Hello, I’ve just ordered a Framework laptop and I’m looking forward to it arriving.
My last two laptops were Dell XPS 13s. In the last few months I have had issues with them both - they stopped charging and the local repair guy said the motherboard was fried somehow. The first laptop was about 7 years old, the second one newer, but bought second hand.
Both were charged with Dell USB-C chargers.
I don’t know much about it all, but I am concerned that there is something going on in my home that could be frying these laptops. My RCD trips from time to time for no particular reason.
I haven’t had any other issues with any of my other electrical equipment. I really don’t want to break a brand new framework machine (repairable or not!) so I would like some advice and reassurance. I am intending to use a Dell 45W USB-C charger with my framework machine.
Hello, I’ve just ordered a Framework laptop and I’m looking forward to it arriving.
Welcome to the forums!
Surge protection certainly can’t hurt, but I would recommend you reconsider this decision. Framework recommends a 60+W charger. Otherwise, the laptop will charge slowly and the battery could still drain under high load while charging.
Thanks for the recommendation - I had it ordered before I got the chance to check the Wattage on my charger. I also have a dell usb c docking station that it will usually be plugged into. If I have an issue with them charging rates I’ll upgrade for sure. Thanks.
All computers and other sensitive equipment (including fridge and freezer) in my house are on surge protectors. These are in addition to a surge protection device that is installed in the consumer unit.
Powerline ethernet devices wont work with surge protectors, but otherwise there’s no good reason not to use them, as previously stated it won’t hurt, and its a small investment that may protect a much larger investment.
For reference, I have used the following chargers with my Batch 1, 1185 unit
MacBook Air, 30 W.
Samsung 45 W.
Anker 100 W.
Anything lower wouldn’t really charge while using the computer.
No heavy games or compilations. Watching Video, streaming or downloaded, and general usage.
One thing I noticed - on linux (not sure about Windows) when using a low wattage charger the device fell into a strange “powered on but not charging” state and the CMOS battery would slowly discharge. As a result after a few weeks like this boot times took a long time due to the CMOS battery being discharged. My fix for this was to always use my charger even when using a dock.
I don’t think surge protection is what you need. If you were experiencing constant surges in your homes power, many things would be dead, yes? On the other hand, computers don’t much care for “dirty” power. That would be power that doesn’t have a clean sine wave. (See Here) This is what the power delivery system in electronics takes care of, it smoothes out any voltage issues and delivers clean power to the CPU and other components. Surge protectors do not do anything for that particular issue. You would want to buy a product that advertises cleaning power as a feature. Some UPS units do this. I don’t use such products myself (although I probably should since the power in my apartment is wonky as hell). Just my 2 cents.
Thank you for this. Yes you’re right, the two laptops are the only things that have failed.
I’m a bit suspect of the repair guy to be honest.
Any idea how I would tell if I have dirty power? Wouldn’t an AC to DC charger tidy that sort of thing up?
Very conscious that this has gone off topic from framework computers but thank you for indulging me!
@Peter_Armstrong No idea! I really don’t know how one would go about checking! Perhaps call an electrician and ask them? You are correct that a AC to DC charger should correct for these things and whatever isn’t corrected there will almost certainly be corrected by the VRMs and other power circuitry within your laptop. The cleaner the power going in, the easier time your components will have but honestly, as much as I believe power conditioning does help in certain edge cases, like for professional overclockers looking for the last few points, I’m less certain about consumer applications.
I’ve had weirdness occur in my apartment before with breakers tripping over things they should not trip from. Just last week my bedroom breaker got tripped when I plugged in my vacuum! And the breaker for my kitchen! How the hell does a completely separate circuit also trip, I ask you!
I digress. I’m not certain what the correct solution for you is. Do I think a surge protector would help you? Well, I certainly don’t think it would hurt but given this is a laptop, just unplugging it from the wall during a storm and the like should be sufficient protection from surges. Power conditioning could help but I can’t guess with any certainty that what I described is your problem. I’m not an electrician, I’m a 25 y.o. econ student with a passion for electronics.
