My Surface RT Won’t Charge: Updated

Well, unfortunately, as a journalist I need to deliver unbiased and fair information to my readers.
Today has been a sad day. Every weekday I use my Surface to keep up-to-date with any important tech news and then I write about that news.  I plug my Surface into the same outlet every weekday. Today, though, I plugged it in and something strange started happening, namely, the screen brightness kept adjusting itself every three or four seconds. I restarted the device but had no success. Finally, I remembered that the brightness adjusts itself depending on whether or not you’re connected to a power source. So I check the connection to the wall outlet, and that looked fine. Lastly, and perhaps the place I should have started first, I looked at the indicator light on the power connector that was attached to the Surface. The white indicator light was not on. No matter how much I fiddled with it, the light would not turn on.


I tried every available outlet in the office to no avail. At this point, it’s possible that the problem is either the charger of the Surface itself. I can’t fully diagnose this at my office, but I’ll update this post when I find out which of the two is the issue.

The good news for Microsoft is that I have not been able to find another report like this anywhere. I feel kind of lonely, but at least I know the issue isn’t as widespread as the dreaded “Ring of Death” on Microsoft’s Xbox 360.

For now, Microsoft has some good suggestions for fixing this if you are having a similar issue.

You can find their suggestions here.


Ok so the good news is that I have a faulty power supply and not a faulty Surface. I went to my local Best Buy and asked if I could try the power supply that was attached to their demo unit. Their power supply worked perfectly so I was able to deduce that mine is broken.

After fiddling with mine some more by twisting and pushing the end of the cord that attaches to the wall wort (the square shaped thing that plugs into your wall) I have been able to get it to start charging. I’m not confident that this will work for long, though.


I went to a Microsoft Store and explained that my power supply was broken and they replaced it without argument. If there is a store nearby, I’d recommend doing this.

  • mck6719

    I have had my RT for 16 months and this is the 2nd time I have had this issue. The first time I had owned it for 4 months. Took it in for repair. They had to send it to Microsoft to be fixed, that took a month so less than a year later I am back where I started. I’m going to do what I should’ve done in the beginning. Buy Apple…

  • Jamie Austin

    I have the same exact problem and I ordered a new charger and received yesterday but unfortunately that didn’t solve the problem. And not sure what to do. Any advice?

  • Michael X

    Surface RT won’t turn on, shows one bar low battery warning, and light indicator on charger won’t come on.

    Possible solution, AT YOUR OWN RISK! Will void warranty and Microsoft support will not accept return of opened Surface. This has only been tried with my Surface RT 1st Generation. Have not heard of this issue with Surface 2 or 3.

    Make sure to use correct TOOLS and be very gentle. Don’t be in a rush!

    Be sure to unplug Surface RT from charger. Open up your Surface RT using any Surface RT teardown instructions, has one. Remove battery connector from motherboard. While open, plug in charger. If light indicator on charger comes on, press power button and turn on Surface RT. If Surface powers on into Windows, shutdown, unplug charger, and re-attach battery connector. Your Surface RT should now be fixed.

    If your Out Of Warranty, you’re on your own unless you send it to Microsoft. Microsoft charges $200 for Surface RT repair. Essentially you get a refurbished item that has simply gone through a full sweep of all the parts which Microsoft finds nothing wrong with. Obviously something is wrong! Either with the battery or the motherboard which isn’t reading the correct battery life left and causing full charge reading to the charger while also reading a low battery life, telling your Surface RT not to start.

    Hope this helps whoever else faces this. I’ve also read that you can let the battery life drain out after weeks of waiting. I think it’s the same process where it resets the battery or something. My method is simply for those not willing to wait like me to try the quick fix. If this doesn’t fix it, you may have to replace the battery if it is faulty. Remember this is at your own risk!

    • carjack

      Thanks! Worked for me!

      Opening the Surface isn’t hard as long as you can find tiny screwdriver to fit the Torx screws (the smallest flat headed one from my glasses repair kit worked fine). The tiny battery strip connector is easier to disconnect then to connect back, just be patient.

      The issue appears to be in battery charge detection. After I disconnected the battery and plugged the charger, Windows booted and as expected showed small red “x” on the battery icon indicating “missing battery”. I shut down Windows, disconnected the charger, connected the battery back and Windows immediately booted showing full charged battery! After putting back the cover it was all working fine, with or w/o charger connected – hope the fix is permanent.

      BTW, this issue first happened with my 32GB Surface RT which I was able to replace for 64GB one at Microsoft Store booth (was still in warranty). But an year later it had the same problem hence I tried to fix the things myself.

      • Andy

        This fix also worked for me and was a lot easier than expected. I had the low battery and wouldnt charge issue and this sorted it no worries.

    • disqus_qK0mFEbiRm

      Thanks for the suggestion as it worked for me. I still had 3 months warranty left, but all Microsoft was going to do was send me a refurbished Surface, losing all my settings and files. The Newpower99 video is a big help for disassembly and locating the ribbon cable.
      Took this as a warning to backup files onto my SD card

  • jeffda man

    I have 5 RT Surface units and 3 had the issue of not charging “Shows its plugged in 0% charge Not charging”, white light is on, i tried reboot, on / off, leaving over night swapping power packs,etc, i then tried putting it into flight mode and bang 2 of 3 are now accepting charge. Then i can do the firmware update and hope they remain getting charge.

