Notebook Tingle Revisited


Let me be clear on this—your computer should never give you an electric shock. If you ever experience an electric shock from your computer — or even suspect you have — please disconnect your system and contact us or your utility company immediately. 

An electric shock is a far different than a tingling from touch currently associated with a two-wire notebook power adapter. That tingling has recently become the topic of conversation again.

Yesterday, CNET's Crave UK blog reported that some users felt a shock when using the XPS M1530. I posted a response to Slashdot yesterday evening and also submitted a comment before then to the Crave UK blog that has not yet shown on the site. Before posting, I checked with our engineering development teams and verified that this is the same situation I blogged about in April last year. There's a lot of information in that post, but here are the details I want to be clear on about this sensation:

  • It's not harmful to users or to any of the notebook's internal components.
  • This issue is not specific to Dell. A "tingle" sensation may be felt on any notebook computer that uses a 2-wire AC power source under specific environmental conditions.
  • The tingle sensation is different than static electricity. Given the colder, drier environment associated with winter, some people may also experience a static shock when touching things like appliances, lamps, a door knob, or possibly, a notebook computer-it is unrelated.

Take a look at the comment thread in Engadget's post for examples of other non-Dell customers weighing in. If you want to join the discussion about a Dell notebook product, feel free to visit this thread on the Dell Community Forum, or share your comments here.

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32 thoughts on “Notebook Tingle Revisited

  1. Oh dear Jeebus what a p*** poor attempt at spin. Do you understand what is meant by "electric shock"? Tingle………….Your c****y notebooks are developing a >100V potential to ground.

    Plus it's not going to happen on any "notebook computer" using a two wire AC adaptor; many companies have been using them for years without problems. It's down to poor (i.e. cheap) design.

    Fix it. 

  2. No-one: To be clear, lots of customers running notebooks (Dell or not) with two-wire adapters may not ever experience the tingle that I'm talking about. It depends on a lot of different variables.

    However, I encourage you to take a look at discussion threads about this like Slashdot and Gizmodo. What you'll see is that lots of customers mention that they've experienced the same tingle on their Apple, HP, or Sony notebooks.

  3. Hi,

    Without proper grounding, devices that attach to the machine will suffer the same fate…fix it man.

  4. Never when using any electrical device, especially a mains device should you feel a "tingle". There's clearly a problem with the design. The fact that the same issue arises with other manufacturers kit is neither here nor there.

    Dell should be taking steps to fix this issue. 

  5. My wife's laptop suffers from this.  On the edges, some of the protective paint has chipped away.  When I put the laptop on my lap and my knees touch both sides, it will send a shock all the way through me.

     Her laptop is a 3 pronged adapter laptop AND I know for a fact that the grounding on the outlets is fine.  Also, I will get this when running off batteries.

    DELL:  Stop passing the buck and fix the issue.  At the very least,  use a covering of the metal components that doesn't chip away over time.    


  6. Yes, what a poor attempt at spin.

    Lionel Menchaca, what kind of degree do you have to sit there and make such irresponsible comments such as:

    "It's not harmful to users or to any of the notebook's internal components."

    You are obviously from the marketing side of the house, tasked with covering up cheap component design flaws from the technical side of the house, all to protect your precious bottom line, and to heck with the consumer.

    This irresponsibility is outrageous.

    "The tingle sensation is different than static electricity. " You are correct on this one, it is different because it is AN ELECTRIC SHOCK. A shock not high enough in voltage to cause pain, but a shock NONETHELESS.

  7. It may not be harmful to the user, but it isn't pleasant, and it isn't acceptable on an expensive electronic device like a notebook.

  8. Losmeme: You are correct in differentiating between a shock, a tingle and static electricity—that's what I tried to do in the post.

    Like I mentioned, if you are experiencing something that is not the tingle or static electricity, then you should talk to Tech Support. I've asked someone from that team to contact you,

  9. Had this on a Latitude D600, that is now over 4 years old.. so i would hardly say this a new issue.. Talking about 3-pin plugs is all well and good, but my home in france, only the kitchen, and bathroom (where there is water) have three-pin sockets…

  10. A properly designed AC adapter fully isolates the AC side from the DC side and should not rely on a safety ground pin to "short out" stray voltages that appear due to leakage.  Such a device would trip off a GFCI protected outlet.

    Leakage between the AC input wires and DC output wires is not normal, or people would experience this "tingling" with all sorts of devices with 2-prong AC power cords.  They don't.  The fact that some other laptop brands does not imply that this is normal behavior, but it could mean that Dell and the other brands share a common adapter design or supplier.  (Does the fact that other brands of laptops had exploding batteries mean that exploding batteries are normal?  No, it was because all those brands shared a common supplier that had made substandard quality batteries.)

