My Powerbook AC adapter blew up in my hand…

Fried_Brick-Thumbnail-DWC150.jpgMy Powerbook G4 AC adapter blew up in my hand today. We’re not just talking poof, here. We’re talking about sparks flying, fuse blowing, toasted flesh smelling, heart attack inducing, nerve numbing goodness! I’m just glad that the arc grounded out through a piece of furniture and not me. Luckily, my hand was just collateral damage and was not subject to the brunt of the attack.

On our drive back from Florida, we stopped off at a motel in Maryland since I was too much of a wimp to drive the full 22 hours in one leg. Plus I was on a working vacation, so the Powerbook was put through its paces, then got plugged in to charge overnight. When I unplugged it the following morning, the AC adapter blew up in my hand.

I sustained extremely minor burns, and the pain went away after a couple hours of driving. By the time the black char rubbed off my hand the redness had completely disappeared. Although I wasn’t seriously injured by the incident, someone else may not have been so fortunate. Since I’m not a sue-happy stereotypical American, no harm no foul. But I do expect a new adapter, and will be stopping by the Apple store tomorrow morning.

Now, I can understand hardware failure, but this is the third Powerbook G4 AC adapter that’s melted down on me! My wife has had one adapter melt down on her and her current adapter is about to. I’m no expert on statistics, but I’d be fairly confident in placing a bet on the fact that the above illustrates a trend.

My first adapter caught fire while sitting on my desk at work; the wire had worn through where it enters the case, shorted out, and started flaming up before it tripped the circuit breaker under my desk. My second spare adapter suffered a similar fate, except it shorted out on the side where the wire enters the plug. My wife’s first adapter shorted out on the plug side, and her new replacement adapter has just worn through the plug and I was just about to call Applecare for a replacement.

So, who else has this happened to? Please, speak up, leave a comment. I’m not sure where I’ll go with this, but it would be interesting to find out whether Apple has stricken me with bad karma or if this is a common occurrence.

Update (03/06/2004 07:45 PM): The Apple Store in the Mall at Rockingham Park replaced the blown adapter under warranty and stated that it would have been replaced as a hazard even if my warranty had been expired. My wife’s adapter with the friction-damaged wire was not covered because it hadn’t actually failed yet. So, Apple won’t issue a preventative replacement for her AC adapter, but they’ll replace it once it shorts out and catches fire. Go figure.

Update (03/10/2004 03:48 PM): I just noticed that the new 65W adapter that I was given has some design changes that improve on the old design. First, the cord that goes from the brick to the Powerbook is much thicker. Second, there’s more reinforcement rubber molding around the plug that plugs into the back of the Powerbook. Third, and most important, there is now a rubber grommet protecting the cord where it enters the brick. This is where one of my previous adapters shorted out and caught fire!

Update (03/12/2004 01:19 AM): Kelly’s Powerbook adapter bit the bullet this evening. She noticed that it was getting extremely warm and called me over to check it out. The the stress relief grommet on the plug had torn through, the wire had a short, and there was a dark layer of char starting to form. The brick itself was so hot it was painful to touch; basically, the same temperature as my first adapter that caught fire on my desk at work. So, instead of the Apple Store replacing it as preventative maintenance a few days ago, we now get to call Apple and open a fire hazard claim.

Update (03/15/2004 03:42 PM): I just got off the phone with AppleCare Customer Relations, and they’ll be cross shipping a new AC adapter for Kelly’s Powerbook G4 DVI. Since her system was out of warranty, they said that this is a one time deal. Whatever. I don’t care how out of warranty a system is; if it’s a fire hazard, I expect a replacement. Interestingly, I’ve also found some other people who have had adapter failures.

29 thoughts on “My Powerbook AC adapter blew up in my hand…”

  1. Pingback: Boston Common
  2. I have’nt had one blow up yet, but I’m on my second. Mine continually break at the non-functional strain relief where the cord joins the plug that goes into the Powerbook. On #2, I took great pains to baby it. I’m a heavy,but not hard user, and this one failed as well. I’m annoyed.

    Of course, neither of these is as expensive as the fact that one of the hinges sheared clear off upon opening the lid one day.

    Apple really needs to get their QC act together.

  3. I went through 6 ACs in one and a half year. I am going to buy an ugly black 3rd party adapter now. Apple should admit the problem and replace all old white bricks. Either it’s the cable cracked or it simply stops working…. always the same.

  4. I have a 550 mhz powerbook with that white power brick, and that f’er burst into flames on my wife last night. Now, it’s didn’t explode or anything, but anything resembling sparks, smoke and fire near my wife and baby girl makes me a little more than upset.

    The point where the thin cord connects to the brick is where the fire started.

