What Exactly Are Windows Power Plans?

Most of us who have been using computers powered by Windows are surely familiar with losing power at the middle of an important online transaction or while doing other crucial tasks. Our laptops and netbooks at present start to have weak battery on its second or third year of usage and this life span shortens if proper care and maintenance steps are ignored. Batteries are really destined to weaken and eventually become useless at any future time but how long it stays on its useful stage depends on how careful we are in maintaining it. Also, the more bigger a mobile computer is, the more it is prone to having weak battery especially if it is left plugged for long periods even if the battery is already fully charged.

Luckily for us, Windows developed a feature that would help prolong computer usage while it is running on batteries. This tool lessens activity on less important system components to effectively save power consumption and prolong the use of any Windows computer. The feature that I am referring to is called “Power Plans” which contains preset operating modes for adjusting power consumption. This feature gives the general idea that excellent performance does not, in any way work together with saving power given off by your machine’s battery or in short, you should always choose to trade one to get more of the other.

For instance, there are some computer brands that are designed for gaming which will really tell you to plug your machine into a power source whenever you are playing games on it. This is  because most games running on advanced graphics require all the components needed to run on the highest performance option possible and consumes a lot of power which batteries cannot handle for long periods.

This tutorial aims to help you understand what power plans really are, identify different scenarios where one power plan is applicable or not and of course, I will also show you how to switch between them to preserve battery power and prolong the use of your machine. Sounds great? Read on to find out how these things are done.

Accessing the Power Options Section

Before you can change any aspect of your computer’s power plan, you first need to learn how to access the Power Options section on your Windows machine. You can use several ways in doing this and I prepared some easy steps below for you to follow:

  • An easy way of accessing the Power Options section on your Windows computer is by clicking on the “battery icon” located on your computer’s system tray/notifications area found at the bottom-right corner of your computer screen.

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  • After clicking on the battery icon, a small pop-out Window will appear also known as the “battery meter”. The bottom of this Window should show a link that says “More power options”. Clicking on this link would lead you to the Power Options section.

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Another way of doing this is by searching for the Power Options section using the search feature on your computer’s Start Menu. To do this, just follow the steps below:

  • First, you need to click on the “Start” button or press on the Windows key on your machines keyboard.
  • When the Start Menu opens, you need to type “power” on the search box and wait until the search results appear.

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  • From the search results, look for the links that say “Power Options” and “Choose a power plan”. Clicking on any of these links should take you to the Power Plan section of your computer where you can make adjustments and other tweaks to the current power plan set for your machine.

Once the Power Options Window opens, you should be able to see two power plans listed. These two power plan options (Balanced and Power Saver) will always appear once you access this section of your computer. However, there is another power option which you will see later that is available for you to select (High performace) depending on how you would like to use your machine for.

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Other computers models may also have more than three Power Plan options but this is a rare case so for this tutorial, you will only see the three default power plans available on most computers (Balanced, Power Saver and High performance). Other settings of a power plan can also be changed like the time before your computer screen dims, the idle time that is required before your computer is put to sleep mode and other aspects which if tweaked would help you save some battery juice. You can make some changes on your power plan simply by clicking on the “Change plan settings” link on the right side of the power plan name and description.

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After the link is clicked, the power plan settings Window will appear just like the screenshot below.

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You will be able to adjust certain aspects simply by clicking on the dropdown options and choosing the time (in minutes) that you want to set for each. Your screen’s brightness can also be adjusted by pressing hold and dragging the “Adjust plan brightness” knob.

The Difference Between Power Plans

All power plans available on your machine contains settings on your hardware and other software components which changes the way how your computer uses its battery power. There are three Power Plans (Balanced, High performance and Power Saver) which are available on Windows 7 by default.

Your Windows 7 computer does some tweaks based on preset values set for every power plan that you choose. These power plans changes the length of time your computer screen dims or turns off and as well as the length of time that it is required to be met before your system automatically switches to the sleep mode. You will also notice some differences to the time set for each of these aspects if you’re running on batteries or your machine is plugged in (time is shorter when you’re on batteries unless you make it longer by manually adjusting it). The chart shown below illustrates these differences in the aspects in all power plans when your machine is on batteries or if it plugged in to a power source.

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How to Switch Between Power Plans

Now that you know the differences between power plans, you may try switching from one power plan to another. You will find this useful while you’re on travel or on any situation where you need to conserve battery power. The quickest way of doing this is by clicking on the battery icon located on your computer’s system tray and simply click on two power plans (Balanced and Power saver) that are showing up from the pop-up Window. If the power plan that you’re looking for is not on this Window, simply click on the “More power options” link to access the ones that are hidden within the power options Window.

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After switching between power plans, you will notice that the estimated time left before your battery drains out of power also changes. Changing from a low battery plan to a higher one decreases the time left while switching from a high plan to a lower one increases the estimated time left before the battery runs out of power.

After making the changes that you want on your computer’s power plan options you may now close the Window and that ends the process! If you know of some other tips for saving some battery juice on Windows please feel free to share them on the comments section for this article.