Thunderbolt is powerful enough to handle up to 100W of power to charge computers. However, some issues may arise that will prevent your laptop from charging through Thunderbolt. Here are some of them.
Your laptop is likely not charging through Thunderbolt because the battery needs a reset. To reset the battery, simply hold down the power button for at least 30 seconds. You can also look for the reset pinhole around the laptop to give your battery a hard reset.
In my experience, this is the most common reason why laptops don’t charge through Thunderbolt. However, there are a few other reasons why your computer might not be charging. This article will cover all of them, the steps to fix them, and how you should tackle similar issues with your laptop moving forward.
1. Faulty Power Output
When trying to fix something, especially with laptops, always start with the easiest and cheapest method, then rule out every possible issue until you get to the most expensive things to fix. In this case, checking the power output is free and won’t take more than a minute to rule out.
You’ll be surprised by the number of times people think that they have a severe issue with their laptop, only to find out that their computer is not charging because it’s not connected to a power outlet. Even professionals and technicians fall prey to this issue because it’s easy to miss.
How To Fix
Before you proceed with the other possible issues, ensure that the cable is plugged in properly in the Thunderbolt port and that you have plugged the power adapter into an outlet with power output. If you’re using a power strip with individual switches, make sure that the one you’re using is on.
Another easy way to check whether your power outlet works is by plugging in another appliance you’ve used regularly. You just have to rule out the possibility that your laptop isn’t charging because there’s no power output. It’s easy to do and saves you so much time in case this is what’s causing the problem.
2. You’re Using the Wrong Port
Since you’re using Thunderbolt, there’s a decent chance that you’ve connected the cable to the laptop using the wrong port. USB-C and Thunderbolt use the same port, and in many cases, an average user won’t notice the difference because both ports can transfer data from your laptop to an external peripheral.
USB-C and Thunderbolt are similar in many ways—both can deliver power through the cable and transfer data to another device.
USB-C is capable of high-speed data transfer, reaching up to 20Gbps—more than enough for you to split the USB-C port and still get plenty of speed for your peripherals. It can even charge smaller devices like your smartphone, but its power won’t be enough to charge bigger devices like a laptop.
Thunderbolt is like an upgraded version—it can do everything that USB-C can, just better and faster. For example, Thunderbolt 3 has a max transfer speed of 40Gbps and enough power capacity to charge your laptop—up to 100w power.
How To Fix
Fortunately, most manufacturers made it easier for users to determine which port is only capable of high-speed data transfer and which one can charge your laptop. To check this, all you have to do is to look at the side of the port and see the logo beside it.
A USB-C port can only transfer data if you see an SS (SuperSpeed) logo. A USB-C port that can charge your laptop will have a Thunderbolt logo beside it.
3. You’re Using an Incompatible Cord or Charger
As mentioned, there’s a possibility that you’ve bought a USB-C cord and not realized that it can’t charge your laptop. After all, both cables look the same, and some USB-C designers might claim that they can charge “most” devices.
In the past, USB-C and Thunderbolt provided different specifications and capabilities that can make it seem daunting for the average user. However, as technology progresses, these cables have become universal, allowing you to use them interchangeably in many modern devices.
Despite this, it’s still possible for anyone to get their hands on a USB-C cable that is incompatible with their laptop. If you’ve recently replaced your Thunderbolt cable or charger right before your computer stopped charging, then it’s something you need to consider.
How To Fix
Since the cord or charger you’re using right now might not have the capacity to deliver the power required to charge your laptop, your only choice is to replace it altogether. However, this time, make sure that the cable you purchase is compatible with your device and of good quality.
4. You Have an Outdated Driver
Charging your laptop through Thunderbolt is not entirely reliant on hardware. Sometimes, a little software upgrade or update can fix the problem. Now, laptops have separate drivers that handle power delivery and charging of the battery. If one of these becomes outdated, your computer may not charge even if you use the correct ports with a compatible cable and power adapter.
How To Fix
Fortunately, you don’t need to be an expert when updating your laptop’s drivers. Microsoft made it easy for anyone to update the drivers, and it won’t take a lot of time, either.
Here’s how you can update your laptop’s drivers:
- Go to the Start Menu or Windows search box.
- Search for Device Manager.
- Look for the Batteries menu.
- Click to open the list of drivers under Batteries.
- Right-click on each item and select Update Driver.
- Once you’ve gone through the list, remove the Thunderbolt cable from the port if it’s still plugged in.
- Restart your laptop and wait for it to load.
- Plug your Thunderbolt cable back in.
