AC-Adapters for Laptop Computers


AC power adapters are used to power electronics, such as laptop computers.  An AC adapter allows current to flow from the power grid to the electronic device with an alternating current (AC).  The unit, usually a power cord with a small, rectangular box in the middle, is known as an AC adapter or an AC power adapter.  Notebooks, netbooks, and other small electronic devices are usually powered by Direct Current (DC), however.  DC current is applicable for most electronics that have a battery for power in addition to a power cord.  Powering a notebook directly from AC power is unwise because it may lead to fire, due to the nature of AC current.  DC current flows permanently in one direction, so it is generally accepted as more safe to use in conjunction with batteries.  An AC power adapter processes AC power and makes it safe to use with the laptop.  To do this, it follows these steps:

  • Lowers the voltage of the electricity coming in from the power grid
  • Changes the AC current to DC current via a process called rectification
  • Removes any current ripples
  • Controls the voltage that is sent to the computer to ensure that the computer isn’t overloaded

AC adapters are also commonly known as a battery charger or a laptop charger.  The AC adapter is important because it gives the notebook or laptop computer the portability that it is known for—if you didn’t have a charger, you would need to stay in one place.  A laptop without a battery charger is essentially just a desktop computer.

Airplane and Automobile Power Adapters

You may find that you need power in unusual places, such as a car or airplane.  Never fear, for technology has advanced to the point that it has developed adapters for both of these places.  In a car, you can buy an adapter that connects to the cigarette lighter.  Similarly, you can buy one for the airplane that connects through the headphone jack.

Universal Notebook AC Adapters:
A universal power adapter or power supply is one that can interface properly with most of the power grids across the world.  It has the ability to convert voltage from anywhere between 100 volts and 240 volts, essentially encompassing most of the places you could possibly travel.  However, the name “universal” really refers to the fact that these adapters can be used for any number of different laptop computers of different makes, models, and sizes.  Universal power adapters can be complex, and you should read the instruction manuals carefully before using them to power your laptop.  However, it’s a good investment if you have multiple laptops or travel often.

You can also buy a universal AC adapter that is suited for a car or airplane.  These are designed with all different types of plugs so that no matter where you are when your laptop dies, you will be able to charge up and continue working or watching the new episode of your favorite TV show.  These power adapters give you even more portability than just a laptop, and they offer you insurance in case you misjudge your battery life.

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