Macbook Electric Shock Final Answer?!?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by rdbot, May 3, 2009.

  1. rdbot macrumors newbie

    Dec 11, 2006
    Hello. I've been having an apparently commonly experienced problem (from this and many other web forums) where when one takes their macbook to another country and they get a tingly/shock when they touch the laptop.

    This could be due to grounding issues, but several people have reported using both the 2 prong plug on the magsafe adapter and the 3 pronged extension cable--and plugged in to grounded plug converters. Also the issue of whether the house was properly grounded seems to have been covered (same problem, several houses including schools which are apparently grounded by law).

    I've just had an infuriating conversation w/ Apple as have others apparently and they have referred me to Apple support in whatever country I'm in--which I have done to no avail and and stated so to the apple rep. In addition the support person said that even if I found out the answer he didn't want to know because it was not an American issue!!! I cannot believe that figuring out how to solve this problem would not be welcome in the knowledge base. Kinda defies the name and purpose of "knowledge base".

    Since I am American and bought the computer in America and the computer manual and tech specs rate it for safe use in other countries, I don't see how this is not something that Apple Care would want to know about. Clearly this is a case of either a completely idiotic support "supervisor" or something Apple doesn't want to deal with.

    I've not found any posts of anything that makes the problem go away definitively so my only question is whether the phenomenon which is annoying and slightly painful is actually damaging the computer. Some posts say it doesn't, so say they don't know, and some say it could.

    Does anyone have the final word on whether charging my computer outside of the US is safe? I am using a grounded adapter and this happened on my 2006 version of my macbook pro as well.

    Apparently the travel adapters that Apple sells don't fix it either.

    I just need to know if I need to bring 10,000 extra charged batteries next time I think of using my mac abroad.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. rdbot thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 11, 2006
    Answer found

    Well, I was able to confirm, though Apple won't readily admit it, that this problem is in fact simply a grounding issue...but the real issue is that Apple can't admit it w/o offering a fix--for everyone...that is, to provide a grounded plug extension cable for the country in question or a proper adapter for the US cable. After much arm twisting I was able get Apple to agree to give me one. (As an aside, the apple store equivalent in the country I'm in will not so far honor Apple's authorization to do this). That is another story. In the meantime I was able to borrow one and the problem went away.

    So that leaves us with the real problem. Nowhere does apple state that macbooks cannot be used abroad safely, in fact it advertises the opposite. And even if you buy the official apple travel adapter kit, it does not come with a 3 prong US to a 3 prong European adapter. I could not find a third party one here though I'm sure it exists somewhere. If Apple could confirm 100% that the grounding issue will absolutely not affect the computer or the magsafe adapter, then one might just deal with the tingling annoyance (though over long periods it does begin to hurt). But if Apple cannot give such an assurance then they need to supply a proper adapter in the travel kit, or they need to tell buyers that they must buy another power supply to prepare them for their trip and not discover the problem later when getting one might not be convenient--I've wasted two full days, countless phone calls abroad as well within the country and so far have driven to the apple store twice and am expecting to have to go back again. All that's needed really is the extension cord, not the whole magsafe adapter, but that is not available for purchase separately. A new magsafe adapter costs about $200 here, and I personally don't feel I should have to pay for it. The plug extension cable alone if available would have been a very easy and probably inexpensive thing that I would have been willing to buy to alleviate all of this--it just connects to the adapter like the US equivalent.

    But since no one wants to admit to anything or give assurances that the grounding issue won't ultimately affect the computer or magsafe adapter (the answer I got from a few apple technicians is that they don't know for sure--so why take a chance on damaging a more expensive piece of equipment?), then all this is just an exercise in frustration and you might just as well dish out the money yourself for a whole adapter to avoid the hassle (if you can find one in the country you're in)

    Anyway, if anyone is left wondering if there is a solution, there is:
    Get Apple to give you a new magsafe adapter or at least the extention cable, get apple to provide a 3 prong to 3 prong adapter in their kit, or to buy a complete adapter yourself. If you can find a 3 prong to 3 prong adapter that should do the trick too. But it's just frustrating that apple admits and then retracts that there is a problem and is not willing to do anything about it. A civil suit could be an answer but that would take some effort. That said there are enough people who buy their computers in the US and take them on trips abroad as well as tourists who buy Apples in the US now that the dollar is weaker. Or Apple can give an assurance that the grounding issue will cause no issue (As Dell did).

    All this said, the problem is gone, but not without a lot of frustration, wasted time and effort and expense. And I still don't have my new adapter. Thankfully I could borrow one for now.

    No tingling at all and I feel safer that I'm not doing damage to my computer.
  3. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2008
    Wellington, New Zealand
    So, If you use a grounded plug and grounded adaptor the problem is solved?

    I don't think it has anything to do with being abroad. I have had this problem happen in the united states as well. I assume it stems from the fact that if you use the "2-prong" plug on your magsafe, you are not grounded!

    I use the "three-prong with cable" with an plug adaptor that uses a ground and don't have this problem. I buy cheap grounded adapters (Radio Shack, about 7 dollars) and have no problems with my AIR anywhere I have traveled in europe and asia. I do have several adaptors. In italy the ground is in a different position than korea, for example...
  4. rdbot thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 11, 2006
    yes, you are right, it's not a problem of being abroad, but it happens mostly because abroad you must convert the 3 prong plug to a 2 prong one, where in the US you have the option of using the 3 prong cable directly. So, in theory, if you use an 3 prong adapter it will work. As long as it is grounded properly it will work, depending on where you are and which plug you are using and if the socket is actually grounded, etc.

    But Apple should advise of this, provide/sell the proper adapter (since I can't find a radio shack here), or at least admit that the problem exists, and give some assurance that even if you don't use it, that the grounding problem won't cause damage to the computer or the magsafe adapter--they cannot definitively say that it won't.

    Anyway, the fix is easy if you have the proper adapter, or cable, if not, just enjoy the electric shock--it used to be used as psychiatric therapy at one point :)--and hope it doesn't do damage.

  5. himatangi macrumors newbie

    Oct 15, 2009
    electric shock from Macbbook Pro

    I've got a 15" 2008 Macbook Pro giving an electric shock. i thought initially that it must just be a static discharge but since the shock is reproducible repeatedly I got out my trusty digital voltmeter.

    Between the case and a ground running purely on battery power with no other cables attached the measured voltage is 24 volts AC. Now when I connect the magsafe cable I measure 103 volts AC. I have contacted Apple and I'm surprised that they don't seem overly concerned. I was waiting to hear from them as to whether or not their Engineering Dept wanted to investigate the problem. Apparently not it's going off to a 3rd party repair company.
  6. umiwangu macrumors 6502

    Sep 4, 2006
    After living overseas for almost 10 years, it's something you get used to. It's surprising how many plugs over here don't have the grounded part.

    I'm using the Apple 3-prong UK adapter and I still get shocks with my MacBook, especially from the screws on the side of the laptop.

Share This Page