Cliff White stumbles upon the answer to a head-scratching laptop charging problem

Laptop charging problems on board: one sailor’s solution

I was struggling to find a reliable way to charge my HP laptop on my boat.

The home (mains voltage) charger purports to produce 19V to charge my laptop’s 10.8V lithium battery and this works fine.

So I bought a universal-type charger for the boat that shows 12V in and 19V out and my laptop power light flashed but the laptop did not charge.

A laptop charging plug for HP

One is marked for a HP laptop…Credit: Cliff White

I wondered: Is it likely to be my laptop or the chargers I’m using?

So I switched my laptop to an HP notebook Pro and tried the universal charger from the boat’s 12V supply on that – but it also didn’t work.

I checked the output from the charger and it was 19V – the same as I was getting from the home charger.

Continues below…

I then bought another universal charger but had the same problem.

I had no luck from various shops online and no joy from the HP helpdesk.

A laptop charging plug for Dell

… and one for a Dell. Credit: Cliff White

Eventually I tested the charger again on a battery at home and with fresh eyes I saw the problem – I had two ‘identical’ socket tips for my universal charger, both looking exactly the same. But close inspection shows there is a difference – and that’s the wording moulded into the top of each plug.

You will see a clear difference between one to be used for a Dell and one for an HP (actually suffixed D and H on the part number).

I see that now!

With the correct HP tip the charger works fine. So, be careful – what might look like identical tips on universal chargers are not in fact identical!

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