Wednesday, 19 December 2012

What Ants Taught me about Laptop Power Adapters

The Short
Ants suicide-zapped my laptop power adapter successfully taking down the adapter with them.

I searched and learnt that other laptop power adapters can be used as long as
1) The voltage is the same.
2) The current rating is equal to or higher than what the laptop requires.
3) The polarity of the adapter is the same.
4) The physical tip is the same.

My old laptop which I thought was partially working is actually fully working, but was acting strange because its power adapter was faulty.

The Long
The Main Event
Another routine morning and it was time to power up the PC for work.  On goes the mains switch and ZAP!  Hmmmmm what was that noise?  Uh oh, there is no power going to the laptop, what's wrong?  Pressed the power button on the laptop and it ran fine on battery power.  Phew!  So the PC is fine,  so it must be a power adapter or cable problem.

When I checked the laptop power adapter, this is what I found.

Wonderful!  Ants killed my power adapter.  Time to buy a new one.  While searching where to get a replacement, I was also researching whether other laptop adapters can be used, since I have an old, partially working laptop with a power adapter.  It has the same tip, polarity and voltage, but the current rating is higher than the zapped adapter.

There were quite a few forum answers and articles out there that said "Yes I can.".  One of the better articles I found was this:

My lesson of the day was, different laptop power adapters can be used as long as
1) The voltage is the same.
2) The current rating is equal to or higher than what the laptop requires.
3) The polarity of the adapter is the same.
4) The physical tip is the same.

I plugged in the old power adapter and voilĂ , power is flowing to my PC once more.  YAY!  I am saved.  No need to buy a replacement adapter, but then the plot thickens.

The next morning, I turned on the mains and powered up the PC.  Hey, the battery lights on the PC are blinking! What is wrong now?  I proceeded to check everything from turn on and off the PC several times, removing and reinserting the battery several times and also changing main power points.  The problem was still present.  Time to bring out the big guns, or should I say another gun.

Very lucky for me,  I have another laptop that is fully working complete with TADA! power adapter.  I took this power adapter and plugged it into my main laptop.  Lo and behold!  Power flows once more and the battery was charging normally again.  Sooooooooooooooooooooo, there was a problem with my old laptop's power supply.  Which means I still have to buy a replacement power adapter .

Next day, I acquired a new adapter, tried it on my laptop and all is back to working perfectly.  I decided to get an adapter that was powerful enough to power the old laptop as well, since I knew that adapter was faulty.

Old Laptop New Life
My old laptop is about six years old and it had been working perfectly until last year.  After five years of great service, one day when I turned on the mains power, I heard sizzling noises coming from the battery and the PC would not turn on.  When I removed the battery and just ran it from the power adapter, the laptop worked fine and worked all day.

Next morning.  I tried to power up the PC which already had the battery removed and the PC would not boot.  The power indicator light was on, but nothing appeared on the screen.  I turned the PC off and on again and this time it did power up.  At this point I thought my PC was dying.

Day after day I had to turn on the PC two to five times before it would boot.  One day though, the laptop did turn on first go and I was surprised.  It was a hot afternoon so I thought maybe the PC needed to be warmed up before it would boot.  The next day when I turn on the laptop for the first time, I left the power running for a few minutes with nothing appearing on the screen.  When I turned it off and on again, it booted. So, warm up required before PC would boot.  From this day on I only had to power on twice to get the PC working.

In light of the new events that indicated that this old laptop's power adapter was faulty, I wanted to find out if the laptop itself was working fine.  So, new power adapter, meet old laptop.

I guess I should not be surprised, but with the new power adapter, my old laptop powered up perfectly first go.  This meant that the warm up time which I thought was for the PC, was actually for the faulty power adapter.  I am also happy to say that the new power adapter charged my old laptop's battery just fine.  No sizzling noises.  Unfortunately the battery life only lasts around ten minutes now.  Oh well,  I guess it still makes a good UPS power supply.

Six years on and my old laptop is still teaching me stuff, namely when a laptop starts going funny and there are battery issues,  first check the power adapter!