Is electricity on the outside of the Macbook Pro NORMAL on every unit? A problem?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Wolfpup, Sep 28, 2007.

  1. Wolfpup macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
    I just got a new 2.4Ghz 15.4” Macbook Pro last night. I knew about the electric shock issue many have described, but hoped for the best.

    When I first started using it, I could feel a subtle tingle on the left side of the unit, and below the keyboard. I have the unit plugged in using the 3-prong adapter, as my understanding is that should minimize the electricity on the case. My home isn’t grounded, but my work is (I work in a server room), and there seems to be the same amount of electricity passing over the case either way.

    I saw this video:

    and did the same thing to test mine-used a powered speaker as a sort of test for electricity.

    Unfortunately mine too has electrical current in the same places.

    So…is this normal? Do all Macbook Pros do this, or do I have a defective unit.

    If they all do this…is this safe or could it get worse or cause other issues? It seems pretty strange, and is at least mildly annoying to feel (it’s really not bad, but…)
  2. theman macrumors 6502a

    Jul 26, 2007
    hmmm, is this when you have the magsafe plugged in, or not? try plugging it in using the extension cable that the mbp comes with. not sure, but just wondering if that does anything. (oops, i just realized you said you were doing that. nvm.)

    otherwise, it's possible that something inside the computer (like the logic board) is not grounded. i have done this with a computer i built. I accidentally dropped a screw behind the motherboard so it was allowing current to flow from the motherboard to the case. Every time i touched the case i got pretty fierce shock. anyways, it's very possible something like that is happening. its not normal. you should take it to an apple store and trick the genius by having him touch it. (hehehe payback.)
  3. mayoko185 macrumors member

    Jun 15, 2007
    Its normal and normally only happens when your not plugged into a grounded plug.
  4. theman macrumors 6502a

    Jul 26, 2007
    yeah, but he's using the grounded plug. so, its definitely not normal. something current is leaking out of something inside the notebook. not good.
  5. Cybergypsy macrumors 68040


    May 16, 2006
    Central Florida!
  6. majordude macrumors 68020


    Apr 28, 2007
    I think MBPs only pass through 18 volts (not 110 or 220... which is what they are plugged into). A flea would bite you more than that.
  7. Wolfpup thread starter macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
    Yeah, just to be clear, so far this isn't like huge shock, just a very slight sensation (and you can hear it with the "speaker" test). It's not super bad, so I'm not sure if it's maybe just how they are....but it does seem stranger that they'd do it at all.
  8. mward333 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 24, 2004
    Just a thought.... my two cents...... If you have your MacBook Pro plugged into a 3-prong outlet, it doesn't actually mean that the outlet is truly grounded.

    I have done many electrical jobs where the owner of a home has installed 3-prong outlets, but there is actually no "ground" available. In other words, sometimes a 3-prong outlet is installed where a 2-prong outlet should be installed, because no green "ground" is present in the wire (or occasionally, when a green ground is present, it is incorrectly attached for a variety of reasons).

    So try a variety of "grounded" outlets, to make sure that the outlet you are using is really grounded.

    Of course, I'm sorry that this is an issue at all with the MBP's, but I have seen lots and lots of folks posting on Macrumors about such things.... so I don't think that you are alone in this issue! :)

    Good luck.
  9. cmaier macrumors G4

    Jul 25, 2007
    It's current, not voltage, that you need to worry about.
  10. majordude macrumors 68020


    Apr 28, 2007
    Just my luck to have Nicola Tesla lurking this forum! :cool:
  11. Wolfpup thread starter macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
    I know that my home isn't grounded. I don't even have the three prong outlets, and my surge protectors show a line fault (though I've never had any issues since I moved in).

    My work though is specifically wired for computers, and everything in the room is wired through line conditioners, etc.

    The electricity is the same in either location, so at least on mine, grounding it doesn't seem to help.

  12. overcast macrumors 6502a

    Jun 27, 2007
    Rochester, NY
    It doesn't matter, current isn't going to flow without voltage. And with the resistance of your skin it's basically nothing. Takes like 48volts before it even gets through your skin.
  13. mward333 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 24, 2004
    Sorry to hear that your MBP still gives you trouble, even at work, where things are grounded properly!

    Ugh. Well, at least you don't seem to be alone on this. Sorry that you keep getting shocked. I've seen it lots of times on this forum.

    (In fact, that's one reason we stuck with the iBook/MacBook for many years instead of jumping to the PowerMac/MacBook Pro, but I know that doesn't help you at this point.)