    • tudor

      This worked like a charm. Thanks,T

  • K Eric Wilson

    Have a Surface RT that doesn’t seem to be responding to depressing the
    on/off switch. Mine displays the boot -up surface screen and then the
    battery status (with 1 bar) and then goes dark. The last time this RT
    was used was to do the most recent windows updates. Not exactly sure
    what may be going on?? I have two chargers and have attempted to connect
    with each one and the result is the same. Also, once seated correctly I
    do not get white indicator light on the charger to illuminate. Would
    appreciate any knowledge or ideas from anyone that might shed some light
    on this issue??? Thanks in advance!

  • chris appel

    I have found if you wedge some papers or cards in the edge of the charge between the charger and surface it makes a connection

  • williamjm

    I have a brand new surface 2, 32gb that I bought today. I can’t get it to turn on without the charger being plugged into it. Only way to get it to turn on is with it plugged in. Am I doing something wrong??? Any advice is great fully received.

    • Joseph Oliveira

      Battery issue. Happened to mine too. I bet you bought a Refurbished one, like I did.

  • m

    My surface charger lights up and the surface works when connected to the charger, but once I disconnect it, it powers off. Any thoughts on how to troubleshoot the problem?

  • Hans

    When I first began my research into the problems with my wife’s Surface RT I found this discussion and didnt feel so alone. I come back looking for some more advice/ thoughts because my problem solving and fixes have not resolved the issue.

    Here’s the history:
    -Surface RT stopped holding a charge and remains at 0% despite the power supply light being lit and the tablet recognizing/ saying “charging” while it is plugged in.

    -I took it to the microsoft store and their power supply did the same thing.

    -It’s out of warranty so all microsoft will do is replace it for $220. I researched other options – one being a faulty battery.

    -I ordered a new battery, replaced it, and the problem remains. I could only see this problem relating to the battery after figuring out it wasnt the power supply but even with the new battery not working I dont know that its a hardware issue.

    -When checking for windows updates, there is a firmware update BUT unless the tablet it at least 25% charged it won’t do it which I think is ridiculous because it MIGHT be the solution.

    Does anyone know of some override for the 25% limitation so I can install the firmware? Other then the firmware update can anyone offer any other ideas of what the problem may be? I’ve just about always been a desktop guy and my liking towards those machines continues….

  • sylvia

    I am currently experiencing the same problem,i am in Nairobi,I have not been able to charge mine despite leaving it overnight and changing the plug.
    Can someone help me please

  • Jessie J

    Mine is not keeping the charge. I’m just starting to use it and one time I let it die completely. Now it won’t hold a charge. the outlet is fine and I have a white light. Its been plugged in for over 2 hours now and once I unplug it, it shuts off.

    • Joseph Oliveira

      bad battery.

  • Beton Neme
  • Brittney

    My windows surface RT is doing the same thing as yours except when I plug it in to charge it says “plugged in, not charging” and I have no clue what to do tips anyone?

  • Hunter wylie

    I have a RT that suffers from the same charging crap shoot. I’ve already exchanged one RT under warranty and my replacement worked fine for a while and now is participating in the same crap game. Given DC power supplies and magnetically attachment are not rocket science I believe we may be dealing with bad software/firmware in the Surface that monitors the power inputs and shuts the charging function down to prevent overcharging. Given MS’s approach to rebooting the unit to a semi-initial state, power off-on, without “anything” attached it seems the RT’s version of BIOS is faulty. When I called the MS support group for my initial Surface exchange – I went through a 30+minute diagnostic phone session resulting in my 3 week old Surface RT being exchanged. Given “any” tablet (with the exception of MS Surface products it seems) should be able to charge when plugged into a power supply without traversing a diagnostic logic tree we are dealing with a design flaw. Really!!!, How about “plug it in”. Doesn’t work? – send the unit and charger back.

  • Sam

    I have an issue with the RT too, when i push down the power button the screen shows Surface followed with a Battery Sign with one bar in a bright white circle, the charger had not lit light on it, checked with other changer same issue, used my charger on other surface works fine..i was among the first one to buy but disappointed :-(

    • Lane Freeze

      Must be a bad power supply in the Surface itself then. Sorry to hear that you’re having trouble with it. Let us know what happens!

  • Owen D. Edwards

    So I’m having this issue, and others… first thing is the headphone jack stooped, then this power issue. I’m personally just returning the RT. As cool as it is, I need a computer that works. I don’t care to deal with returning it, nor do I have the time to wait days on sending back my unit, wait until the new one shows up, etc. I don’t have a Microsoft store near by, and I’m a full time student. I need a computer that works. I was totally happy with the RT, loved it when it functioned. Now I just have a black paperweight.

    • Lane Freeze

      I feel your pain. When I have issues with any device, I have to remind myself how just about all of my previous devices have had reliability issues. IPad, yep. IPhone, yep. Mac, yep. HP Laptop, absolutely. Every single Android phone, 100 times yes.
      Maybe that’s not the case for you, but I really can’t say I’ve had more issues with the Surface than I have had (and still have) with other devices.

