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Business - Written by on Monday, July 7, 2008 9:49 - 2 Comments

Universal power adapter way overdue

Item number two on Dell’s IdeaStorm (a popularity contest for new suggestions) is to standardize laptop power cables.  Why do we have such a proliferation of power cords when we could improve efficiency and reduce waste with standards? The business case for a universal adapter already sits on ebay, where a search for “universal power supply” produces over 300 item listings designed to solve this problem. This year, the world produced another 3 billlion power adapters, a figure which is steadily growing (in 2005 it was 2.2 billion).

China is one of the countries pushing the environmental frontier in this case. The country has standardized cell phone adapters on USB power according to this article, a simple but terrific idea.

the government has regulated that all cell phone chargers, including those imported, have a standard USB interface and output voltage, so consumers don’t need a new one with every new phone.

That just makes sense.

How many different power adapters do you own?    If I include obsolete ones in my basement, I’m guessing I have well over a dozen… anyone else?  How many cords would you replace if you had a universal power adapter?


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Brittany Creamer
Jul 7, 2008 11:17

I only own one laptop power cord, but have had my share of worries with the one and when, on occasion, it goes missing temporarily. Panic ensues, largely because I can’t borrow one due to compatibility issues. My real gripe with power cords is with cell phones. I have NO IDEA how many chargers I have lying around (just in case) or which one of my old phones those cords go with. I’m too chicken to throw them away, considering a replacement is like $30. Give me a universal cell phone charger and I can die a happy girl!

Bill Roberts
Jul 8, 2008 8:05

I agree! I just bought a (cheap) Nokia phone and it isn’t even compatible with the several other Nokia chargers I’ve got. Madness!

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