    Again, best of luck to you. If you figure something out, I know that many folks on this forum would be glad to hear what you discover!
  14. introspectrum macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2007
    new york
    i have the same issue.

    there is a mild electric 'shock' on the left side of the MBP close to the power adapter.

    I've noticed that i still have this issue if my Gtec G-Drive is plugged into the firewire 800 port but the MBP's power adapter is disconnected.

    does anybody know if this is causing damage to the computer? or is it so mild that it has no long term effect?

    thanks. glad to know i'm not the only one with this issue.
  15. tdhurst macrumors 601


    Dec 27, 2003
    Phoenix, AZ

    It's Electric!

    You can't see it
    It's electric!
    You gotta feel it
    It's electric!
    Ooh, it's shakin'
    It's electric!

    She's a pumpin' like a matic
    She's a movin' like electric
    She sure got the boogie

    You gotta know it
    It's electric
    Boogie woogie, woogie!
    Now you can't hold it
    It's electric
    Boogie woogie, woogie!
    But you know it's there,
    Yeah here there everywhere
  16. polycat33 macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2007
    Alexandria, VA
    I'd never seen that video before, and I decided to try that test, since I've never felt a shock. I had noises in the exact same places. Seems I have electricity flowing around my MBP too, though I can't feel a thing when I put my finger in those places. Maybe it is a common problem, but not well known because a lot of people can't even tell?
  17. displaced macrumors 65816


    Jun 23, 2003
    Gravesend, United Kingdom
    Yeah, I get this too. Not frequently, but every now and then.

    I'm in the UK, where every socket is earthed. However, I believe the Apple power adapter is double-insulated, so the Earth (Ground) pin is disconnected. Disconnecting the plug or lead from the power brick shows there's only a 2-way (L/N) connection to the mains.
  18. gr8tfly macrumors 603


    Oct 29, 2006
    ~119W 34N
    If you use the extension cord (instead of the flip-out), the ground pin is the button the adapter slides onto. It's connected to the ground pin (on 3-pin US. I'm not sure the figuration in UK, but I'm guessing it has 3 pins).
  19. cyclotron451 macrumors regular


    Mar 16, 2005

    normally, this sort of "tingling" is when the case is 'floating' at half-way between the live and neutral mains voltage - often due to (medical grade low leakage) RF noise filtering capacitors in the advanced switch mode power supply modules. (white power bricks)

    In the EU you'll be feeling about 115volts RMS at a tiny amperage, maybe up to 500 microamps? (thats not a lot!)

    In the US, with a mostly 110volt supply - you're getting a barely perceptible 55volts RMS alternating voltage at basically zero current on the case of the MBP.

    (BTW. lethal electricity begins at about 72 volts with about 30+ milliamps, if you're unlucky to be that sensitive. MBP doesn't get anywhere near that)

    the leakage ripple on the casing has no effect on the internal components of the MBP, but might occasionally cause hum on connected audio systems.
    having an earth is good, when I use the Schuko (.de) or UK 13Amp plug on my MBP , then I have no issues. When I stick in the italian/french 2 pin plug then I can feel the fifty hertz. (remember to add 10 cycles extra in the US)

    :apple: CD MBP 2GHz, C2D MB 2GHz, iBook Key Lime, etcetera back to FatMac512 :apple:
  20. psingh01 macrumors 65816

    Apr 19, 2004
  21. Wolfpup thread starter macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
    Have you tried the test?
  22. Mistify macrumors newbie

    Nov 7, 2007
    Sorry to bring a dead thread back to life, but... Recently my 2.2 Macbook Pro started shocking me. Looking over this thread and another one, people describe a slight tingly feeling. I actually get an arch style shock from the laptop rather than a normal tingly feeling. Yesterday I had slightly wet hand when I touched the outside of my laptop and I could feel an arch spring from the laptop into my finger. Today, I was shocked a few times as well(dry), but not enough to cause discomfort. I went to plug in a USB mouse and I could visually see the USB plug arch with the laptop case. I figure a small amount of electricity is reasonable, but should I be able to see an actual arch of electricity? :confused:

    Thanks for the help,

  23. Wolfpup thread starter macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
    I'm still not convinced any electricity at all is reasonable, but you've got to get that fixed or replaced or whatever.
  24. Ilovemygeek macrumors regular

    Oct 25, 2007
    Mine zapped me a couple times actually. It was especially bad above the drive.
  25. zioxide macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2006
    lol. static electricity

    winter is coming and the air is getting drier, so there's more static electricity. since the MBP is aluminum, when you touch it after you've built up static, you're going to get a little spark. just like if you touched a door knob.

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