Plugged in – not charging

August 10, 2013

Our trusty Dell Inspiron 1525 recently started playing up with what seems like a common problem: it stopped recognising its power adapter. The charge level on the little battery meter icon in the system tray started dropping, and hovering the mouse over it showed the message “Plugged in, not charging”. I managed to get into the BIOS settings on boot and that showed that the power adapter was unrecognised.

Being a citizen of the twenty-first century, naturally I Googled the error message (other search engines are available!) and, as ever, turned up masses of people with the same problem and a range of putative solutions of the “works on my machine” type:

  • You need to replace the battery.
  • You need to replace the charging jack.
  • You need to replace the charging circuit board.
  • You need to replace the motherboard.
  • You need to uninstall the power management device driver.
  • You need to totally discharge the power supply (by shorting it out!), totally discharge the machine by holding the power button down, clean the adapter plug, take the battery out, put it back in, plug it back in and reboot.
  • You need to flash the BIOS back to an older version.
  • You need to sprinkle the unit with dew collected on midsummer morning, place it in a chalked pentagram, mutter an incantation to Beelzebub and hold down the power button with a lucky rabbit’s foot from dawn until dusk on the winter solstice and then reboot. (I made that one up; but only just.)

Interestingly, before I could pursue it further, I had to go on holiday and we took the laptop with us, complete with power supply as the battery was by now totally discharged. The Minibishes used it a couple of times to do some e-scrapbooking, but that was all. Much to my surprise though, when we got back the battery was back to 80% charged, so either there was something magical about the west country electricity or the laptop was perfectly capable of charging given enough juice. Plugging it back in here though, showed the same old, “plugged in, not charging” message.

I decided to turn my attention to the power supply unit. After all, we do tend to leave it plugged in and switched on even when the machine itself is shut down and after, what, four years or so of slow cooking there was every chance its output had dropped below the level that the laptop required. With some trepidation I looked on Amazon for replacement power supplies, knowing instinctively that I wouldn’t want to pay for a pukka Dell one. There were many available, most advertised as Dell originals even though they they were clearly unbranded clones with Dell labels stuck on them. Reviews for these were mixed: they clearly worked for some, but others had various faults ranging from simply not working to overheating and even going up in smoke. Not for me then, even though they were temptingly cheap.

A few results pages further on though, I found a ray of hope: the Anker Golden Laptop Adapter. Fewer people had bought them, but the reviews were almost uniformly good, and even though they were more pricey than the “Dell original” parts, many reviewers sang their praises, saying they solved the charging problems, speeded up their machines and ran cooler that the Dell originals. An unashamed, even proud, third-party compatible replacement power adapter for fifteen quid. Sold!

It turned up today and I am happy to report that it solved the charging problem for me too and I am now back to 100% capacity. The unit comes in proper professional-looking packaging (recyclable cardboard box, not plasticrap), and even has a little instruction manual, an 18-month warranty card, an invitation to submit a online review and lots of support contact information (which I haven’t had to put to the test yet). All very confidence-inspiring. I’m not sure the machine is any faster but I wasn’t expecting miracles.

Obviously it’s early days but so far I’m pleased to have solved the charging problem without having had to delve into the guts of the machine. Or having to gather any dew.


One Response to “Plugged in – not charging”

  1. […] After reading this I deciced to give my two cents on the matter. […] Click

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