How to choose a power adapter
A power adapter buying guide
Power adapters are a necessity for people using electronics products. Computers, appliances, phones and more utilize these electronics supplies. When determining how to choose a power adapter, several key decisions must be made, all of which will be discussed below.
>> Choose the type of current
The first major decision in how to choose a power adapter is selecting the right type of voltage to match electrical device requirements. Power adapters are available in two main types: AC power adapters and DC power adapters. AC power adapters are the most commonly used type in the United States. AC stands for alternating current. Some appliances utilize DC power, or direct current, and DC power is commonplace in other countries. Check your electrical appliances for the correct type of voltage when choosing the best power adapter for you.
>> Choose the power adapter type for your device
The second main consideration in how to choose a power adapter is to determine the type of power adapter that your device requires. Many different types of devices utilize power adapters.
Laptop computers are a major category of devices that require power adapters. In a laptop, the power adapter charges the battery as well as provides a source of power. For that reason, the power adapter may be one of the most important computer accessories you purchase. Laptop batteries and power adapters must be specific to allow for proper charging and computer use. Be sure to check the computer model for power adapter information before selecting your power adapter.
In addition, it is important to select complementary computer products to protect your computer. Power surge protectors provide a level of protection from energy disturbances and are an important product to use with computer power adapters.
Telephones are another major category of products that rely on power adapters. There are many different types of phone power adapters available on the market. Many of the adapters have different shapes and sizes of connections and are not interchangeable. For that reason, consult your telephone's information to determine the power adapter that will work best with your device.
Musical keyboards, electric skillets, clocks, televisions and more use power adapters to receive the energy they need to operate. Some can use universal power adapter connectors to connect, while others are very specific. Be sure to consult with your device's information before purchasing a new power adapter to ensure a proper fit.
>> Choose the appropriate volts, watts and amps
Watts is a measurement of energy transferred per second while voltage is the amount of electrical pressure or tension that flows through the adapter. Amperage is the standard unit of measuring electricity. All three measurements are located on the power adapter box itself, as well as on the package for power adapters, and all three should be specifically designated on your device equipment. Power adapters are able to process a specific amount of energy. Watts, voltage and amperage are designations of how much energy the adapter can process. For example, a 9-volt adapter is able to provide nine volts of energy in the same way that a 9-volt battery is able to provide nine volts of energy.
>> Choose the correct connection size
Another main consideration when determining how to choose a power adapter is the connector size. Different devices have different size connectors. This is a very important consideration because even if the volts, watts and amps are the same between your device and the power adapter, you still need to be able to physically connect the two together.
>> Choose the best type of power adapter
There are two main types of power adapter designs: device-specific power adapters and universal power source power adapters (UPS power adapters). Device-specific power adapters can be used only with specific devices. They are not interchangeable and one power adapter will not work on other electrical devices. UPS power adapters on the other hand, have connections that are usable with many devices. UPS adapters feature commonly used connectors. Because of these connections, a power adapter that is sold with a cell phone may also charge handheld computers. Some power adapter brands have also bridged this gap and offer power adapters with interchangeable connectors to allow them to be used with multiple products.
>> Choose the power adapter design
One final consideration in thinking about how to choose a power adapter is the power adapter design you prefer. Three main power adapter models are available. However, there are numerous features that a power adapter may offer as well. Slimline power adapters fit tightly into the wall and are designed to minimize the space they use. Car adapters can be plugged into a car lighter. USB power adapters allow a device to plug into a computer and are particularly beneficial for phones, cameras and other devices that can store their contents on a computer. Think about the following chart and how it pertains to your particular needs:
Type of device
Type of power adapter
|Laptop ||Size and shape may vary depending on power adapter design. ||Typically includes a small protector box and standard wall plug. |
|Phone ||Size, shape, volt, etc. may vary depending on phone. However, standard cell phone power adapters have moved toward a UPS power adapter adoption. ||Available in slimline, USB, car charger and other types. Some break into two pieces allowing them to be used with other connections. |
|Other ||Size, shape, etc. vary with different devices. ||Many use traditional plugs. Other adapters may have additional features. |