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Universal Laptop Standard for Europe Pushed by IEC

By - Source: via The Register | B 29 comments
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The IEC is hoping to reduce e-waste while also making laptop charging more convenient.

Image: ShutterstockImage: ShutterstockAfter years of pushing for standardized phone chargers, the European Commission in September named microUSB the European standard for phone chargers. Now, the International Electrotechnical Commission is hoping to do the same for laptop adapters. 

Imagine a world where you and your friend could share laptop chargers regardless of the laptops you use. The IEC has published a new proposal that would create a standard laptop adapter. Aside from the obvious convenience factor, a standardized charger would mean a reduction in electronic waste.

"The IEC International Standards for the universal charger for mobile phones has been widely adopted by the mobile phone industry and is already starting to help reduce e-waste," the Register cites IEC general secretary Frans Vreeswijk as saying in a statement. "A single power supply covering a wide range of notebook computers is the next step in lowering e-waste and its impact on our planet."

Even if the IEC is successful in its bid for a one-charger-fits-all solution, it will likely be a while before we're swapping chargers with friends.

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  • 2 Hide
    agnickolov , December 19, 2013 12:04 AM
    I kind of doubt a charger for a run of the mill laptop will produce the 150W necessary to run my ASUS G73SW gaming laptop, no matter the connector type...
  • 1 Hide
    fudoka711 , December 19, 2013 12:15 AM
    Standardizing the plug/connector interface is one thing, but making every power supply have the same output is another thing entirely. Laptops use widely varying amounts of power.
  • 6 Hide
    shovenose2 , December 19, 2013 1:01 AM
    A lot of laptops use 18-20V. Honestly, if they made a 6A 19V adapter that would cover almost all laptops on the market today. That 19V is within tolerance of 18-20 anyway. Something like Apple's MagSafe or Lenovo's new flat design would be best.
  • 2 Hide
    Stihy , December 19, 2013 1:29 AM
    You can standardize that also, with colour of connector, 15w white, 35w yellow, 60w black 90w blue 120wats orange..... so when you connect you can se if the power requirement is acceptable, also , that would require to standardize voltage to 19v
  • 4 Hide
    shriganesh , December 19, 2013 2:15 AM
    OMG! This took so many years!!!! This should have been done like 10 years ago! At least 5 years ago, when the world was moving towards portability and mobility!
  • 0 Hide
    Blazer1985 , December 19, 2013 2:43 AM
    My 1kg 200w alienware psu is laughing :-D
  • 4 Hide
    shriganesh , December 19, 2013 2:44 AM
    @agnickolov
    Forget about special cases! Think about normal laptops! I am not talking about desktops disguised as laptops :p 
  • -2 Hide
    abbadon_34 , December 19, 2013 2:52 AM
    Hmmm 5v/1a/5w charger, So takes 24 hours to charge a REAL laptop as long as it's not getting used? I guess the eurotrash doesn't use real computers. Thank you socialist one-size-fits-all government.
  • 3 Hide
    mdahouse , December 19, 2013 3:23 AM
    No one has said a laptop charger should be 5v/1a/5w. A standard power supply for laptops would be a great idea. At my work, we all use laptops, and people are always wanting to borrow someone else PSU 'cause there's is in a different room and they are in a meeting. We have several universal PSU's that work great. maybe all bricks should be universal.
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , December 19, 2013 4:26 AM
    I think this is just the right time...I mean there are plenty low power laptops out there. There could possibly two or three standard adapters, covering two power ranges.
  • 1 Hide
    ddpruitt , December 19, 2013 5:27 AM
    I work in a lab were a bunch of us have HPs. Thankfully HP has mostly standardized connectors and batteries and we occasionally swap power when needed. Once this goes through it'll be really really useful.

    Now if we can only swap out the US government for something more useful like this one.
  • 1 Hide
    d_kuhn , December 19, 2013 5:50 AM
    Yes I can use a 100w hp supply with my 230w HP laptop and not only will it charge... It will run the machine. The laptop detects the supply and reduces performance to stay within the power provided. Pretty cool.
  • 1 Hide
    JQB45 , December 19, 2013 6:13 AM
    The most common Voltage is 19V. The most common Wattages are 25W to 200W, although I have seen as high as 300W with a single power "brick".

    Perhaps a single interface style for the adapter to the laptop and then have the power supply sense the needs of the laptop and provide the correct Wattage.

