Question about Dell Inspiron 1200 Notebook

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Inspiron 1200 will not run off the a.c. adapter, switches to the battery till dead then shuts down.

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When operating from line power, there is normally two sections in play; the first is the part to which AC is attached, the second is internal to the laptop and manages the DC used by the computer, and presents a controlled charge current to the battery pack.
The external part is pretty easy to check with any kind of multimeter which can be had for well under $20 US and has functions useful for other purposes at home. I think everyone should have one.
If the adaptor is the type with a box that plugs into the AC outlet, it will have a rating stamped or molded into the wall-facing side and will read something like "12 VDC - 1000 mA"  Obviously the values could be different but this will give you a guide if you measure the output of the module at the end of the connection cable. This voltage value can vary by a bunch; one rated at 12 volts may measure 14-15-17 volts since these are normally not regulated and will always measure high when not supplying current. The regulation is done by the internal part, often a separate board.
If you measure a voltage at or above the rating of the module, it is probably OK and that means that the internal regulator is defective. The module (adaptor) can be bought from a variety of sources and ideally, you should get a Dell part or exact replacement since the 'universal' types . . . ain't.  They may be offered with a interchangeable plug and a polarity reversal switch or plug and there is some risk in attaching one to your system unless you have a bit of technical understanding and, that multimeter.  Shop for price though, even on the 'original' Dell part or an exact replacement, price can vary 3:1.

Posted on Sep 11, 2008

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