Dell Charging part and charger and wattage error message

Dell AC power adapter wattage and type cannot be determined

Today when I turned on my laptop I got the following error message

Adapter – Alert – “AC power adapter wattage and type cannot be determined

Also below that it says:

The battery may not charge.

The system will adjust the performance to match the power available.

Well I did not think much of it, I pressed the F1 key to get past the error message as suggested and windows seemingly booted properly.

Now the problem was I started experience performance issues. The laptop became very slow. I am generally good with computers as a matter of fact I wrote a guide here on accatech on how to fix a slow computer.

So when my computer started being sluggish I started troubleshooting but to no avail. After I restarted the laptop thats when I remembered about the power wattage error issue when I saw it for the second time.

So if you are facing the same problem its either one of the following causing the issues.

  1. 3rd Party AC Adapter
  2. Low voltage charger
  3. Adapter not connected to laptop properly
  4. Faulty AC adapter
  5. BIOS update

In my case it was the computer just acting up, apparently I had not properly / fully inserted the charger and it was not able to read the wattage. I just unplugged and plugged the laptop again and a reboot fixed the issue.

You might not be that lucky so here is what to check.

I will start with the obvious which is is easy to solve.

3rd Party  AC Adapter charger

Ran out of battery and forgot your laptop charger then you borrow your friend’s HP charger. The jacks looks the same.  It works on your laptop and you think its fine.

No its not.

Never use a charger from a different laptop brand.

You might be able to get away with it but it damages your battery. Laptops have firmware which identify their own hardware that’s why they will sometimes reject a charger from other manufacturers.

Use the charger for the laptop that is specified by the manufacturer. If you are not sure if you are buying the right one,  you can purchase from the manufacturer’s website, in this case from the Dell website. You enter your service tag and you will be able to purchase the right one.

Low voltage charger

Even when you switch chargers from within the same brand you might face issues. Laptops have different power needs for example the Dell inspiron  5758 uses a 45watt charger if you connect it to say as an example a Dell Latitude E6410  which uses a 95watt charger then you will have problems.

Adapter not connected to laptop or wall socket properly

Like as it was in my case, it was the cable that was not fully inserted to the laptop that made the laptop fail to determine the wattage.

What you  basically do, turn the laptop off, then remove the adapter from the laptop. Insert it back as you normally do but making sure its all the way in. Then turn the computer on and see if the error message is gone.

The same goes for the wall socket. Make sure it is firmly plugged in. You can also test with a different power outlet.

Faulty AC adapter

If you have a faulty AC adapter you will need to buy a new one because it might end up costing you your motherboard. In-fact its cheap for example if you look at these dell AC adapters they are cheap than risking your laptop by still using your damaged dell AC adapter.

You need to check your adapter cables if there are any exposed internal cables, if its frayed or whether the pin is bent or broken.

This happens from normal wear and tear. Depending on how you keep, use and fold the charger cords the damage happens at different places. For example in the images below of Dell adapters.

Damaged Dell AC Adapter charger causing error
Examples of damaged Dell AC Adapter

Broken Pin


Dell Inspiron laptop charger connector
Dell laptop charger connector

The pin at the centre is also prone to breaking, being bent which can cause the laptop not to charge. In this case it will be wise to buy a new one unless you want to pull a MacGyver. This is caused by not inserting the cable properly or the angle at which it is inconsistently inserted.

Always gently insert the charger in the charging port to prevent it from being broken or bent or damaging the port itself which will be a bigger problem.

Flea power

Residual power on your motherboard can cause you motherboard can cause it to behave in strange ways. You can easily drain flea power with following simple method.

  • Remove battery and disconnect adapter
  • Press and hold the power button for 30 seconds.
  • Put back the battery and charger.
  • Turn the Laptop back on.

BIOS not detecting the laptop charger

This is pretty rare, that’s why I chose to include it at the end. Nevertheless, I have run across a few people who had the issue. The BIOS not recognizing their adapter.

In that case check if you have the latest version of the BIOS running on your system if not update  BIOS. This can help solve the problem.

Please note if you running on the battery and it dies while you updating the BIOS it might damage your laptop rendering it unusable. Normally the Dell laptops will prevent you from updating the BIOS with a low battery but you can override the settings.

I do not recommended this method unless you have researched and feel you know what you are doing.

Dell ePSA test

To get further insight on the error use the Enhanced Pre-Boot System Assessment (ePSA) test. This checks your computer hardware for any hardware issues. If there is a problem you will get an error code which you can use to look up the problem.

To run the Dell ePSA test

  • Turn on your computer
  • Press F12 on the splash screen
  • Select Diagnostics
  • Click run test / or select a specific hardware part that you want to test

Related article

Battery plugged in not charging




  1. I had this problem on my Dell 13-5368. I have the original 45W Dell charger, and it seems to be working well, with no obvious physical problems. I tried several times. The performance was very slow.

    Here’s what fixed it for me – I cannot explain why, but I can report: I rebooted with the adapter not plugged into the computer – in other words, rebooted from battery power. The system booted fine. The performance was normal. I shut the computer down. I plugged in the adapter to the computer. I rebooted. The error message did not appear. The system booted fine. The performance was normal.

    I have since shut down and rebooted, all normal. No adapter message.

    Could it be that rebooting under battery power reset something that was incorrectly not recognizing the adapter? I don’t know. But this “fix” is easy to try. It might work for others.

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