Laptop Only Works When Plugged In (Why & How to Fix it)

Published by Nyau Wai Hoe - Updated on

If your laptop only works when it’s plugged in, it totally misses the point of being portable, right? This problem can be super annoying and limit what you can do with your laptop. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a Dell, Asus, HP, Acer, Lenovo, MSI, or Toshiba laptop, or if it runs Windows 11 or Windows 10. This issue can pop up with any brand or operating system. It’s quite a common headache, but it usually points to a few specific reasons. In this guide, we’re going to walk through the main reasons why this happens and share some ways you might fix it so you can use your laptop on battery power again.

Also see: Laptop Battery “Plugged in, not charging” in Windows 10/11

Laptop Only Works When Plugged In

Why does my laptop only work when plugged in?

Before we get into how to fix it, let’s first understand why a laptop might only work when it’s plugged in, even with the battery in place:

Battery health

The most common reason is an old battery. Batteries don’t last forever. After a lot of use, a battery can lose its ability to hold a charge. If it gets really bad, your laptop might not work unless it’s plugged in.

Laptop won't run on battery

Software issues

This mainly involves how your laptop manages power. Windows 10 and Windows 11 have features to save power, but sometimes settings or updates mess things up, and your laptop turns off as soon as you unplug it.

Linked issue: Gaming Laptop FPS Drops Randomly, Plugged in or Not

Hardware glitches

Other parts of your laptop, like the motherboard or the part that charges the battery, might be broken. This doesn’t happen a lot, but it can make your laptop need to be plugged in to work.

Laptop Motherboard Battery Malfunction

Power cord issues

A bad power cord can also be a problem. If it’s damaged or not working right, it might not charge the battery properly. Then your laptop works when plugged in, but the battery isn’t actually charging.

Firmware or BIOS issues

The software that runs before your OS, called BIOS or firmware, might have a glitch or setting that’s causing problems with using battery power. Updating or resetting it might help.

External factors

Super hot or super cold temperatures can mess with your battery’s performance. It’s best to use your laptop in places where the temperature is just right.

Relevant resource: Why is my CPU Overheating and How to Fix it

How to fix a laptop that only works when plugged in?

If your laptop won’t turn on or work right unless it’s plugged in, here are some general things you can try to fix it:

Power management settings

  • Go to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options on your laptop. Make sure it’s on a “Balanced” power plan. Sometimes tweaking these settings can help.Laptop won't turn on unless plugged in
  • Update your battery driver by going to Device Manager, expanding “Batteries”, right-clicking “Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery”, and choosing “Update driver”.Update Laptop Battery Driver Windows 11 10

Battery calibration

No matter what brand your laptop is, calibrating the battery can help:

  • Charge it to 100%.
  • Let it run down to about 5% or until it shuts off.
  • Charge it back up to 100% without stopping.Charge laptop battery to 100

External check

  • Look at the power cord and charger for any obvious damage or wear. A bad power cord can make it hard for your laptop to charge the battery right.
  • If possible, try a different charger that works with your laptop to see if the problem is with the charger.Laptop charger power cord

BIOS/Firmware update

Check your laptop maker’s website for BIOS or firmware updates. Be careful with BIOS updates, though. If something goes wrong, it can cause big problems. Always follow the instructions and make sure your laptop is plugged in or the battery is full. If you’re not sure, it might be better to get help from someone who knows what they’re doing.

Static discharge

This is a simple trick that might help:

  • Turn off your laptop.
  • Unplug the charger and take out the battery if you can.
  • Press and hold the power button for about 60 seconds.
  • Put everything back together and turn it on.

Related concern: Firefox or Chrome Battery Drain on Windows, Mac, Android or iOS

Consider battery replacement

Every laptop brand is a bit different, so here are some specific tips for popular brands if your laptop only works when plugged in.

Replace laptop battery if laptop only run when plugged in

Brand-specific solutions

Here are some tips specific to different laptop brands:

Dell laptop

  • Check battery health in the BIOS. Turn off your laptop, then turn it back on and press F2 or F12 when you see the Dell logo. Find the “Battery Information” section in the BIOS.
  • Look for BIOS updates on Dell’s official website using your model number. Be sure to install any updates you find. Updating the BIOS can be risky, so if you’re not sure what you’re doing, you might want to get help from someone who knows.

Dell laptop won't run on Battery

Asus laptop

  • Asus recommends calibrating the battery. Charge your laptop fully, then let it discharge to around 5% and charge it fully again.
  • Try resetting your power management. Go to Device Manager, find “Batteries”, and right-click to uninstall “Microsoft ACPI Compliant Control Method Battery”. Restart your laptop to reset power management settings.

HP laptop

  • Use the HP Support Assistant, which is available on most HP laptops, to check battery health and find solutions.
  • Try a hard reset: turn off the laptop, disconnect everything, press the power button for 15 seconds, and then reconnect everything. This can fix minor issues.

HP laptop won't turn on unless plugged in

Acer laptop

  • Some Acer models have a battery reset pinhole. Press and hold it with a paperclip for 5 seconds to fix battery recognition problems.
  • Check your power plan in Control Panel > Power Options and make sure you’re on the “Balanced” plan.

Acer laptop only works when plugged in

Lenovo laptop

  • Lenovo’s Vantage software can diagnose battery and hardware issues.
  • If you have an older model, Lenovo Energy Management can help optimize battery settings.

Laptop only works when plugged in Lenovo

MSI laptop

  • Use MSI Dragon Center to check the battery’s health and calibrate it.
  • Resetting the EC (Embedded Controller) firmware can solve some power issues. Look for instructions specific to your model on MSI’s official site.

MSI Dragon Center to check battery health


  • Toshiba PC Health Monitor can tell you about your battery’s health and whether you need a new one.
  • Try a static discharge: turn off the laptop, remove the battery (if possible), unplug the charger, and hold the power button for 60 seconds. Then, reconnect everything and turn it on.

Toshiba laptop won't work on battery

If you’ve tried these brand-specific steps and the problem still isn’t fixed, it might be time to get in touch with your laptop’s customer service or take it to an authorized service center.

Handy guide: How to Keep Laptop On When Closed in Windows 11

A quick recap

In most cases, if your laptop only works when it’s plugged in, the issue is probably with the battery. Batteries have a limited life, and they start to hold less charge over time. If your laptop is a bit old and you’re facing this problem, it might be time to think about getting a new battery.

If your laptop is still under warranty, definitely reach out to the manufacturer or where you bought it. They might offer a replacement battery or other help under the warranty. Getting the battery situation sorted can make your laptop portable again, letting you make the most of it.

Nyau Wai Hoe
Nyau Wai Hoe is the Founder and Chief Editor of With a degree in software engineering and over 12 years of experience in the tech support industry, Nyau has established himself as an expert in the field, with a primary focus on the Microsoft Windows operating system. As a tech enthusiast, he loves exploring new technologies and leveraging them to solve real-life problems.

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