A LockerGnome reader asked, “My MacBook is less than a month old and iStat shows me that my battery health is 95% with only 17 cycles. I’m not sure if frequently unplugging and replugging my MacBook charger is causing this or not.”

This is a great question. Notebooks are meant to be portable and accessible pretty much anywhere. Unfortunately, a weak battery can ruin a user’s experience. The good news is that your frequent use of the battery actually has a positive affect on overall battery life. A stale battery that never gets the chance to discharge can age and lose its capacity at a slightly faster rate. Thankfully, Apple has a process called “adaptive charging” which

Battery Calibration
My first piece of advice is to make sure you’ve calibrated the battery on your new MacBook properly. It’s recommended that you go through a calibration cycle when you receive it and once every month or two afterwords to maintain accurate readings on your battery level monitor. iStat is a great tool, but it may not be very accurate without a properly calibrated battery.

According to Apple, calibrating your battery can be done using the following process:

  1. Plug in the MagSafe Power Adapter and fully charge the battery.
  2. Allow the battery to rest in the fully charged state for two hours or longer.
  3. With the computer still on, disconnect the power adapter and continue to use your computer.
  4. When you see the low battery warning, save your work and close all applications. Keep your computer turned on until it goes to sleep.
  5. After your computer goes to sleep, turn it off or allow it to sleep for five hours or longer.
  6. Connect the power adapter and leave it connected until the battery is fully charged. You can use your computer during this time.

While you are discharging and charging the battery, you can use your computer as you normally would except for a brief period of time during steps 4 ad 5 as indicated.

Charging and Discharging
Apple does not recommend that you leave your MacBook plugged in all the time. In fact, Apple describes an ideal usage situations as, “a commuter who uses her notebook on the train, then plugs it in at the office to charge.”

Apple expects its current line of notebook batteries to hold at least 80% of their original factory capacity through 1,000 charges and discharges. A system they call “adaptive charging” is in place with the intention in mind of keeping the battery healthy for up to five years.

Storage
It’s recommended that if you use your notebook infrequently, the battery be discharged at least once every month in order to maintain calibration and sustain capacity.

If you plan on storing the MacBook for extended periods of time (six months or more), Apple recommends that you discharge the battery to 40-50% prior to doing so. If you store a battery for long periods of time at full charge, it may lose capacity more quickly.