What Makes a Good Universal Laptop Power Adapter?

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What Makes a Good Universal Laptop Power Adapter?

It is common for laptop power adapters to suffer different kinds of damage. Replacing them with original chargers can sometimes be expensive, and this expense can be completely wasted if one is planning to purchase a different laptop soon. On the other hand, universal laptop chargers can function with virtually any computer make and model. Since using the wrong adapter can permanently damage laptops, it is very important to select an excellent quality product.

Manufacturers use different plugs in their laptop power adapters, but universal devices come complete with different tips and different options for wall plugs. In many cases, they are not only universal in terms of fitting different laptops, but also because they include different socket plug types that can be used when travelling.

In order to select the right universal power adapter, it is necessary to check each laptop's power requirements, voltage compatibility, and power plug types. Some power adapters that are advertised as universal can seriously damage computers by providing the wrong amount of power. Therefore, it is important to check power adapter compatibility specifications, as well as user reviews, in order to make sure performance can be good with a specific laptop.

Laptop Power Adapter Features

The main features of any power adapter are power output, voltage, and plug types. In the case of universal power adapters, their compatibility with a certain laptop can be assessed by matching their power specifications with those of the laptop itself. Care must be taken to match these specifications, as mismatches risk damaging the laptop.

Laptop Power Requirements

Power adapters must supply an adequate amount of power for laptops to function correctly. As a rule of thumb, adapters must be able to provide a power output that is either equal or superior to the laptop's requirements. For example, an 80W laptop might work well with a 100W adapter, but it cannot function with a 70W one.

In order to determine a laptop's power requirements, one can check the original power adapter, as this specification is usually printed on it. Alternatively, manufacturer sites can also provide this information for each laptop and charger model. On some adapters, output power is only specified in Volts and Amperes. When the laptop's power requirements are specified in Watts, in order to assess compatibility, it is necessary to find out how many Watts the adapter can deliver. This can be quickly established by multiplying the number of Volts by the number of Amperes. For example, an 18.5 Volts, 3.5 Amperes adapter has a wattage of 18.5 x 3.5, or  64.75, which is usually rounded off to 65W.

Voltage compatibility

When an adapter's voltage is excessive, the laptop may become damaged, and when it is insufficient, the device is not able to run. Universal laptop adapters commonly include a switch to change voltage. The voltage needed by each laptop is usually listed on the bottom of the device. If this information is not visible anywhere on the physical laptop, user manuals and manufacturer websites can also provide it.


As different countries use different power ratings and plug types, travelling with a laptop can sometimes be a challenge. Universal power adapters can usually accept from 100 to 240 volts, which makes them suitable for UK, US, and European systems alike. When planning to travel to a foreign country, it is always a good idea to check the local power ratings and socket types, to ensure that laptop adapters can be plugged in and function properly in each specific region.

Laptop-Adapter Connection Types

Many manufacturers use the same adapter tip in all their models. For example, HP uses the same tip for all of its laptop products. However, some modern laptops may feature a kind of tip that does not fit older models. Some tips may look like they fit, when they actually do not. Universal power adapters can quickly solve this problems by featuring a wide range of tip options. For example, some high-end universal adapters feature Dell, HP, Acer, Lenovo, IBM, Sony, Asus, Toshiba, Fujitsu, NEC, LG, Panasonic, Gateway, Hitachi, Sharp, and Samsung tips. Additionally, some adapters offer the option of buying extra tips separately.

Pros and Cons of Universal Laptop Power Adapters

The advantages of universal laptops are rather obvious; they can work with different PC laptops, they are ideal for travelling, and they can remain in use after one switches to a new laptop. Some of them can even charge laptops from a car or any other type of vehicle featuring 12V DC power outlets. However, these versatile adapters have some disadvantages as well.

Although universal power adapters offer a variety of tips to connect to each laptop type, some of these tips do not fit perfectly into the laptops' DC jacks. If it is necessary to jiggle the adapter's tip inside the DC jack, then the tip is quite simply not right. Some of the tips included with universal adapters can only work well with some models at a certain angle, and this can make laptop charging extremely uncomfortable, if not impossible.

