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What Is an AC Charger?

An AC charger.
A USB charger is a cable that connects to the USB port.
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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 02 April 2014
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An alternating current or AC charger is a device that plugs into a wall outlet providing electricity to a rechargeable battery, as contained in many portable electronic products. The electricity rejuvenates the battery while allowing the device to be used even if the battery is depleted. The time required to reach a full battery charge depends on the initial state of the battery and several other factors. While lead acid batteries used in vehicles are recharged via AC power, typically the term “AC charger” will be in reference to personal mobile or handheld devices such as laptops, cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), digital music players and digital camera equipment.

Most devices that incorporate a rechargeable battery include an AC charger in the original, retail product package. The above-mentioned products fall into this category. If the charger is lost or fails, it can be replaced. In the case of mobile computers, many people opt to buy a replicate model from the original manufacturer to ensure maximum compatibility and smooth operation. In the case of cell phones and other handheld devices, a third party AC charger made for the device might be cheaper and work just as well. Check the warranty before switching away from the manufacturer’s recommended charger, however, as using an alternate model might void the warranty.

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Some PDAs and digital music players come with an AC charger that takes the form of a docking station. Sometimes called a cradle, a docking station serves as a convenient stand that incorporates electrical contacts and a wire that plugs into an AC outlet. By setting the device in the dock or cradle, it automatically recharges the battery. Some docking stations made for digital music players include mini stereo speakers so that the player can be used without headphones. This highly portable setup makes it easy to enjoy your digital music library in the office, home or even in a hotel while traveling.

Since many portable electronics are made to interface with computers, a popular alternative to an AC charger is a USB charger. A USB charger is a cable that connects the device to the computer’s 5-volt USB port, recharging the battery via the computer.

AC chargers are designed to work with particular products and specific models. Voltage differs among chargers, and using the wrong charger can damage a device. If replacing a charger, first check with the manufacturer of the product. You can usually get a replacement online by going to the product’s website. Alternately, you can find many types of AC chargers at your local electronics store.

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Discuss this Article

cmo45tx
Post 3

How do I know if my replacement charger keeps charging after it is full?

wander
Post 2

If you are an avid traveler it is a good idea to get an AC charger adapter for when you travel. These come with the ability to alternate between different currents so that your electronics will work and charge correctly in different countries.

Some AC chargers are already suited to work on different voltages. If you look at the chunky box part of your AC charger there should be a voltage range printed there.

If your AC charger has a range of voltages, you don't need to buy a voltage adapter, but rather just buy some slip on prongs that will suit the country you are visiting.

Sara007
Post 1

If you ever lose your AC charger and you have a brand name product, always make sure you can use a no name charger on it before you try. I fried a very expensive MP3 player trying to charge it with a cheap replacement.

I think that with a lot of the higher end goods they are designed so that you have to purchase the brand name AC charger to match.

Has anyone else had a similar experience with a no name AC charger?

Part of me wonders if I was just having bad luck that day or if I really shouldn’t have struggled to make the connectors fit.

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