Find/Replace a Power Adapter/Power Brick/Power Supply/Wall Wart on a Device

Did you know, “If it fits, it sits” only applies to cats and not power adapters?

If you’re struggling to make your device work because something has happened to the power adapter, then it’s possible to replace it using another.

Rarely does a device need a “specific” power adapter. And when they do, it’s because the manufacturer has done something dodgy and not because they’ve done something special. An example of this is inventing their own connector type that only they make. It’s not better, it’s just so you have to buy expensive replacement power adapters. If you’ve lost a power adapter, you don’t necessarily have to buy an original for it to work.

It is worth noting, however, that cheap aftermarket power adapters aren’t necessarily as high as quality in their component selection. But even with that in mind, standardised protection circuits rarely make this a risky proposition, just one that is less efficient, or less reliable, or not actually capable of their described output. However your results may vary, if in doubt, buy from a reputable supplier or from the device manufacturer.

If you’ve ever lost a power adapter for an electronic device (we’re talking DC power adapters, which are the ones that have a box between the wall and the device. as opposed to a cord that goes straight from the wall to the device) then there’s usually three possible outcomes without asking for help.

Outcome A – Checking the Specifications of the device and finding a suitable power adapter.

Right? Haha, you kidder you. Electricity is hard.

Well, actually, not really. And hopefully by the end of this article you’ll have a good understanding of how to replace a DC power adapter, or at least a reference to refer to next you need to replace one. We’ll return to this option soon.

Outcome B – Leaving the device to rot and/or giving it away/selling it as “should be an easy fix for the right person”

I love these people. Not because it’s a good strategy, but because I can buy expensive “faulty” electronics for next to nothing and get them working for a few bucks.

One good example of this is a 6 month old $1,500 Denon HEOS HS2 soundbar that I picked up for the princely sum of absolutely nothing when it was destined for the trash due to it “not working”, which was code for “it needs a replacement power adapter” which I found in ten minutes and had ordered in 20 for $15.

Outcome C – If it fits, it sits

I hate these people. I especially hate these people when they get lucky and it works because it reinforces their belief that it’s a good strategy. Destroying your device with this method is effortless.

It’s technically but not realistically a fire risk since we’re dealing with low voltage, low current DC with several protection layers but these are the same people who will then take option B after a crack and a puff of smoke then lie about trying to fix it themselves.

Don’t take option B and C, option A is surprisingly easy.

As mentioned earlier, even if you don’t remember everything here, just use it as a reference next you’re missing a power adapter.

Lets say you have this device, an Xbox 360 Steering Wheel and you want to make it work. It never actually came with a power adapter, it was an expensive optional extra but I decide I’m sick of using AA batteries and want to plug it in.

Me, being the cheap bastard I am, either want to find a power adapter that will fit around the house, or I want to buy a cheap replacement one that will work. So, what information do I need to do that?

Plug Type, Voltage, Current and Polarity

These are the four main things you’ll need to note, and 99% of the time, only the first three. All of this information is usually available on the device (so you don’t even need the old power adapter to get a new one). We’re going to assume that the wall plug side is made to work in your country (right input voltage/plug), but I’ll do quick breakdown on that later for people who want to order their replacement power adapters overseas.

Finding this Information

This info is usually written straight on the device itself. For the example, when I flipped it over and found the label, I got this:

This tells me the steering wheel wants a power adapter that can output 24 volts and at least 1 amp. It does not mention polarity, and through physical inspection I can see that it uses a 5.5mm x 2.5mm plug type.

As a side note, the symbol between the 24V and 1A just means DC.

What is the symbol for direct current? - Quora

This last thing is just a general knowledge thing, but the 5.5×2.5mm plug type is ubiquitous and probably the most common, it can be found on almost any device at almost any voltage under 50, and for that reason is why it’s a bad idea to plug in any old adapter that fits. Lets start with breaking that down.

Plug Type

This article will mostly cover devices that use a generic barrel connector that’s 5.5mmx2.5mm. The other rules apply, but you’ll have to get into splicing connectors if the tip is proprietary and I won’t go into that.

