Why You Should Invest in an International Laptop Power Adapter for Travelling Worldwide

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Why You Should Invest in an International Laptop Power Adapter for Travelling Worldwide
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Why You Should Invest in an International Laptop Power Adapter for Travelling Worldwide

Thanks to being equipped with rechargeable batteries, laptops are mobile and portable devices that you can take with you anywhere without having to worry about the battery running out before you get all the important things done. However, you still occasionally need to plug in your laptop in order to recharge the batteries. If you frequently travel abroad, you may be faced with different voltages and power outlet types and realise that your normal laptop power adapter does not work. In fact, using a power adapter with the wrong voltage may be dangerous and result in power cuts.

To avoid such issues, you may consider investing in an international laptop power adapter that is designed to work anywhere in the world. This rids you of many problems and allows you to work on your laptop regardless of the place. You can find international laptop power adapters from high street electronics shops or order them from online auction sites, such as eBay.. When looking for one of these, first learn the features in order to make an informed decision.

Features of International Laptop Power Adapters

A laptop power adapter is an AC adapter that converts the alternating current coming from the power outlet into direct current (DC), which is then directed into your computer. You should consider several features about the laptop power adapter before buying it for worldwide use. If the laptop power charger does not fit your laptop electrically, then it may be dangerous and even cause powercuts. Wrong voltage and amperage may lead to your motherboard overheating and cause damage to your laptop's battery as well as the adapter, so the adapter should always comply with the standards used in the country where you are working on your laptop.

DC Connectors on International Laptop Power Adapters

The DC connector on the laptop power adapter is the end that you plug into your laptop. It is almost impossible to detect its exact type by simply looking at the plug, because the different sizes and shapes differ by only millimetres. Both the inner and outer diameter and the connection between the inner and outer part of the connector may differ on different power adapter models. The hollow plug connector with a centre pin is the most common type available.

Output Voltages on International Laptop Power Adapters

The mains AC voltages differ across the globe. For example, in the UK, the voltage value for the mains is between 220 and 240 volts, while the USA, Canada, and some areas of South America use voltages in the range of 100-110 volts. You can either buy a voltage converter for your power adapter or choose a model that supports a wider range of voltages. Quite often, the laptop power adapter also has a switch on it, and you can choose the voltage level by simply flicking the switch.

Amperage on International Laptop Power Adapters

The amperage of any laptop power adapter refers to the strength of the electric current going through the adapter. This value is measured in amperes. As long as the voltage values match, you can use a power adapter with higher amperage than stated on your laptop or used in the country where you are plugging in your laptop. However, the amperage should not be any higher than doubled amperage.

Transformers and Converters on International Laptop Power Adapters

If your laptop power adapter does not support a wide range of voltages, you need to equip it with a voltage converter, also known as a transformer. The converter may be either linear or switch-mode.

Power adapters that use linear power are bulkier, and are therefore less suitable for taking with you on your travels. Linear adapters generate safety barriers between the low voltage direct current (DC) output and the high voltage alternate current (AC) input. They convert the higher input voltage to a lower value and vice versa. Besides their large size, linear power adapters also have a limited input range, and when used in different countries, their transformer taps need to be changed.

Switch-mode power transformers convert the voltages in much smaller transistors, thus resulting in a significantly smaller power converter. Compared to linear converters, they are about 80 per cent smaller and lighter, and are therefore preferable for travel. Moreover, switch-mode converters work virtually everywhere without any adjustments needed. They can also compensate for small losses of AC power, and they do so without affecting the output.

Travel Plug Adapter for International Laptop Power Adapter

Although you may have a good international laptop power adapter for your device, it may still not work, because power outlets are different all over the world. The power adapter converts the voltage and amperage to the required value, but you also need the right plugs that go into various outlets. For this, you need to acquire special travel plug adapters. You can get a different one for each country, or look for so-called combo-devices that have many different ends or plugs combined into one.

All in all, there are five different shapes of plugs and outlets. Many of them are also surge-protected. If you prefer compact products, look for a travel adapter that has slides on its side. These allow you to quickly change the plug from one type to another by sliding the necessary pieces out. The following chart lists the plug types used around the world and where to find them. You can use it for reference when travelling, and to decide which plugs you need.

