I have a laptop (Dell Inspiron 8600) that must've gotten a little zap when lightning struck a year ago. I figured it zapped the motherboard so I assumed it was done for and put it on the shelf. Recently I saw that someone else had a similar problem but it was with their power adapter. The light would still turn on (on the adapter) but no power was getting to the PC. I'm wondering if this might be the same problem I have.

Without going as far as ordering a new adapter or finding someone to borrow one from, how can I safely test to see if my AC adapter is working properly?


If you have a multimeter (if you don't, they are not expensive and are a very useful tool to have anyway), you can plug the adapter in and use the probes to measure the output of the adapter. You can then compare the readings to the specifications on the device. Not only will it tell you if it is still working, it will tell you if it is still working to the correct specs.

  • Do I just stick the probes into the circular end? Also, what settings do I use on the multimeter? – Joe Phillips Aug 24 '11 at 17:46
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    Here is a little tutorial that gives a lot of detail about how to read it and how to use the probes on various items (adapters, batteries, outlets, circuit boards): ladyada.net/learn/multimeter/voltage.html – MaQleod Aug 24 '11 at 18:05
  • Note that the adapter will have the voltages and amperages on the label. You can then set the voltmeter(or multimeter) to the corect range for AC or DC as needed. – Dave M Aug 24 '11 at 18:10
  • Maybe I'll take pics as I debug the issue and post online similar to the link above – Joe Phillips Aug 24 '11 at 18:17
  • A little caution note: don't set the multimeter to amperage reading and put the two probes directly to the adapter plug, you could do some damage to the multimeter fuse. For newbie or average joe, just stick to volt reading. More info about amperage reading here: qr.ae/Tbcqxb – null Dec 2 '17 at 1:47

Grab an inxpensive voltmeter and measure output. The adapter is marked as to what it is supposed to deliver so you should be able to easily see if it puts out what the spec says. If not, it is time to replace.

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