Power to the people?
June 17, 2010 10:04 AM   Subscribe

MacBook (Pro) owners: Any luck with generic, non-OEM power adapters?

My MacBook Pro (early 2008) is on its third AC/DC power adapter. I'd like to think that my crumbly old house has weird power issues, but the MacBook Pro's power adapter is the only device I've had trouble with. It's not the socket, it's not the plug, it's the adapter itself (or the MagSafe connector). Works fine for several months, but then it shows signs of a flaky connection, and a few weeks later altogether stops working.

I'll be taking it to a "Genius" Bar to get it replaced yet again--thanks, AppleCare, that's why I bought you--but I'd like to get an extra power adapter as a backup (and for travel convenience.)

Since the genuine Apple power adapter seems to be a complete pile of shit, I don't see any point in spending $70+ for the official Apple-branded adapter. eBay's purveyors of fine, imported Chinese goods offer generic adapters for $20. Shipped.

I usually try to steer clear of off-brand equipment, but when the genuine part has such a lousy reputation for reliability, I can't imagine I have much to lose. Well, other than the usual risk of undervoltage, overvoltage, or a spontaneous combustion which burns the house down. Y'know.

So, is anyone using one of those off-brand power adapters? Did it burn your house down?
posted by bhayes82 to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It doesn't directly answer your question and your trips to the genius bar may have addressed it, but have you reset the system management controller? That can resolve power isssues on Macs in some instances; see this knowledgebase document. My wife's Macbook Pro was having power issues and that resolved them.
posted by TedW at 10:22 AM on June 17, 2010

I have a generic one purchased from eBay. The build quality doesn't LOOK quite as good as the Apple branded ones but it has functioned well so far. I'm glad I got this one rather than shelling out for a branded one. My house is still standing.
posted by jonesor at 10:24 AM on June 17, 2010

I've got one of these. Charges the MacBook and no fires yet.
posted by chazlarson at 10:38 AM on June 17, 2010

I know this doesn't specifically answer your question, but both the mister and I had to have our power adapters replaced on our older MBPs. This was concurrent with battery replacement under AppleCare due to a known battery defect.

mr. lfr's power adapter actually failed, mine was replaced as a precautionary measure. Both times the genius bar representative mentioned that the "swelling battery" issue would and could cause damage to the power adapters. I don't know that this is the case for yours (both of our MBPs were 2006 models and I an sure they've fixed these issues since, and it's possible you may even have the new solid-state battery...) but could it be worth checking into?
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:47 AM on June 17, 2010

Wow. I've only had a problem with one Magsafe adaptor. I had one of the first MacBook Pro with it, and an early batch of them had an issue where the adaptor plug would actually fray. Apple replaced it. I have an adaptor I bought years ago I carry with me in my bag and use often and two more adaptors around my house and none of them have given me any trouble.

If you're going through several adaptors and it isn't our house's wiring, then it might be the Mac. Perhaps you should also reset the SMC as it might be the Mac causing the problem. I would suspect that if you went the generic route, you may also have the same problem.
posted by birdherder at 11:05 AM on June 17, 2010

This works fine for me. Shoddy build - the sleeve on the adptor-magsafe link has come loose after 3 monts, but functional & non house burny.
posted by lalochezia at 11:06 AM on June 17, 2010

I've bought off eBay and it works fine. It only came with the short cord though, not the second extension part, so you may want to double check it.

I've bought non-apple chargers for our old iTouch as well that worked fine, they just wouldn't work on our iphones when we got them.
posted by dripdripdrop at 11:44 AM on June 17, 2010

I got a "Micro Accessories AC Adapter for Apple iBook/G4 PowerBook" and it was completely useless. Didn't work at all.
posted by jjwiseman at 1:17 PM on June 17, 2010

I got a generic one with only a short cord and ordered the extension part (which I believe WAS a genuine Apple product) separately, and using them together has been working just fine, as far as I can tell. Buying them both off of ebay was still a fraction of the price.
posted by sparrow89 at 4:11 PM on June 17, 2010

It might not be your mac or your adapter. It might be how you handle the adapter. I usually have two, one for work and one for home, so I rarely ever need to unplug them or move them around.

One more thing: there's a trick to unplugging the mag safe connector. Don't pull the plug straight out, it will put strain on the cable. Push down on the little light to rock the connector off the machine. It's easier and there's no cable strain.
posted by chairface at 4:40 PM on June 17, 2010

Do you have a dimmer switch that controls a compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL) on the same power bus? If so, you might be killing your power adapters inadvertently. To have them fail multiple times is... unusual. I wouldn't be surprised if there some specific cause.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 8:06 PM on June 17, 2010

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