AC Adapter/Charger Tips
What do we call an AC Adapter or Charger?
An AC Adapter is that black block (Brick) that sits between the power outlet and the electronic equipment. Most of the time there is a cable at the each end of the adapter, one side connects to the power point and other side connects to the electronic equipment such as Laptop or Audio player. These are widely known as “AC Adapters” or is the technical name for a “switching power supply”. It is also called a Charger for devices with an internal battery.
What is the role of an AC Adapters/Chargers and how it work?
In Australia our power outlet gives out 240V (Voltes), The main function of an AC Adapter is to reduce the 240V Power to suit a particular device such as a laptop.
To understand how the AC adapter works, we first need to understand a little about electricity. Such as Volts, Watts and Amps. And how these values are measured. Here is a good example.
Volts = pressure of electricity that a device need,
Amps = volume electrical that a device needs
Watts = measurement of the total amount of electricity consumed by a device.
This is how it is calculated,
Amps x Volts = Watts.
The amount of Watts is the amount of power your device uses per hour, just like a 40-Watt light bulb uses 40Watts if switched on for 1 hour.
Voltage and Amps are harder to describe, therefore if you think of a rainwater tank with a hose and nozzle attached - the volume of the tank is the Voltage, the size of the hose is the Amps and the amount of water flowing out of the nozzle is the Wattage.
AC adapters pretty much control the flow of electricity to your laptop or other electrical device from the main source which is the power point on the wall.
How to identify an AC Adapter/Charger;
AC Adapters usually come in two forms, wall mount and desk mount:
Every AC Adapter has various identification marks such as
Models, Part Number, Input and Output rating.
However what makes your adapter unique is its input value, output value
and the connector that connects the adapter to your device.
Generally, most adapters are designed to work internationally. This means their input voltage is 110 to 240V with 50/60Hz. However, when replacing an AC Adapter it is recommended to double check the input voltage to ensure it is suitable for the country/region that it is going to be used in.
With this in mind the other important factors are the output voltage, Amps and the connector size/type.
Output voltage is displayed in two different ways:
1. Voltage, Amps and Wattage.
2. Voltage and Wattage.
As shown in the formula Amps x Volts = Watts, knowing the Wattage we work out the voltage and knowing Voltage and Amps we can work out the Wattage.
The connector tip has two main parts to it:
1. Polarity (positive and negative arrangement at the tip)
2. The size and shape of the tip.
A diagram at the back of every adapter explains the positive and the negative connectors; this has to match the device that it’s been used for. The size and shape of the adapter is to make sure it fits your device.
Knowing the above formula is important when you are purchasing Laptop Car Charges or Universal charges. Once you know the Wattage of your laptop (60W, 75W, 90W or higher) you can select the correct Car Charger for your laptop.
go wrong with your AC Adapter/Charger;
The fact that AC Adapters control the amount of electricity flowing to your Laptop (Device) means that it can often get hot while in use depending on the condition of the battery in a laptop or the number of accessories connected to the laptop (device), and means that it can also wear out quicker than the device itself or other components.
Generally we mistreat our AC Adapters due to the fact that we don’t understand their adversities.
E.g. we unplug a hot AC Adapter, throw it inside a bag and go from one location to another, while the AC Adapter is hot we hit it against the hard objects, sometimes drop it or put it in a boot of a car with shake and vibration. These shocks and vibrations often are the reason that an Ac Adapter stops working, given that the AC Adapters the most essential part of your laptop, once they stop working your laptop stops working until you get another suitable AC Adapter. It is for this reason that we recommend having 2 or more AC Adapters for people who move their laptop from place to place regularly.
Another common enemy of AC Adapters are pulling and yanking. When using laptops often people move from one place to another carrying their laptop while plugged in and when the cord isn’t quite long enough they unknowingly pull it. This could have a detrimental effect on the AC Adapter and laptop. It snaps the connector pin that sits inside the laptop and in most cases it could even break the AC connector inside the laptop.
How to protect your AC Adapters/Chargers against common problems;
1. When using your AC Adapter
While using your Laptop if you notice your AC Adapter is getting too hot, it is generally because your laptop battery is flat, so the adapter is trying to charge your battery as well as running your laptop. In this case it is better to switch your laptop off for an hour or so, allowing the battery to charge so the AC Adapter has an easier time when you use your laptop.
DO NOT leave adapters on soft flammable surfaces. Adapters get hot when charging and have been known to melt into the carpet and catch fire when left on fluffy quilts on beds, or when surrounded by a lot of other power cords. The cases can also melt when left in a confined area.
DO NOT pull on the cord when removing your adapter from your laptop. Always grab the plug securely to remove your adapter.
DO NOT let your AC adapter hang from your laptop with weight pulling on the jack in your laptop. This can damage the plug on the laptop causing charging issues which are often mistaken for a faulty adapter.
DO NOT push your laptop against a wall or use on a severe angle with your AC adapter cord wrapped around behind your laptop, this can damage both the Adapter cable and the Laptop jack.
DO keep the cable away from foot traffic. Many adapters are damaged when people trip on cords sprawled across an office, bedroom, dining room or kitchen floor.
2. Storing & Transporting your AC Adapter
When you’re not using your AC adapter, it’s important to store and transport your adapter the correct way to prevent damage.
DO NOT drop the AC Adapter when it is hot, Ac Adapters have sensitive component inside them, these components, while in use these component heat up, therefore it is important to handle the AC Adapter gently while it is hot.
DO NOT wrap/wind the cord tightly around the adapter. Wrapping tightly not only breaks the copper core inside the cord, but can kink and put strain on the cable making it difficult to use, not to mention making it more of a tripping hazard when it’s unrolled to charge your laptop. It can also cause the cord to fray and expose wires where they join to the charger.
DO NOT put your adapter on the top of your laptop while
travelling, especially inside your laptop bag. When in a rush, most of us just
throw everything randomly in our bags and head out, but if you put items on top
of the bag, such as your adapter, you run the risk of these items pushing down
on your laptop screen and possibly cracking the LCD/LED panel.
DO wrap your cord loosely, making a neat loop with no tight corners, using a Velcro strap to keep the cables tucked away from harm, as shown in the following picture.
DO keep your adapter in a cool, dry, clean environment away from moisture and dust.