How and where power adapters are located in a laptop computer cart can make a difference in how safe the charging station is. Overheated adapters can damage electronic devices, and worse, cause injury to students. Let's take a look at how this can happen with a little primer on power adapters.
Tablets, Chromebooks and laptops all require power adapters. When charging mobile devices, these adapters get hot. Why? Because they convert the AC power from your wall outlet to DC power, which is used by the electronic devices. This power conversion is not completely efficient and some energy is lost in the process. This lost energy becomes heat.
A power adapter needs air around it to enable the generated heat to dissipate. If the adapter is covered or confined, the heat can build up and damage the adapter or electronic device, cause a fire, and burn little fingers. This makes it imperative that charging and storage carts and lockers are designed to safely hold the power adapters (as well as have UL® certified power strips.)
Some charging stations have no special accommodation for power adapters. They are often stacked on top of each other in a trough along the side or bottom of the cart or locker. This technique, while seemingly easy to work with, does not allow the heat to dissipate properly and can lead to. This design also makes it difficult to identify the specific, failed power adapter if there is a problem.
To ensure adequate airflow and to prevent safety problems, all Black Box multi-device charging stations are engineered to provide a dedicated space for the power adapters. This, coupled with the mesh panels in the walls of the cart or locker, enable unimpeded airflow around the adapters as well as in and out of the body of the charging station. Black Box also uses only UL certified PDUs.
If you're looking at purchasing mobile-device charging and storage carts, think about how you plan to use the cart and how you want to charge the devices. There are multiple charging solutions to choose from. The simplest is basic charging, as described above, where you simply plug in the power adapter to a PDU in the cart or locker. But there are other options available that include timers, power cyclers, customizable chargers, and more. Learn more about these power options in this blog post: Powering Carts 101: What You Need to Know.