Instructables

Properly wrap your laptop power cords

I work in a computer repair shop, so naturally, I see a lot of laptops. The thing that surprises me the most, is that people rarely have their power adapters wrapped properly. Many people have crude ways to wrap their cords, or they don't wrap them at all, causing a big mess of spaghetti style knots and tangles. 

Another issue I see a lot, is people with bad power adapters. Improperly wrapping your power adapter, or not wrapping it at all can lead to problems. These include exposed wires, intermittent power to the laptop, and shorts. A replacement adapter can easily cost $65 to $120.

The best way to protect your cables is to wrap them properly. In each step I show a different type of power adapter.

Step one, a power adapter with a large Velcro or rubber strap.
Step two, a power adapter with no Velcro or rubber strap.
Step three, a power adapter with two small Velcro straps.
Step four, a power adapter with one small Velcro strap.
Step five, a very small power adapter with no Velcro or rubber straps.

For those living in a country where they do not sell Velcro, Velcro is commonly sold as "hook and loop fasteners". I use the name "Velcro" in this Instructable, because it is easier and shorter than "hook and loop fastener", and people in the United States usually just say "Velcro".

If you have a different power adapter that I missed, please feel free to send me a private message either describing your power adapter, or sending me a picture of the adapter. I will update this to include your power adapter.
 
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"The best way to protect your cables is to wrap them properly." How they are wrapped has little impact on longevity. If you pull as hard as you are doing on the strain relief in the first video, you will eventually break the internal copper power wire. This is the most common reason power adapters fail: over-straining the cable at the exit point. You are basically bending and unbending the wire through 90 degrees every time you wrap/unwrap. Do this to any cord and it will fail eventually. You should be leaving some slack at the exit point so there is little or no strain before wrapping.
Actually, you are both incorrect. Wrapping improperly IS almost always the cause of cable and cord failure. It almost never has to do with pulling on the cords too tightly, as this is restrained by the plastic insulation (and often an internal nylon sleeve) itself.
That said, the method presented by the author of coiling the cord or cable is a recipe for cable damage, and is exactly why cords fail. For each coil you add to the cable, you introduce a 180° twist. Over a long cable, this can twist the cable many times over. While cables with strong insulators and strain reliefs can withstand significant bending and pulling, they can not withstand for long the torsional and longitudinal stretching forces introduced by coiling. This is by far the most common reason why cables and cords fail.
This is common knowledge among sound-techs, where cable are very expensive to replace, and improper wrapping will get you fired.
bmlbytes (author)  Mister_Caipirinha3 years ago
Actually the way they are wrapped has a big impact on the longevity of them. I replace one of these almost every day. Most of the ones I replace either have a problem with the power unit (the lights don't come on even with replacement cords) or somewhere down the middle of the wire. The ends of the wires closest to the power supply are designed to have a bit of pull on them. They have a rubber strain relief to protect the wire. While it is true that a lot of older power supplies will break at this point, most newer ones can handle a bit of pressure. Problems arise when the cords are not wrapped, or are too loosely wrapped. They get knotted and tangled in places they should not be. There are no strain relief in these areas, and the wires break. The wires usually are not exposed, but they break inside the cable. To demonstrate how it would break, take a paper clip and bend it back and forth in the same spot until it breaks. All wires are made out of metal, so this happens inside the wire. Its a lot harder to break a wire (since they use stranded wire instead of solid wire) but it will still happen, especially around knots.
True, the rubber strain relief protects the exiting wire by helping maintain a straighter angle. By pulling as tightly as you are doing and forcing it to bend 90 degrees, you are negating any relief afforded. Your paper clip analogy is what I was describing and wire breakage will happen at the exit point by repeatedly wrapping/unwrapping this way. But then we can just bring them to you to fix!:-)
snaef9992 years ago
Wrapping the cord around the hand (step 5) is not recommended. Doing this causes the wires inside the jacket to coil at different rates and can lead to wires pulling on the strain relief. A better method would be to coil the wires  by looping each turn with a 1/4 twist as seen in this post...

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-coil-wire-properly/


Otherwise, great post. These simple techniques and really improve the life of your cables!
Punkguyta3 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
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