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Laptops Manufacturers Warn the Human Body Conducts Electricity

Mar 31, 2020

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Safety tip for laptops: Use a three prong grounded power cable to charge your laptop.

  • A grounded charging cable has three prongs in the plug that goes into the wall electrical outlet.
  • Mac laptops do not come with a three-prong plug but you easily can order a three prong extension online and connect your charger to it.
  • Practical step (Especially if you cant get a three prong): Use your laptop running on battery (rather than while charging) as much as possible. Charge your laptop during breaks and away from your body. When you sit down to work, unplug the charger from the wall and from your device. Ensure the laptop is charging on a hard surface, not a soft cushion. Whenever your device has finished charging, unplug it from the charger and unplug the charger from the electrical power. 
  • And always remember to connect to the internet with ethernet, not Wi-Fi. More on that here. 

Why a three prong plug? Because if not, your body could conduct more electricity.

Dell, a laptop manufacturer states in their safety instructions, “The human body can be thought of as a wire which can conduct electric current. Depending on the conditions of a person’s skin — oily, dry, etc., and the surrounding environment (humidity level, flooring or desk material) — the body can be more or less conductive. If conditions are right for the human body to be less conductive, such as having dry hands or wearing rubber soled shoes on a carpeted floor, the probability of sensing the tingling (electric current) is reduced. If conditions are right for the human body to be more conductive, such as having wet hands or standing barefoot on a concrete floor, the probability of sensing the tingling (electric current) increases.”

According to the Manufacturer Dell at https://support.dellproductcompliance.com/hc/en-us/articles/360036876013-Safety-Information

“Tingle Sensation

A tingling sensation may be noticed any time a notebook computer AC adapter is connected to the electrical supply and the user touches any exposed metal surface on the computer or any connected devices. This sensation has been known in the electronics industry for many years. The likelihood of occurrence depends on several factors, but the experience may occur on devices that have metal surfaces and (especially) 2-prong AC Adapters.

Some users have asked whether this sensation relates to the safety of the notebook. Please be assured that the electric current on all Dell products have been measured and shown to be well within the safety limits established by national and international safety standards for Information Technology Equipment, UL 60950-1 and IEC 60950-1 and/or UL 62368-1 and IEC 62368-1.  If a tingling sensation occurs, it does not present any risk of injury to the user nor is it harmful to the computer itself.

All electrical devices powered by AC Adapters with a two-pronged power cord (without a connected ground wire) may exhibit an electrical potential (voltage) between the exposed metal parts of the device and earth ground. The human body can be thought of as a wire which can conduct electric current. Depending on the conditions of a person’s skin — oily, dry, etc., and the surrounding environment (humidity level, flooring or desk material) — the body can be more or less conductive. If conditions are right for the human body to be less conductive, such as having dry hands or wearing rubber soled shoes on a carpeted floor, the probability of sensing the tingling (electric current) is reduced. If conditions are right for the human body to be more conductive, such as having wet hands or standing barefoot on a concrete floor, the probability of sensing the tingling (electric current) increases. This phenomenon can even occur with a three prong grounding type power cord if the building supply ground is compromised or inadequate.”

Read more safety tips for laptops here. 

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