How to solve the problem “Dell AC power adapter type cannot be determined”

How to solve the problem "Dell AC power adapter type cannot be determined"

The "Dell AC power adapter type cannot be determined" problem description

I have brand new Inspiron 1520.
Battery fully charged, when I unplug the charger from the wall, but let the plug in the Inspiron for a while (let’s say a night), when I startup my computer, I get the message "The AC power adapter type cannot be determined. Your system will operate slower and the battery will not charge. Please connect a Dell 90W AC adapter or higher for best system operation" (needless to say that the power adapter IS a Dell 90W…). Unplugging and replugging the adapter solves the problem.

The problem happens frequently at Dell inspiron 1525,inspiron 6000, inspiron 600m, XPS m1330, latitude D600 and so on.

The "Dell AC power adapter type cannot be determined" problem cause :

There are many small silver wires creating a jacket around the cable that frequently fall out. After a few of them break from bending the cable during NORMAL usage there is a drop in voltage but still PLENTY to run and charge the computer.

Break open the power brick. (Yes, really break, beacause there are no screws)

And yes .. as many people suspected the small pin of the connector is the DATA line and is connected to a Dallas DS 2501 1-wire memory chip in the power brick. The 2501 is 512 bit EPROM with also an unique identification code. Measurement by oscilloscope made it clear that this chip is indeed DEAD, the ‘high’ voltage on the DATA line was about 0.6 V while it should be at least 2.2 V.

When disconnecting the data line from the memory chip and measuring the signal level on the DATA line when plugging in the connector in the laptop the signal level is back to a perfect 3.3 V and the laptop is clearly sending?request signals, so the laptop should be o.k.

Of course this minor defect can’t easily be repaired, because when buying a new DS-2501 as a replacement, first it should be programmed with the right data, so you need programming software/hardware and of course a power brick with a still intact DS-2501 to copy the data from!

Dell’s Customer service reply :

Hello All,
I am sorry for the frustration, but I am 100% confident there is no conspiracy afoot to sell ac adapters by designing them to fail. We warranty those parts and designing them to fail would drive up warranty costs. If your ac adapter needs to be replaced, I will be glad to dispatch you one myself [out-of-date information removed].

To all others on this thread, if you would like me to replace your ac adapter, please contact the site mods here to get my email address. Then email me your service tag, name and current ship to address. I will overnight you all replacement ac adapters and power cords. Thanks for your patience.

An expert’s advise about "Dell AC power adapter type cannot be determined"

Concerning this problem, I was also disapointed with the limitations imposed due to the PSID signal on my Dell Inspiron 1100 battery. So this is my solution.

OK the ID function is there for a reason, Dell designed it to help preserve the battery etc, but having emailed tech support with a request for a software override or some other solution to be able to switch off the PSID requirement, they either could or would not help. Just recommended I purchase (as people have said) more of their charging equipment etc. which I also think is a bit unreasonable.

They could easily update the Bios to allow user selection of this function.

Anyway, I ummmed and errred for a while, and then thought why not move the mysterious ID chip from the adapter to permanently inside the Laptop and disconnect the middle ID pin so the laptop ALWAYS thinks it has a correct adapter connected. Fine by me. And you can still adjust the power saving mode on screen anyway.

Now I don’t recommend this to most people as its quite tricky. I’m an electronics engineer and have experience with circuits etc. and it took me a couple of days to do it with inspiron 1300 battery. Remember warranties probably go out of the window.

The first problem is to get your good Dell adapter apart. The case is glued together, and withought butchering it completely, takes some effort to get apart with blunt knives etc. Then unsolder the end of the metal shield nearest the output cord to get to the back of the circuit board.

The (Dallas semiconducter) chip is near the output wires, and fortunately its a pretty simple circuit, just three components: The 6 pin chip of which only pins 1 and 2 are used, a protection diode across them, and a tiny 100 Ohm resister.

Very carefully (you only have one chip) unsolder those three bits (actually its better to replace the resister with a standard 1/4W), making note of the connections. Solder fine wires to the chip pins (I used one strand of a cable). Then add the other two bits to the wires laptop battery. Wrap in a little PVC tape with just the two connections showing.

The Laptop unfortunately needs a lot of dismantling to get to the back of the power socket. I had to take of the inspiron 6400 battery, the keyboard, the screen, unclip the wires etc. take out the hard drive, unscrew all the screws in the back, and lift off the top cover. Needs care.

