A constant yet subtle humming noise can drive a person insane if it goes on for long enough. This is especially true if it seems to be coming from their phone or computer. For some people, they have experienced plugging in their phone to a charger, and then hearing a high-pitched buzzing noise that just can’t seem to go away. Others can’t charge their laptop without hearing a noise.
Why is a charger making buzzing noises? There are a few reasons why this could be causing a problem, and the good news is, it is fixable one way or another. Troubleshooting the actual source of sound is the first step, and from there, people can finally get their peace and quiet back.
What Type of Noise Can Chargers Make?
Cell phone chargers can make a fairly dull humming noise, but it can even squeal at times. There are plenty of YouTube videos that have been put together by individuals to document this happening.
The truth of the matter is, even the faintest of sounds can be extremely nerve-racking. Not only are they annoying, but people may be worried that they are doing damage to their phone.
Laptops are even more expensive, and the chargers are larger. That means the noise might be a little more annoying.
Laptop owners never want to fear the possibility of losing everything, so they will always troubleshoot as much as possible.
When Can Chargers Make Noise?
Noise can start coming from a charger at different points in time. In fact, this might help a person identify whether it is a problem with the outlet, the charger, or the device.
Sounds when plugged into the wall socket
This means that either the charger is causing an issue, or the outlet itself.
Sounds when the device is plugged into the charger
This usually means that the problem is coming from either the charger, or the phone.
Sounds when the device is fully charged
Most of the time, this is due to a change in how the device is delivering power, or the device itself.
Getting Professional Help for Humming Sounds
Before going into a repair shop to see if there is any way they can help, make sure that it is clear where the sound is coming from, and where it starts.
The more information the person can provide these professionals, the better off they will be. However, sometimes, these professionals are not even needed, as people can troubleshoot on their own.
Breaking Down the Sound in Charge Components
Every single electronic has the chance of making noise, and if the person listens closely enough, they can probably pick it up.
However, as technology gets better, the frequencies will be well above what a typical human can detect.
Humans can really only process noises that go from about 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. Most of the time, the electricity going through a charger can be up to 30,000 Hz or more. (Source)
One of the biggest culprits when actual noise is heard by humans is when the power adapter converts AC power to DC power.
It uses an electromagnetic coil as a transformer, instead of inductor. This makes the lower voltage power convert DC in a diode bridge rectifier. Power goes through the capacitor, which keeps the flow going before sending it through the power cable.
Every step of the process can create a little bit of noise. A high-pitched noise is usually going to be originating from a transformer, as it will make a noise when electricity is passed into the coil.
This causes the component to start to vibrate, and there is a resonance frequency associated with it. In fact, it happens so commonly that there is a term called coil whine, which has affected the chargers to an old television.
Switch circuits can also produce high frequency noises, including a ticking sound that can be annoying.
There are other more obscure issues that could be popping up, but it is never entirely known as far as exact issues are concerned.
Overall, a laptop cord is going to have a higher chance of something going wrong overall. That is because they are depended on a little bit more, and they are more powerful.
That means more can go wrong, and there is a chance that sound ends up being more noticeable.
Are Chargers Making Buzzing or Humming Sounds Something to Worry About?
If the charger has always made some type of noise, and it does not get any worse, it is probably functioning just fine.
Make sure that it is charging the phone as it should, and it is not unusually hot. It might just be a cheap component that makes a faint noise, but if a person is fine with it, they do not need to make any other changes.
The problems really start to pop up when the noise level changes. If the adapter starts to make more noise than usual, and it overheats, there is a chance of it becoming a fire hazard. It might also start to malfunction, and it could even affect the phone itself.
How to Fix a Loud Charger
There is really no simple way to fix a charger that is making a lot of noise. For the most part, what people do is use some type of soundproofing material to go around the charger, and hope for the best.
There still might be some sound heard, but it will not be that annoying. However, adding additional material if a charger is prone to overheating might not be a smart idea at all.
If it is overheating and makes a noise, It might be time to make a full replacement.
These are the steps to take if the charger is humming and it seems to be causing too much of an issue overall.
Do not be afraid to take the time to go through all the steps and ensure that the right decisions are made before ultimately deciding on a course of action.
Step 1 – Unplug the Charger
Never examine the charger while it is plugged in. It is one thing to plug it in and see what is causing the sound, but messing around with it while it is plugged in can be asking for trouble.