A cheap universal charger may feature a poor quality sensor to detect laptop draw, which can result in either burning or malfunction of the laptop. Naturally, this type of damage can cost much more money than a better quality adapter in the long run. Moreover, there are some laptops that require a kind of stable, clean voltage that universal adapters can seldom provide.

Universal power adapters can also be pricey when compared to OEM options. As a rule, laptops function better when powered using either OEM or generic adapters. Universal chargers are good to have as a spare or for temporary use, as in the case of travelling, but they can hardly offer the same performance as chargers specifically designed for each specific laptop model.

Green Plug Technology

Created by Westinghouse Digital Electronics, green plug technology aims at offering a single universal adapter to power different types of electronics, including laptops. Allowing each different device to communicate its power requirements to a central power adapter, green plug can charge various devices using a single adapter unit.

Green Plug's success depends on laptop and mobile device manufacturers' willingness to embed its signature firmware into their products. In the future, Westinghouse anticipates that green plug can save manufacturers a lot of money, as the need to ship power adapters alongside each electronic device might disappear if users can have their own multiple-device adapters at home.

One of the things that actually make Green Plug truly green is its ability to shut off each power supply as soon as each individual device becomes fully charged. Announced at the Alliance for Universal Power Supplies meeting in San Francisco, Green Plug Technology might potentially cause a revolution in the mobile device power adapters' market.

In terms of reducing waste, the advantages of Green Plug technology are unquestionable. With three billion power adapters being shipped all over the world every year, anything that can reduce the number of adapters being produced has to be welcomed and embraced by environmentally-aware consumers and manufacturers alike. However, manufacturers commercialising proprietary connectors, such as Apple, may lose a great deal of business if Green Plug becomes the norm. As a successful example of the extended use of universal charging devices, China has regulated cell phone charger universality, by demanding that all of them feature a standard USB interface and compatible voltage settings, thus eliminating the need of manufacturing hundreds of millions of chargers every year.

How to Buy Universal Laptop Power Adapters on eBay

eBay offers a great selection of good quality universal power adapters at extremely competitive prices. To initiate a search, you can go to the eBay home page and enter a few relevant keywords, for example, "universal laptop charger&" into the search bar. It is later possible to refine your search results by selecting manufacturer, model, and price range. In fact, the easiest way to find a universal adapter that can work with your laptop is to use a keyword string that includes your laptop model followed by "universal laptop power adapter".

Once you have identified a universal power adapter that seems to fit your needs, it is important to read both the item's complete specifications and your laptop's power requirements, to ensure that both devices are compatible. Additionally, you need to check which tips are included with the adapter, as you may need to buy some of them separately. When everything seems to fit, all that is left is to check seller reputation, postage costs, and payment details. Finally, if you are not sure the adapter can work with your laptop, you can ask the seller a few questions before finalising your purchase. Once you have completed your transaction, eBay offers you a chance to leave feedback for the seller.


Power adapters are a laptop's energy source. Therefore, they are an essential element of laptop performance. Both misuse and wear often cause laptop power adapter damage, which can create the need to purchase new adapters. Many users prefer to replace their OEM adapters with universal ones, so they can later use them with other laptops as well.

When purchasing universal power adapters,, it is important to make sure their voltage specifications and power output, as well as plug types, are compatible with each specific laptop model. The plug needs to fit perfectly into the laptop's DC jack and the output power needs to be equal to or greater than the laptop's power requirement.

Universal power adapters have many advantages. For example, they are more environmentally friendly, as they do away with the need of owning a different charger for each laptop. Green plug technology goes a step beyond in trying to dramatically reduce the number of chargers that are commonly shipped with electronics, by offering a central intelligent charger that can power several devices at the same time.

Universal laptop power adapters have numerous advantages. They are great for travelling and can be used with many different laptops. However, not all universal adapters are good for laptop performance. Some of them can, in fact, cause severe damage to laptops in the long run. Purchasing a provenly compatible, high quality universal power adapter from a reputable eBay seller is an excellent way to avoid this kind of problem.

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