Plug Appearance

Countries Where It Is Used

Two flat parallel prongs, with one slightly larger; holes near their tips

Central and North America

Two flat parallel prongs and one grounding pin

Central and North America, Japan

Two round prongs (known as the Europlug, very common)

All European countries, except Cyprus, Ireland, Malta, and the UK

Three round pins in a triangular pattern

Namibia, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka

Two round contacts and a hole that matches the male pin in the socket

Poland, France, Slovakia, Belgium, Morocco, Tunisia, the Czech Republic

"Schuko plug"; round plug with two round pins and grounding clips at its sides

Sweden, Germany, Finland, Portugal, Norway, Austria, Spain, Eastern Europe

Three rectangular prongs forming a triangle

Cyprus, Malta, UK, Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia

Two flat prongs and a grounding pin that form a V-shape; widenings at the slots

Israel only

Two flat prongs and a grounding pin that form a V-shape; also an ungrounded version without the grounding pin

Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina

Two round pins and a round grounding pin

Switzerland and Liechtenstein

Two round prongs and a grounding pin

Denmark, Greenland, the Faroe Islands

Two round prongs with a grounding pin in between; two different contact diameters available

Italy, some countries in North Africa

Three large, round pins

Lesotho, South Africa, Swasiland

Two round pins and a grounding pin in between (slightly higher than the other pins)

Brazil only

As you can see from the descriptions, many of the plugs are actually quite similar in their appearance. In fact, many of them are interchangeable and fit into many sockets, but this does not always apply.

Matching the International Laptop Power Adapter with Your Laptop

When buying an international laptop power adapter,, you should always make sure that it matches your laptop, so that you can actually use it with your device. This means that the power adapter should have an end that fits into the socket on your laptop, and the voltage should also match the voltage your laptop requires. You can usually find the specifications on a label under your laptop or from the laptop operation manual. The label generally details the manufacturer, the model number, and the output power, listing the volts and amps. Universal laptop power adapters fit laptops of various different brands.

Choosing the Correct Voltage for the International Laptop Power Adapter

The adapter you select does not have to have exactly the same output values as your laptop manual specifies, but it does have to have a value range that includes the output your laptop requires. For instance, if the label on your laptop says that its output is 19.5 volts, then an adapter that supports 16-24 volts suffices, because 19.5 volts is included in the range. If your voltage is not supported, you may select an adapter with a close, but higher, voltage value. In this example, an adapter that provides a voltage of 20 volts can be used. In this case, you should always ensure that the maximum power is not exceeded. You can calculate this by multiplying amps with volts and acquiring the power value in watts.

Choosing the Correct Frequency for the International Laptop Power Adapter

Besides matching the voltage and amperage, you also have to match the frequency. In general, your laptop either runs on 50 or 60 Hz, meaning that it either accepts 50 or 60 cycles-per-second in terms of electricity. If yours is a modern model, then it may actually work with both frequencies. In any case, first check the label under your laptop and choose the adapter accordingly, in order to avoid accidents.

Buying International Laptop Power Adapters on eBay

When looking for an international laptop power adapter on eBay, you can start your search with a variety of different keywords, opting either for a more general or a more specific approach. A general search would look something like "international laptop power adapter", while a specific search would include the voltage required by your laptop or the laptop manufacturer, as well as the model. In any case, if your initial search does not yield the results you are after, you can click on related searches. If you receive too many results, you can narrow them down by sorting them in terms of auction time or price. You can also choose the seller's location or the item condition, if you wish.

Be sure to read the detailed item listings and look for the power adapter's specifications. You should match the connectors on both ends as well as the output power in order to be able to use the adapter all over the world. Consider the countries where you will be using your laptop. Not all international power adapters support all countries, and if necessary you can buy one that works, at least, in those countries where you need it. In case of any questions, feel free to contact the seller and ask.

Conclusion

Rechargeable batteries allow you to take your laptop anywhere in the world. However, the batteries do not stay charged forever, and you need to plug your laptop in at some point. In order to avoid powercuts or damage to your laptop, you should buy an international laptop power adapter that converts the voltage and amperage to the value used in the country where you will be using the laptop.

When choosing a laptop power adapter, you should first match the DC connector, the plug that goes directly into your laptop. The inner and outer diameters vary, so pay close attention to the one you eventually buy. If the adapter supports a voltage range of 100-240 volts, you should have no issues in any country, but you may require a special converter if it does not. Converters that you can add to your power adapter may be either linear or use switch-mode.

Although the laptop power adapter may convert the voltage and amperage and be otherwise compatible with your laptop, you may still need a travel plug adapter to fit into the sockets in the countries you visit. Many travel adapters incorporate more than one plug type, so you may be able to buy one instead of having to buy several.

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