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How long does it take to charge a Nintendo Switch?

Nintendo Switch gaming devices have proven to be among the most popular devices in Nintendo history, outselling legacy products like the NES, SNES, and Game Boy Advance. Its flexibility as both a handheld and console make it an optimal choice for shifting between multiple settings. Given the likelihood that you’ll use yours quite a bit, you probably wonder: how long does it take to charge a Nintendo Switch?

According to Nintendo Support, it takes 3 hours to fully charge an original Nintendo Switch and the OLED model while powered down or in sleep mode. Expect it to take longer if you’re using the console. The Joy-Con controllers take 3.5 hours to charge. The Switch Lite’s battery is smaller and more efficient than the other models, taking less than three hours to charge, even while gaming.

Several factors impact both the charging time and the battery life of these devices. Let’s take a closer look at some of these factors to ensure you’re maximizing available playtime.

Can you fast charge a Nintendo Switch?

The 2017 and 2019 models and the OLED model all use the same lithium-ion battery, which fully charges at a consistent rate of 3 hours using the original power adapter provided with the unit.

But the Switch supports fast charging over USB-C, using USB Power Delivery (PD). Fast charging wall warts are a smaller and faster alternative to the large wall wart that comes with the unit behind. USB-C PD fast chargers are available in a range of outputs from 18W all the way to 60W.

At the higher end, the Switch charges at or near its maximum rate while using the console. At the lower end, you might be charging slower, but you’ll still be able to use the console. Research these options to find the right fast charger for your budget. Consider the cost of the USB-C cable if it’s not included with the charger.

You may also want a USB-C PD-compatible portable charger as well for travel. These chargers are often pocket-sized and come in a range of capacities, with features like trickle charge and multi-port support for charging more than one device at a time.

USB-C (non-PD) and USB-A will charge your Switch as well, but at a much slower rate.

Can I use my Switch while it’s charging?

Yes, it’s safe to use your Switch while it’s charging on the dock or connected to an alternate power source. You might notice the device getting warm and the internal fan activating, which is normal.

How long does it take to charge the Joy-Con controllers?

The Joy-Con controllers charge in around 3.5 hours by connecting them to each side of the console. Note that if the console isn’t connected to a power source when you attach the controllers, they’ll only charge halfway to preserve some battery power for the console. You can also get an official Joy-Con charging grip that enables you to use the controllers while they’re charging.

An official Nintendo charging dock is also available that allows you to charge four Joy-Con controllers at once, useful if you want to keep a spare set of controllers on hand for multi-player games or just to have a set charging as a backup. The dock doesn’t charge the controllers any faster than if they were connected to the console.

How long does a single charge last?

First generation Switches last 2.5 to 6 hours on a charge. The upgraded version of the original Switch and the OLED model Switch both offer improved battery life of 4.5 to 9 hours. Although the lithium-ion battery is the same across all models, improved CPU usage in the latter models results in more efficient battery use. The Switch Lite gives you 3 to 7 hours.

The Joy-Con controllers should last for at least 20 hours, more than sufficient for an individual gaming session. You can extend that playtime to at least 70-80 hours with the Joy-Con AA battery pack, sold as a separate accessory. In a pinch, this battery pack can recharge the controllers at least once.

If you’re playing a particularly CPU intensive game while charging, or if you’ve got the brightness on your display screen cranked up, you’ll charge up more slowly. You might only prevent further drain as opposed to charging it back up to full, and some games will drain the battery faster than you can charge it.

How can I get longer battery life?

Conserving battery power is a trade-off with feature use: each feature of the device costs power, but not every feature is always required. You can reduce the brightness of your screen, turn off vibration feedback or Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, and enable sleep mode to conserve a little extra power if you don’t have a portable charger handy.

Should I keep my Switch fully charged?

The battery will perform better if you’re keeping it charged as much as possible. Dropping below 50% on a regular basis will shorten the lifespan of the battery.

Nintendo recommends fully charging the device before its first use; it should come charged but might have lost some juice before you acquired it. If the device sits unused for a long stretch of time, it’ll lose charge and lose efficiency. Nintendo suggests charging it up at least once every six months to preserve the battery’s full capacity.

Is frequent charging bad for the battery?

With lithium-ion batteries, you can charge them around 800 times before their performance starts to naturally deteriorate. Charging at that point will only give you around 80% of the battery’s original capacity.

Can you slow down or halt the natural deterioration of the battery?

Keep the device in cool to room temperature environments, avoiding heat which can prematurely drain the battery. Some games are so processor-intensive that they’ll generate heat themselves – 3D and graphic-intensive games push the performance of the CPU, for instance. Raised screen brightness is also heat source, and charging the battery generates heat as well. Combining all these factors will affect battery life.

If your battery is older and starting to lose efficiency, keep the screen on a dimmer setting and avoid complex games with 3D graphics, particularly in handheld mode. Watch out for third-party accessory kickstands or cases that block the vent, which will raise the internal temperature as well.

Is it possible to overcharge the battery?

No, if you leave the Switch charging in its dock or while connected to power via USB, it’ll stop charging once the battery reaches its maximum capacity.

Is it bad to drain the battery to zero?

Ideally, you should avoid charging it from a depleted state as much as possible. Recharging from 50%, for example, produces less wear on the battery than recharging from 0%. Once you do hit 0%, you may experience a wait of up to several minutes for it to boot up when turning it back on, and it may take 12 hours or more to fully charge the device.

On one occasion, Nintendo recommended draining the battery to zero several times in succession to address a bug with the battery indicator, but cases like these are infrequent exceptions to the rule.

Steven Carr

Steven is a certified IT professional and gaming enthusiast. He has been working in the tech industry for over 10 years, and specializes in all things Tech-related. When he's not geeking out over the latest hardware or software release, he can be found testing out the latest video game.

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