IEC outlines tech specs for universal laptop chargers


The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is to publish specifications that could pave the way for the creation of a charger compatible with multiple laptop brands.

The IEC technical specification 62700 covers all aspects of charger design, and the IEC's job will be to ensure it meets the required interoperability, performance, environmental, safety and reliability standards. It will be made available to interested parties in early 2014, the IEC has confirmed.

The standards body said the creation of a single external charger would lead to an eventual reduction in e-waste, as end users will be able to use the same one for multiple devices.

"Each year billions of external chargers are shipped globally...[and] they are generally not usable from one computer to the next," said the IEC, in a statement.

"It is estimated that the total e-waste related to all kinds of chargers of ICT devices exceeds half a million tons each year; basically the equivalent of 500,000 cars."

The IEC admits creating a universal charger that works across all brands and makes of laptops is going to be difficult to achieve because of the technical challenges involved. But one that works across multiple devices could happen.

The IEC published specifications for a universal mobile phone charger back in 2011, and claims 82 per cent of European standards in this area are now based on it.

Frans Vreeswijk, IEC general secretary and CEO, said: "The IEC International Standards for the universal charger for mobile phones has been widely adopted by the mobile phone industry and is already starting to help reduce e-waste.

"A single power supply covering a wide range of notebook computers is the next step in lowering e-waste and its impact on our planet.

"I am proud the IEC has yet again managed to make the best possible technical solution available," he added.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.