Knowledge Base

Troubleshoot AC Adapter Error Messages on Dell Laptop PC



This article provides troubleshooting steps to resolve AC adapter error message or warnings when a Dell laptop PC is turned on.

Overview

When powering on a Dell laptop PC, you may receive the following error message:

The AC adapter type cannot be determined. This will prevent optimal system performance.
Strike the F3 key if you don't want to see power warning message again.
Strike F1 key to continue, F2 to run the setup utility. Press F5 to run onboard diagnostics.

Or Unknown or incorrect AC adapter detected.

The Dell laptop PC will continue to power on after pressing F1 key, however the error message is repeated every time the PC is turned on. The PC may exhibit symptoms such as sluggish performance, battery does not charge or AC adapter error message within Microsoft Windows operating system.

AC adapter error messages can be caused by any of the following:

  • 3rd party or non-Dell branded AC adapter is connected to the PC or docking station.
  • Using a AC adapter with a lower wattage.
  • The AC adapter is not fully connected to the PC.
  • The wall power cord isnot fully connected to the AC adapter.
  • The AC adapter or PC's AC adapter port is damaged.
  • The AC adapter is not recognized in BIOS (System Setup).
Warning: Dell does not recommend using 3rd party or non-Dell branded AC adapter or batteries on a Dell PC. Using 3rd party or non-Dell branded AC adapter or batteries may affect the performance of the PC or may even cause safety hazard.

Troubleshooting

Expand the sections below for more information on how to troubleshoot AC adapter error messages.

AC adapter cable and power cables may get frayed, cut and wires exposed at either end of the cables. This may be due to the way the cable is wrapped around the AC adapter or if the cable is subject to undue stress. If the damage is severe enough to expose wires, you should discontinue using the AC adapter. To check the AC adapter, cables and adapter port on the laptop for any damages:

Caution: Dell recommends using only Dell branded AC adapters that are compatible with your laptop PC. Dell does not recommend using 3rd party branded AC adapters or batteries on a Dell laptop PC.
  1. Unplug the AC adapter from the wall outlet.
  2. Unplug the AC adapter from the PC.
  3. Check the AC adapter and cables (including the power cable) for signs of physical damage or overheating.
  4. Check if the pin inside the plug or adapter port is bent, broken or damaged.
Warning: Grasp or hold the plug and not the cable while disconnecting the AC adapter from the PC.
Warning: Dell AC adapter works with electrical outlets worldwide. However, power connectors or power strips may vary among different countries.
Caution: If the AC adapter or cables are damaged, discontinue using the AC adapter immediately.

For more information, refer to the Dell knowledge-base article AC Adapter Damage.


Figure 1: Frayed cables

Figure 2: Exposed wires

Figure 3: Cut cable

Figure 4: Pin bent or broken

If there are damages found, contact Dell Technical Support for replacement options. If there are no damages found, proceed to the next step.

  1. Unplug the AC adapter from the wall outlet.
  2. Connect another device on the wall outlet to verify if the wall outlet is working correctly.
  3. Try a known-good wall outlet.
  4. Plug the AC adapter directly to the wall outlet.
    By-pass any power regulators like surge protectors, UPS (uninterruptible power supply), power splitters etc,.
Note: If the AC adapter is connected to a docking station, connect the AC adapter directly to the laptop to verify the functionality.

If the wall outlet is working correctly, proceed to the next step.

  1. Unplug the AC adapter from the wall outlet.
  2. Disconnect any external peripherals connected to the PC.
  3. Remove the battery. Refer to the User Manual of the PC for instructions on how to remove the battery.
    If the Dell laptop PC has a non-removable battery, skip this step.
  4. Press and hold the Power button for 30 seconds to drain a residual power from the PC.
  5. Connect the battery.
  6. Plug the AC adapter to the PC.
  7. Turn on the PC.

Once the residual power has been drained, if the PC does not power on with the AC adapter, proceed to the next step.

  1. Unplug the AC adapter from the wall outlet.
  2. Unplug the AC adapter from the PC.
  3. Disconnect the power cable from the AC adapter.
  4. Connect the power cable firmly to the AC adapter.
  5. Verify if the LED on AC adapter is on. If no, try a compatible known-good AC adapter.

