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Power Adapter to device database
2

Power Adapter to device database

Power Adapter to device database

(OP)
I have assorted power adapters kicking around my house. They have been left plugged into the mains, by whoever, unplugged and left on the side. I now have a whole mountain of them, some from devices which were binned 5 to 10 years ago. Some are for pc peripherals, some for mobile phones and assorted devices like walkmans, computer monitors, printers, laptops, phones, sega megadrive etc.

Is there a database somewhere where I can type in the model number of the power adapter and it will tell me what device it belongs to.

RE: Power Adapter to device database

I doubt it. A quick search doesn't find one. I would imagine it would be easier to work from the other side of the coin - from the device perspective. The important thing is that a device have the right power supply and there are three factors: voltage, amperage and size of the barrel plug.

There would be many adapters that would work in a given device (if specs are right) and there would be many devices that could use any given adapter. So, there's not a one to one match on either end - there is one to many, making it not well defined.

"Living tomorrow is everyone's sorrow.
Modern man's daydreams have turned into nightmares."

RE: Power Adapter to device database

The clues are on the power supply (they aren't adapters, adapters change the prong type like converting US plug to a UK plug). But these power supplies take in AC power and convert to DC power. As goombawaho mentioned, then the factors are INPUT voltages (may range from 100V - 240V AC, including all ranges), or may be more narrow like 100V - 120V or 200V - 240V. Assuming yours are all from your country (where ever that is), you don't need to worry much about this.



The next point is the OUTPUT voltage. So we convert from AC power via a step down transformer which also RECTIFIES the AC power (alternating current) to DC power (direct current). This is VERY important because a voltage higher than the rating of the device may result in it being damaged (or at least breaking a fuse in the device). So be careful when pairing the supplies to devices. Outputs frequently range from 3V to 12V but may be as high as 48V -- though these tend to be big, and you'd pair it with a big device. Both the supply and the device will specify it's expected input voltage. You can sometimes go a bit higher than specified (like 7.8V instead of 6.5V) but not recommended. Over voltage is the killer though, so match the power supplies output voltage with the devices input voltage.

The next point is the amperage (or mA - mili-amps), so this will appear as something like: 1A or 2.8A or 2000mA (this is the same as 2A). This one is important because you want to match the amperage capability of the device with the amperage supply of the power supply. If you power supply is rated too low for the device (such as 1.5A on the supply and 3.6A on the device), then the supply won't be able to provide enough power to the device to make it run. It may also overload the supply (though this is rare), and damage the power supply. On the other hand if the supply is rated too high (let's say 5A for your 3.6A device), IF the device malfunctions, then the supply could provide higher amperage to the device and result in damage, or potential fire. This is also rare, but I have seen on a couple of occasions in over 30 years. So it's best to keep them within reasonable range. One common mistake that people make is believing that the AMPERAGE rating being "high" is what damages the device. This is only true in the event of a device malfunction. Amperage is a factor of demand from the device. So if the device only demands 2A and the supply is rated to provide 7A, it will NOT damage the device, as the device will demand 2A and the supply will provide 2A.


You may also find in some cases an HZ rating of 50Hz - 60Hz or only 50Hz or 60Hz. This is the frequency of the AC (alternating current) sine wave. The higher the Hz rating, at the same voltage, the higher the maximum Amperage for that device, though this is not critical to your identification, just explaining what it means if you see it. This will really only be important to you if you travel with devices internationally, and then you'll want to take note of it. (The advice here is, only travel with power supplies that support the full 100V - 240V range and 50Hz - 60Hz range support.)

You may also see a number with a W after it, this is the Wattage of the supply at maximum power draw. So it may say 20W or 50W, but this is a calculation of Voltage x Amperage (at maximum values). It's the same rating as your light bulb.

