Plugged In Not Charging - How To Check & Find The Problem

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Chances are, there is something going with your charger and not your laptop.  We will use a Dell laptop for the demonstration.


About the Dell laptop charging system:  There are three wires that run from the charger to the laptop. One of the following will be the cause for the system failing:

  • The plug
  • The DC Jack
  • Something inside the charger
  • The Laptop battery
  • The Laptop battery charging circuit inside the laptop motherboard.

I would recommend that you start by taking out the battery, connect the charger and try to power-up the laptop. If it does not power-up put he battery back.
Next, move the DC Jack plug to the sides and check to see if the laptop is showing anything going on.  Does it show the plug-in is charging or not charging?  In most cases, if the DC Jack is good, it will be difficult to move it to the sides.  If the DC Jack is broken, it'll be easy to move.

If you have a multimeter, you can easily check the voltage from the plug.  The voltage is carried by a cylinder that has an inner wall that is a plus polarity and an outer wall is a minus polarity.

Keep in mind, even if there is a good voltage, that does not mean the charger is any good. The main or central wire could be broken but it will still show voltage.  Dell chargers do have additional wires and so do DC Jacks.

If the wire from the motherboard or from the power board is broken, the laptop will show "Plugged-in Not Charging."

In general, a properly functioning Dell laptop must the following:

  • A DC Jack that has all 3 wires in good condition.
  • A charger plug that has all 3 wires in good condition.
  • A working charger
  • A battery in good condition.
  • A good working battery charging circuit inside the laptop motherboard and a suitable charger.

If the laptop does not receive enough power from the charger, you will get a message shortly after charging up the laptop.  It will appear as a black screen with white text.

With a few exceptions, most other laptops have 2 wires running from the charger to the laptop.  If the charger appears to be working, just check it by measuring the voltage on the plug.  If there is a good voltage than it's in good condition.

Usually, these laptops will show they are not receiving a charge because the battery is losing its capability to power up.  In other situations, the circuit on the motherboard, that charges the battery, is not functioning.

In any of the circumstances, you will get a message from the laptop's operating system - "Plugged-In Not Charging."


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