The International Electrotechnical Commission or IEC has announced that it has published the first globally relevant technical specification for a universal notebook charger. The charger outlined in the new specifications would work for a wide range of notebook computers. That would mean when you buy a new notebook you could use the charger from your old machine rather than buying a new one.
The IEC says that each year billions of external chargers are shipped globally and they are generally not usable between different computers. The IEC estimates that the total e-waste related to all sorts of chargers exceeds half a million tons each year. The new technical specification the IEC has come up with covers critical aspects of external chargers for notebook computers, the connector, and the plug. It also covers interoperability, performance, and environmental concerns.
The goal of the technical specification is to allow a single charger to work with multiple notebook computers in an effort to reduce e-waste. Having a universal charger would also mean those that travel with multiple notebook or own multiple machines will need only one charger for them all.
There is no indication from the IEC that any major computer manufacturers have adopted the new technical specification at this time. The standard would need to be adopted and many of the computer makers see chargers as a way to make money, which is the reason most don’t work with other machines today. If you lose or break a charger the only way to use your notebook is to go back to the manufacturer for a replacement. Many PC makers won’t want to give up that revenue stream.