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How to Choose the Correct Power Adapter for Your Laptop

How to Choose the Correct Power Adapter for Your Laptop

This Techspirited article will explain how to choose the correct power adapter for your laptop. A few minutes spent in reading this guide will help you save hundreds of bucks. Remember, ignorance is not always bliss.
Anand Karwa
Did You Know?
You risk frying up the internal components of your laptop if you use it with an electrically non-compatible power adapter.
Today, laptops have become an indispensable part of modern lives. We want to prepare for our business pitch and presentations even when we are traveling. I agree that we can rehearse our presentations on smartphones too, but it is not very easy to make one on a smartphone. This is where laptops come into the picture. Accept it or not, but we are much more acquainted with traditional desktop computers and laptops, than the latest phones and tablet computers.

So, the point is, we use laptops for giving presentations, video conferencing, and for carrying out other important tasks. Now, what if your laptop dies out in the middle of an important video call or while delivering a business pitch? You will suddenly remember your laptop charger, and curse yourself for not carrying it with you at such a juncture. For such situations, you must always carry your laptop charger with you, or better, get a spare charger for traveling. Purchasing a laptop charger is not a tough task, but it can soon become a daunting task if you are unaware of the power requirements of your device, and don't know how to choose the correct power adapter for your laptop. For starters, the Easiest Way is to buy it from the laptop manufacturer. Just get in touch with your laptop manufacturer and tell them that you need a new power adapter for your laptop.

The Money-saving Way

Search for the original charger model online
Find the model number of the charger. You can do it by going through the text written on that power brick. Also, keep a note of the power, voltage, and current ratings of the charger. If you cannot find out the model number due to any reason, then go through its manual, or its user guide, or check the laptop's packaging for information about the charger, or read the description of your laptop on the manufacturer's website. You can also search online retailers with keywords similar to "Brand_name Series Model_number Charger."

Visit a Retail Store
Ask your local retailer if they have a charger for your laptop. If possible, check the charger before buying.

The Economy Way
The below points are only for those who are willing to buy a third-party high quality laptop charger. Contrary to the points listed above, these points can get a little dirty with technical terms. If you don't understand what a particular term means then google it with the following syntax:
define technical term

Choose the Right Type of Charger
There are many types of chargers available in the market today. If you intend to use your laptop at one designated place like your home/office, then buy a wall charger. If you travel a lot, then you should buy a car/travel charger. Buy a solar charger if you are an outdoorsy/adventurer type.

Pick the Appropriate Type of Connector
This shouldn't be an issue for most models, but it is always wise to check for hardware compatibility issues before you buy any electronic device. Most of the latest laptops accept a cylindrical hollow or octagonal barrel connector with a central pin. These types of connectors also have many variations (in dimensions).

For e.g.: Dell XPS L502x users should buy a charger with a connector having these dimensions: 7.4 mm x 5.0 mm. Select the one which is compatible with your laptop's charging slot.

Check the Required Power Ratings
The power adapter that you will buy has 2 different set of specifications―input and output. The input specifications are related to the specifications of the power source that the adapter will accept. The output is related to the input (DC) that your will laptop will accept. So, if you know that the connector is compatible with your laptop, then you only need to worry about the rating of the input power source.

There are 3 variables that you need to know while selecting a power adapter for your laptop. You should do this only if you are unable to find a specific power adapter for your laptop. Check the manuals and product description guides that came with your laptop/charger, or visit the manufacturer's website to find the power specifications of the original adapter.
  1. Required Power/Wattage (W)
  2. Output Voltage(V): It should always be less than or equal to 19.5 V for most laptop models. It is 20 V for Lenovo laptops. Never buy a charger whose output voltage is more than what is accepted by your laptop. It might damage the internal circuitry.
  3. Current (I)
If you know any 2 variables out of these 3, then you can calculate the third variable using the below formula:

Power = Voltage X Current

Calculator
(V)
(A)
Power0(W)

Note: Always make sure that the voltage supplied by the power adapter matches the input voltage requirement of the laptop. It should never be more than that. The current rating, on the other hand, should always be equal to or more than what your laptop accepts.

Choose the Right Power Cord (US/UK/EU/AU) and its Length
Power cords are divided into 4 types based on the type of power plug standards for different regions―U.S., UK, Australia, and the European Union. Choose the type of power cord that is compatible with power sockets in your region. If you buy it online, then many retailers will send you a power cord based on your shipping address. If you plan on using it in a different region than the shipping address, then please let them know about it as soon as you place the order.

Worst case scenario: If you find that the power plug does not belong to your region, but the adapter meets the rest of the requirements, then you can buy it and use it with an adapter plug. Problem solved!

Many retailers sell power adapters without any power cord. This gives you the liberty of choosing a long or short power cord as per your requirements.

Extra Features
Many third-party and universal chargers come with extra features like USB ports, extra long power cord, etc. So, if you are open to buying such power adapters, then check out all the available options. You might come across something which more than meets your requirements.

The most important thing while choosing a power adapter for your laptop is to check for its connector and power rating compatibility with your laptop. If these two specifications are similar to what the stock charger had, then you are good to go.