Cut the middle connection from the back of the power socket so you get a little stub left down to the motherboard. Then just solder the appropriate pins of your chip package to ground and the stub, so that it sits in a good position clear of any screws etc.

The simple solution about "Dell AC power adapter type cannot be determined"

There are many small silver wires creating a jacket around the cable. After a few of them break from bending the cable during NORMAL usage there is a drop in voltage but still PLENTY to run and charge the computer. The whole thing about the CPU running at a slower speed is totally unnecessary and only there to further encourage a new purchase.

The wiring and AC adapter are DESIGNED to fail. I have never had one last longer than about a year. Oh, and if you try to get a non-Dell adapter (universal) it won’t work either.My macbook 13 battery has not the same situation.

This is basically an engineered weakness causing many AC adapter orders and a borderline scam if you ask me.

There are many small silver wires creating a jacket around the cable. After a few of them break from bending the cable during NORMAL usage there is a drop in voltage but still PLENTY to run and charge the computer.

Start laptop as normally with AC supply, after complete booting of system, turn off AC plug, just press the cable (coming from adapter) towards the adapter (with normal force) and Turn On AC. Surprisingly its charging my laptop battery.

Put it all back together, and it works well. I now get no more notifications of unrecognised adapters and full speed operation whenever I want. 🙂

Some Dell customer say :

The excuse Dell gives for disabling the computer in this way, that the computer has to "adjust the performance to match the power available", is a joke. How does the computer know how much power is available if it can’t identify the adapter? Why does running my computer at half speed somehow ensure that I will have enough power available, regardless of what adapter I might be using? If Dell really did have the customers’ interests in mind when creating this "functionality", they would have provided a way to override it in the BIOS for those who know they have a powerful enough adapter. Clearly, this is simply a way to force people to replace lost or worn adapters (which typically are not under warranty) only from Dell.

Dell is notorious for these types of games. While researching this problem, I came across one case in which their desktop computers came with power supplies that looked identical to industry-standard ATX power supplies. However, if you attempted to use the power supply with a replacement motherboard that was not from Dell, it would destroy your computer. (see the wikipedia article on the ATX standard, where there is a section devoted to Dell: .)

I was shocked to read one post in this forum in which someone describes having the same problem on their brand new XPS1530. I had this issue on my inspiron 8600 battery about four years ago. It’s one thing for Dell to try to lock people into using only Dell adapters, but continuing to do it after so many years of knowing all the unintended grief it causes for customers makes me never want to buy a Dell again. I just canceled my order for an XPS1530 after reading Matias’s post. (no joke. customer 95034710).

The Dell support solution about "Dell AC power adapter type cannot be determined"

1. Update the bios (I have A01, A03 is out). Ok, but I can’t. In order to do so, you must have the battery and the AC Adapter plugged in or the update program gives an error and forces you to cancel.

2. Motherboard needs to be replaced. Don’t think so, it worked just fine before on the older AC Adapter. Plus if they searched this forum they would see that that did not work for others with the same problem.
But obviously it is not helpful.

The all info is from Dell and
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14 Responses to How to solve the problem “Dell AC power adapter type cannot be determined”

  1. Bret says:

    Mods do I get the dell CSR info…? My 9400 is having the same issues. I cannot believe how many problems dells have now. The have the worst QC measure of any major PC maker. No wonder why HP is destroying them now. They need to get back to their roots (late 90s) when they products were reliable.

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  5. Wayne Manzo says:

    Wow, wiring the chip to the power jack, that’s a great solution. I have an old Dell X300 and
    I tried using a the small Dell Latitude XT AC Adapter and it wouldn’t recognize the adapter.
    The XT adapter is really small and is recognized by my Dell D530 but doesn’t charge the
    battery. I bought another XT adapter and the X300 battery started to charge normally.
    I was told the adapter was too small and wouldn’t work__yeah right.
    The next day the X300 didn’t recognize the adapter. The X300 works great with other Dell adapters or Dell replacement adapters made for the D series laptop. I was using the XT adapter for hours the other day and it worked perfectly. Today, it will not charge the battery. Maybe I’m buying dead adapters(they were really cheap on Ebay__too cheap). I tested the output voltage and it was very close to 20Volts whereas my other adapters are within the 19.5 voltage range.

