What Does “Plugged In, Not Charging” Mean with Laptop Batteries?

You’re using your laptop when you notice something strange in the taskbar; you could have sworn you charged your battery to 100%, but now the battery is showing slight depletion. When you hover over the icon, it tells you that the battery is “plugged in, not charging.”

not-charging-example

This can be a somewhat distressing message to hear. Does it mean the battery is on its way out? While Windows doesn’t really tell you what’s going on, this message doesn’t always mean your battery is on its last legs; in fact, in some cases, it’s being prepped to live longer than it normally would! So what does this message mean? Here are a few reasons why you might be seeing this message.

If you notice that this message appears when you’re in the 90-100% charge range, you may be seeing battery preservation in effect. Some laptop models will automatically stop charging the battery when it hits 100%, especially if you’ve been charging it for a long time. By keeping it a little under 100% charge, laptop manufacturers claim this helps with extending the battery’s life.

This may also come into effect at lower percentages. For example, my Lenovo laptop typically stops charging above 95%, but there’s an option within the Lenovo settings to keep it around 50 – 60% for better battery preservation. It’s worth looking at your laptop’s settings to see if your manufacturer has a setting similar to this.

not-charging-conservation

Reporting your battery levels is a two-way effort between your battery and Windows itself. If the two of them get their statistics mismatched, Windows may report a battery is only partially full, when the battery is actually fully topped up and has no room for any more charge. In order to sync Windows and the battery back up, try recalibrating your laptop battery to put them both on the same page.

This message may be due to the laptop recognising that your AC adapter is present but not efficiently delivering a charge to your laptop. If you can, try to jostle any connections in your AC adapter to see if anything changes; this includes the connection between it and the laptop, it and the power socket, and any places in between where something plugs into something else. It’s also worth trying a new A/C adapter if you can easily acquire one.

Yes, even your battery has drivers! Sometimes these need a re-install to get back into working shape once more. Before you try re-installing your battery, it’s worth noting that part of these steps involve removing the battery from the laptop. If you don’t know how to, or physically can’t, remove the laptop’s battery, it’s best to consult a professional to prevent damage.

Also, it’s best to see if you can download your battery’s drivers; it should do it automatically during these steps, but it’s best to be prepared in case something doesn’t go right!

First, go into the Device Manager by clicking “Start,” then typing “device manager” into the search and pressing Enter.

not-charging-manager

Under “Batteries”, find “Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery,” right-click it, and click “Uninstall device.”

not-charging-uninstall

Turn off the laptop and remove the battery, then hold down the power button for a minute to get rid of any residue charge. Replace the battery, turn the laptop back on, and the battery drivers should re-install themselves. Check if the batteries now charge properly.

It may be possible that the battery is beginning to get old and lose its charge. In this case, it might be best to give your battery a once-over to see how it is faring. We’ve written an article on how to check your laptop’s battery health in Windows 10, so give that a read to see how it is holding up. If it’s on its way out, try a new battery or take it to a service centre if you can’t get the battery out.

When a battery doesn’t charge itself, it can be worrying to users who don’t know what it means. Now you know some of the reasons why a battery won’t charge itself and how to fix it — if it even needs fixing!

Does this help? Let us know below.

Image Credit: Laptop PC with battery

One comment

  1. I have faced this error, at first I thought my charger is not working but the reason behind this error malfunction, it seems that the battery controller checks the charge and if the battery is above 90%, it does NOT start recharging. The laptop is directly getting power from the mains, via a power supply adapter and when the battery level goes down it again start showing charging again.

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