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Keyboards are one of the main ways that computer users interact with their machines. Although they come in many configurations, the basic keyboard is something you can expect to have with any device that isn’t capable of using a touchscreen, and even some computers with touchscreen access will have backup keyboards.
Because you might use a keyboard at all hours of the day or in all lighting conditions, backlit keyboards are one option open to you. They feature tiny lights that illuminate the keys, helping you use the peripheral even in dim conditions.
Some people may wonder about the longevity of backlit keyboards. We will discuss whether backlit keyboards wear out, how long the average lifespan should be if they do wear out, and if it is safe to have the backlight feature always active on the accessory.
Furthermore, our article will discuss brightness or battery issues, possible overheating, and flashing or blinking of the lights that could be signs of some kind of internal error.
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As with any sort of electronic or mechanical device, backlit keyboards will probably wear out over a long enough time. Everything has a particular expectancy from the moment it is manufactured.
Some devices will function long after the expected retirement date set forth by the manufacturer, and you may get some products that don’t seem to last nearly as long as they should. This is simply the nature of any products companies put out, but you can expect most units to last for around the length of time that the manufacturer suggests.
In most cases, each company will perform rigorous testing while it is developing its various products. The tests include making sure that things work like they are supposed to, but they also feature longevity tests as well.
Consumers want to know at least some approximation of how long they can expect things to last, and this is true for the keys on the keyboard of your choice as much as it is for the lights. The keyboard will probably wear its lights out over time, but you may not even see that point. We will dig into why that is in the next section.
The precise length of time that a backlit keyboard is supposed to last can vary by the manufacturer. However, most companies will use small light-emitting diodes as the primary way in which they will provide illumination for their keyboards.
In many cases, these LEDs are rated to last for at least 50,000 hours of continuous use. Even with that figure in mind, some can last longer than that. This means that, potentially, you could leave the keyboard’s lights on and active for several months without a break, and they would still continue to function and provide illumination for the keys they serve.
Since most people are not going to have the backlight function active except when they are using the computer, we can extend this number somewhat. You may even wish to activate it only when you are using the computer in areas with low ambient lighting, thus making the life of the LEDs even longer.
In fact, if you have a backlit keyboard with mechanical keys, it is entirely possible that the keys themselves will wear out before the lights do. There are many factors that could contribute to this, but many users find that they’ve moved on and purchased new computers or different keyboards before the LEDs go out.
In general, it should be fine to have the keyboard lights on all the time. This feature may have some impact on battery life, and we will discuss that possibility later. Other than that, however, having the backlights active on the keyboard continuously is mostly a matter of personal preference.
If your computer came with a keyboard that has this feature, it means that the system was designed to handle it. Even if you purchase a secondary keyboard for a system that didn’t run one like that initially, it can handle it if you’re able to turn the feature on.
The only thing you might notice from a backlit keyboard that is on all the time is that light may disturb you at night. This is particularly true if you have the computer open when it is not in use. If you close it without putting the system to sleep or shutting it down, you may notice some similar issues with light pollution.
However, you should be able to adjust the settings in your system to lessen the intensity of the lights that the keyboard produces. You can choose to dim the backlit keyboard instead of turning it off completely. In fact, you may notice that the lights will fade out on their own after not using the computer or its keyboard for several seconds.
Here is one way that you might set the backlit keyboard to an always-on state:
1. Check the keyboard itself for a function key that displays a small light icon accompanied by what looks like a battery bar. This key allows you to toggle the states of the backlit keyboard. In most cases, you can choose from off, intermittent, or on all the time.
2. Some keyboards are able to have backlighting, but they may not come with a way to adjust this feature so easily. For this kind of board, you can go to the ‘Advanced Settings’ in your BIOS to see if you can adjust it.
3. You may be able to download enhancement pack features that give you more control or functionality of some peripherals. In this case, you can go to your computer’s ‘Device Manager’ once you finish the download and alter the level of brightness to the keyboard from there.