If it looks like the below, then more often than not it will be a 5.5×2.5mm. There are other sizes, possible but they’re standardised so you can normally take a measurement and find something of that size, and the measurements represents that the outer circle is 5.5mm wide, and the inner circle is 2.5mm wide.

Here are some of the standard sizes, with 5.5×2.5 on the left.

Normally, the quickest and easiest way to see if it’s that size is to take an adapter from another device, MAKE SURE IT’S NOT PLUGGED INTO THE WALL, and plug it into the device. If it fits, unplug it and measure its width, but it will likely be 5.5mmx2.5mm.

However common uses of different plug types will be found on laptops, such as HP and Dell which use 7.4mmx0.6mm or 4.5mmx3.0mm. But normally, when it comes to laptops, just search for the brand you’re wanting to buy. Modern laptops use an 18-20V input and Dell like to include an extra data wire hidden inside to communicate output to the laptop and they lose their shit if you use an adapter without this.

Finally if you have a proprietary connector, then you may need to search for a power adapter to fit your device.


As you can see in the example above, the steering wheel wants 24V. Voltage is one of two things that can kill your device if it’s wrong. Voltage is probably best described as the strength of the power and must be equal (or very close to it, 5% max but ideally exact).

If there’s not enough Voltage, your device will be fine, but it won’t start. If there’s too much Voltage, your device will run harder than it should and/or burn out. Some devices have internal voltage regulation which will tolerate a small amount of overage and spikes, but only to an extent, but short of pulling the device apart you will never know.

EG with 2x voltage a small motor will run faster for a short period before it overheats and its internal components melt, but a fine electronic device, like a cellphone will immediately fry, probably in several spots.

This steering wheel needs 24V, and that is what it must get.


If voltage is strength, then current would be capacity and is simply a minimum requirement measure.

What this means is that the current capability of the power adapter must be AT LEAST the requirement. And going over is completely fine. Going under, especially significantly, will instead fry the power adapter as your device will draw its requirement and no more or less. And if the power adapter can’t supply, it will overheat and fry.

So with a 1A requirement, the power adapter could supply 1A, 2A, 10A, 50A, whatever. As long as it’s over 1A, and the device will draw 1A.

This steering wheel needs 1A and the power adapter must supply AT LEAST this.


Finally polarity is the other of two things that can fry your device if it’s wrong. On a DC circuit you have a Positive and a Negative and they must be connected in the right direction for the device to be able to use the supply.

In reverse, the current will still try to flow and the device itself will determine what happens. Some devices will have protection and just not work, others will simply fry. So polarity is an important measure to note.

In the case of a barrel connector, like the 5.5mmx2.5mm above, the inner pin is usually positive and the outer is usually negative. If Polarity information is not supplied by the device, then it is likely this standard polarity. But this is not a guaranteed rule, so at your risk if you want to forge ahead.

When polarity information is supplied for a standard barrel connector, it looks like this (without the words):

With the positive or negative terminals pointing at which they’re connected to. The inner pin or the outer ring of the connector.

On my Dymo Printer the inner pin is Positive, the outer Ring is Negative and it wants 24V.

The steering wheel does not specify polarity, it is likely to be positive, I will take the small risk as I don’t really mind that much if the device dies.

Finding a Power Adapter:

So with that in mind, my steering wheel wants a 24V power adapter, with a 5.5mm x 2.5mm plug and at least 1A of current available. I am going to assume it has a positive polarity.

We’ll need to find a power adapter that will fit and meet those specification needs. On the power adapter side there should be a label with its specifications. On the examples, I have highlighted the important information in red. I have also highlighted their input requirement in green. The green is not relevant for this example, but is important when it comes to buying adapters overseas.

