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What is a Wall Wart?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2014
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Sometimes referred to as a power supply brick, the wall wart is an electrical device that is often included with electronic gadgets that require a power plug that is oversized and would not fit well with a standard wall outlet. It usually runs from the device that requires a power source, and is connected to the outlet via a conventional three prong plug. While not considered to be esthetically pleasing, wall warts do provide a degree of safety while managing to provide enough power to many types of electrical equipment.

One of the major advantages to a wall wart has to do with preventing overheating to both the power source and the device that is receiving the power. Because the wart proper is removed from the equipment that receives the electrical current, it is possible to maintain a proper temperature at both ends of the device. Many models are manufactured with built in thermostats that shut down the unit if a malfunction takes place and the wart begins to overheat.

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In spite of the common use of the wall wart with a number of appliances and computer equipment, there are those who feel that the device is not particularly efficient. The idea is that the transformers that are part of the construction of the device actually use a great deal of power themselves. Some models include transformers that continue to draw power even when the equipment is turned off. The only way to eliminate the power use is to disconnect the wall wart from the wall outlet.

Another drawback to the wall wart is the weight of the unit. Depending on the type of wall outlets available, the fit of the plug may not be snug enough to keep the power brick in place. When this is the case, it may be necessary to connect the wall wart to the outlet by way of a heavy duty power cord. While this will make the appearance even less desirable, the addition of the power cord will relieve the stress on the outlet and prevent the interruption of power to the equipment being powered via the wall wart.

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