Monday, June 08, 2009

Adapter Nation.


Having purchased a radio with an AC adapter last week I was prompted to think about those ubiquitous things. Frankly I don't know how many I have currently lying around. As the years have gone by we've seen more and more of them in use. But it's not just for using battery powered devices at home. A lot of equipment with no real provision for battery power uses them too. This is done because it simplifies the production process of various products. Instead of having to produce examples of your product with a different built in power supply for each market you have them all powered by an adapter and simply put the one appropriate for each market into the package just before shipping, or leave it up to the user to find an appropriate power supply. It is also easier to get some products approved by the various product standards organisations if you don't have to deal with a built in AC power supply.

It's too bad that AC adapters still largely follow the standard "wall wart" format, where the plug is mounted directly on the same box that contains the power transformer of the adapter. I have a couple of pieces of equipment whose adapters have an AC power cord attached to the transformer box instead of having the AC plug mounted directly. This make it easier to run multiple adaptors from the same AC power outlet because you don't have the transformer box blocking an outlet. This is especially handy if you're using a power strip. I would assume that the wall wart survives simply because it's cheaper to make than the newer design.

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