Are Power Adapter Plugs Standardized?
August 26, 2010 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Are power adapters standardized?

I'm missing the adapter to my battery charger. It's 12VDC 1000mA adapter. The replacement adapter is over half as much money as the charger itself.

1. If another adapter fits the hole, will it work? Are adapter plug sizes standardized, or randomized?

2. If I have an adapter that fits the hole but isn't the same stats (depending on the answer to (1)), will it still charge my batteries eventually?

3. Do universal adapters (e.g. from Rat Shack) work?
posted by musofire to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
To 1, trust me, there are possibly more adapter plug shapes an sizes out there than there are devices to fit into them. I have at least half a dozen different nokia chargers in the cupboard behind me, all the same voltage but different sized plugs.
posted by twine42 at 8:46 AM on August 26, 2010

No, they aren't standardized.

Yes, the RS universal adaptor will work, for certain values of "universal" but not for others.

The thing to keep in mind is that the replacement power brick must be the same voltage, and have a current rating equal to or greater than that of the previous brick.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:49 AM on August 26, 2010

Don't forget to match the tip polarity in addition to the minimum voltage and proper tip size.
posted by anti social order at 9:00 AM on August 26, 2010

The Radio Shack system has different tips you can buy for different devices. There are about 15-20 tips that they carry. It does work well but it's expensive.
posted by miyabo at 9:03 AM on August 26, 2010

There are five things you need to get right:
  • Voltage 12v in your case
  • Plug size Needs to fit
  • Polarity The positive and negative terminals need to be the right way round
  • Current This needs to be at least 1000mA
  • AC / DC DC in your case
Most universal adaptors will allow for all of the common combinations of voltage, plug size and polarity. See this video ( for an idea of how easy it is to use them.

The only other thing you need to ensure is that your chosen DC adaptor can supply enough current.
posted by matsho at 9:12 AM on August 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

The voltage needs to be the same -- an AC adapter that puts out more than 12V may very well damage the charger (unless there's an input range printed on it. some devices will accept anything within a certain range of voltages).

However, 1000mA (the current) is a minimum rating. A 12VDC/1200mA charger will work just fine without damaging the device (although a 12V/800mA charger may not work).

Like others here mentioned, you'll need to be sure that the tip polarity matches, and that the adapter is putting out DC (not AC).

I'll add here that this seems like an unusual setup. Chargers usually take AC straight from the wall, and have a 100-240V tolerance, which lets them function anywhere around the world, making the usual reasons for having an AC adapter unnecessary. Be sure that the old AC adapter didn't also have the charging circuitry built into it, as it's generally a very bad idea to feed a sustained current into your batteries.
posted by schmod at 9:19 AM on August 26, 2010

FWIW, schmod, I have a battery charger that runs off a separate wallwart also.

Seconding everything everyone above has said. Also if it takes a barrel-type plug be aware that not just the outer diameter but also the inner diameter (or outer diameter of the socket's pin) varies. The length of the barrel also varies. There are only a few common combinations, though, fortunately.
posted by hattifattener at 11:29 AM on August 26, 2010

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