Dell Inspiron 1100 starts with battery, but not with adapter

By 1mack1
Jul 29, 2009
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  1. I have a Dell Inspiron 1100 which, for the last 4 days, will not start using the power adapter. It will start and works fine with a charged battery. However, my battery is now out of charge.

    If I take the battery out and try and start the machine, all three lights go on at the front, but then immediately everything goes off.

    I think with machine switched off and power supply plugged in, it is charging the battery, but the ac power adapter makes a wierd clicking/ticking noise, so I'm not keen to leave it on/charging too long.

    My Dell Inspiron 1100's warranty ran out in 2004... Dell were very pleased to tell me this and tried to sell me an adapter for £85.00. However, I'm not sure that replacing the adapter will fix it. The green led is on and, as above, it appears to be charging the battery AND all lights light up for a split second at least, so some power is getting through.

    I have read other posts with similar issues, but can't find exactly the same issue. Any help/ideas would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 20,675   +152

    It is possible that the motherboard has developed problems, but you must try another AC adapter first. An AC Adapter is much cheaper than a motherboard
  3. raybay

    raybay TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    The adapter has a bad history of early failures... and the connection cable breaks, as well.

    Luckily the Chinese ones on eBay are better than those included with the Inspiron 1100, and are very low cost.

    Another problem, though, with the Inspiron 1100, is that the power jack into which you insert the power adapter plug has had a tendency to break loose from the system board... and is very difficult to re-attach. You need a highly skilled tech who knows cold solder, and flat solder techniques. Otherwise, a inexperienced tech can result in your need to replace the board.
  4. 1mack1

    1mack1 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Thanks for the advice regarding the soldering etc. I took apart an old Compaq a year or so ago when the pwr plug broke free from the motherboard and soldered it back in place. It wasn't easy, I'm not great at soldering, but it worked.

    I think this might be the issue, there certainly is some movement of the accepting plug inside it's housing when the cable is plugged in. It only moves vertically and by only a few degrees, but, depending on the angle, the strange ticking/scraping noises coming from the ac adapter change and the green led flickers.

    I took the keyboard out and removed the cooling fan. I have done before on a number of occasions over the years, to clean the cooling fan. With the fan removed you can see the power accepting jack on the motherboard. It looks to be in there pretty solid, but there's obviously an outer housing which attaches to the motherboard and another part inside. The inside piece is the piece which moves a little. Is this likely to be the issue?

    In the meantime, I am looking for a Chinese replacement adapter.
  5. 1mack1

    1mack1 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I bought a new adapter, all of the Chinese guys on Ebay were going to be a 3 week wait. So I bought a pc line 90w universal adapter from pc world. It doesn't work at all with the Dell.

    The old adapter still makes the lights flash on the font once briefly before the system shuts off. But this new one seems to do nothing with the Dell Inspiron. The only sign of life is that the pc line adapter's black box makes a faint high frequency buzz which changes frequency slightly when the power key is pressed.

    The new adapter works fine with the Compaq mentioned above, obviously changed the voltage output and the plug.

    I'm at a loss, short of taking the mother board out and taking the soldering iron to it.
  6. Kcircyrd

    Kcircyrd Newcomer, in training Posts: 316

    Sure sounds like a socket problem
  7. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 20,675   +152

    "I'm at a loss, short of taking the mother board out and taking the soldering iron to it"...

    Do you have the skiil to do this?
  8. rwc1969

    rwc1969 Newcomer, in training Posts: 39

    Will the AC apapter work if the battery is removed? You'd be best off buying the exact adapter required, or at least make sure that the output specs and polarity are the same. You can find this info on the label on the back of the AC adapter. The specs have to match exactly and the polarity must be correct.
  9. raybay

    raybay TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    Never seen that in hundreds of Dell laptops... and a lot of the Chinese adapters work better than the Dell ones... which are also just Chinese batteries... specs and polarity included... If the adapter is marketed as working, it will.

    If you want to have some boring fun some time, look at the specs for your Dell laptop, then look at the labels on the adapter and see how far off they are sometimes...

    For a long time now, Dell, HP, Compaq, and Lenovo have controlled what works in the computer by the socket and the plug... not the label... because people do not read labels.

    But the problem with the 1100 (as with certain other Dell Inspiron laptops) is that the socket on the motherboard breaks loose from the stress with the power cord. You can easily find the replacement socket on eBay for $6.00 but the soldering requires a skilled, experienced person who knows soldering techniques.

    I don't advise soldering your socket to your Dell board unless you reall know how to solder, and if you have professional quality flat solder and cold solder equipment. If you do, the process takes three to five minutes. if you do not know what you are doing, you will render the board unrepairable for any skilled technician later on.
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