Projects and software by Matt Collinge @ www.mattcollinge.co.uk

Power Meter Plus

with 38 comments


One thing that bugged me about owning a laptop was the small tray icon for displaying how much power my battery had left.

Having to hover over it to get an accurate reading is a real pain. And the IBM power gauge isn’t much better; taking up a fair chunk of my taskbar and is visible even when I’m docked.

That’s why I coded up my own power meter for Windows 9x/XP/2003/Vista. It’s a simple meter which has the following features:

  • It gradually appears as the power levels drop. The lower the power, the more prominent the meter will be
  • When you’re charging the laptop it’ll turn green and slowly disappear/fade as the charge increases
  • The meter appears either on the bottom left or bottom right of the screen; it moves to the opposite corner if you move your mouse over it.. or disappears and fades back after your cursor has left the area
  • A large message will appear when the laptop switches from mains power to battery (and vice versa)
  • Small size! 76k executable & <5Mb memory usage


Power Meter Plus Screenshot

Downloads (for Windows 9x/XP/2003)

Power Meter Plus v1.6.1 Install Kit (135k)
Power Meter Plus v1.6.1 (zipped .exe) (56k)
VB6 Runtimes for anyone who doesn’t already have them installed

  • Version 1.6.1 – Fixes a bug whereby the meter would revert back to the left after switching power mode
  • Version 1.6 – Four new features!
  • Version 1.5 – Fixes a bug with wide screens
  • Version 1.3-1.4 – can’t remember :-D
  • Version 1.2 – allows you to change the colours of the meter to suit your desktop! You can look up hexadecimal colour codes using this website.
  • Version 1.1 – introduced messages to warn you of critical battery levels and when you switch from one type of power to another. All in an unobtrusive way.. unlike the standard Windows power meter! ;-)

Let me know if you have any bugs to report and I’ll get them fixed ASAP.


Power Meter Plus is free for home use. Businesses must buy a license after an initial trial period of 10 days. The cost of a license is $10 per installation, payable via PayPal (which accepts Credit Cards).

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Incorrect Readouts

Some people are finding that the power reading they see on the meter differs from the one given by utilities supplied by the maker of their laptop / netbook / notebook PC. At present I’m not sure why this would be the case; Power Meter Plus is simply asking the operating system how much power is left. It’s possible that vendor-supplied utilities have access to more accurate information. If you know any more about this, please get in touch.


Disclaimer : A user of this software acknowledges that he or she is receiving this software on an “as is” basis and the user is not relying on the accuracy or functionality of the software for any purpose. The user further acknowledges that any use of this software will be at the user’s own risk and the copyright owner – Matt Collinge – accepts no responsibility whatsoever arising from the use or application of the software.

Written by Matt

April 3, 2006 at 9:54 am

38 Responses

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  1. I haven’t installed your software, but I thought you might be interested in developing power meters that will read the power of other batteries connected thru other connections. For instance, on the usb or centronic port of a PC. Possibly some other eternal interface device.


    August 7, 2007 at 3:36 pm

  2. I would love to see this updated for Vista. With Aero enabled, Power Meter Plus has a portion of what appears to be a hidden window protruding into the desktop only a few pixels on the left.


    June 3, 2008 at 3:25 pm

  3. @blitzjon; the bug you mentioned is now fixed. Let me know how you get on.


    December 27, 2008 at 9:28 am

  4. I installed the progrm on my XP laptop. The meter does not change in transparency. Also, Should I be able to change the colors or size of the meter?


    January 11, 2009 at 3:55 pm

  5. Weird. Sorry dude but I’m out of ideas.. nobody else has reported the issue so I just have to assume it’s one of those weird things that you come across now and again. Maybe it’s something to do with graphics drivers (what with the transparency not working). Basically I don’t think it’s something I can do anything about :(


    January 15, 2009 at 8:38 pm

  6. I am experiencing the same problem. I have installed it on two laptops (both xp sp3); works fine on my wife’s machine, but on my machine, it has no transparency, does not fade or change colour. Still like it; can’t complain at the price :)


    January 15, 2009 at 11:26 pm

  7. Very odd; thanks for confirming the issue. Would you mind trying what they suggest in this post (http://windowsxp.mvps.org/transmenu.htm). It’s not the same problem, but their fix may help you. Let me know how you get on.


    January 16, 2009 at 11:44 am

  8. Have just downloaded powermeterplus and looks fab.
    What is the syntax for changing the display meter colours?


    February 3, 2009 at 4:29 pm

  9. Ok, so I’m a bit red-faced. Firstly, when the transparency stopped working, I realised that I had clicked the “always display..” option in the settings. I also got myself confused when the meter disappeared completely- a fully charged laptop running on mains. Thanks for an excellent application, Matt!


