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Laptop sparks when I plug it in

Posted on 2007-03-21
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Last Modified: 2013-12-11
I have a laptop that sparks when I plug in the charger ( it works sometimes). I think myself its the charger that has a short but dont know how to test it. Is there a way i can test the charger with a multi meter to see if it has a short. I dont have access to an other charger that fits this laptop and dont want to buy one in case its the laptop?
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Question by:jayo2004
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by:AlexNek
ID: 18763581
>I have a laptop that sparks...
Coult you tell us, where? Is your laptop power down before connection? What happens if you remove battery and connect charger?

If "the charger that has a short" that you must have the short in you home network ot the charger must be not work anymore.

Try to go to the nearest computer shop and try a new charger there.
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by:AlexNek
ID: 18763636
You can test the voltage if you have the voltmeter. You can normally found voltage and current written at the charger box. Obviously it is 12-19Volt 3-6Amper and it depends vary from laptop model.
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by:babylonfive
ID: 18765333
Can you be more specific when the 'spark' happens and where it happens?

Does the power plug spark connecting the power supply to the computer?; or does the wall plug spark plugging the PS in to the wall?

In either case, is it with the other part already plugged in or not?

Is this a new observance, or one that's possibly existed before (oh and is this a new or new-ish system?)?

Sparks can be indications of a few things, but some can be eliminated if we know what is sparking.

Here's a few ideas:
The most likely thing you mean is that your power supply cable sparks plugging the power port to the laptop, and you (like all the rest of us) probably plug it in with the mains (AC) already plugged in and 'hot'. Therefore, the laptop is getting the power input (typically for laptops) of 18-20V or so on its input and the result can be a spark if:

- there is a short in the laptop plug itself - this would/should cause all sorts of overheating of the cable and/or power supply and be somewhat obvious as well as NOT charging the laptop

- there is simply an inrush of charging current which causes a 'spark' to be visible - this is not good, of course, but can happen at these voltages (much more so that say 3-5V range) with a system not well designed to slowly ramp charging voltage to the battery and system.

I'd love to see the results of the following tests, looking for spark:
- plug in 'hot' power supply to:
   - system turned off with battery
   - system turned off without battery
   - system turned on with battery (obviously)
- plug in power supply first to laptop, then to wall AC
   - spark at laptop?
   - spark at wall (this is likely for any non-powered supply being plugged in)

In all cases, does the system correctly charge up? is there any heating of the cable or supply beyond normal?

Is this a new laptop? same power supply?

Let us know!

David
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Author Comment

by:jayo2004
ID: 18770344
HI the laptop is about 3-4 yrs old same power supply. The spark happens at the laptop.
system turned off with battery=spark
system turned off without battery=no spark
When I put battery back in still no spark???
plug in power supply first to laptop, then to wall AC= no spark

System never charges upHI the laptop is about 3-4 yrs old. The spark happens at the laptop.
system turned off with battery=spark
system turned off without battery=no spark
When I put battery back in still no spark
plug in power supply first to laptop, then to wall AC= no spark

System never charges up
HI the laptop is about 3-4 yrs old. The spark happens at the laptop.
system turned off with battery=spark
system turned off without battery=no spark
When I put battery back in still no spark
plug in power supply first to laptop, then to wall AC= no spark

System never charges up. Have not noticed heat from cable.

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Author Comment

by:jayo2004
ID: 18770368
Dont know what happened with last post??

HI the laptop is about 3-4 yrs old same power supply. The spark happens at the laptop.
system turned off with battery=spark
system turned off without battery=no spark
When I put battery back in still no spark???
plug in power supply first to laptop, then to wall AC= no spark

it never charges up
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by:babylonfive
ID: 18770701
This could be many things and some are hard to check.

One reason why it doesn't charge could be the supply is not working - in this case it is not able to keep generating the proper voltage and supply all the current. When this happens you might even have a higher starting voltage, but then because of the failure the voltage drops one you put the supply under load (plug it in). A check for this is to use a voltmeter on the tip of the plug and tell us what the voltage is.