  11. A "tingle" is the result of the user being subjected to continuous AC or DC current.  A 2-wire AC to DC power supply will always include a transformer which isolates the DC circuit completely from the AC circuit.  This will allow the connected DC electronic device (in this case, a laptop) to "float" relative to ground.  There is zero net flow of electrons through the AC cable.  The laptop could develop a static charge as a result, which would be dissipated as soon as it is touched by a person connected to ground.

    There is no mechanism that should allow it to continuously source current through a person touching the laptop to ground.  For that to happen, there must either be a connection through the power supply to the AC side (a very bad design or manufacturing problem) or the user must be exposed to two different voltage levels that are present within the laptop itself (another very bad design problem).

    The 2-pin vs 3-pin comment is a red herring.  If the device is properly designed, the ground pin would only serve to dissipate staic charge.  Using it to short out a stray undesired voltage is a kludge and may eliminate the symptom but does not fix the problem.

  12. This post is one of the most preposterous things I have ever read.

     "An electric shock is a far different than a tingling from touch currently associated with a two-wire notebook power adapter. That tingling has recently become the topic of conversation again."

    No, it's not.  The thing you're discussing is the severity of the shock–clearly, what we're getting off our laptops isn't the same as grabbing a couple of mains leads. But it is STILL AN ELECTRIC SHOCK.

    Let me repeat that–people are missing this.  If I can feel a current flowing through my body as the result of a voltage being applied to it, then it is indeed an electric shock.  That is what produces this "tingling" sensation. An electric shock. Not pixies, faeries and mystical, magical things.

    This is not something for Dell to apply spin to, and palm off as "oh, everyone does it".  Do I care if Sony/Toshiba/Gandhi does it? No.  Am I particularly concerned about the cause of the problem? In fact, no, I am not.  The only thing I care about is that Dell is doing something to rectify this problem, and will solve it for me free of charge.  And yes, users getting electric shocks from a laptop is a serious problem, not an amusing design quirk.

    Unfortunately, the only problem-solving that Dell is indulging in is appointing a rep who either doesn't know a thing about electronics and customer satisfaction, or is simply lying to us. That, Dell, is not good enough.

    My final gripe is this: Mr Menchaca, you replied to Losmeme's accurate post, in which they stated that this tingling is an electric shock, by claiming they said it wasn't.  Are you failing to read what people are saying?  The only alternative is that you're deliberately applying spin and lies to cover up a problem with Dell doesn't want to admit.

  13. I just called in like your post says and I was told that I opted for the cheap 2 prong plug when I ordered instead of the more expensive 3 prong so I need to go and buy a 3 prong out of my own pocket since the device is out of warranty. The rep I talked to told me that there is no problem with these at all, aside from 1 in 100 shocking people, and that there was nothing that could be done aside from a discount on paying Dell for a new one.

    It's very interesting that the company line is that we care about shocking you but only under warranty. I guess I learned my lesson about buying from Dell. The rep took great pains to make sure I understood it – opt for something cheap and that is what happens.


  14. From dell's response i understood that this electric shock or jolt comes with basic configuration and that too free of cost. How can they say that a 100 V is not harmful. I called up a dell executive in India and   asked him about this and what he replied me has surprised me.. he advised me that when you use the laptop, please unplug the adapter or if you want to connect to power supply, use a " stabilizer ". Wonderful ….. I think dell should let him undergo some basic training  before putting into customer support. Due to this jolt problem i dropped the plan to buy a XPS 1530. I prefer to live long rather than paying for my own death

    I recommend that Dell should fix this problem by replacing the aluminum palm rest with a plastic one rather than defending this issue.

  15. I've probably bought 60 Dell computers for my company in the past so I've never thought about switching brands.   I wanted to buy an xps m1530 for myself but now have reservations. 

    Are you shipping a 3 prong with it now or not?

    Add this to the screen issue (grainy)  when you launched this laptop and all I read are complaints.  You fixed the screen problems, what about this shocking one?




  16. i was about to place an order of xps1530, but now i am having second thoughts about it. I am really surprised if Dell is "yet" to take any concrete action towards this…

  17. My Latitude D430 has just started to "tingle". This sounds almost pleasant/magical.

    Sadly its not, and it's painful enough to ensure I steer well clear of the edges of the lid while plugged in – although I sometimes get it off the keys if i hold them down too long.

    Although avoiding touching my laptop is a fool proof solution, I have found that it impacts on my productivity – can Dell offer another solution??