Once the power cable and AC adapter cable is disconnected and reconnected, proceed to the next step.

Reset the AC adapter by following these steps:

  1. Unplug the AC adapter from the wall outlet for 15 seconds.
  2. Unplug the AC adapter from the PC.
  3. Plug the AC adapter to a known-good wall outlet.
  4. Plug the AC adapter to the PC.
  5. Check the LED indicator on the AC adapter.
Note: LED indicator may be located either on the AC adapter brick or the adapter (DC) plug.

If the AC adapter LED indicator is on, proceed to the next step.
If the AC adapter LED indicator is off or turns off when connected to the PC, contact Dell Technical Support.

Using an AC adapter that has a lower wattage may show an error message "The AC adapter type cannot be determined. This will prevent optimal system performance" or "Unknown or incorrect AC adapter detected", reduce the processor (CPU) speed to run slower to save power, laptop battery might not charge or charge slowly or AC adapter might heat up.
Dell laptop PCs may use either a 65W (Watt), 90W, 130W, 180W or 240W AC adapter. For optimal performance, use the AC adapter that came with the Dell laptop PC. AC adapter's wattage information is printed on the label which is located at the bottom of the AC adapter.

Note: Refer to the printed label located at the bottom of the AC adapter for wattage information.

To verify if the PC is recognizing the AC adapter correctly:

  1. Restart the PC.
  2. When the Dell logo appears, tap F2 key until the message Entering Setup appears.
  3. Verify the AC Adapter Type in the BIOS options.
    If AC Adapter Type is None - Ensure to connect the AC adapter to the PC.
    If AC Adapter Type is Unknown - Ensure correct wattage AC adapter is connected to the PC. If AC Adapter Type is recognized correctly, proceed to the next step.

Running a hardware diagnostic test can help you identify what the issue may be and provide you troubleshooting steps to help resolve the issue. Dell offers both built-in and online diagnostics. Dell ePSA hardware diagnostic test will help check if the AC adapter is recognized correctly.

To run the Dell ePSA built-in hardware diagnostics:

  1. Turn on the PC and tap F12 key.
  2. Choose Diagnostics from the menu.
Note:
  • When the diagnostics reports an issue, refer to the Reference Table of ePSA, PSA Error Codes and Troubleshooting Steps section, for the meaning of the code and any additional troubleshooting steps to perform, to help resolve the issue.
  • When no issue is reported by the diagnostics, it means that no hardware issues were found. This most likely means your are having an issue with the Operating System on your computer.

For more information on running a hardware diagnostics on a Dell PC, refer to the Dell knowledge-base article Resolve Hardware Issues With Built-in and Online Diagnostics (ePSA or PSA Error Codes).

BIOS is a firmware that is embedded onto the System Board of your computer. Updating the BIOS to the latest version may help the PC recognize the AC adapter. Updating the BIOS to the latest version requires the laptop PC to be powered by the AC adapter and battery.

Warning: Dell laptop PCs must have the battery installed and also be running on AC adapter power prior to updating the BIOS. Some Dell laptop PCs need to have at least 10% battery charge before you begin the BIOS update.

To update the BIOS to the latest version, refer to the Dell knowledge-base article How do I download and install the latest BIOS for my Dell computer?.

If the AC Adapter Type is not recognized by the PC, refer to the Dell knowledge-base article Forcing a BIOS Update without the AC adapter attached on a Dell Laptop. Before forcing the BIOS update, please read the disclaimer below.

Caution: If the battery charge is less than 10% you may be able to force the BIOS to update from within a DOS environment. A failure during this process may result in your system becoming unusable and users must proceed at their own risk. Dell shall not be liable for any loss, including but not limited to loss of data, loss of profit or loss of revenue, which customers may incur by following any procedure or advice set out in this article.
See the following article for more details:
How to update your System BIOS using a USB Flash Drive


Can't Turn On Your Laptop - (01:46)


Care for Your AC Adapter - (00:41)




Article ID: SLN148385

Last Date Modified: 07/21/2017 11:55 AM


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