Why is my laptop battery draining even with the charger plugged in?

laptop draining battery
Full charge? Laptops can be too demanding for their chargers

There are some things in life that aren’t meant to happen. Milk in green tea, ketchup on a curry, presidents proving they’re presidential by drinking a glass of water, that sort of thing. The laptop battery draining while the charger is plugged in is another for that list, but it can happen – sometimes by accident, sometimes by design. Here’s what to check if you see that happening on your laptop.

Is the charger plugged in properly?

The most common reason the laptop won’t charge even when plugged in is that the charger isn’t inserted correctly at one end or the other. Check the plug end is firmly in the socket and then check the connector to the laptop itself is firmly seated.

Many chargers will have a little LED light to indicate they’re receving power and some laptops will have an LED to show the charger is active. Check that is illuminated to rule out a problem with the charger itself.

On modern laptops, it’s sometimes the case that not all of the ports on a laptop are meant to accept power, especially the new type of USB-C connectors. If plugging the charger into one port doesn’t seem to be providing any power, try the charger cable in a different port to see if that changes your fortunes.

Talking of those USB-C chargers, don’t assume you can just plug your laptop into any charger with a USB-C cable. Laptop chargers have a specific wattage that will be very different from the charger for your smartphone, for example. Always use the charger that was supplied with your laptop or else the charger itself might not deliver enough power to keep the laptop toppped up.

Putting too much strain on the battery

Believe it or not, there are some laptops where the supplied charger simply isn’t powerful enough to keep the battery topped up if the laptop is doing something demanding, such as gaming.

According to this report on, the new Dell XPS 17 will drain its battery when put under a heavy load, even if the laptop remains chained to the socket. Such behaviour has been noted in other laptops, too, such as the Razer Blade Stealth and Microsoft Surface Book 2.

It’s a consequence of laptop manufacturers trying to squeeze batteries into the increasingly svelte frames that laptops come in, often without adequate cooling.

Read reviews carefully if you’re planning to buy a lightweight laptop for gaming or other heavyweight activities, such as video editing. Although even some reviewers miss this rather glaring hole…

NOW READ THIS: How do you stop a laptop overheating in a heatwave?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at

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