TL;DR is this, talk to a local electrician, they should be able to diagnose any power issues within your home I would think and it might save you the cost of buying potentially expensive equipment (especially for whole home conditioning). But given that no other devices in your home experience such issues, I suspect something else is the culprit than power.
Thanks for thinking this through with me!
I’m going to put it down as a weird coincidence and a less than amazing repair guy. Who knows maybe he accidentally fried the last ones when investigating.
Self service from now on
A charger shouldn’t need a surge protector, it has built-in protections of its own. It wouldn’t hurt though. But:
This is more concerning (had to look this up, it’s also known as a GFI). Does it trip when you touch the metal case of the laptop? Does it trip more often in high humidity? Do you get shocks/does it trip when you’re plugging/unplugging USB-A devices and you touch the metal shield?
You may have a grounding problem in that outlet or possibly the whole house. Your RCD (GFI) is trying to protect you from conducting powerline voltage through you. Keep using it, but should it fail, you may get a shock!
Maybe I’m wrong, but maybe your ground is carrying significant voltage from time to time and this zapped through your laptops. Sometimes your RCD stops it, sometimes not.
I really don’t want to fan the flames of your anxiety about potential damage.
However it occurs to me that there’s some flawed logic in this thread. While it’s undoubtedly true that no appliance other than your two Dell laptops have fried, what do the intersections of laptops, other appliances, power outlets and supply circuits look like?
In what way? just to be crystal clear, I’m not attacking you, just want to learn. Especially if you have electrical experience to bring to the table.
Disclaimer and context: I have a 40-year career in electronic media; I manage techs and technology in a radio station; I am not an electrician.
All that said, my earlier comment was observing that the discussion seemed to have dismissed power supply problems because no other (electronic) appliances had exhibited malfunction. I was encouraging @Peter_Armstrong to consider the possibility that a particular outlet, or the circuit that outlet is connected to, may have contributed to the laptop failures. Perhaps the dead laptops were connected to an outlet or circuit that powers no other appliances.
I have no specific insight into Peter’s particular circumstances.
A contrived example: something peculiar about an air conditioning compressor starting up alters the supply to other devices on the same circuit. That alteration might impair their operation.
Helicopter view: motherboards don’t spontaneously fry. Faulty power supplies and power supply cables can cause them to. It seems unlikely in my experience that the power from a wall outlet would fry a motherboard and leave the intermediate rectifying and step-down circuits (in the wall wart) undamaged.
@truffaldino Ah, that makes sense. I hadn’t considered that point of view. Thank you.
As an electrician by trade (though haven’t worked as such for over 20 years) I am aware of what you are mentioning there from my training many years ago.
It is a bit hard to explain here, and would be a bit too long winded and maybe going off topic, but if you are interested research (maybe with Google) up on the effect heavy capacitive or inductive loads have on the power factor of a power supply. This will explain what you are mentioning here. I note in my house (on a stand-alone solar supply installation) whenever I turn on ceiling fans my TV monitor goes blank and the signal from my laptop shows as being disconnected for a couple of seconds then comes back on; the fans are on a lighting circuit while the TV and laptop are on a separate power circuit. This effect is not from a power/voltage surge as both the laptop and the TV are on a surge board. The effect is the starting load of the fans affecting the power factor of the supply, shutting off/running the fans does not have any effect at all only starting up does. I’ve also seen this on a mains power supply installation with ceiling fans where starting the fan would trigger a bedside touch activated lamp to turn on and off; this lamp like my laptop and TV are on separate circuits to the ceiling fans, it is the power supply itself that is affected and is not a voltage surge/spike as such.
If it is suspected that this effect is causing problems with burning out laptops etc I’d get onto an electrician quickly as it shouldn’t do so; there may be other, possibly more serious, issues in play. Although surge boards are a good idea generally they don’t do anything towards stopping this sort of effect from my experience.