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Multipurpose AC to DC Adapters

Multipurpose AC to DC adapters have many different capabilities. Typically, a multipurpose AC adapter can be used to replace a broken power cord on your laptop or other electronic equipment. Some multipurpose power adapters also offer the ability to connect a car charger to a wall AC receptacle via the adapter.

How do AC to DC adapters work?

A typical power adapter takes the AC power from your wall outlet and converts it to the DC power necessary for the internal power supply of a computer or other electrical device. This power is routed through a circuit inside the power adapter to ensure a proper output of power. The circuit consists of a transformer, a bridge rectifier, and a capacitor. The transformer in the adapter regulates the voltage and polarity to ensure that the power received by the electronics are consistent with their specifications. The circuit also regulates the ground and neutral points to minimize the risk of electric shock. The advantage to this setup is that it moves the most expensive power supply components away from the rest of the DC electrical system to minimize the cost of replacement.

What to look for when buying an AC to DC adapter?

There are two things you want to be aware of when choosing an AC to DC adapter:

  • Ensure the AC adapter is compatible with your device. Multipurpose power adapters should be able to handle a wide variety of devices, but before purchasing, you should make sure that it is compatible with your electronics. Ensure that the voltage and polarity of the DC power output are within the accepted range of your device to avoid electrical problems. This can typically be done by comparing the specifications of the power supply it is replacing with the new component. Typical AC adapters come with a variety of outputs that attach to the end of the wire to your DC electronics, so you will also want to ensure that it comes with a plug that can be connected properly.
  • Ensure the AC adapter works with the AC receptacles in your home. Some AC power supplies only have a two prong plug with no ground. This can be useful for older homes that have no ground plug in their AC receptacles. The AC converter may also have a feature that allows you to directly plug a DC car charger into the adapter, making it convenient for using in-car electrical equipment inside your home AC receptacles.
When should you replace your AC adapter?

A new AC component may more safely provide DC power to your electrical equipment. Replace your existing components if wires are frayed or the power output can no longer be connected. If there is an issue with the internal power supply or transformer that affects the ground or neutral regulation, that also may need replacement.

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