The usefulness of a laptop is majorly limited when your battery won’t charge. This keeps you from working on the go or studying wherever you choose. Instead, you’re left scrambling to find somewhere close to an outlet. Users of popular laptop manufacturers such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo report experiencing the “plugged in, not charging” problem. The issue may originate from your battery, power cord, or operating system.
Most modern laptops use lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are the most common (by far) because of their high energy density and somewhat greener environmental footprint. The lightweight nature of modern phones, tablets, and laptops owe this largely to lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries can store the same energy in a 1 kg battery, as the energy stored in 6 kg of a lead-acid battery.
Lithium-ion batteries do pose a risk of spontaneous explosion that require a chemical fire extinguisher (Class D) to put out, but there are multiple safety features built into lithium-ion batteries. It’s important to follow the manufacturers’ usage directions when storing, using, and charging your laptop to prevent overheating and possible issues. Each manufacturer and model is going to have its own unique battery. Specific instructions on how to identify the model number, part number, and other relevant information will be included in solutions for the different manufacturers.
Any solutions in this article are specifically targeted for Windows 10, but may work on other Windows operating system versions.
What causes the ‘plugged in not charging’ error?
The majority of laptop charging issues can be broken down into two main categories:
- Physical damage that is impeding the transfer of energy to the battery
- Charging port – The physical connector that a power cord plugs into inside a laptop. Often can become damaged and loose, which often presents itself as needing the charger in a specific orientation or angle.
- Power cord – Commonly referred to as the AC adapter, the power cable is the actual cable providing power to the laptop and battery. This includes the power block.
- Battery – Rechargeable Li-ion battery, most are removable. Some manufacturers like Apple have batteries that can’t be removed without repair technicians.
- Driver or operating system incompatibilities/errors
- Microsoft ACPI Compliant Control Method Battery
If your laptop is plugged in and not charging, it’s important to get to the source quickly, so you can be untethered from your power cord. In order for your laptop to charge correctly, the power must make its way from an outlet through your power cord, into your laptop.
The very mobile nature of laptops lends this to be more of a problem for laptops than desktops. When you pick up and move your laptop, you may jostle the cord in the charging port, bend the cable, or otherwise put wear and tear on your charging cable. Laptop batteries do sometimes need to be fully replaced, either because of physical damage or manufacturer defects. Other times there is a software or driver issue, which is usually a quick, easy, and free remedy.
When your laptop is plugged in, you should normally see the charging icon in the bottom right-hand corner. If you see the plug symbol but not the charging battery symbol, you may be experiencing this issue. It will be even more evident if you remove your laptop from your charger and your laptop quickly dies.
How to fix the ‘plugged in not charging’ problem
The 6 solutions listed below are a mix of generic solutions that all laptop users can try to solve their charging problem and specific manufacturer based solutions. Because Dell, HP, and Lenovo users most commonly report this problem, this article will focus on those manufacturers.
1. Physical Inspection
Before plugging in your laptop, start with a physical inspection of all equipment. Like a car or any other piece of mechanical or electrical equipment, early identification of any issues is the best to prevent total breakdown or loss.
If you can, start by removing your battery first and check for any visible defects. Inspect your power cord. Look for any weird kinks or fraying in the cable. Check that the AC adapter doesn’t have any weird discoloration, particularly on the plug, that would indicate shorting. If there is any warping, be wary. Now look at the connector plug and check the integrity of the cable to the connector plug. This is often the location that experiences the most stress during use. Plug the connector plug into the computer, making sure that the connector is completely plugged in. Make sure the AC adapter is fully linked, and the power cable is securely in the power outlet.
If your laptop turns out without a battery plugged in, the problem is not the integrity of the power cable. There is something else keeping the battery from charging.
2. Power Reset (Especially for Dell & Lenovo laptops)
In this solution, you want to force the battery and computer into a power reset. This method has been very useful on Dell and Lenovo laptops when the ‘plugged in not charging’ error appears. This works because it clears the computer’s memory by discharging all capacitors.
If possible, you removed your battery in the last solution, but you are going to do it here again. Removing the residual energy and re-calibrating the battery is extremely useful:
1. Removable Battery
If you have a removable battery, start by unplugging all peripherals, including the power cable. Turn your laptop over and remove the battery. You may need to push a clip or latch to free the battery from its dock. Now return the laptop right-side up and hold the Power button for 15-20 seconds. Reinsert the battery and plug the laptop back in. Do not add any peripherals until the computer fully boots, and you can be sure your battery is charging.
2. Non-removable Battery
If you have a laptop without a removable battery, you can still perform a power reset. Essentially, you will just skip the battery removal step. Power down your laptop and remove all peripherals, including the charging cord. Press and hold the Power button for 15-20 seconds. Restart the computer, but do not add any peripherals other than the power cable until the computer fully boots, and you can be sure your battery is charging.
3. Update Microsoft ACPI Compliant Control Method Battery Driver
The Microsoft ACPI Compliant Control Method Battery driver is a vital driver for your laptop’s operating system (Windows 10) to communicate with your battery. If this driver is outdated or has been compromised in some way, it can be the source of your battery charging woes. This solution is applicable to Dell, Lenovo, and HP laptops because any laptop running Windows 10 operating system will rely on this driver. In this solution, you will use the Device Manager provided by Windows 10 to update your driver:
- Right-click the Start Menu and select Device Manager.
- Look in the list for Batteries and double-click to expand.
- Identify the driver listed as Microsoft ACPI Compliant Control Method Battery and right-click to select Uninstall device. Be sure NOT to uninstall the AC Adapter driver for your laptop battery.
- Look at the taskbar and select Scan for hardware changes, which has the icon of a display screen with a magnifying glass.
