Standardized Laptop Charger Approved By IEC

Yesterday evening tech news were all about Standardized Laptop Charger Approved By IEC. The IEC, the standards body which wrote the phone charger specification used in the EU, has approved a standardised laptop charger. IEC is optimistic that it will lead to a reduction in electronics waste and make it easier to find a replacement charger.

Could this be the Major milestone: single charger for notebook computers will significantly reduce e-waste? Each year billions of external chargers are shipped globally. Power supplies for notebooks weigh typically around 300 but sometimes up to 600 grams. They are generally not usable from one computer to the next. The characteristics of the power supplies vary quite much: voltage, available power, connector type and grounding practices. A typical Ultrabook uses a light 45-65 watt power supply, while mobile workstations can need more than 100 watts.

The aim of the new standard is to allow consumers to use a single external charger with a wide range of notebook computers. The IEC Technical Specification 62700: DC Power supply for notebook computer, comprises the input of experts from many countries around the world and has been accepted by the National Committees participating in IEC TC (Technical Committee) 100: Audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment.

This new IEC Technical Specification 62700 covers critical aspects of external chargers for notebook computers, their connector and plug, as well as safety, interoperability, performance and environmental considerations. IEC Technical Specification 62700: DC Power supply for notebook computer, will be available in early 2014. The IEC has not given a date for when the new universal charging standard will begin to appear in the market.

IEC General Secretary and CEO Frans Vreeswijk said, “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. 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. I am proud that the IEC has yet again managed to make the best possible technical solution available.”

Will this new standard be widely adopted? It is hard to say. This time IEC might have a have a swing and a miss on its hands: the new standard will be directly competing with the rival USB Power Delivery Standard, allowing compatible USB cables and ports to carry up to 100W of power – easily enough to charge a laptop without the need for a traditional DC socket like that proposed by the IEC.

The mobile phone industry had already largely moved towards adopting micro USB as a standard connector for charging, with the notable exception of Apple. In the laptop world, there is a much wider variety of connector types and the voltage and current requirements differ even among models from the same manufacturer, so it is doubtful that a single charger could power every available laptop on the market.

One universal power supply standard does not help in any way the problem of the traveler: different electrical power outlets on different countries. The IEC tried years ago to solve the adapter “hell” in there, but without much success. An international standard for electrical outlets in the home are available from the IEC. However, IEC 60906-1 is hardly known. He is very similar to the Swiss plug type J.

Let’s see what happens on around this new power supply standard. Would it be widely adopted quickly or largely forgotten. Both alternatives are very well possible. If the standard will be adopted, how does it affect the quality and pricing of laptop power supplies. There has been some quality issues on the laptop power supplies: EU market surveillance authorities tested the campaign, a total of 136 viable computer charger. The test results showed that almost half of the products checked sent to its environment that exceeds the maximum electromagnetic interference. Very significant weaknesses found in the labeling of products and documents. Only about 30 per cent of the products labels and documents were compliant.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Some background:
    ICT&CC Joint Coordination Activity (JCA- ICT&CC)
    Geneva, 25 November 2010,d.bGQ


    The scope of the current draft standard reads, “This standard is applicable to DC power supply which is connected to the portable computers and supply power to them switching 220V into DC lower than 60V. And this standard specifies general requirement such as types of DC power supply for the portable computers, electrical characteristics and criteria for development, the structure of power input cords and power output connectors, safety requirement during the manufacturer specific maintenance, operation, installation and of installed equipment (refer to IEC 60950-1 for the safety), and Performance requirement such as DC power supply capacity parameter, measuring methods, capacity level and EMC requirements (refer to IEC 61204 series).”

    Following specifications were taken into account in advance as key parameters before comments resolution:
    - Output voltage: 16V (Japan), 19V (Korea, US), 20V (China)
    - Power capacity: 60 or 65 W, 90W, 120W
    - EMC: Adapter + notebook  EMC? (Prepare test data and discuss in next meeting)
    - Connector and ID pin:
    connector – check IEC 61076-XXX 5.5mm round type
    ID pin – discuss control parameters in next meeting
    - Safety: IEC TC 108
    - Others: CISPR 22/24 will be discussed in the next meeting.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    IEC 60906-1

    IEC 60906-1 is an international standard for 230 V AC domestic power plugs and sockets. It was conceived as a common mains plug and socket standard for use in territories with 230 V mains. The standard was originally published by the International Electrotechnical Commission in 1986. Although it looks similar to the Swiss SEV 1011 plug, its dimensions are different. So far, only South Africa has introduced a standard (SANS 164-2) based closely on IEC-60906-1. Brazil used it as the starting point for its NBR 14136 standard, but this does not conform to IEC-60906-1.

    For most existing European systems (Schuko, etc.), it would be possible to design sockets that can accept both the traditional plug as well as the IEC 60906-1 Class I and II plugs, thereby enabling a smooth transition to the new system. However, the IEC 60906-1 standard explicitly discourages the use of multi-standard sockets, claiming that such sockets are likely to create safety problems when used with plugs from other countries.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google and HP recall overheating Chromebook 11 chargers
    Overheating chargers said to resemble Salvador Dali sculptures

    CHROMEBOOK DESIGNER Google has been forced to recall chargers for its Chromebook 11 after a number of them were found to have overheated and melted.

    Sales of the machine, which is built by HP, were suspended last month because of the overheating charger problem

    The unit is powered by a standard microUSB connector and HP has advised users to “stop using the bundled charger immediately”. In theory, anyone who is left without power can simply substitute one of the other half dozen USB chargers they probably have lying around the house, however they do so at their own risk.

    HP and Google have advised that Chromebook 11 users can make use of other microUSB chargers, as long as they are Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certified.

  4. Electronics trends for 2014 « Tomi Engdahl’s ePanorama blog says:

    [...] E-Waste: Lack of Info Plagues Efforts to Reduce E-Waste article tells that creation of trade codes is necessary to track used electronics products according to a recent study concerning the waste from growing quantities of used electronics devices—including TVs, mobile phones and computers. High levels of electronic waste are being sent to Africa and Asia under false pretenses.” StEP estimates worldwide e-waste to increase by 33 percent from 50 million tons in 2012 to 65 million tons by 2017. China and the U.S. lead the world as top producers of e-waste. America produces about 65 pounds of e-waste per person every year. There will be aims to reduce the waste, for example project like standardizing mobile phone chargers and laptop power supplies. [...]

  5. Johnson says:

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  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    It seems that nowadays USB type C chargers are becoming the common standardized charger type that allows same charger to be used with many different devices.

    “Will this new standard be widely adopted? It is hard to say. This time IEC might have a have a swing and a miss on its hands: the new standard will be directly competing with the rival USB Power Delivery Standard, allowing compatible USB cables and ports to carry up to 100W of power – easily enough to charge a laptop without the need for a traditional DC socket like that proposed by the IEC.”
    - so this IEC idea seems to be a miss like I predicted that it could be

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Will this new standard be widely adopted?
    The answer is no. It was pretty much forgotten.

    The rival USB Power Delivery Standard that allows compatible USB-C cables and ports to carry up to 100W of power has become the widely adopted charging standard.


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