  5. We own two powerbooks. A 550 and a 667. I am on second adapters on both. The first for me was a short with the small plug-side wire and the other two were computer side plug/wire breaks due to insufficient support at the computer end. I am unplugging our computers from now on due to your posts and am thinking this is a good class action issue. Let’s get this going. I am so dissappointed in the overall quality of these Titanium Powerbooks. The fact that I HAVE to buy a warranty to make sure these poor workmanship items are paid for really irks me.

    PN Austin

  6. hi there~! well im also having similar problems… well i bought my lovely PB Ti1 Ghz in California, im now in France… and this adapter is shutting off once in a while randomly…. i tried many diferent ways to fix it, though without success… im considerin a new adapter but not sure i would fix the problem for some have bought new adapters and the problems persisted….. good luck to u guys~!
    ps: in the motel u were in, did they have a 110V or 220V? was it a 60Hz or 50Hz power outlet?
    i had my plug adapter burnt in a Hotel the first day i came to France….

  7. I’m in Beijing, and just got my Pismo (G3 Firewire) Powerbook’s power adapter replaced for about US115. It started off sparking where the cable from the wall plugs into the adapter, and eventually killed the whole yo-yo adapter (tried different cables, but no luck). The service was fantastic, but $115 for a four-year old computer is a bit much.

  8. I have a Powerbook G4 15” titanium. I own it for 22 months now, and today the adapter broke for the 2nd time (so I am on my third adapter now). The first one was finished after only 5 month, the second one lastet now one year 5 months.

  9. my second adapter just broke, in the exact same place the first one did! ugh! I took really good care of this one!! i’m upset…
    the thin cord cracked around the part it joins the computer port.

  10. I have several spare yoyos from old broken mac3’s. I also have several brick G4 adapters that have failed internally. Does anyone know Is it possible to cut off the old yoyo plug and replace it with a G4 plug to use in my G4 ?

    I am not talking rewiring issues here – I am a qualified electrician and can do that very safely – I am asking about whether the power supplied by the yoyo matches the G4 requirement or is it sufficiently different in nature to injure my G4 ?

  11. I just ordered a new one from Amazon because lately I’ve been noticing a sparking sound and sparks coming from mine when I try to charge my iBook G4. I’m not waiting around for the existing one to blow up on me or catch fire! But, after reading this, I’m considering marching over to the Apple store and seeing if there is anything they can do for me (though I doubt it). I’ve only had the thing for a little over a year and take good care of it. No one should have to worry about the damn power adapter catching fire, and then be forced to replace it at $79. I’ve never been really upset with Apple or any of the Apple products I’ve owned over the years, (except for the two Apple mice that shorted and I had to replace within the past month — one at work, and one on my other home computer) but this truly sucks!

  12. I’m currently having to get a 3RD ac adapter in less than a YEAR! because the cable keeps breaking in the exact same spot. The first one actually started sparking and burning the wires around it. Luckily, apple is willing to replace it.. which is nice because I don’t care to pay another 80 for yet another, however in 3 months or 6 months time I’ll just end up int he same situation again.

  13. My adapter has had a mild short in it for a few weeks, and I left my iBook charging on it while I left the house. when I got back the status ring was off, I moved the adapter and the thing sparked a ton. I quickly pulled the cord, but it could have burnt the house down while I was away. I’ll be going in to the Apple store tomorrow for a replacement. I’m no longer under warrany, so I hope I won’t have to pay. I don’t have the cash right now… I’m a student.

  14. My adapter has had a mild short in it for a few weeks, and I left my iBook charging on it while I left the house. when I got back the status ring was off, I moved the adapter and the thing sparked a ton. I quickly pulled the cord, but it could have burnt the house down while I was away. I’ll be going in to the Apple store tomorrow for a replacement. I’m no longer under warrany, so I hope I won’t have to pay. I don’t have the cash right now… I’m a student.

  15. scary stuff-tales of fires and explosions-my g4 powerbook adapter just died-sparked once inside the brick when i plugged it in and now nothing-bought the machine 2nd hand so no support-has anyone had better luck with any 3 parts adapters? or simple repair procedures?!?!

  16. I’ve been through two of the Yo-Yo style iBook adapters, and now this! One white power adapter came with my 12 Inch G4 PowerBook. Soon it died but, the laptop was still under warranty so I got a replacement, I’m about to go to the Apple Store soon, I have an appointment in 2 hours for them to look at my adapter. I told them it shorted out, sparked, and that there was an electrical smell, all which are true. I hope they give me a replacement because a 3rd party adapter isn’t grounded and I’ll feel a tingle because my laptop is aluminum. I hope they fix this problem soon, I have to send in this court form for a replacement iBook yo-yo adapters, oh shoot that reminds me I didn’t send in the iPod battery court forum. Hopefully Apple will be sued over this and we’ll get refunds and better adapters.