- Windows 10 will automatically scan and detect any hardware changes. When the Microsoft ACPI Compliant Control Method Battery driver is not found, Windows will automatically download and install the missing driver.
- Check to see if your laptop is now charging. Reboot if needed. If not, continue to the next solution.
5. Check Battery Health
Most laptop manufacturers have developed a method to help users test their battery health. Over time, battery health will wane and may not accurately match the 100% charge that you see. If your laptop has poor battery health and can’t hold much charge, this could be your problem. Look for your laptop manufacturer below to see specific tools and instructions on checking your battery health:
HP Hardware Diagnostics
HP Hardware Diagnostics is a tool included by HP on all of their laptops. This tool will test a variety of hardware, such as CPU, disk drive, and battery to alert the user to any problems:
- Click the Windows button on the Start menu and search for HP PC Hardware Diagnostics Windows. Right-click and select Run as administrator on the application that comes up in the search window.
- The application will open to the Main Menu. Look at the menu, then find and select Component Tests.
- Now look for Power and click to expand. Select Battery Check from the list. At the bottom of the window select Run Once.
- Wait 2-3 minutes for the battery test to complete. Then the results will pop up. Passed is the best result, meaning your battery is functioning well. If your test returns weak or very weak then the overall storage capacity of your battery is severely limited, usually due to age. If your test returns replace then the battery has failed and needs to be replaced.
Checking Battery Health Status on Dell Laptops
Dell has a variety of options available for users to check the health of their laptop’s battery. It’s probably easiest to check through the BIOS:
- Turn off your laptop and then press the Power button. As the laptop starts to power on, when the Dell logo is on-screen, press F2.
- There will be a pane on the left-hand side for navigation throughout the BIOS. Find General and then expand to select Battery Information.
- Now on the right-hand side the battery health will be displayed graphically. The best readout is Battery Health: Excellent. If your battery health is poor, Dell has information on where to go to locate a replacement battery.
6. Update the latest BIOS for your Laptop
Each laptop and laptop manufacturer will have a slightly different method recommended for updating your BIOS. Your BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) is responsible for telling your device how to boot and how to interact with hardware. If there is an outstanding BIOS update, your system may not properly be interacting with your battery or drivers. Look for your laptop manufacturer below to find the easiest instructions for updating the latest version of BIOS for your device:
HP Support Assistant
HP Support Assistant comes pre-installed on all HP devices that operate using Windows. HP Support Assistant (HPSA) is the quickest and most fool-proof way to update your BIOS. No research or model identification is needed.
- Click on the Windows icon and search for HP Support Assistant. Open the application. If the application is not installed for some reason, this can easily be remedied by visiting the HP Support Assistant website.
- Locate the tab that reads My devices. Find your laptop listed and select Updates.
- Find and click Check for updates and messages.
- In the updates list, look for a new BIOS update. Click the checkbox next to the BIOS update. Feel free to update any other features at this time.
- Click Download and install. HP Support Assistant will apply the BIOS update and when completed you can close the application.
- Restart your computer to see if there is any resolution for the ‘plugged in not charging’ problem.
Lenovo Support Site
Lenovo doesn’t have an all-in-one laptop assistant like HP, but their support site is useful and capable of detecting your device. This prevents you from having to search for any name or serial number for your device:
- Visit Lenovo’s Technical Support site. Hover over the PC product family and select Detect Product.
- Lenovo Service Bridge program may need to be downloaded and installed.
- You will be redirected to a support site specific to your device. Find Looking for drivers or software for your machine? Pick a Component below to begin.
- From the drop-down menu, select UEFI/BIOS against Component.
- Select your operating system (likely Windows 10) against Operating system.
- Select the newest version of BIOS available. Click the download icon next to the BIOS update utility.
- Locate the file where you downloaded it and click to open. Follow all instructions. Make sure to select the Install BIOS Utility now option. Next the BIOS Update Utility will open.
- Click Update BIOS and then Next.
- Follow the instructions and make sure not to unplug your laptop from your charging cable during this process. Interrupted BIOS updates could be very bad for your device.
- When the utility asks for your serial number, enter it. This should have been provided by the Lenovo support website.
- Find Download options and click on Get drivers, software, & firmware.
Dell’s Drivers & Downloads Site
BIOS updates can be found on Dell’s Drivers and Downloads site. First, you need to locate and record the Service Tag for your Dell laptop. This alphanumeric code made up of seven letters/numbers is found on the bottom of your laptop. If you are having issues locating your Service Tag, Dell has a support page to assist. Follow the next few steps to find, download, and apply your updated BIOS file for your Dell laptop:
- Visit Dell’s Drivers & Downloads site.
- In the Identify your product field, enter your laptop’s Service Tag.
- Select the Operating System.
- Under Category, find and elect BIOS.
- Locate the latest System BIOS update available for your laptop.
- Click Download and save the file to your computer.
- Locate the downloaded file, and double-click the BIOS setup file. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation process.
- Restart your laptop and check to see if the ‘plugged in not charging’ error is gone.
‘Plugged in not charging’ error resolved
If all went as planned, one of these 6 solutions will have solved your battery charging problem. The problem was solved by updating your Microsoft ACPI Compliant Control Method Battery driver or updating your BIOS, or you isolated either the AC adapter or battery as the problem. If your AC adapter or battery have reached their end of life, you can contact your laptop’s manufacturer, to seek information on selecting the correct replacement. If you are knowledgeable in finding battery or AC adapter model numbers, you can find the replacement yourself. But HP, Lenovo, Dell, and other manufacturers are there to help you when needed. Unfortunately, sometimes laptop batteries and AC adapters just need to be replaced.