    February 4, 2009 at 9:05 pm

  10. @johnmmason: You can specify colours using hexadecimal format. Try this web page if you want to find the colour & don’t know how. Miss out the # symbol when you paste it into Power Meter Plus.


    February 6, 2009 at 12:58 pm

  11. Hello,
    Thanks for a great application! I noticed a minor bug for your review:

    Here’s how to reproduce: Select “Display message when switching from battery to mains…”, “hide meter instead of switching sides” AND “start on right-hand side”. Everything works fine until the computer switches from battery to mains (or the other way). At that time, the meter switches to the left hand side and won’t return to the right.




    February 23, 2009 at 1:49 pm

  12. @belias01; thanks I’ll look into it when I get some spare time.


    February 24, 2009 at 9:29 pm

  13. I’d like to extend Power Meter Plus; anyone know how I can detect whether Windows is playing a video at full screen (e.g. a DVD) in VB6? Give me a shout if you’ve any ideas :)


    February 26, 2009 at 9:11 pm

  14. Error:
    Having the settings window open and the opening of the main left-click window gives this error and segfaults:

    “Run-time error ‘401’:

    Can’t show non-modal form when modal form is displayed.”

    * Possibly enabling the ability to choose the length of time for the fade-it after a hovering?

    * Being able to exit the left-click window without exiting the program entirely.

    * Being able to set the border as being translucent.

    * Moving the “Chg” that’s at the bottom of the graph, and the “%” that resides over the top of it, over one or two pixels to center it with the graph.

    I really like the idea behind this program. Shall use it when I get my notebook back.


    July 26, 2009 at 5:44 am

  15. Hi, thanks for the program. I think it’s just what I was looking for but there seems to be a bug. When you left-click the icon in the system tray a window pops up: “Laptop Power”. There are only two ways to close this window, the little “X” in the upper-right corner, and Systray->Exit. Whichever one I use the window disappears, but also the icon in the system tray and the power meter. There’s no way to get these back without using Task Manager to kill the program and restarting it again. This is v1.6.1 and I’m using Windows XP Media Center edition. Thanks in advance.


    September 17, 2009 at 9:34 pm

  16. PS: Please reply to this message so I can get a follow-up comment by email.


    September 17, 2009 at 9:35 pm

  17. A very helpful programme, Matt.
    Is there any way to make the bar graph shorter? I am using a 10.1 inch netbook, and the graph takes up about a quarter of the left side, interfering with the icons. Thanks again for a nice piece of software.


    October 19, 2009 at 12:33 pm

  18. @sedwardsx: I’ll see what I can do in a future release. If someone bought me a Netbook I’d have a reason to do it right away ;-)


    October 19, 2009 at 12:59 pm

  19. Hi Matt,
    I’ve found a bug in 1.61.
    I run your program in my laptop running Windows XP Home SP3 which runs at 1280×800 and I’ve got powermeter to sit at the right normally.
    All is usually fine.

    But if I get a low battery alert. It then sits at ~800 pixels from the left from that point onwards!

    I have to quit it and when I rerun it, it is sitting at the right place – far right.

    Can you fix this?
    I’m a license holder.


    January 10, 2010 at 11:30 am

  20. Sorry Matt, I thought I did have a license.

    After checking my own records it appears I don’t.
    I only run it in my home laptop for personal use.

    The next time I get some money in my Paypal account I’ll be sure to donate. :-)


    January 11, 2010 at 5:38 pm

  21. Any luck in fixing this bug Matt?


    January 27, 2010 at 8:45 pm

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  23. […] Meter Plus should run on Windows versions up to Vista, to learn more and get the utility visit Power Meter Plus. AKPC_IDS += […]

  24. Hi!

    I would like to request a feature to display battery message when it is fully charged, because I would want to protect the battery from overcharging. Is it also possible to add an optional ‘OK’ button for the user to click instead of the message timing out on its own?

    I’ve searched high and low for such a program but found none so far. If this can be done in Power Meter Plus I’d be glad to donate!


    November 6, 2010 at 2:28 pm

  25. You won’t find such a feature as there is no need for one.
    The electronic circuity within a Lithium-ion battery automatically tells the charger when to stop.

    I doubt the battery tells the computer when it is charging, just the amount of charge held within it or if the mains charger is switched on or not.


    November 7, 2010 at 11:32 am

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  30. Hi Matt, great little program! just one minor bug I am experiencing, I cannot change the colour of the meter (wanted black background and white lettering, I an changing the hex but the meter still stays white! any ideas? (Win 7 pro on a Panasonic Toughbook CF-31/Intel i-5 pro)


    Ian Beeby

    January 22, 2012 at 9:44 am

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