USB-C to Carry 240W, to Eliminate Brick Chargers

John Lister's picture

The end of brick-like chargers that only fit one laptop is a step closer. The first USB cables that can carry up to 240 watts of power are now in production.

For many years, one of the biggest drawbacks of laptops was the charger. In most cases they were considerably thicker than the laptop itself. They were also usually specific to the device (both in the plug/socket size and in the specific amount of power delivered). That meant somebody who lost or broke their charger would often face delay and expense before they could charge their device again.

Things got a little better with the introduction of the USB-C format. While most of the attention was on the fact the plug connected either way up (ending a major frustration with USB), another big benefit was that USB-C cables can carry power as well as data.

Options Opened

That not only simplifies the selection of ports on a device, but opens up more options for charging. A dedicated charger, a phone charger or adapter, and even a cable straight into a USB socket in a wall outlet will all charge the laptop.

The big limitation so far has been the amount of power carried and thus the speed of recharging. As a rough rule of thumb, using a dedicated USB-C wall charger is around three times as quick as using a phone adapter (with a normal-size wall plug).

That still leaves users having to choose between speed and convenience/portability. It also means some more powerful laptops can't work with USB-C and still require bulky proprietary models.

Cable Confusion

Now the first USB-C cables have appeared that can carry the same amount of power as a dedicated brick charger. Specifically, they have a maximum limit of 240 watts, 48 volts and 5 amps. They'll still need an adapter to plug in to the wall, but this should be much less bulky than many current models. (Source: tomshardware.com)

The bad news is that picking the right cable could get very confusing. The initial range has different models with different combinations of length, power capacity, and data capacity. That might undermine the entire "one cable to fit them all" philosophy. (Source: theverge.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Do you use USB-C charging? Have you found it more convenient than dedicated charging cables? Do you find it frustrating to keep track of which cables and chargers fit which devices?

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Comments

olds97_lss's picture

Doesn't really matter to me one way or the other. After having so many devices the past 10+ years with cables and chargers (power supplies) for them all, it's kind of irrelevant. Sure, it would be nice if everything used the same and had higher amperage capability. I just hope that the devices continue to be smart enough to limit the current coming at them regardless what's plugged in. Charging anything faster than 1C isn't great for it, so 5A for a phone that has an 1800mah lipo in it likely won't be any different than if I have a 2A supply because it should be limiting it to use at most 1.8A.

I do like the usb-c connectors though. Fairly durable compared to the micro-b plug. Reversible micro-b cables have been around for quite a while though. I use them on most of my devices at home and in my car.

Focused100's picture

I really like the USB c connector and I'm all for switching everything to it in the future all my phones in the family and now my newer laptop has USB c capability.

One issue is it's still tough to find USB c to USB c cables and USB c wall changers.
Many still have USB a connectors and the cables have c on one end and a on the other.
It's tougher to make a clean switchover because of that.

pctyson's picture

In order for it to charge at 5 volts 240 watts it will have to push 48 amps. I would like to see the USB cable necessary to handle that much current. It better make a good connection. Resistance produces heat. The more voltage and current being pushed through resistance the more heat it produces. 240 watts with possible resistance due to dirty connections can produce enough heat to start a fire.
I love the type C connections because you do not have to worry about orientation but I am not sure that such a small set of connecting pins can truly handle that much current. The safety that needs to be built into this for such a small connector should be extensive and certain.

P.S.: If they mean 240 watts over 4 hours then that is not truly 240 watts as measured in watt hours. 5 volts x 48 amps x 1 hour = 240 watt hours