    If the power supply is to small then it should provide the wattage output its capable of providing and show an informational message indicating it is not ideal for the needs of your laptop.

    If the power supply has more wattage output then your laptop needs then it should automatically adjust its output to meet the needs of your laptop. ATX power supplies do this all the time.

    So with these ideas you could standardize power supplies to 25W, 50W, 100W, 200W and 300W. They would all be 19V and would all have the same interface plug to the laptop.
  • 0 Hide
    oj88 , December 19, 2013 7:37 AM
    What about standardizing the batteries for laptop, cellphone, tablet, digital camera, and etc. next, that should reduce the waste even further, and save consumers a lot of money.
  • 2 Hide
    bucknutty , December 19, 2013 7:56 AM
    Quote:
    Hmmm 5v/1a/5w charger, So takes 24 hours to charge a REAL laptop as long as it's not getting used? I guess the eurotrash doesn't use real computers. Thank you socialist one-size-fits-all government.


    Haha, I don't think they intend to use cell phone chargers to run laptops. That just silly.
  • 4 Hide
    CaedenV , December 19, 2013 8:24 AM
    Reading the title I thought this was a push for yet another ATX style standard so that we could have people build their own laptops which would be doomed to failure. But a standard power plug is something that could stand a chance.

    There is just one big issue that needs to be addressed with this that I am not seeing in the article. What made the cell phone USB universal charging thing so awesome was that it applied to a whole lot more devices than just cell phones. It was applied to phones, small tablets, ereaders, cameras, smartphones, game controllers, and a whole host of other things. If a modern device runs on 10W or less then there is a good chance that it charged or operated with a micro USB port. The same thing could possibly be done with this new set of chargers.

    Another issue is that there is simply not going to be a single charger that will be appropriate for laptops which range from 10W of power on the low end, up to 350W of power on the high end. At the very least we are looking at a 25W, 50W, 100W, and 200W power levels, each with their own physical connector so that people don't use the wrong chargers on the wrong devices. Devices over 200W are so few and varied that it would probably be difficult to enforce a standard on them.

    Still, look around your house at just how many devices take 25W or less. Networking equipment like your modem, routers, and switches. AV equipment like CD/DVD/Bluray players, DVRs, your cable box, micro-consoles, etc. There are also other devices like answering machines and cordless phones to consider for people who still have them. And then you have laptops like netbooks, ultrabooks, and larger tablets. Many of these devices could benefit from a small standardized external power source. Many of these devices could share a single 150W power brick with up to 6 of 25W connections on it to save space. And more importantly, many of these types of devices are built to the lowest price possible and have horrible power supplies from protection and efficiency standpoints, and making a standardized highly efficient external PSU could go a long way at lowering the overall power use. This could cut down on a lot more ewaste than just what is contributed by laptops.

    Moving up the food chain; how many devices in your home use less than 200W? Monitors, TVs, stereos, most desktops, laptops, all-in-ones, home servers, and game consoles all use 200W or less. If these devices each used external power bricks then it would help a few things. Firstly, would allow manufacturers to design a single device that is usable around the world rather than making regional devices which is a lot of the reason why companies use external power bricks in the first place. No internal PSU means less heat dissipation to design for, which means smaller and simpler heat sinks, less fans, and simpler lighter overall design. After the standard catches on then you would not have to ship a PSU with your device at all, which would cut out out a decent chunk of costs involved in designing, manufacturing, and shipping these power supplies.

    On the consumer side it would suck at first. You would have to build a small collection of these power adapters for your home. Being high efficiency designs then these would probably not be cheap adapters, especially on the higher end of things. But they would be truly mass produced (especially if they are used in just about all consumer electronics) which means that they would be significantly cheaper than replacement power supplies for current devices. That would be a lot of power supplies to purchase, but it would be over time as you slowly accumulate the devices which would not hurt too much. Plus, once you have it then it will probably last you a good 10-15 years which is a lot longer than most of the devices that you would use with them. Plus there would be less power wasted (especially on higher end devices). So between lower device costs and power savings you would probably win out in the end.

    Anywho, just saying that the best part of cell phone standardization was that it applied to a lot more than just cell phones. If we are going to make this kind of a standard for laptops, then it would be nice to see it apply to just about everything in these power ranges.
  • 0 Hide
    hoofhearted , December 19, 2013 9:30 AM
    I am all for this - 3 different sizes though - LMS - 200W, 150W, and 90W - size the connects too such that you can't burn up the PSU, but you can use the big one on a small laptop albeit overkill, but prevents potential redundant purchase.