    From Pasadena,

    Wayne Manz

  6. Lloyd Irvin says:

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  7. Wayne Manzo says:

    Another way of doing this without opening the laptop is to make a “WEM Dseries
    AC Connector”__use a length of the old dell ac adapter cable and barrel plug, a D series power jack, and, a good Dallas chip and the rest is obvious. You solder the Power Jack to a length of the cable from a dead adapter and then solder a good Dallas chip to the cable center wire and ground, etc… The new connector cable should be only a few inches, then you can attach any 19.5v barrel connector AC Adapter to the “WEM Dseries AC Connector” and then plug the WEMDSACC to the laptop and Voila. The Dallas chip sends the signal to the laptop and power is provided by the generic AC adapter. No muss, no fuss. But, make sure you don’t misplace the
    adapter. Why not make a few for the home and office. I made a conversion connector
    like this for my old Dell X200 that used the three prong power plug but the signal pin
    wasn’t used by the X200 so I made an adapter to go from a D Series AC Adapter to the
    three prong power jack. I later replaced the three prong power jack with a Barrel type
    power jack and positioned the jack so the plug was in the back of the X200 not the side.

    From Pasadena,

    Wayne Manzo

  8. Have you ever thought about writing an e-book or guest
    authoring on other blogs? I have a blog centered on the same topics you discuss and would really like to have you
    share some stories/information. I know my viewers would appreciate your work.
    If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e mail.

  9. Wayne Manzo says:

    You don’t even have to open the laptop. Just make an adapter using an old or new laptop power jack and a short length of wire with the male power jack on it. Then, solder the Dallas chip
    to the laptop power jack then solder the short length of wire with the male power jack on it.
    Then you can epoxy the powerjack and Dallas Chip so it looks nice and there you have it.
    You plug your AC Adapter in the adapter you just made and plug this into the laptop. The
    AC adapter’s center pin doesn’t connect to the laptop but the Dallas chip in the new adapter
    section does. You can use this adapter with any Dell laptop. There, isn’t that easier then opening up the box? Oh, you heard about how I put a Dell Latitude D530 into the Dell Latitude D510
    plastic case? Works well, a Dell D510 Dual Core clocking at 2.4GHz? Go figure. And, the box is
    a nice metallic gray silver not the ugly dark black and silver color of the D620, D630, D520, D530,
    D820, D830, ad nauseum.

  10. walmac says:

    Something funny hapened to me. I have an inspiron 1720 and my adapter went unkown by the bios. I was considering using your hack on my system but the other day by chance I suspended my system and when it went on again, recognized the adapter again!

  11. Thank you for this very insightful and helpful post. I need to do something like this for my Dell Alienware M17x R2. Can you provide a detailed image or description of where on the motherboard to solder the ID chip from the Power supply? That would be incredibly helpful. I’ve been facing this problem for such a long time and this seems like the only REAL fix yet. The bios updates etc did nothing and I am tired of this not charging/not recognized power issue.

    Thank you for your time.

    Kind regards,

  12. Weiter says:

    Awesome! Its truly awesome piece of writing, I have got much clear
    idea concerning from this paragraph.

  13. Bernice says:

    I am having the same problem with a Dell Studio Lap Top which I purchased from Dell in 2009. The ac adapter type cannot be determined. What is a novice to do?

    • Wayne Manzo says:

      Buy a New cheap adapter off of Ebay or Amazon for less then $10 with free shipping.
      That is the simplest solution if it is the AC adapter and most likely it is. How many people
      can solder a chip to their motherboard? Zero. I’d buy a new AC Adapter from Adapter Giant
      or something on Ebay and then the laptop doesn’t recognize the adapter then the motherboard
      must be faulty in the charging system. Also, make sure the AC Adapter is the proper wattage.
      A low wattage adapter will start the laptop but not charge the battery. Hope this helps.
      You could make an adapter so you could use any laptop charger with the same voltage
      with your dell but why bother__you’d use a power jack and the barrel connector and you’d
      solder the signal chip in the adapter and then you’d plug any charger into the adapter and then
      plug that into the dell laptop. The signal chip in the adapter is powered by the laptop so the laptop
      will always see the signal chip in the adapter no matter what charger you use. In this way you
      wouldn’t have to solder anything to the motherboard. Try a cheap new adapter that should work and if it doesn’t, sell you laptop as a “parts box” on Ebay and buy a new laptop.

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