Chargers vs Adapters

User avatar
ChrisGreaves
PlutoniumLounger
Posts: 12456
Joined: 24 Jan 2010, 23:23
Location: paused.undefined.exposed

Chargers vs Adapters

Post by ChrisGreaves »

I am trailing in Bob's well-defined footsteps, but am, as always, not quite catching up.

Would some kind soul please explain - in words suitable for either a 4-year old or a 74-year old - the basic or essential differences between a "charger" and an "adapter", as applied to computing, phone, and other light-weight applications.

When I travel from Canada to France I carry a white cube about two inches on a side that lets me cope with strange wall outlets in France. I plug my Canadian laptop power cord into my white cube and the white cube is plugged into a French hotel wall socket. I can then run my laptop. I am happy with using that type of device.

I have a little black cube about 1.5 inches on a side. In Canada I plug that into the wall socket beside my bed each night and plug a smart-phone USB cable in so that I can recharge my smart phone battery each night. I could take that black cube to France and plug it into my white cube, I am sure.

I possess three laptops, and so possess three active "bricks" about four inches by two inches by one inch. I plug these into my 120vAC 60Hz wall sockets in Canada and all three laptops run off mains power while charging their batteries.

As well I can USB-cable a smart phone (I have only two of those) into any laptop and charge the smart phone from my laptop (which is probably replenishing its battery from the mains.)

So that's about the limit of my practical knowledge.

Let's start Real Easy: Please and Thank You, Of those five objects, bolded above, which ones are strictly "chargers", and which are strictly "adapters", and please, "Why?"

Thanks
Chris
If you are going through hell, keep going!

User avatar
DaveA
GoldLounger
Posts: 2557
Joined: 24 Jan 2010, 15:26
Location: Olympia, WA

Re: Chargers vs Adapters

Post by DaveA »

The white cube is an adapter, as it changes (Adapts) from one power form to another.
In France the power plugs and sockets are of type E. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
In Canada and USA use 120vAC 60Hz

The others are chargers as they charge your batteries.
I am so far behind, I think I am First :evilgrin:
Genealogy....confusing the dead and annoying the living

User avatar
HansV
Administrator
Posts: 72233
Joined: 16 Jan 2010, 00:14
Status: Microsoft MVP
Location: Wageningen, The Netherlands

Re: Chargers vs Adapters

Post by HansV »

The white cube is an adapter that "converts" (loosely speaking) power sockets. By itself, it cannot be used to charge a device. It is an adapter but not a charger.

The black cube and the bricks are adapters that converts the output from a mains socket to the kind of current that can charge a device. You can call this a charger as well as a charger.

Your laptops and smart phones use the same kind of current, so you only need a cable to charge a phone from a laptop.
Regards,
Hans

User avatar
StuartR
Administrator
Posts: 11564
Joined: 16 Jan 2010, 15:49
Location: London, Europe

Re: Chargers vs Adapters

Post by StuartR »

Typically adapters allow physical connection of a plug to a socket, but they don't change the voltage or current.
A charger typically takes mains voltage and outputs a different voltage and current.
StuartR


jstevens
SilverLounger
Posts: 2443
Joined: 26 Jan 2010, 16:31
Location: Southern California

Re: Chargers vs Adapters

Post by jstevens »

So does being an "early adaptor" ring a bell?
Regards,
John

User avatar
BobH
UraniumLounger
Posts: 8360
Joined: 13 Feb 2010, 01:27
Location: Temple - Deep in the Heart of Texas

Re: Chargers vs Adapters

Post by BobH »

In my view, and adapter is anything that function merely to convert x to y. In your case, Chris, the block that has the correct prongs on one side for the French outlets and outlets on the other to accept your power cord is an adapter (as I understand the term when used with hardware).

A transformer is yet another device, frequently called a 'wall wart.' These devices often have plugs for US/CA power outlets and USB or other types of connectors at the opposite end of the cord/cable. These typically convert AC to DC current and provide specific amperage and voltage which goes back to my post asking about the 5.0A and the 1.4A output from those power supplies and sometimes charge batteries depending on what they plug into.