    Dell has to be the worst abuser of this with their third conductor which actually has a comm signal from PSU back to computer just to prevent 3rd parties.
  • 0 Hide
    ddpruitt , December 19, 2013 9:34 AM
    Quote:
    Reading the title I thought this was a push for yet another ATX style standard so that we could have people build their own laptops which would be doomed to failure. But a standard power plug is something that could stand a chance.

    There is just one big issue that needs to be addressed with this that I am not seeing in the article. What made the cell phone USB universal charging thing so awesome was that it applied to a whole lot more devices than just cell phones. It was applied to phones, small tablets, ereaders, cameras, smartphones, game controllers, and a whole host of other things. If a modern device runs on 10W or less then there is a good chance that it charged or operated with a micro USB port. The same thing could possibly be done with this new set of chargers.

    Another issue is that there is simply not going to be a single charger that will be appropriate for laptops which range from 10W of power on the low end, up to 350W of power on the high end. At the very least we are looking at a 25W, 50W, 100W, and 200W power levels, each with their own physical connector so that people don't use the wrong chargers on the wrong devices. Devices over 200W are so few and varied that it would probably be difficult to enforce a standard on them.

    Still, look around your house at just how many devices take 25W or less. Networking equipment like your modem, routers, and switches. AV equipment like CD/DVD/Bluray players, DVRs, your cable box, micro-consoles, etc. There are also other devices like answering machines and cordless phones to consider for people who still have them. And then you have laptops like netbooks, ultrabooks, and larger tablets. Many of these devices could benefit from a small standardized external power source. Many of these devices could share a single 150W power brick with up to 6 of 25W connections on it to save space. And more importantly, many of these types of devices are built to the lowest price possible and have horrible power supplies from protection and efficiency standpoints, and making a standardized highly efficient external PSU could go a long way at lowering the overall power use. This could cut down on a lot more ewaste than just what is contributed by laptops.

    Moving up the food chain; how many devices in your home use less than 200W? Monitors, TVs, stereos, most desktops, laptops, all-in-ones, home servers, and game consoles all use 200W or less. If these devices each used external power bricks then it would help a few things. Firstly, would allow manufacturers to design a single device that is usable around the world rather than making regional devices which is a lot of the reason why companies use external power bricks in the first place. No internal PSU means less heat dissipation to design for, which means smaller and simpler heat sinks, less fans, and simpler lighter overall design. After the standard catches on then you would not have to ship a PSU with your device at all, which would cut out out a decent chunk of costs involved in designing, manufacturing, and shipping these power supplies.

    On the consumer side it would suck at first. You would have to build a small collection of these power adapters for your home. Being high efficiency designs then these would probably not be cheap adapters, especially on the higher end of things. But they would be truly mass produced (especially if they are used in just about all consumer electronics) which means that they would be significantly cheaper than replacement power supplies for current devices. That would be a lot of power supplies to purchase, but it would be over time as you slowly accumulate the devices which would not hurt too much. Plus, once you have it then it will probably last you a good 10-15 years which is a lot longer than most of the devices that you would use with them. Plus there would be less power wasted (especially on higher end devices). So between lower device costs and power savings you would probably win out in the end.

    Anywho, just saying that the best part of cell phone standardization was that it applied to a lot more than just cell phones. If we are going to make this kind of a standard for laptops, then it would be nice to see it apply to just about everything in these power ranges.


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  • 0 Hide
    hoofhearted , December 19, 2013 9:40 AM
    @CaedenV agreed ... How was it we were able to standardize 12V for a car battery and the cig lighter socket? or even the 110VAC and the standard three prong connector (ok EU and America are different) back in the day? I mean cars and trucks as well as home appliances have as much variance in designs and power requirements as laptops.
  • 0 Hide
    danwat1234 , December 19, 2013 12:17 PM
    Will this include Dell? Most laptops have just 2 wires; a negative and positive wire going to the DC jack in the laptop. But Dell has a 3rd wire, a signal wire for communication. Battery won't charge unless the charger and laptop handshake or at least the laptop sees the charger communication (not sure of the details). It will power on from the charger but won't charge the battery.

    Hopefully Dell will get rid of the 3rd wire soon.

    1 thing I think worries manufactures is perhaps a charger for a laptop will be used on a gaming laptop, and will be overtaxed because it doesn't have the same amperage rating, it melts and you have it replaced with your laptop's warranty..

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