      • frank

        Lane, all of my friends have other experiences. There are some devices that are just super sturdy, such as the old ThinkPad laptops I and my friends had. None of them broke. Same with iPads. Sorry you had issues but none of my friends with iPads had any. Are you affiliated with Microsoft in any way?

        • Lane Freeze

          No sir, completely independent. Of course I can’t say I’m unbiased, I have a website about the Surface and thus have stronger feelings about whether or not it succeeds compared to the iPad. But I also consider myself a fan of Apple. iOS 8 and the rumors about an iPad Pro have me excited, even though my first two iPad’s were unusable out of the box.

          That said, I’m disappointed in the issues Surface has had, and I’m all for fixing that stuff. However, I like to maintain a positive attitude about these things.

        • EVerton

          HI, my surface seems also to have issues while charging.. After the charger is pluged in light starts to blink every 3 or 4 seconds. I observed befoere loosing the complete charge that screens has also change the bright intensity in the same frequency that charger light was blinking..
          Reading all the coments it seems I have an issue with the charger, but my problem is that I bought the devide in US and I am in Brazil… Lets see if here the Microsoft has the same good will on replacing the charger.. And considering microsoft is so generous in US when replacing the charger seems they really know there is a problem on the design.. In my opinion there should be a recall on such situations…

    • frank

      Exactly the same here! First the headphone jack broke now my RT won’t charge anymore! The surface got such good reviews for its hardware but it looks like it was not that good after all. My girlfriend has had her iPad for twice as long, drops it occasionally even and no problems.

      • Mary

        I’m having the same issue. I just came from the windows store and purchased a new charger for 42.00, plugged it in and nothing happened. Damm I wish I would have read all these complaints first. O-well I hope they exchange it for a new one.

  • Ndeye DIOBAYE

    Hi I’m currently having the same problem. I am in Kuala Lumpur on holidays and at first I thought my adapting charging device was faulty of my Surface charging problems. I went to a store to buy a new international plug, and found a Surface store there so I tried on my charger which was perfectly fine. I was somehow able to charge mine overnight and in the afternoon, but now I’m experiencing the same problem. How did you resolve your problem??

  • junior

    My surface rt wont charge charging indicador says it charging but when i unplug its dead anybody help

    • Lane Freeze

      Does it power on at all?

    • Lane Freeze

      Does it power on at all? Even while it’s plugged in? If not, your Surface may be toast. Microsoft will most likely replace it for you.

    • Sheri

      mine is doing the same thing. this is the 2nd one i’ve tried in the past 3 weeks!

      • Em

        mine is doing the same! does anyone know why?

        • Lane Freeze

          It’s not a very common issue, but I’d recommend asking Microsoft to replace it.

    • Joseph Oliveira

      Sounds like a battery issue.

  • bBill

    My surface rt will not turn on after updates last night. There is a faint light around the edge of the screen and everything is blank. The charger was working for a few minutes and then the white charge light went off. After disconnecting the end of the charger that attaches to the tablet it broke. I think the tablet is fried because it had a full charge when I shut it off for the update.

    • Lane Freeze

      Yeah, that’s too bad. It sounds like you’re right. Fortunately, Microsoft is very willing to replace them.

  • Matthew

    Yep, same issue. Just bought it. 2 days later, it appears the charger is busted. I’m a windows fanboy and had waited quite a while for this tablet. Sad Matty.

    • Lane Freeze

      Sorry to hear that man. The good news is that Microsoft will replace it, no questions asked.

  • Amanda V

    Anyone have a problem with it not charging and it not being a faulty charger? We have 3 Surface RT’s in my house and I tried all the chargers on my Surface and none of them work on mine but they all (including mine) work on the other Surfaces. When you first connect the charger the white light blinks then it goes off…

    • Lane Freeze

      I haven’t heard of that particular issue before but I’d definitely call support or take it in to a Microsoft Store if there’s on nearby. They’ll most likely need to replace it.

  • chris

    Looks like they are having same issue with the Pro as mine is doing the same thing.

  • Danielle

    This is exactly what is happening to my surface. Unfortunately, seeing as I’m deployed at the moment, I’m a little peeved that my brand new cord/unit is faulty. There aren’t a lot of best buys handy out here. I will however, fiddle with the cord. Thanks for the post, fingers crossed!

    • Lane Fries

      I hope that works for you. Be safe!

  • Fred

    Actually I called customer service and they’re sending a free replacement. I don’t have a MS
    Store anywhere nearby still they have good customer support. I’m just glad my surface isn’t broken. Thanks again.

    • Lane Fries

      Very glad to help and I’m glad to hear that Microsoft is sending a replacement. Be sure to check in with us often do support and news!

  • Fred

    Thank you so much. I had the exact same problem and used the display cord at best buy also and it worked.

    • Lane Fries

      Glad to help. If there is a Microsoft store nearby they will replace your power supply for free. If you still have it, you might go to a store and get a placement from them as a backup.