entry (or one of them if you have a Surface Book).
- Select the Driver tab then Update Driver.
- Browse to the folder where you extracted the drivers and select OK.
- The driver should load and the entry will change from Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery to just ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery.
After the driver finishes installing, you’ll need to restart your Surface for it to be loaded. If you have a Surface Book, don’t forget to change the driver on the other battery before doing so.
If you previously turned off Windows Hello due to battery drain and now miss the functionality, you may want to try turning it back on after updating the driver and see if the battery drain issue has been resolved.
Even if your Surface has the newer drivers and you’re not having issues with Windows Hello. Updating your battery drivers may resolve other power drain or short battery problems; so, it’s worth a shot. You never know when Microsoft may have updated the drivers to solve the very problem you’re having.
Tim Rolston is a professional geek with over 23 years of experience working in Information Technology and dealing with everything from large-scale storage to remote systems management and automation for organizations such as Texas Instruments, Mobil Oil, and the University of Michigan (where he was an Academic IT Director).
He co-founded JTRTech along with Joanna to realize his long-time dream of working for himself.