  18. I just bought a new Precision M4300 and get the same thing on the metallic lid but only when it's plugged in. I went for the Precision series because it was part of the business class. I never thought they would ship this expensive tool with the cheap 2 prong adapter. But I guess I was wrong. And I have better things to do than running around trying to find a good adapter. So I guess my purchase was useless, I have to go back to my old Acer and save my life

  19. That's due to "Dave's" Y-capacitors for sure, I know this story

    since long ago. It's typical for any supply converter with 2-wires

    to AC and 3-wire DC cord to the gadget:

    220 ——||——cage——-||——Null

             10nF                      10nF

    The metal cage simply makes an access area larger. The solution

    for DELL should be to use 3-wire AC and 2(3)-wire DC cables.

  20. I just purchased a maxed out optioned XPS1330 and it gives me shocks on the keyboard and get this I use ear buds a lot and I am getting shocked through them as well. Let me tell you it is painful to get shocked in the ear. I have written to them for a solution. I am not impressed with this $2400.00 machine.

  21. I have dell XPS 1530. At first, I was using 2 pin adapter and I got electric shock. So I changed to 3 pin adapter. The electric shock decreased but I still have tingling or e-shock feeling.  After that, Dell changed my whole laptop three times, but the problem is still not resolved. .. Dell says it is not harmful, but I feel really(unusually) tired after using XPS 1530. I have been trying to use laptop at different places, differnet locations but still has tingling feeling. It's is really annoying.

  22. we have had tingles all along from our inspirion 640m. My son gets them in his legs if he puts it on his lap and we have all had them by accidently brushing metal parts such as the usb sockets.  I contacted dell and they have offered to replace it with a new laptop but I am worried that this will be as bad.

  23. ever since i got my notebook i been gettin these tingles too and im having a 3pin charger and the groundin g is also fine….

    still this machine keeps on reminding me up of its presence my giving these short tingles


    secondly if i connect any device via USB that device also gives same tingles…..


    DELL really need to look into this tough it is not harmful still not acceptable…..

  24. Has the M1530 been fixed yet?  I felt the tingling on a display unit in a store and found it too distracting. I would have bought several for my family but this flaw put me off. I have never experienced this with other manufacturers.

    I'll go ahead and place an order, but only if it has been resolved.

  25. I've been a Dell hater for the better part of my life. When I went to my friend's house yesterday, I touched his Dell XPS laptop and I got a static discharge/electric shock. And its more than your average tingle okay. I use an Asus laptop. So far, it hasn't been giving me any electrical problems at all. So, why are you people spending time trying to spin the issue instead of finding a solution? So what if other manufacturers have the same problem? You should take responsibility for what you produce. What a nice addition to the exploding batteries issue.

  26. I have an XPS 1530, which was purchased in the UK so it has the 3 pin power adapter everybody seems to think will fix the tingle (electric shock) issues. It does resolve the issue when the socket you are plugging your laptop into is earthed but when you are using a socket which isn't earthed the tingle problem returns.

    My laptop is fine when being used in the UK but when I use it in France the tingle sensation returns. Most of the sockets in our french house do not have an earth connector so I guess I will have to live with the fact my laptop gives me a small electric shock everytime I use it.

    Perhaps the solution is to connect an earth wire to the case and hang it out the window.

    Perhaps Dell can tell everybody why they released laptops with a tingle feature as a free option. I am sure selling devices that give the user a mild electric shock isn't legal.

    Without stating the obvious there is quite clearly an issue with the way the device is earthed (or not being earthed), non of the other electrical devices we use in the house give me mild electric shocks. Why aren't dell resolving the issue ? Telling people to use a 3 pin adapter only fixes the problem for people who have earthed sockets.

    Lets hope the tingle sensation doesn't turn into a full blown electric shock as the thought of death by computer isn't very appealling.

  27. I have XPS M1530 which I purchased in Bahrain and replaced my 2-pin with 3-pin adaptor but still give me tingling sensation everytime I plug it.
    "Dell should fix this problem by replacing the aluminum palm rest with a plastic one rather than defending this issue."
    I do agree with techie.
    It has been a problem for a while but Dell has not fixed this issue!
  28. This is so ghetto!  hhahahahaha… 

    Calling a shock a "tingle" and deliberately and consistently refusing to acknowledge that what people are feeling is an electric shock doesn't make it not a shock, jeeeeeeze…. spin spin spinning it up, huh?

    "But, but, but… Everybody else is doing it, too!"  I hate to pick the all-too-obvious approach here, but… If all the other manufacturers jumped off a cliff, would Dell do it too?


  29. When I bought this laptop I didn't know that it gives people electric shocks but today I found out. Now I wish that I kept my old HP 6110nx. Dell should supply earthed power supplies as standard.

  30. I cant belive so many years and still not fixed!!!!.

    I got a new XPS 15 L502x and the same thing here. My first Dell… no thanks never ever never AGAIN!!!!!

    Why they dont isolate the aluminum cover?

    I sould stick to my Vaio…

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