Dell Laptop, plugged in, not charging in Vista

My Inspiron 1525 has intermittently not been charging while plugged in. It’s gotten worse, as many intermittent problems tend to do. So, it was time for a bit of research.

It’s intermittent, so the charger generally works. I do have some battery life when it’s charged, so the charging circuits and the battery do work, though, this two year old battery doesn’t hold much power anymore.

If you search the web, it turns out to be a relatively common problem – remember, Dell sold millions of these laptops, you would expect a few problems to be reported. This laptop power connector consists of a pin in the centre of a circular connector which itself has two metal contacts, one on the inside and one on the outside of the circular ring. The inside pin is used to identify the A/C adaptor as being an authentic Dell charger. If the centre pin does not make contact with the socket on the laptop, then it will not charge; however, it will still work while plugged in.

A couple references:


So, I ever so slightly bent the inside pin to the side so that it would make contact again, and it seems to be working. I’ll wonder how long it will last though.

Given how often I move my laptop around, I think it was just general wear and tear rather than a manufacturing problem. Though, I wonder if there was a legitimate purpose to the identification pin. Can an non-authentic Dell power brick really damage the battery charging circuits, while still being OK to power the laptop in “plugged in” mode?

[Edit: Hmm… upon reading some more about this, new laptops might need a way to communicate with the power brick to determine maximum power output.  If the maximum output of the transformer is too low, then the laptop can skip the battery charging to keep total power consumption down.  This also would be useful in “airplane” mode where there is a very limited amount of power from the outlet.]

Anyway, I’ve had a very similar problem happen with a cellphone charger a couple years back, so the fix wasn’t all that unique. Let’s hope that someday we can all have magnetic power connectors like the Apple guys…

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5 Responses to “Dell Laptop, plugged in, not charging in Vista”

  1. leonard Says:

    A quick follow-up, since this post does get a few hits a day… I now strongly suspect that the power brick cable is suffering from good old wear and tear somewhere near the laptop plug end. If I squeeze or bend the plug end a bit while plugging it in, I eventually get the A/C adapter to register properly and trigger charging. My new theory is that the wire (presumably stranded) that connects to the middle “communications” pin is much thinner than the power carrying wires, and is the first to break after years of use. I imagine that some day (hopefully years from now) I’ll have to snip off the end and re-solder the plug onto a fresher part of the cable… that will be fun.

  2. » Dell Laptop A/C Power Cable Images &raquo the Perceptus blog Says:

    […] After a month of off-and-on power issues with my Dell Inspiron 1525 Laptop, the A/C power adapter finally stopped powering the laptop. It had stopped being identified as an authentic Dell charger a couple months ago, as I wrote about here. […]

  3. Tanya Says:

    Have “not charging” message for months, unfortunately my Inspiron is not under warranty now. Bought a new battery, put it in and got 68% of charge before the message “not charging” appeared again. Though there might have been some factory charge on the battery – difficult to say.
    After this happened I went onto the internet to find out if other users had similar problems – HUNDREDS of them do indeed! with various Dell laptops!!! and all the discussion is on official Dell site!!! and amazingly not a single message from actually Dell irself. I suspect they cannot admit theat their product is total crap, their Customer communication is even bigger crap – you need to pay £39 just to get connected!! Never in my life I buy another Dell product!! and I hope nobody who experienced similar probles will.

  4. yash Says:

    Many thanks for this useful information.

    I experienced the same issue and tried to push in the charger and battery was being charged. Now it has stopped charging even though I push it harder. Only charging is on but not the battery.

    Never will buy a Dell again.

  5. kanmaj10 Says:

    I changed my battery for Dell inspiron 1525 suspecting it was a problem of an ageing battery. However , even with the new battery , the charging was unpredictable. One thing I have noticed is sometimes , it lets the battery drain upto 14% and then starts charging if you are connected. Also if you start off with a almost drained battery and connect the charger , it doesn’t start immediately . After about 5 mins of usage it starts charging on its own. These are just observations an I am not sure if there are any concrete inferences that can be drawn from them. In my case its not a charger issue because I have tried two chargers.

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