If you've connected your laptop charger but there is no sign that the battery is charging, or you're seeing a "Plugged in, not charging" message in Windows, we are here to help. Sadly there isn’t a single solution as the problem can be one of many things, from the charger itself, to the charging port on your laptop, or even the battery.
But there are a few things you can try to get it charging again, and hopefully avoid spending money on repairs.
Method 1: Check everything is plugged in
First things first, make sure everything is plugged in correctly. Make sure the connector is plugged into the correct port on the laptop and that any removable cords are plugged into the brick, and finally that the plug is attached to the wall (and that it’s switched on).
Some modern laptops charge via USB. Try plugging your charger into the other USB-C port, as if your charger is plugged into the USB-C port that is only used for data transfer, then no charging will occur.
If there's an LED on the power brick or at the end of the cable, make sure it's lit up when the wall socket is switched on. If not, swap out the fuse in the plug for one that's known to work, or plug something else into that socket to double-check that it's actually supplying power.
Method 2: Check the condition of the laptop charger
Check the whole length of the cable and feel for any obvious breaks in the wire. Check where the cable connects to the plugs at either end, and where it enters and exits the power brick.
Look for any discolouration of the wires or plugs that might suggest something is wrong, too. Making use of your nose is helpful too, if you smell burning or anything of that nature then all is probably not well and you’ll need a new charger.
If it's not the original charger supplied with the laptop, then check that - for universal chargers - that the voltage is set appropriately. A sticker on the laptop should tell you what voltage it requires. Also make sure the correct tip has been installed if it's interchangeable.
Some laptops are very fussy about which charger you use - Dell and HP models have been known to refuse to charge if you don't use a genuine, original charger. The same goes for USB-C chargers. You can't necessarily use a phone charger to charge your laptop: it probably won't supply enough power. Make sure your charger is outputting enough wattage.
Method 3: Remove and check the battery
If you can, remove the battery and then plug your charger into the laptop. If this works, then you’re almost certainly looking at a battery problem. This could be a hardware or software issue, if it’s software is might be solvable. If it’s hardware, you’re most likely going to need a new battery. Plenty of laptops have non-removable batteries
If your laptop gets very hot when you’re using it, it’s possible that it is automatically shutting itself down to protect the inner components from overheating.
This can cause all sorts of problems, including the battery not charging because it’s too hot and in danger of being damaged.
Make sure the exhaust fans are not being blocked (if you’re using it in bed or on a cushion, the laptop could be sinking into the material and not able to cool itself effectively).
Wait until it cools down and then try charging it up again.
Method 4: Check Windows power settings
Open up Control Panel, and head into Power Options.
There are several settings in here, take a quick glance around to make sure that nothing looks out of place. The particular one to look out for is the setting that causes your laptop to shut down if your battery percentage drops to a certain low threshold.
Method 5: Update drivers
Open up Device Manager, and under Batteries you’ll find a number of entries.
There should usually be three, one for the battery itself, one for the charger and a third called ‘Microsoft ACPI Compliant Control Method Battery’. Right-click on all of these entries head into Properties, then into the driver tab and find the ‘Update Driver’ button (This may also be found by just right clicking the entry and hitting ‘Update driver software’).
Once you’ve done this, restart your laptop and try plugging the charger in again.
Method 6: Call tech support
At this point, we have pretty much exhausted the quick fixes. If you’re still having trouble, call in the tech support team. Call your laptop manufacturer, which will be able to give you the best advice.
They’ll be able to walk you through some remedial steps and help you from there. This may entail buying a replacement - batteries are a consumable, and generally not covered for longer than six months under warranty.
If that's too costly, check out our recommendations of the best laptops and best budget laptops to buy.