A charger is a device that provides the correct type and amount of power to refill a battery in a device. The device might be a smartphone, a laptop, or other device. The bricks that you mention in connection with your laptop are hybrids - to me - in that they both charge the battery or pass power through to your laptop. They perform as both chargers and transformers.

I'm sure my information is not absolute nor does it fully cover the subject. I'm only referencing the different type devices and cables I've encountered, what I call them, and to some extent their function.

I await correction and edification. :cheers: :chocciebar: :thankyou:
Bob's yer Uncle!
(1/2)(1+√5)
Intel Core i5, 3570K, 3.40 GHz, 16 GB RAM, ECS Z77 H2-A3 Mobo, Windows 7 >HPE 64-bit, MS Office 2016

User avatar
ChrisGreaves
PlutoniumLounger
Posts: 12456
Joined: 24 Jan 2010, 23:23
Location: paused.undefined.exposed

Re: Chargers vs Adapters

Post by ChrisGreaves »

@ DaveA » 17 Dec 2020, 12:17
The white cube is an adapter, as it changes (Adapts) from one power form to another.

As I understand it then by "one form to another" you are referring to the physical layout of the pins (that plug into the french wall) and the holes (into which I (a Canadian) or a friend from the UK or from Australia) could plug a device of their own?
Here is my purchased-in-France adapter.
Adapter_20201220_102810.jpg
The right-hand image plugs in to the wall in France.

@ HansV » 17 Dec 2020, 12:23

The white cube is an adapter that "converts" (loosely speaking) power sockets. By itself, it cannot be used to charge a device. It is an adapter but not a charger.

An adapter, therefore, is just a fancy bit of straight-through cabling, and if I were stupid enough (grin) I could leave my adapter at home and take with me a few twists of suitably thick copper wire. Cigarette-packet foil would not do because it is probably too thin to carry mains current; it would burn out, as a fuse.


So any unit other than an adapter that lies between the main power from the wall socket, and a physical device (phone, laptop, water distillation unit, electric jug etc) can be considered to be something that changes at least one of voltage, amperage, polarity or type of current (DC/AC). Is that a reasonable statement?


@ BobH » 17 Dec 2020, 22:11
A charger is a device that provides the correct type and amount of power to refill a battery in a device. The device might be a smartphone, a laptop, or other device.

Well, then, I should probably state that by "laptop" I must be talking about two devices:-
Device1: The laptop computer at which I sit and type.
Device2: The battery unit within that laptop (or smartphone or radio or …)
The power-brick can be used to charge Device2 even when I am not using Device1 to type this message.
The power-brick can be used to drive Device1 even when I have removed Device2.
That is, the power-brick can be used to supply power to either or both of the two devices.
How does that sound?

Thanks to All
Chris
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
If you are going through hell, keep going!

User avatar
Leif
Administrator
Posts: 7170
Joined: 16 Jan 2010, 08:21
Location: UK/France

Re: Chargers vs Adapters

Post by Leif »

BobH wrote:
18 Dec 2020, 01:41
A transformer is yet another device, frequently called a 'wall wart.' These devices often have plugs for US/CA power outlets and USB or other types of connectors at the opposite end of the cord/cable. These typically convert AC to DC current...
I think, strictly speaking, a transformer only transforms the voltage - to convert to DC, you would also need a rectifier (i.e. a transformer-rectifier). This, however, would only provide rectified AC, and would need some capacitance to smooth out the 100Hz/120Hz ripple.

Typical switch-mode 'chargers' these days first rectify the incoming AC to provide a high-voltage DC rail, and then use high-frequency switching (100-500KHz) to supply a regulated DC voltage on the output.

The higher the switching frequency, the smaller the inductor (transformer) needs to be, which is why modern switch-mode plug-top chargers are so small and efficient, relatively speaking.
Leif.