AC Adapter - Alert - "AC power adapter wattage and type cannot be determined"


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AC Adapter - Alert - "AC power adapter wattage and type cannot be determined"

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This is a common problem (I see lots of posts)

The problem source is the [Dell] AC adapter.  PA-21 Family, 65W, P/N: NX061.  It is made in China.

I have an XPS M1330.  Using Dell after warranty service, replaced the Mother Board twice, replaced the battery twice, replaced the AC adapter twice - not fixing it.

Turns out the power warning message is very informative.  It states "Please connect a Dell 65W AC adapter or greater for best system performance".  So, I plugged in my Dell 95W adapter - WOW Problem Solved.

A lab test of my new Dell 65W AC adapter shows it to be 64.6 watts.  If this unit gets hot (like after several hours of use), it may not put out the full 65 watts - the system may not recognize the adapter, it may power the system ok, but won't charge the battery.

These units burn out after only a few months of use. Their cables are too fragile. If Dell's or their supplier's Quality Control can't produce a reliable 65W product - I found seveal "Made In USA" universal adapters.


All Replies
  • Wow - very helpful, jcdiacap! Thank you for saving me a lot of time, money and aggravation!

  • Thanks for this!! It is very helpful.

    I made the same experience. My new laptop XPS 15z did not work with the delivered Dell AC/DC adapter EA90PM111. I tried with my old Dell LA90PS1-00 and solved the problem. I now will try to contact the Dell support and ask them for a new suitable adapter to the XPS 15z.

  • Well my solution was simple.

    I just removed the battery pack and powered up my notebook. Then I turned off the notebook replaced the battery pack and VOILA. The error message was gone.

  • Well first of all, The fact that the charger is made in China doesn't really matter..  Right now, I'm using a 5 years old Dell Inspiron 1525 and guess what? It's charger is made in China and never caused that wattage problem until yesterday.. Well, It lasted 5 nice years that's the point..

    Second, Thanks for the solution. I suspected either the charger or the home electric system's wattage altering (voltage/current drops). I wasn't so sure which one is faulty, so Thanks!!

    Third, Anyone have any idea about that low charger wattage may affect the HDD performance? My battery is dead right now ( 0% and not charging so the laptop is running on the charger at the moment  ). Will that cause errors or damage to the HDD? Like ''your HDD died!! you must change it'' damage?

  • We're all in the same boat. My Studio 17 laptop had this error pop up about 2 months ago. Prior to getting it 3 years ago, it's been fine. I tried using a same voltage power cord on it, but it still has the same error message and will not charge at all. Very frustrating to be sure.

    I tried pulling out the battery (which is dead) and putting it back in while it's "charging" and nothing works. I may consider getting a higher voltage power cord, but we really shouldn't be the ones deal with this - Dell should be. 

    I may consider getting an external charger for it since the battery is still good.  

  • In most cases the cause of  the adapter warning message is quite simple: a broken adapter cable or a faulty power jack which often lead to intermittent problems.Important is to understand Dell's power adapter concept (which is quite different to that from other manufacturer !) to make the right decisions before buying and replacing parts.

  • I've had the same problem on and off for months now, I used to just connect and disconnect the power adapter from the socket, plug in and out the port from the laptop's DC in until it would start without the error. Until finally, the "hack" stopped working and I'd be getting the error ALL THE TIME.

    I just purchased a new 240W adapter and on the same day, I just tried to plug in the adapter to the DC in of the laptop just a quarter of the way in. Plugging it full in and pulling it out just a little bit to feel a little "snap", probably 1/8th of the way out and NO ERROR!

    Not sure if I just got lucky but I've tried doing the "full in" and getting errors, and the "pull out" and not getting errors.

  • It may be a bad DC jack.

    I know the original poster started this thread some time ago, but I would like to add my experience with this particular error on several machines and what I eventually found to be a fix for them. I personally own an E4300 laptop that started getting the "Please Connect a Dell 65W AC adapter or greater" error about a year ago. It didn't bother me at first because I used the laptop at my desk for the longest time anyways, but the system started to DRAG. Performance is throttled down significantly when it cannot determine the AC adapter. I replaced the Dell with an Acer, but held onto it because I thought one day I'd come back to determinely poke at it. 

    I have been a computer repair tech for 12 years and have seen so many of these errors occur. With my E4300, I bought a genuine 90 watt adapter. I replaced the battery. I flashed the BIOS. I disabled quick charge in the BIOS. I just couldn't stand to use the laptop with the performance drop.

    A post in this thread mentions soldering a chip from within the AC power cord directly to the pin on the DC jack. The E4300 is simple enough to only have a DC Jack that is wired, not soldered, to the board, and after buying $80 worth of adapters, what was one more little component. 

    It was the DC Jack. Looking at the old, original one, it is in pristine condition. Not a tear or funk in any of the cables, but I guess somewhere hiding under the plastic is a lose or confused cable wiggling around. I created an account here for the sole purpose of mentioning this quirk because I love my E4300 and I hope it might be a somewhat cheap attempt to fix the problem, rather than buying new batteries and AC cords from "official", expensive sources. 

    And a replacement jack is $5.99 USD online. I have been a tech for a long time and encountered this error dozens of dozens of times. In some cases it is the AC cord. Seldom is it the battery (Battery gives a slightly different error is most cases) Our shop keeps several DC jacks for the most common Dell laptops and I have swapped out and soldered a few dozen. That fixes it about half the time.