What is AC Adapters?

You use them daily on your laptop computer; you use them on your mobile phone, and even on your printer and other networking devices. But what exactly are they and why do you need them?

Why can’t I just plug my laptop directly to the wall outlet? Why does it have to have this extra device that I keep dragging along with it? If you’ve inquired these questions, chances are you do not really understand the importance of AC adapters.

An AC adapter is a type of power supply. It is a device that provides power to another device, but why the redundancy?

Your DC device-your laptop, your cellular phone-needs an AC adapter because it operates on direct current. Think of DC as a different “type” of electricity. DC is usually related with low-voltage devices. Remember, the electricity in your home is 120 volts AC (if you live in the U.S.A. and most other countries). Your microwave oven, your television, and your air conditioner all need 120 volts to operate. Your laptop only needs 20 volts or less.

In this sense, an AC adapter is a power supply that converts one form of electricity to another. Therefore, we can safely say that such is also a power converter.

DC devices, or things that run on direct current, are usually those that use batteries for power. Because DC devices can run independently with the use of batteries, it is the choice of electricity for mobile applications-even your car runs on DC.

Also, because of the nature of DC (current only runs in one direction), a low-voltage DC device can have a battery, charge it, and provide power to the device all in one circuitry (which all starts from the adapter). So in this sense, an AC adapter is also a charger.

Other adapters take advantage of the fact that they are first in the circuitry by providing some sort of surge protection. If something unexpected happens to your AC electricity, the adapter breaks the current before it destroys your precious device, which means they can also function as surge protectors.

So there you have it. An AC adapter is a lot of things-a power supply, a power converter, and it can also be a charger and a surge protector. It is that important. So do not take your adapter for granted because your device greatly depends on it.

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