How to charge Nintendo Switch controllers

how to charge Nintendo Switch controllers — Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Once you know how to charge Nintendo Switch controllers, you'll be all set for a lengthy gaming session on your console.

The Nintendo Switch has so many ways to play that it can be tricky to stay on top of what’s charged and what isn’t. If you only use it in handheld mode (or have the less versatile Switch Lite) then it’s fairly simple to stay on top of charge levels, but if you mix and match TV output, tabletop mode and handheld play, then it’s vital to ensure everything has plenty of charge when you need it.  

How often you need to charge your Nintendo Switch controllers depends on which pad you’re using. The bundled Joy-Cons should last about 20 hours each when fully charged, while the excellent Switch Pro controller has even more legendary stamina, offering up to 40 hours of play time. 

Each pad charges differently, and while Nintendo includes everything you need to charge the official controllers in the box, it also sells additional hardware to make it more convenient. 

Below is everything you need to know about how to charge Nintendo Switch controllers. 

How to charge Nintendo Switch controllers

1. Charge your Joy-Con controllers by attaching them to the Switch. The easiest way to charge your Joy-Con controllers is to attach them to the sides of your Switch. This will begin charging each Joy-Con’s internal battery.

how to charge Nintendo Switch controllers — attach to Switch

2. Charge your Pro Controller through your USB cable. If you bought a Switch Pro Controller you can charge it at any time through the included USB-C cable connected to your Switch dock. The front two USB ports on the dock are easiest to access while still playing.

3. Buy a Charging Grip. The Joy-Con Charging Grip is sold separately, retails for $29.99 and will let you charge your Joy-Con controllers when not attached to your Switch via a USB cable that connects to your Switch dock. The standard Joy-Con Grip that comes with your console cannot charge your controllers.

Nintendo Joy-Con Charging Grip

4. Buy a Joy-Con or Pro Controller charging dock. If you own more than one set of Joy-Con controllers, the officially licensed PowerA Joy-Con Charging Dock is your best choice for keeping everything topped up as easily as possible. It will charge two sets of Joy-Con controllers at once. PowerA also has a Joy-Con and Pro Controller dock that can charge a Pro Controller and a single set of Joy-Cons simultaneously.

5. Keep your controllers charging when not in use. Don’t just leave your Joy-Con controllers laying around in a standard Grip or sitting apart on a coffee table, or your Pro Controller disconnected from its USB cable. When you’re done playing, slide the Joy-Con controllers on to your Switch or into a Charging Grip, and plug the USB cable into your Pro Controller so you don’t lose power as quickly the next time you play. This is also true of the Switch itself — leave the system in the dock when not in use to keep its battery charged for later.

how to charge Nintendo Switch controllers — charge in dock

6. Know your third-party controllers. There are a variety of wireless third-party controller options for the Switch, and many of them use different charging methods. One of our favorite Pro Controller alternatives, the PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller, uses two AA batteries instead of relying on a charger. 8Bitdo controllers use a mix of USB connections — the latest SN30 charges over microUSB, while the more robust SN30 Pro charges via the same USB-C connection as the Pro Controller.

Make sure you keep an eye out for these connection types when choosing a third-party pad, and be sure to leave your controller connected to a charger when not in use.

More Nintendo Switch tips

How to Connect Nintendo Switch to a TV | How to Stream Nintendo Switch to Twitch | How to Use Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons on PC and Mac | How to Check Your Hours Played on Nintendo Switch | How to Add Friends on Nintendo Switch | How to send Nintendo Switch screenshots to your phone or computer | How to Set Up a microSD Card for Nintendo Switch | What to Do If Your Nintendo Switch Doesn't Turn On | How to Transfer Save Data On Nintendo Switch | How to Use Wireless Headphones with the Nintendo Switch

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.