If your laptop only works when plugged in, the most likely cause is a defective battery. And with the ongoing pandemic, many people struggle with issues like these because they are using their laptops all the time – for work, playing games, watching videos, researching, browsing, Google Meet or Zoom calls, and so on.
Luckily, you can fix this issue easily and you may not have to buy anything in the first place.
If you are using an old AC power adapter or one that is not intended to be used with your laptop, that could be the root of the issue as well. You will have to do some troubleshooting before getting a new battery or power adapter, though. Here is a guide on how to fix it.
The Possible Causes of the Issue
If your laptop is not holding a charge and only works when it is plugged in, then the most likely issue is a dead battery. It could also be the AC power adapter that is causing these issues. However, it could also be related to your battery in another way. It may be working just fine, but it is not actually plugged in correctly.
This happens when the latching mechanism gets broken. It can also happen if you knock your laptop off your desk or if you have taken the battery out but did not put it back incorrectly.
If you are using an AC power adapter that is not the one that came with your laptop, then the lack of power could mean that the adapter can’t keep up with both charging and powering your laptop. It could also be that the adapter is not plugged in all the way in, which you can easily fix by applying a little bit of force to push it all the way in but be careful not to damage anything.
Another possible cause is that your power adapter is damaged. That can either mean that it is not working as it is supposed to or that the cable is losing contact. You can try wiggling the cable around and check if anything happens on the laptop.
It could also be a problem with the laptop’s internal hardware. If the charging circuit is dead or fried, then it is not doing its job. If your laptop is still under warranty, you can bring it back and have it repaired. Replacing the charging circuit is a simple fix, but you can’t do it on your own unless you are an experienced electrician.
Troubleshooting the Battery and AC Power Adapter
Before trying to fix anything, you should establish the reason why your laptop only works when plugged in.
This is not very difficult and here is the fastest way to do it:
- Plug the adapter into the laptop and allow it to charge fully. This will take a few hours, so do something else while it is charging.
- Unplug the adapter and use your laptop as usual. If the laptop turns off after a few minutes or an hour, then the battery needs to be replaced.
To troubleshoot the power adapter, you will need to do something similar:
- Plug the adapter in, shut off your laptop, and allow it to charge.
- If the battery is charged and works fine, then the adapter is either not compatible with your laptop or it does not work properly.
There is also a chance that your laptop manufacturer has a diagnostic tool that you can use to check if the battery health is okay. You can find the tool on the manufacturer’s website.
Fixing the Battery
You can probably get your battery working properly again by following these two methods. The first and easier method is to try disabling and enabling the battery in the Windows Device Manager.
Here is how:
- Open the Device Manager by going into the Start menu and typing “Device Manager”. Then left-click on it. Alternatively, you can find it inside the Control Panel.
- Open the “Batteries” tree and right-click all the adapters and batteries and click on “Uninstall” for each.
- After you have uninstalled all of them, restart your laptop.
- Open the Device Manager again, Right-click on an empty surface inside the window, and press on “Scan for hardware changes”.
- Restart your laptop again and check if it works now.
This is a software solution that might work, so it’s worth a shot. Here is another method that more people reported having success with:
- Remove the battery from your laptop. This can be done either by unlatching it or opening the laptop and unplugging the cable.
- Hold the power button on the laptop for around a minute. This will force the laptop to use up all leftover electricity, completely discharging it in the process.
- Plug in the AC power adapter while the battery is still not plugged in.
- Boot into Windows and then turn it off as soon as it has finished loading.
- Unplug the power adapter, plug in or slide the battery back in.
- Plug in the AC and let it charge completely by waiting for a couple of hours.
- Turn the laptop on and check if it works.
Note that this method can be dangerous for your laptop and there is always a small chance that something bad will happen. You should only do this if you have no other choice.
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Replacing the AC Power Adapter
Unfortunately, you can’t really fix the AC power adapter on your own. If you are using an AC power adapter that is not designed for your laptop or if it is defective, then the only thing that you can do is to get a new one.
You need to make sure that the adapter you are getting is an original one that is compatible with your laptop. Your laptop probably has all the AC power information that you need on the back. You can also ask an employee in an electronics store to help you by telling them your laptop’s model name. Alternatively, you can find more information on the manufacturer’s website.
Replacing a Defective Battery
Just like with a defective power adapter, the only way to fix a dead battery is to buy a new one. This is a very possible problem if your laptop is five years old or more. Assuming that you have done troubleshooting and tried to fix it by following the steps from above, but it still does not work, then replacing it is not difficult or expensive.
If your laptop has a detachable battery that uses latches to hold it in place, all you have to do is take it out, buy a new one, and put it in. Again, you really do not want to buy a non-OEM part as it can burst into flames, explode, or just not work as intended. Make sure that you get the replacement battery from a reputable retailer.
If your laptop has a built-in battery, then you will either have to open the laptop yourself and take it out or have someone replace it professionally. Unless you are ready to risk damaging something or know your way around electronics, then it is better to take it to a store to have it done.
Replacing the Charging Circuit
Again, unless you are an electrician, do not do this on your own. Replacing or repairing the charging circuit is a very complicated procedure that involves the use of a soldering iron and other equipment. You can check with your store if the laptop is still under warranty to have it replaced for free.
The main reason why a charging circuit may fail is that it is a product defect from the factory. Because the part is responsible for regulating voltages, it can easily overheat and die because of that too. If your laptop is very old, then this is a very possible problem. You can have the charging circuit repaired or replaced by an electrician or do it yourself if you know how to do it.
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If your laptop only works when plugged in, then the most common issue is a dead battery or it is just acting up. You can easily fix this issue yourself by following the guide. If you are aware that your laptop is very old, then doing these tricks will probably not fix the problem. The only way to completely resolve the issue is to buy a new, original battery that is compatible with your laptop.
Another common issue is an AC power adapter that is not powerful enough to both charge your laptop and power it at the same time. If you are using an AC adapter that did not come with your laptop, then stop using it and get the original one. Make sure that you troubleshoot the adapter before buying a new one, though.
If the charging circuit is the problem, then you can only have it fixed by a professional. The store will do it free of charge if the laptop is still under warranty.