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Bad to leave unused "wallwart" transformer plugged in?

N

Noozer

Jan 1, 1970
0
Just wondering...

Is it OK to leave the AC adapters used by many gadgets plugged in while it
isn't connected to anything? For example, AC->DC charger for a cellphone
left plugged under my desk with the end of the cord on the desk in a handy,
out of the way location.

I assume that an AC->AC adapter should be OK, but an AC->DC might have
problems since it has the rectifier and filter caps always trickling a bit
of current through them. Even worse would be the switching supply of a
laptop when the laptop was elsewhere.

Other than the obvious electrical spikes that could damage anything, is it
bad to leave these things plugged in?
 
C

CFoley1064

Jan 1, 1970
0
Subject: Bad to leave unused "wallwart" transformer plugged in?
From: "Noozer" [email protected]
Date: 8/21/2004 11:31 AM Central Daylight Time
Message-id: <[email protected]>

Just wondering...

Is it OK to leave the AC adapters used by many gadgets plugged in while it
isn't connected to anything? For example, AC->DC charger for a cellphone
left plugged under my desk with the end of the cord on the desk in a handy,
out of the way location.

I assume that an AC->AC adapter should be OK, but an AC->DC might have
problems since it has the rectifier and filter caps always trickling a bit
of current through them. Even worse would be the switching supply of a
laptop when the laptop was elsewhere.

Other than the obvious electrical spikes that could damage anything, is it
bad to leave these things plugged in?

Nearly all cellphone chargers have switching regulators built in. They're a
lot more susceptible to damage from the "obvious electrical spikes" than the
old transformer/rectifier-capacitor adapters of yore.

Somewhat more important, though, is the business of "hot plugging" the
cellphone into a powered-up charger. With a switch, you have basically one
"turn on event" which occurs over a 10 ms period. When you're plugging in a
hot charger, your "turn on event" is repeated on-off-on cycles over several
hundred milliseconds. That may damage the switcher or, more likely, the phone.

If you've got one available, use a power strip with a switch accessible from
your desk to turn on the charger after plugging it in, and turn it off before
you unplug. I personally think it's worth the price of a power strip for the
improved reliability.

Good luck
Chris
 
K

Ken Taylor

Jan 1, 1970
0
CFoley1064 said:
Nearly all cellphone chargers have switching regulators built in. They're a
lot more susceptible to damage from the "obvious electrical spikes" than the
old transformer/rectifier-capacitor adapters of yore.

Somewhat more important, though, is the business of "hot plugging" the
cellphone into a powered-up charger. With a switch, you have basically one
"turn on event" which occurs over a 10 ms period. When you're plugging in a
hot charger, your "turn on event" is repeated on-off-on cycles over several
hundred milliseconds. That may damage the switcher or, more likely, the phone.

If you've got one available, use a power strip with a switch accessible from
your desk to turn on the charger after plugging it in, and turn it off before
you unplug. I personally think it's worth the price of a power strip for the
improved reliability.

Good luck
Chris
While I agree with you in principle, I have to say I don't think that cell
phones for one are without power management circuitry and software. The IC's
are commonplace for this task and you would note the delay between plugging
the phone into its charging cradle and the 'beep' when it goes on charge.

Ken
 
K

Karl Uppiano

Jan 1, 1970
0
Noozer said:
Just wondering...

Is it OK to leave the AC adapters used by many gadgets plugged in while it
isn't connected to anything? For example, AC->DC charger for a cellphone
left plugged under my desk with the end of the cord on the desk in a
handy,
out of the way location.

I assume that an AC->AC adapter should be OK, but an AC->DC might have
problems since it has the rectifier and filter caps always trickling a bit
of current through them. Even worse would be the switching supply of a
laptop when the laptop was elsewhere.

Other than the obvious electrical spikes that could damage anything, is it
bad to leave these things plugged in?

Lazy and reckless soul that I am, I always leave wall-warts plugged in -- AC
or DC. It's just more convenient, and wall-warts are relatively cheap, and
besides, I've never, ever, had one fail.
 
D

David L. Jones

Jan 1, 1970
0
Noozer said:
Just wondering...

Is it OK to leave the AC adapters used by many gadgets plugged in while it
isn't connected to anything? For example, AC->DC charger for a cellphone
left plugged under my desk with the end of the cord on the desk in a handy,
out of the way location.

I assume that an AC->AC adapter should be OK, but an AC->DC might have
problems since it has the rectifier and filter caps always trickling a bit
of current through them. Even worse would be the switching supply of a
laptop when the laptop was elsewhere.

Other than the obvious electrical spikes that could damage anything, is it
bad to leave these things plugged in?

It's OK to leave them pluged in. Millions do it every day without
problem. The chances of them failing are very remote.
Of course they are chewing latent power, so it's environmentally
unfriendly not to mention that it's costing you money to leave them
plugged in 24/7
Be careful of the connector end of the lead though, make sure they
can't short on anything.

Dave :)
 
S

SumGie

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hmm... read some of the other replies... here's something that the others
seem to have missed:

No, it won't hurt the wall wart to be plugged in. It'll just get, and stay,
a little warm to the touch, but won't get damaged.

But...

If it's warm to the touch, that's evidence that it is using power. Your
electric bill will go up. Not by much, but the whole time it's plugged in
and not being used, you're actually paying to use it as a room heater... A
very inefficient room heater. Wasteful. Not dangerous.
 
T

TrAI

Jan 1, 1970
0
SumGie said:
Hmm... read some of the other replies... here's something that the others
seem to have missed:

No, it won't hurt the wall wart to be plugged in. It'll just get, and stay,
a little warm to the touch, but won't get damaged.

But...

If it's warm to the touch, that's evidence that it is using power. Your
electric bill will go up. Not by much, but the whole time it's plugged in
and not being used, you're actually paying to use it as a room heater... A
very inefficient room heater. Wasteful. Not dangerous.

I would think it would be 100% efficient in its conversion of its idle
electricity usage to heat, so it wouldn't be an inefficient heater or
wasteful(it wouldn't be able to heat a room by itself, but that is
more about power, not efficiency). Actually, as long as you live a
place where the temperature outside is below comfortable room
temperature, no energy the devices you have inside uses is really
wasted, as it will all help heat your rooms. Thats one of the
paradoxes of the commercials for energy saving lamps(you know, the
fluorescent bulb things), yes they are more efficient, but unless you
live in a hot place or use active cooling, the energy saved by using
more efficient light sources will have to be used by heaters to heat
the place.
 
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