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What should be considered when selecting a wall adapter to pair with a device?

When designing an electronic product, you will need to determine the best way to power your device. Many electronic products use an external power supply like a wall adapter as a solution. There are three fundamental aspects that should be determined when selecting the right wall adapter for your product:

  1. Power Budget

    Your power budget takes into account each of the device’s components that will consume power. The budget will give a rough estimate of the total power input needed for the device.

    The total wattage of a wall adapter has a direct correlation to size and cost. For example, a device requiring a higher power input will need a more expensive and larger wall adapter to power it. By having a power budget determined beforehand, it will ensure that the smallest and lowest cost wall adapter option is selected.

  2. Certifications

    Wall adapters are certified according to either IEC 60950 standards for Information Technology Equipment (ITE) or IEC 60601 standards for Medical Devices. In unique cases, wall adapters will be certified according to both sets of standards (See MEDITE 5W and MEDITE 12W).

    Under IEC 60950 and IEC 60601 standards, wall adapters will also be tested in accordance to specific country and regional compliance requirements. For example, wall adapters sold into the US market should be certified with UL or ETL, whereas the European Union recognizes the CE mark as its international safety approval. Selecting the appropriate standards (IEC 60950 vs. IEC 60601) and target markets (US, EU, Australia, Japan, etc.) early will enable a seamless product introduction and international compliance assurance. 

  3. Design

    Though wall adapters are certified as discrete standardized models, there are many factors which may influence their final assembly. Such factors include: plastics color, DC cord length and wire gauge, connector type, and blade type. The blade type determines whether the wall adapter should have a fixed blade or interchangeable option. These factors will affect cost and market accessibility. In unique cases, wall adapters will have fixed blades while also enabling interchangeability (See Qb, MEDITE 5W, and MEDITE 12W).

It is important to define the power budget, certifications, and design requirements for your power supply near the beginning of your product’s development process. By determining these three aspects up front, you’ll be able to select and qualify the best wall adapter for your electronic device.