  17. My POWERBOOK g4 15″ adapter filled the room with burn smell three days ago. I am torn on whether to try to repair it myself (as I really need it) or spend just as much waiting for a replacement (it is out of warranty)

  18. I have to say, as warm as my supply gets, my ibook one lasted the life of my ibook (2 years) and my macbook one has done 3 months, but is getting alarmingly hot. But, having said that, my processor is getting to about 70 degrees celcius, so I feel maybe apple just like it hot!


  19. These Power Adapters are made by delta. Delta is a company who makes Power adapters for Dell and IBM. Both Brands have had issues (exploding and overheating issues), and in dell’s case, they recaalled over a million power adapters. I know it is not apple’s fault that these aree exploding, but most people will blame apple if DElta adapters explode. I think it is about time that apple changes companies, especially considering Delta’s past.

  20. I have a white brick power adapter as well. Actually it’s the second one. The pin of the first one broke into my Titanium powerbook. So I bought a second one to see if my mac would still charge. Which it did for like 2 months untill last week the adapter died on me. It seems to make continous ticking sound. And I’m wondering it might be a short in the computer. But it seems to be woking just fine only not being able to recharge tends to be a bit of a problem.

  21. my third white brick adapter has finally bit the dust with sparks flying. I never have treated my powerbook or cord roughly, but this is the third time this has happened. The first time I was sent one under warranty, the second time a guy at the apple store simply gave me one for some reason…now I’m not under warranty anymore and these AC adapters are expensive!

  22. Damn. I thought I was alone.

    When I first bought my powerbook G4 about two years ago I got a recall notice on the adapter. I was really busy in the middle of elections and I forgot about it.

    I always noticed that it felt really hot so I had it replaced six months ago just in case. It started working sporadically a few days ago. Last night I smelled a faint electrical burning odor. I thought it was the oven.

    Today, my f’ing adapter started to flare up and melt on the plug right next to where it connects to my powerbook. If this damaged my computer, I’m going on a rampage!!!!!!!!!

  23. The first brick went out in a blaze of glory, with sparks flying and smoke billowing — out of the business end up by the computer. Nothing internal was damaged, but I was not happy.

    When I recently replaced my PBG4 with a MBP (and promptly returned that POS and got another PBG4), Apple sent me a MBP adapter — and then had the audacity to ask me how I knew it didn’t work with my system if I hadn’t tried it.

    The replacement adapter they sent me, after I had paid $60 out of pocket to power my machine in the meantime, just died this evening. It lived for about three months. The system is coming out from under warranty, and Apple STILL hasn’t gotten around to refunding my warranty plan from the old system, since it had 2+ years left on it.

    Clearly, someone is NOT on the ball. And we are not amused. Email access is now restricted, among other things. Apple needs to realise that an adapter failure can in fact be a major life issue for someone.

  24. My Friend’s TiBG4 psu died recently. it is the orgnal psu. the laptop battery (non apple) is more than 60 months old. he is useing a 80 month old iBook psu (yoyo) on his TiBook right now. (so my frien and i have a backup psu if another dies) he orderd another Apple (Delta) psu. I don’t think anything dangerous happend (he did not tell if anything happend he just said that the psu died for his TiBook.

  25. My 12″ PowerBook(1.33)G4’s adapter has always run a bit hot, but I hadn’t noticed that it had gotten worse until one day after I was shocked while touching only my plugged in computer’s trackpad and right hand-rest above the battery. My computer was one with a recalled battery, so I have the problem of that not fitting right – even though it is within their limits. I only moved my computer because of my fear of electrocution or frying of circuits, and that’s how I discovered that my power brick was burn-my-hands hot.
    The problem seems to be with my computer though, somehow. I have plugged my computer into another adapter which doesn’t get hot under normal use with another G4 (older)PowerBook, and it also heats up when used with my computer. The idea that the computers are somehow destroying the adapters would explain the repeated failures experienced by only certain people, but how would we figure out what the problem is then?

  26. Why didn’t you sue them?

    I sure as heck would’ve!

    I’m on my fourth… FOURTH adapter. This is ridiculous. There should already be a recall for this prouct.

  27. Another nearly-toasted Apple customer here. I was using my G4 12.1″ Powerbook in bed last night when I noticed that the connector between the computer-end plug and the cord had completely *melted through*. Took a closer look, and it started sparking and giving off a lovely, acrid electrical smoke smell. I’m going to be calling Apple momentarily; I’m not sure whether my computer’s still covered under Apple Care, but considering that I could have easily fallen asleep and torched my dorm, I think the least they could do is replace the thing. Even better is that it’s decided to go south a week before my Master’s dissertation is due. Nice.

    I’ve been a loyal Apple user forever, but this and the RPC issues with the MacBook’s DVD drives is enough that I’m seriously considering breaking down and buying a PC for my next laptop. I’m going to tell whoever I get at the support center as much, too.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.