With all of that said, your manufacturer needs to include some way to access or change backlit LEDs in the keyboard. If there is no doorway provided by your keyboard’s manufacturer, you likely will not be able to alter the LED levels.
The LEDs on a backlit keyboard need power in order to turn on and stay on. Therefore, any active backlit keyboard can affect battery life. The computer needs to consume more power in order to keep everything lit, but just how much more energy it needs to use could be a matter of some debate.
Furthermore, different keyboards may consume power in different amounts, although many LEDs for keyboards are standardized. You can also change how much power the keyboard uses for lights in your own system settings.
Although it can be difficult to pin down any exact figures, the LEDs themselves are very efficient at providing illumination without drawing much power from the battery. They do need a little, but you can use the estimated battery life gauge to get a sense of how much time remains on your computer’s charge before it has no power left.
In most cases, if you aren’t doing much with the laptop, you shouldn’t see this number decrease too quickly just because the keyboard lights are on.
The laptop is more likely to drain just from the computer itself being on and running background processes than it is from the backlight feature being active. Furthermore, the LEDs being active should only have a very small impact on how fast the total overall charge for a battery drains.
It should not affect how many full charge cycles you can have over the total life of said battery. The lights simply don’t drain enough power at a high enough rate to have such a drastic impact on the charge cycles.
That said, you can test this by leaving the backlights on the keyboard off for a full charge to see how fast it drains down when the computer is on. Afterwards, you can repeat the process with the feature disabled while the computer is on but idle.
Doing this may give you some sign of just how much the battery drains due to the lights on the keyboard, and you should notice only a minimal difference. However, it is important to remember that other factors that you might not see can affect battery life, too.
LEDs need energy to produce light, and that means that they also produce some heat along with them. Much like exactly how much a collection of diodes might drain the battery on a laptop, however, it can be difficult to determine exactly how much heat a backlit keyboard generates.
Even so, the diodes need very little energy, even as a collection of lights. It is unlikely that a backlit keyboard by itself could cause overheating issues for a system.
If you have any concerns, you can choose to make sure that the keyboard is set only to light up when you’re using it, and you can make sure that the lights turn off after a few seconds when it isn’t in use.
Furthermore, you can ensure that the lights shut off if you close the laptop lid. That way, you can still leave the laptop on and active, but neither the screen nor keyboard will have lights shining and producing heat while the device is closed.
Sometimes, the lights on your keyboard may blink or flash intermittently. This may be accompanied by an unresponsive keyboard. In these cases, the problem usually means that there is a fault somewhere that causes the keyboard to stop functioning.
The whole system may be unresponsive, too. Depending on which parts of your device are affected, there are a few fixes you can try. The solutions available to you could be different based on which kind of computer or operating system you are using.
Both Windows and Mac feature computer models that support backlit keyboards. Although these operating systems run quite differently from one another, many of the fixes that you might try for malfunctioning backlit keyboards are applicable to both.
In our list below, we will recommend the most common general fixes you can try, regardless of which major operating system you are on.
1. You may need to do a hard reset of the device by holding down the power button. This is particularly true if the whole Windows or Mac system is unresponsive to you.
2. A connected USB device may cause your laptop to respond for some time even after you put it to sleep. This could cause the keyboard lights to flash or blink intermittently when you do not expect it. Check for connected USB devices to see if unplugging them resolves this issue.
3. You can try adjusting the power settings for the backlight feature in the appropriate menu for your Windows or Mac computer. It may be a good idea to try turning the feature off completely and restarting it first.
4. If you have a keyboard that you plug into your computer, consider unplugging it, waiting a bit, and plugging it back in.
5. Run some tests to see how the power supply is handling the running of the system in general. It could be that the power supply is old or defective, and it could be showing its age by not keeping the keyboard backlit.
Backlighting is a great way to see what you’re doing on the computer even if you’re dealing with poor ambient light. Sometimes, you might even be able to change the colors of the LEDs for aesthetic reasons.
While these lights have some impact on the battery’s charge, it should be negligible. If there is any flashing or blinking coming from your keyboard, you can try some of our troubleshooting tips above.