This should fix the issue if an outdated driver is preventing the laptop from charging through Thunderbolt. Remember, it’s essential to keep all your drivers (even the ones not related to your laptop’s battery) updated to ensure that everything works correctly and that you won’t have issues with performance.
5. The Battery Needs a Reset
Despite how mundane laptop batteries look, they have features that can help you address a few issues with your computer, including not charging through Thunderbolt. In my experience, this is one of the most common reasons why a laptop is not charging through Thunderbolt.
How To Fix
Fortunately, this is an easy fix, and you won’t have to buy anything to get your laptop to start charging again. However, resetting your laptop’s battery isn’t as simple as the other options. Different manufacturers provide different ways of resetting the battery, and the location of the reset button may also vary.
Despite the number of ways you can reset the batteries of different laptops, we can still categorize them between the two: finding the battery reset button or holding the power button down.
Finding the Battery Reset Button
If your laptop has a removable battery, there’s a decent chance it has a battery reset button. A battery reset button looks like a pinhole and is almost inaccessible without a tool to press it—usually a sim ejector tool that you use for your smartphone or a paperclip.
Now, the location for the battery reset button may vary, depending on the manufacturer, but here are the most common locations where you can find it:
- The underside of the laptop, near the battery.
- The underside of the laptop, near the charging port.
- On either side of the laptop, together with the other ports.
Some manufacturers put a label on the battery reset button, making it easier to locate. However, in most cases, these buttons aren’t labeled, and you need to really look closely to find them.
Resetting the Battery Using the Power Button
If your laptop has a built-in battery—one that you have to open the back cover to access—then there’s a good chance that the reset button for your laptop is also the power button. To give your battery a hard reset, simply push and hold the power button for about 30 seconds.
Different laptops have different ways to notify you that you’ve successfully reset your battery. The most common signs will be the subtle lights on your keyboard or on the side. Once you’ve reset the battery, plug the Thunderbolt cable back, and it should start charging your laptop again.
6. Damaged Cord or Charger
There are many reasons why a Thunderbolt cord or power adapter gets damaged. In fact, regular use can cause damage to the cable, eventually leading to it not charging your laptop. Some damaged Thunderbolt cables may still work for data transfer but become inefficient when charging the computer.
How To Fix
Although this is a relatively easy fix, you’ll need to spend some money on it, so I placed it close to the last possible reason why your laptop is not charging.
Now, for damaged cords or chargers, the only way to fix them is by getting yourself a new one from a reputable brand like this Anker Thunderbolt 3.0 Cable (available on Amazon.com). Additionally, try a new cable first to see if it fixes the problem. Damaged Thunderbolt cables are much more common than damaged power bricks—and they’re cheaper to replace.
In case you’re looking for a reliable power adapter, you may want to consider Anker 735 Charger GaNPrime (available on Amazon.com). It’s always something that I recommend to people because of its reliability, durability, and compatibility with multiple devices. I even have one that I’ve used for years, and it still works well with my laptop.
7. Damaged or Loose Battery
If your laptop has a removable battery, this issue will be very easy—but possibly quite expensive — to fix. The first step to dealing with this issue is removing and replacing the battery, ensuring that it’s placed tightly in your laptop.
If it still doesn’t work, you can always get yourself a new battery that is compatible with your laptop. However, you have to be careful when looking at the battery’s specifications, ensuring that it matches your laptop’s power requirement or specifications.
A damaged or loose battery can be complicated to fix if you’re using a laptop with a built-in battery. I wouldn’t recommend trying to do this fix yourself because it will require you to open the laptop’s back cover, which exposes all essential components, creating a variety of risks that can result in even more significant issues.
The best course of action for laptops with built-in batteries is to bring them to certified technicians and let them fix the issue for you. Sure, there’s an added cost to it, but you can be sure that they can help you replace your battery correctly and safely.
8. Damaged Charging Port
A damaged charging port is the worst of all the reasons why your laptop isn’t charging through Thunderbolt. Regardless of the laptop that you’re using, a damaged charging port will require you to bring it to a certified technician.
Replacing the charging port will require you to remove the damaged part from the laptop and solder in a replacement. You also have to make sure that you’re placing it properly and that it has all the right connections in place to fix the problem.
That’s why, if you’ve ruled out everything and your laptop is still not charging, it would be best to bring it to a technician and let them take care of the issue for you.
There are a lot of potential reasons that might be causing your laptop not to charge through Thunderbolt. Fortunately, you can address most of them on your own without even spending any money. You can even work on some of the solutions I shared with you, even without in-depth technical know-how.
There are only two instances when you’ll need a professional to help you fix your laptop:
- When you think your battery is damaged and you have to remove it from the back cover
- When your charging port is damaged and unable to deliver power to your laptop.