Accidental use of 120 VAC adapter on 240 VAC

By rovoco ·
My client took his Gateway M-152S laptop to Ireland. He plugged his laptop power adapter into what looked like a 120 VAC outlet. It wasn't. It was 240 VAC. He thinks "he fried it."
My questions are, 1)would the AC adapter **** first? 2)would the laptop battery act as a buffer long enough to protect the laptop itself from damage? 3)if neither of the above, would the hard drive possibly survive? Apart from buying a new adapter to see if the battery is OK and a new battery to find out if the laptop is OK, what other steps could I take?

Any help would be appreciated.

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All Answers

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The AC adapter would **** first....

by Peconet Tietokoneet In reply to Accidental use of 120 VAC ...

But saying that it depends on the Ac adapter, all you have to do is connect it and do a test with a good multimeter and see if it reads anything.
If you do not get a read out then you will know for sure. Just in case purchase another Ac adapter and do a test, if all goes well then it would be the old adapter, if not then you will have to purchase another battery. The cheapest route would be a new Ac adapter and go from there.

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So the laptop itself may be OK?

by rovoco In reply to The AC adapter would blow ...

Thank you for your rapid reply. I had planned on doing what you suggested first.
Is there any way to test the battery outside of the laptop, or are all the pin connections different for each model?

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The laptop should be fine....

by Peconet Tietokoneet In reply to So the laptop itself may ...

Inside of the Ac adapter there are components that register voltage so in theory these components will/should **** first.

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Battery Test

by TheChas In reply to So the laptop itself may ...

There are many combinations of connections to laptop batteries.

If you have the service manual, you should be able to identify which contacts are what.

As an alternate, battery stores like Batteries Plus can test the battery for you.


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Magic Smoke

by oldbaritone In reply to Accidental use of 120 VAC ...

Solid-state devices work on "magic smoke" - the factory seals the smoke inside the chip, and if you break the "smoke seal", the magic smoke escapes and the chip doesn't work any more.

When he plugged a 120V device into a 240V outlet, he probably broke the "smoke seal."

Most computers have well-protected power supplies and well-protected power input plugs, so there's a good chance that he'll get lucky, and only the power supply is fried. No guarantees, but hopefully dumb-luck.

Tell him with the new power supply, in addition to the surge suppressor, he should invest in an I-D-TEN-T protector, too.


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should probably install

by Kenone In reply to Magic Smoke

nosmoke.exe for that user. have the user run it frequently

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I don't know what the problem is with these people

by tintoman In reply to Accidental use of 120 VAC ...

I mean, you come on here to get advice on a problem right? all this bull about smoked chips and smoke.exe is utter nonsense.
As anyone who knows anything about basic electronics will tell you, if you feed an electronic device with any voltage other than that which it was designed for the results will usually be devastating. In your case since the supply voltage was much lower than it should have been the resultant current flow will be much higher than it should be, after that it's a matter of which is the weakest point where the burn out will occur.
So P.T's reassurance that your "laptop will be fine" is a wild theory at best, and rediculous remark at worst, furthermore why on earth would you go and buy a new adapter before you test the old one? even if the old one continues to produce the correct voltage now it's no guarantee that the laptop isn't fried.
Sometimes I really do despair.........

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reading comprehension

by Kenone In reply to I don't know what the pro ...

seems to be the biggest problem

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Power Supply Design

by TheChas In reply to I don't know what the pro ...

As one who knows more than a bit about power supply design, in the described situation, the power supply should be the first to fail.

If the design is good, the failure mode is a fuse or fusible link inside the power pack itself.

Now, if the design is not an optimum design, the switch mode regulator could fail in a mode that would place a high voltage on the DC output. Then, a fuse or over-voltage protection circuit in the laptop should open the circuit and limit damage.

Still, to pass testing and get a UL rating, the power adapter has to either survive an over-voltage, or at least fail in a safe manner.

If the laptop does not run off of the battery, the laptop may need a repair (probable minor) and a new adapter.

Worst case for the hard drive, is that even if the electronics are fried one should be able to recover the data by swapping the hard drive electronics with a working identical drive.


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Well I'm going to be different to others here

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Accidental use of 120 VAC ...

What does the Power Adapter say on it?

All of the new NB Power Adapters that i have seen recently well over the past 2 or 3 years all have been Auto Switching Dual Voltage so they should work perfectly no matter what they are plugged into.

But I do agree with the others here if it was just a 120 V adapter it should have fried immediately and if it meet a half way decent Design it would not have passed any charge tot he NB itself. It should have been fairly spectacular though and it's something that the owner would have known about immediately.

However what does happen and what should Happen are quite often different stories so the only way to see is to grab another charged battery and see if the NB works with a fully Charged Battery and if that doesn't work remove the HDD and try it on a USB SATA?IDE Cable and see if you can get to read it.

Of course if they where using some form of Encryption it may prove very hard to recover any Data off the HDD. If that is the case here the only real alternative is to send the drive straight to one of the Data Recovery Specialists who can recover Encrypted Data in a usable form.

Just a note for your Client when you visit other countries most have a different Mains Voltage to the US and all British Colonies or Past Colonies use the 240 V system. They Do Not provide 120 V no matter what the plug looks like it is always the clients responsibility to provide the right transformer to step down the Local Voltage to their electrical Devices.


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