All it takes is one slip of the fingers, and there could be some electrical issues that are not fun in any way.
This goes for anything that plugs into an outlet. It is better to just leave this up to professionals. At the end of the day, saving maybe $100 at most and messing around with wires while everything is plugged in is not a way to go.
Step 2 – Examin the Charger For Damage
One of the most common ways sound can start coming from the charger is if it is damaged. Take a look around the charger and make sure everything is in good working order.
If it just started making noise, there is a chance that it was physically damaged. This can be from a drop, an animal getting a hold of the charger, or if it is dragging on the floor for whatever reason.
Some people do not even realize that the charger is damaged until days after the damage was done.
Make sure to specifically look at the most problematic areas of a charger as well. Chargers can start to show some wear near the end points, as that is where they usually fray a bit.
There could also be cracks or dents in the plastic, and although it does not seem like much, staying on top of everything matters.
Step 3 – Try a Different Outlet
In some cases, the outlet could be the problem. A great way to test everything is to simply use another outlet.
This does not mean using the bottom outlet on the same location, but moving to another part of the home altogether.
This is a pretty simple step to try things out, and it could save a lot of time and energy figuring out what the problem is. Maybe it is an overpowered outlet, or underpowered outlet.
Not all outlets are created equally in a home, contrary to popular belief. In fact, a lot of older homes have outlets that are all over the place as far as power is concerned.
Step 4 – Make a Repair, or Replace a Component
Chargers are pretty much throwaway items for phone users these days, but if it is a simple fix, it still might be worth it. There are some repair kits out there that can help a person fix their charger and get back to normal.
The best way to get a good price is to shop online, but there are also some local electronic shops that might have options as well.
Just make sure before buying anything to research how much a brand new charger would be. If a charger is fairly inexpensive compared to everything that needs purchase, it is better to just go that direction.
Laptop chargers are generally more expensive, so a repair makes more sense. There is always the option of shopping for a used laptop or swapping out components from a laptop charger that no longer works, but still has some functional parts.
Step 5 – Troubleshooting Computer Chargers
While most people seem to have problems with their phone chargers, laptop and computer chargers can be an issue as well.
The bad news is that these are usually more expensive to replace, but the good news is that there are additional ways to test if something is going wrong.
In fact, there are programs that a person can run on their computer to see if they need to replace anything, or if the charger is beyond replaceable.
Step 6 – Running an Adapter Test
There are a lot of companies these days that have diagnostic tools that will help a person see if their components are working as they should on the computer. This can be very helpful with a charger, and the steps are pretty straightforward.
Once the tests are run, it will spit out the details as far as efficiency is concerned. If the device is not working as it should, it will fall below the recommended metrics.
With this type of proof, there are some people who will have a laptop that is covered under a warranty. It is as simple as making a return and getting a replacement, or the money back.
In other situations, an adapter test really gives a person the truth on whether it is toast, or if it needs replaced.
Step 7 – Cord Output
There are some cords that become a little bit frustrating as far as output is concerned. These usually only occur in cheaper chargers, but it is worth checking out before making a final decision.
Measure the cord outlet before making any changes. A charger needs to provide the right amount of watts at the very minimum to power a device.
For example, most laptops will need anywhere from 35 to 45 watts to be powered properly. If a charger is below that, it is not going to provide value at all.
It is better to get a full replacement instead of trying to force something to work in a certain situation.
What Is the Lifespan of a Charger?
A charger is built to last a decent amount of time, even if the cords might not have quite the same shelf life.
The reason why so many cords on a charger wear out quickly is that they are constantly pulled, dragged, and abused in general.
Even those trying to take decent care of their charger for their phone or laptop will still end up doing a little bit of harm.
Think about a charger as having a lifespan of at least two years. If treated properly, they should be able to last that long without any problems.
If they are used every day in a certain environment, the charger might start acting up sooner than that.
How often the charger is rolled up and moved around can also play a factor. Maybe a part of the charger moves around, and that can cause some noise when under normal operation.
Should You Use a Charger That Is Making Noise?
If the troubleshooting part of fixing a charger seems to be too much, it is ultimately best to just go ahead and get rid of the charger altogether.
It might not be the information that a person wants to hear, but it is much better to replace a charger than to replace the entire phone.
There is just too much that can go wrong with a charger if it is constantly causing problems. Aloud, disrupting sound might be a sign that there is something else going on. There is no reason to let that get in the way.