The MacBook replacement adapter problem

What’s that? You want 600 words on buying replacement MacBook power adapters? OK, here you go.

If you’re anything like me (seek medical attention), you have a problem with MacBook power adapters. Unlike the MacBook itself, the adapter cable is made of rubber and what? Copper? Some conducting stuff. Franklinium? Anyway, it’s some stuff that doesn’t really like to be bent, covered up by stuff that bends like crazy. It’s madness. It’ll never work! And the box part is plastic surrounding some electronics and, I assume, a prodigious amount of coal or wadded up newspaper. Something that might just decide to combust one day.

I’m not an electrical engineer, but I’m pretty sure I have this 100 percent correct.

I heard Apple was working on wireless power, but an engineer stepped in the beam and got incinerated. Or I’m thinking of an old Star Trek episode. I get those confused with Apple rumors sometimes.

Let me be clear about this: my adapters are fine. All of them. Going back to my blueberry iBook. I treat my devices with the utmost respect. And I keep the boxes and plastic wrap. Because I’m responsible. And a hoarder. Also that. So much hoarding. But it’s my wife and son who go through adapters like frat bros through Axe body spray. And neither of them is a travelling salesperson. As far as I know. They just abuse them at home. You have no idea what I’m going through here.

Anyway, here’s the problem. Getting replacement adapters from Apple is price prohibitive. I can’t mentally justify spending $79 on an adapter from Apple every quarter. So every time I need a new adapter I have to figure out where else I’m going to get one. It’s tempting to get a knock-off from Amazon. Some of them go for as little as $11.40. What a deal! It sounds great until you get down to the reviews that says “It’s not even the right adapter” or “They refused to honor the warrantee” or “IT BURNS! IT BURNS!” or “The box contained nothing but the dead spirit of an angry Incan warlord which inhabited my body and now I am QXATLO, DEAD INCAN LORD OF WAR! I BRING YOU PAIN!”

So, I can never bring myself to buy one of these. So, what to do?

OWC sells “bulk packed” adapters (meaning they don’t come in a box, just in a plastic bag) in the $56 to $65 range. I’ve generally had a good experience buying these from them.

This last time, however, I went the refurbished adapter route and tried where I was able to get a 60w adapter for about $40. It’s a cheap solution that might not catch on fire. What more could you want? (They’re welcome to use that in their marketing if they want.) After about a month of intermittent usage, it seems solid with no heating issues, though. Yes, I can see the glue where the device has been opened and resealed, but that’s to be expected. The reason I selected this is because they include a pre-paid label for you to mail back the adapter you’re replacing. Do that and you get an additional 90 days added to your warranty. Which, eh, is an OK deal but more importantly it’s better than the adapter ending up in the landfill. I assume they refurbish them for resale which is really the point.

The only oddity was that I selected a t-style plug because it was slightly cheaper and received an l-style one instead. I presume that’s because of availability and it was fine as I actually prefer the l-style.

With the combined aspects of being a) reasonably priced and b) slightly more environmentally friendly than tossing the old adapter, this is my current solution to a recurring problem.