Plugging a U.S.-U.K. converter into U.K.-EU
July 9, 2016 8:28 AM   Subscribe

If I have an American laptop with a 60W power adapter, and I'm in Europe, and the only thing I have with me is a U.S.-U.K. plug adapter -- is it O.K. to plug that into a U.K.-E.U. one?

The adapter has input 100-240 V, output 16.5 V. It seemed to work for a while but then I ran into trouble.
posted by johngoren to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
As long as the adapters fit securely into each other you should be fine. What trouble did you run into?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:36 AM on July 9, 2016

Response by poster: Oops, should have said, and then it stopped charging. I wasn't sure if the power adapter failed or if I somehow hurt it by plugging it into two plug adapters at the same time. (I got a EU power cable to replace my US one and it's fine but was wondering if there was any rule against double adapting !)
posted by johngoren at 8:49 AM on July 9, 2016

You might have burnt one out.
posted by k8t at 9:25 AM on July 9, 2016

Voltage and frequency can be tricky. Try plugging it while the computer is off to see if it'll charge the battery.
posted by sammyo at 9:25 AM on July 9, 2016

Best answer: The adapter has input 100-240 V

You use the term "adapter" to refer to two different things - I assume this refers to your computer power supply and not the plug adapter? If so, your power supply should not be damaged.

One or both of the plug adapters, however, might be. Or it might just be overtaxed. Many of the cheap ones max out at 50W, and so if your power supply is trying to draw more it might have overheated and shut down (is it hot to the touch?). If you unplug it, wait a while, and then it works again for a little bit, this is almost definitely the problem. And/or, the wall outlet might be overtaxed - try different outlets and see if that helps.

Ultimately I suspect you are overloading the plug adapter. I have never had trouble finding US/EU plug adapters when I'm in Europe. For instance, any store that sells prepaid phone refills seems to have an astounding variety of plug adapters. Try looking someplace like that, and see if you can find one in proper packaging that indicates it has a capacity over 50W. Shouldn't run you more than 20 euros.

Good luck!
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 9:34 AM on July 9, 2016

You don't need two adapters.

If your laptop power supply is truly 100-240V, then plug it into one of these and then plug that into the wall. The laptop supply will use the UK voltage without any trouble.

Also, every UK wall outlet has a switch right there next to the socket. Make sure you didn't turn that off inadvertently.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:06 AM on July 9, 2016

Yeah, the power should get through fine, and there ought not be any problems with your laptop power brick in coping with the different voltage. That said, it's very likely that the plug adaptors, when daisychained like that are going to have slightly loose connections.
posted by ambrosen at 11:29 AM on July 9, 2016

Best answer: If your adapter says 100-240V then it's a switcher which will be fine with the voltage and frequency, and your trouble is almost certainly a loose connection in one of the plug adapters. My experience is that those adapters are a bit notorious about not following engineering standards which would be required of UL listed plugs, which might be fine for occasional use but might cause trouble particularly if you are using two of them in series and their designers took incompatible shortcuts.
posted by Bringer Tom at 3:17 PM on July 9, 2016

Best answer: A lot of those cheap EU-UK-US adaptors are very shoddily made (they're sometimes called deathdapters by the cognoscenti) and I imagine one of them has just broken an internal connection. When they work, you can certainly daisy-chain them, especially for a low-wattage device like a laptop power supply brick, but the chances of something making a bad connection and arcing goes up.

Wherever possible, I use power cables with moulded wall plugs that are made for the country I'm in. All laptop power supply bricks I've seen in the past couple of decades have had standard input power sockets (there are three common types - figure-of-eight, Mickey Mouse and IEC) and there have always been proper power leads locally available for a few dollars/euros/pounds from a wide variety of shops. In fact, as many monitors use the same sorts of cables and ship with two or three to avoid having to have country-specific variants, many offices have spare unused power cables sitting around and are happy to donate them - depending on where you are and who you're seeing, it's worth asking.
posted by Devonian at 4:06 PM on July 9, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks everyone and sorry for the sloppy wording...
posted by johngoren at 12:33 AM on July 10, 2016

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