Another easier experiment is to find another supply of the same brand and just try it... if the new supply also doesn't charge, then the laptop is at fault (obviously) and if so, the supply has gone bad.

If the laptop is bad, it could actually be what you started with: a short. This would cause the immediate overcurrent and the supply would reduce voltage or shut-down entirely. Without taking the laptop apart or curtting the PS cable, it's a bit hard to tell.

If you were able to tell the normal peak current in the cable, of say 2A @ 18V, then the results of the two failure modes I mention that make sense are:

- power supply failure - spark caused by overvoltage showing 25V+ with no load and dropping to .1A or lower at some reduced voltage (<8v?)

- laptop short - spark caused by health power supply overcurrent response - meter would show 5A+ at 16V or less for a while (this is the reduced voltage associated with overcurrent) and then the supply will 'crowbar' or shutdown, to a few volts and the short would hold current at a value small but dependent upon the supply.

I'd try a comparison to a good supply (I noticed your first answerer said to try this, but not exactly why) to see which thing is wrong, then if its the laptop it may take some professional help on your end to review the hardware in the laptop connector for a fix.
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by:AlexNek
ID: 18770720
>The spark happens at the laptop
Can you see where exactly?

>system turned off with battery=spark
I can't expalin it

>system turned off without battery=no spark
Possible something wrong with battery.

>plug in power supply first to laptop, then to wall AC= no spark
It is the right sequence, when you use other way then it is possibe to have small spark near the /laptop/ plug.

>it never charges up
after a long time 3-4 years it is normally but if it was on the first day then something wrong with laptop.
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Author Comment

by:jayo2004
ID: 18770759
the spark happens right at the power connector of the laptop , its weird i have plugged it in about 10 times since even with battery and no spark. I plugged a multimeter into the charger and got a reading of 19.2. not sure if i am using the multimeter correct though??
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Expert Comment

by:AlexNek
ID: 18771110
19V can be OK /as 19.2 too/ and it is means that your power supply at work.
I hope you know how work electric welding. The main "component" is a big current. You have something smaller. That means you have the current when you connect the plug. If your laptop is on, then it can be charge system. Try to connect plug to your laptop without baterry.

>system turned off with battery=spark
could you explain it more, please. How you do it /system turned off/ ?

>...power connector of the laptop , its weird....
I can expect bad contact.

If you have good experience with soldering iron, then you can try to solder connector area. if not better to give it to the professional.
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Author Comment

by:jayo2004
ID: 18771229
ye system turned off. I plug in the power supply as the battery dont work and as soon as I plug in the power supply i get a spark (right at the power connector of the laptop). the thing I cant understand is its not happening now so its harder for me to fix it as i wont know if its fixed or not. i may try get my hands on another charger to at leaset eliminate that.
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Accepted Solution

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AlexNek earned 125 total points
ID: 18771721
>system turned off....I plug in the power supply i get a spark (right at the power connector of the laptop).

If the spark was direct between two plugs then laptop connector is OK. Troubles can be in baterry.
I expect that with the new power supply will be the same effect. I suspect that you need to remove battery to remove the sparks.
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Expert Comment

by:bgbeer
ID: 18777758
sounds like bad battery!

check the power supply first.
if that tests out then it will most likely be a faulty battery.
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Expert Comment

by:whoami
ID: 18783527
I would say the battery is bad,  if the supply was sparking and had a short or some voltage problem that wasn't charging the battery then there would be no testing with the laptop powered on.   Because the battery would be dead and the supply would not be providing power.  


CShenberger
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Expert Comment

by:bgbeer
ID: 18784271
we just had a similar problem and tore the laptop down and foun it to be a broken lead to the power connection. after a little solder it worked fine. but; I'm a little concerned about the battery as I stated earlier. I believe that u should have it tested to fined out if it is shorting out. if it is then u have found the cause of the problem.

the only other thing that concerns me is that it was throwing sparks.
this can burn other parts of the motherboard.

so be carefull.
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Author Comment

by:jayo2004
ID: 18784928
Think it is the battery I removed it and havent had a spark yet Ill test it more over the weekend
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