One final point is there is "some" protection regarding the supply to device base on the type of connector it has. Generally speaking, you can't plug a 5V output supply to a device that needs a 12V input (or vice versa). The connector types are made to be incompatible from male-to-female to prevent damaging the device. The greater probability is you have a voltage that matches with a Amperage that is lower than supported. This either won't work, or may over heat the power supply if left connected, though there are safety circuits built into them to prevent this.

Armed with this knowledge, you can collect up your power supplies, and I suggest sorting them first by output voltage. Then check for devices you have that match. And once you have that match, LABEL THEM! When you get new devices, label them immediately... then you don't have to sort through this... (that said, I always think "I'll remember which power supply this is", and then I don't.

Lastly, see if you can match power supply maker to device maker. For instance, a Panasonic power supply with a Panasonic Device. Though the power supplies are VERY frequently just OEMd from a manufacturer off the shelf that meets their power requirements. Some will also have proprietary connectors, so these are easy, they will only fit the device they were designed for. (This is more common with things like electric shavers, or small appliance, like powered toothbrush). For electronics like USB hubs, routers, laptops, they are frequently common plug types as I mentioned before. Just check the requirements on both the supply and devices. If you have an exact match, you're almost certain to have the supply that came with the device.

Best Regards,
Scott
MSc ISM, MIET, MASHRAE, CDCP, CDCS, CDCE, CTDC, CTIA, ATS

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, and no simpler."hammer

RE: Power Adapter to device database

Excellent coverage Scott24x7. I would add the following: Some power supplies will supply AC so type of supply is important. There is also the possibility of polarity differences so that would be something to check also. Most every DC powered device I've seen recently has markings on the case to indicate the polarity of the sockeet and most have voltage and current requirements. The power supplies also mostly have polarity marking.

Ed Fair
Give the wrong symptoms, get the wrong solutions.

RE: Power Adapter to device database

>they aren't adapters

Afraid I disagree. They've been called adapters at least since the use of SMPS became ubiquitous. Wikipedia (just one source) for example describes an AC adapter is a power supply built into an AC mains power plug.

RE: Power Adapter to device database

Wikipedia is NOT a reliable source of information or reference... And adapter means to adapt the plug. Converter is to change the power supplied... so disagree all you like it won't make you correct. If you want to be accurate, and unambiguous, call them by their industry designated reference.

Best Regards,
Scott
MSc ISM, MIET, MASHRAE, CDCP, CDCS, CDCE, CTDC, CTIA, ATS

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, and no simpler."hammer

RE: Power Adapter to device database

<sigh> I know that is the general feeling, and that was the specific reason I said 'one source' - it is not the only one. For example, industry supplier Direct Industry pretty much describes all of it's AC/DC power supplies as adapters. http://www.directindustry.com/prod/mtm-power/produ...

And let's have a look at the back of one of them: http://www.directindustry.com/prod/gai-tronics-div...

Says 'adapter' right on the box.

Sorry if that upsets you, as it seems to

RE: Power Adapter to device database

I'm trying to educate you to industry standard... use these terms, and there is no confusion. Use "adapter" generically and it's not clear.

Best Regards,
Scott
MSc ISM, MIET, MASHRAE, CDCP, CDCS, CDCE, CTDC, CTIA, ATS

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, and no simpler."hammer

RE: Power Adapter to device database

(OP)
There is a big difference between technical forums and "Joe Public" descriptions. The terms charger, transformer, adapter, plug and socket seem to be used interchangeably by Joe Public.

There is no way that it can be a socket but that is what some people incorrectly call them when they can't think of the correct word.

"The black plug-thingy for charging your ..." is quite a common description, even though the device does not have batteries and does not require charging: it needs a transformer.

RE: Power Adapter to device database

Well, in my book, a "Transformer" is an AC only device that simply steps down (or up) the AC voltage using two magnetically coupled coils of wire, so that anything that changes AC to DC or filters the output could be a "Power Supply". That being said, these little black boxes have been "AC adapters" as long as I've worked with them and they really do "adapt" the signal as well as the connectors.

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