Steering Wheel Needs:

Voltage: 24V Exactly

Current: At least 1.00A

Polarity: Positive (Inner Pin is positive)

Here are a few I had in my house at random, we’ll just pretend they all have the right plug type:

Adapter 1 – Dymo Power Adapter:

Voltage: 24V

Current: 1.75A

Polarity: Positive (Inner Pin is positive)

Input Voltage (In green): 100-240VAC. This power adapter can be used in any country. NZ is 220-240VAC. The US, for example, is 100-120V. So this can be used in both.

Would it work?

Yes, this power adapter would work fine on the steering wheel. It’s the correct voltage, it has twice as much available capacity, and the polarity is (probably) correct.

Adapter 2 – Nokia Power Adapter:

Voltage: 3.7V

Current: 0.355A

Polarity: Unknown (Probably Positive)

Input Voltage (In green): 240VAC. This power adapter can only be used in countries 220V or more, like New Zealand.

Would it work?

No, the device would never start. There’s no safety risk plugging it in, but nothing will happen as the voltage is way too low. Had the voltage been 24V it still wouldn’t work, and the power adapter would probably die as the current draw is 3x what the power adapter is capable of.

Adapter 3 – HiTRON Power Adapter:

Voltage: 15V

Current: 0.8A

Polarity: Positive (Inner Pin is positive) )

Input Voltage (In green): 240VAC. This power adapter can only be used in countries 220V or more, like New Zealand.

Would it work?

No, the device would never start. There’s no safety risk plugging it in, but nothing will happen as the voltage is way too low. Had the voltage been 24V it might briefly work, but the power adapter would probably die as the current draw is higher than what the power adapter is capable of, which would cause it to overheat.

Adapter 4 – Phihong Power Adapter:

Voltage: 12V

Current: 1.5A

Polarity: Positive (Inner Pin is positive) )

Input Voltage (In green): 100-240VAC. This power adapter can be used in any country. NZ is 220-240VAC. The US, for example, is 100-120V. So this can be used in both.

Would it work?

No, the device would never start. There’s no safety risk plugging it in, but nothing will happen as the voltage is way too low. Had the voltage been 24V it would work, as there’s plenty of current capacity (50% more than what the steering wheel requires of 1A).


Of the four power adapters shown, one would work fine, the other three would not. So instead of going out and buying a power adapter, or having to wait for it to arrive to use my steering wheel, I could borrow my Dymo adapter and use it in the meantime. None of these power adapters would fry my device because its input requirement is at the higher end of normal DC voltage. But if I had plugged the Dymo power adapter into any of the devices made for the other power adapters, they would have likely all died the moment I switched them on.


Replacing a power brick for a device is straight forward, and often all of the information you need is readily available on the device itself, just flip it over and find the label.

Once you know what it needs based on the label, this makes it easy to match its requirements up to power adapters lying around your house based on their label, and if needed, source a replacement power adapter.

The four main specs to note on both (assuming they’re all made for New Zealand) are Plug Type, Voltage, Current and Polarity, and as long as the plug type, voltage and polarity are exactly the same, and the current at least what the device wants, your device will once again live.

With this knowledge, you are also able to buy overseas devices that have power bricks that only work on 120V, and simply replace them. Or to buy a replacement power brick for a power brick with a fixed foreign plug, to reduce your reliance on NZ plug adapters.

Final Note: Buying from Overseas

DC power bricks are cheap and easy to source from overseas websites and the range is absolutely massive. You can find a power adapter for almost any scenario but there’s a few things to note:

The adapter must be able to take 220-240V AC Input. This will usually be seen as 100-240V or 220-240V or simply 240V. That is what we use in NZ. If you plug a US only (110-120V) Power Adapter into a wall in NZ then it will quickly die and possibly be a fire risk.

NZ plugs overseas are usually known as AU plugs. We also use the same plugs as some regions of China. However these options are not always available. One easy way to get around this is to buy adapters that have a removable cord. Then you can simply source the required cord with an NZ plug.

The example below takes a generic jug cord, which you will find on computers, printers and as per its name, the kettle in your kitchen:

60W 12V 5A Desktop Power Supply | Jaycar Electronics New Zealand

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