MacBook Pro at 220 volts, could feel current through aluminum case

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Losenrout, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. Losenrout macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2008
    I recently traveled to Europe with a MacBook Pro, and plugged it into the outlet with a travel converter. My understanding is that the brick on the magsafe cable works as a transformer and it is safe to plug into a European outlet. I've never had a problem with other laptops.

    Everything worked fine with the machine, except I could always feel an "electric" sensation through my hands when touching the aluminum case. This was especially apparent when running my fingers across the top -- it was as if I could feel an electric current running through the case.

    This seemed harmless, and I ran the computer without fail during my time abroad. My question is out of curiosity -- is this sensation normal? What exactly is it? Thank you for any responses and explanation, I'm not an electrical engineer.
  2. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Ooh, ooh! I'm in Ireland right now, but I live and bought my MacBook Pro in the U.S.A. I get the same thing when it's plugged in! I think it's pretty cool, actually. A little tingly, vibratey sensation running over the bare case! Woot!

    Wait, IS that normal? Probably not, but it doesn't break anything, so we should be cool...
  3. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    I know there have been quite a few threads about users getting a tingling sensation from their MacBook Pro palmrest or being shocked.
  4. jkramb macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2008
    I'm currently studying in Austria and have the same thing.
  5. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Oct 24, 2007
    Its not *supposed* to do that.

    It shouldn't when-for instance-you are running on battery power.

    I know in the states it happens because you are using the 2 prong adapter with no grounding pin instead of the full length cable.

    If you are connecting via the world kit you may not have an option unless it comes with a full length USA to * adapter.
  6. fongyuen macrumors 6502

    Jun 9, 2007
    yeah, happened to me too in China. pretty annoying actually, more of a small shock than a tingle.
  7. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    I'm in Russia (220v) and many (most?) MBPs and alum. iMacs do that. Doesn't matter if connected via extension cable or not.

    I guess its normal, but why not all machines do that?
  8. dchen720 macrumors member

    Jul 23, 2008
    this is cool stuff.. lol

    wouldn't that be dangerous, and shorten ur mac's life?
  9. anirban macrumors 6502a


    Jan 9, 2007
    Houston, TX
    I don't think it is damaging to the computer, but it seems like a grounding issue. I have had that several times also.
  10. reffle macrumors newbie


    Aug 6, 2008
    Meh I'm always getting shocked by my macbook pro.. you get used to if after a while and at least it doesn't compare to lightning.

    I find its worst when I've got my feet on the metal case of my surround sound or if I touch the metal case of one of my external hard drives. Also if you're using a first generation iPhone when its charging you get the same feeling (feels as though its vibrating if you move your fingers).
  11. skyrider007 macrumors 65816


    Aug 5, 2007
    I used to get shocked by my MBP too, however it has stopped since I put on a Moshi PalmGuard.
  12. kolax macrumors G3

    Mar 20, 2007
    Depends if you are using just the power brick or the whole extra cable. The adapter alone doesn't include an earth connection, hence why you feel the static charge. If your in a country that has a 3 pin connection available (third pin for earth) then this won't happen.

    You can get the same effect from most external hard drives that have a power supply. Run your MacBook Pro on battery, and plug in your external hard drive. You'll get the same effect.

    It is just because of the aluminium case.
  13. CWallace macrumors 603


    Aug 17, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    Strange... The MacBook Pro runs on DC power internally, so regardless of what's coming into the adapter from the wall, it should be outputting the same amount of DC current to the MBP via the MagSafe adapter...
  14. Afini macrumors member

    Sep 9, 2008
    Portland, OR
    #14 long as its not hurting the MBP I'm happy, I'm taking mine to Germany for 6 months soon.

    I like tingly sensations though!
  15. nephilim7 macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2008
    it happens to me in the US sometimes when I use the 2 prong in an old house on my property (without decent grounding). When you touch the mbp you become the ground. It's not damaging to the mbp but it could be damaging to another device if you are holding it in your hand and it's made of metal.
  16. fwhh macrumors regular

    Aug 11, 2004
    Berlin, Germany
    This problem is most likely cause by the construction of the powersupply.
    In most powersupplies 2 capacitors provide a virtual ground when connected to a two pin plug. Those are special capacitors (Y1-type) which provide extra saftey against failure. When running on 230 Volts you can feel the current, because there are 115 Volts against earth on the virtual ground line (the capacitors form a voltage divider). When running on 110 Volts, its only 55 Volts which you can not feel. But even on 230 Volts this is not really a safety risk, because the current that can flow through the capacitors into your body is really small, in normal operations well below 1mA (I think the VDE has a 0.1mA limit on this). So: this is annoying, but in general not a risk. If unsure, have your powersupply checked by an electrican (they have special equipment for this kind of measurements) or apple!
  17. ndstrenge macrumors regular

    Aug 29, 2008
    first the excessively high running temps...

    now you guys are getting shocked because it doesn't ground?!?

    sorry.. but why the hype over MBPs"?

    I'm considering buying a new generation when released, but this thread seriously turned me off...


    "It's not that bad..." "It doesn't hurt anything..." :rolleyes:

    overheating and shocking are clear signs of horrible craftsmanship.
  18. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    lol you're overreacting. Its not a shock - it just feels like it vibrates slightly when you move your fingers over it. It actually feels nice :)
  19. kolax macrumors G3

    Mar 20, 2007
    It is a static shock. Wait till you have your wrists on the edge, and it can be quite sharp and painful.
  20. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    You're not experiencing the same thing that we are, then...
  21. tremendous macrumors 6502


    Jan 16, 2008
    UK? Yeah I'm OK. Stop asking.
    I'm in the UK and this has happened on my almost 5 year old Powerbook since I got it. If my experiences are anything to go on then a) you won't die and b) it will not effect the operation or lifespan of the machine.

    to me it's almost as if it feels a little sticky, but it's nothing i can't deal with.
  22. ndstrenge macrumors regular

    Aug 29, 2008
    you have no idea how absurd this sounds.

    I'm well acquainted with non-grounded utilities. It's called- the third world. Take a shower in Peru and tell me how good it feels... or- ride an escalator in south east Asia... it's the same thing.

    I can NOT believe MBP owners are comparing their products to undeveloped countries.

    You're right, dude, showers in Peru are normal. :rolleyes:

    what a joke.

    "It feels sticky." = LMAO

    "I'll never go back to a Windows machine."
    "Good- the shock treatment is working."
  23. BigHungry04 macrumors 6502

    Mar 14, 2008
  24. deltaiscain macrumors regular

    Jul 24, 2008
    Ah, that's what i'm feeling. I bought mine in the us, and live in poland. I feel the tingling sensation, nearly always when i plug it in. Believe me, it's totally harmless. It feels nice actually.
  25. ndstrenge macrumors regular

    Aug 29, 2008
    That just can't be healthy.

    "Kevin! Stop throwing the cat down the stairs!"

    "It doesn't hurt it, he always lands on his feet."

    "It doesn't help him either!!"

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