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My MagSafe 2 cable for my 2012 MacBook Air stopped working. Took it into Apple store where I had bought my MacBook Air, and sure enough it was the excessive cat chew marks that had degraded it*. Can some old pros give me some advice on whether or not I should bite the bullet and pay $80.00 at the Apple store for a new one, or are there 3rd party alternatives that work reasonably well? I have already been told that I might as well get a 85 watt cable in case I get a MacBook Pro in the future (That is a possibility!).

On a very related note, are the power cables repairable? I don't have much sodering knowledge, but I work in a place that does. Is it straight forward? Perhaps for the price of a beer I could solve the problem.

*Money for repairs will be coming out of the cat's allowance! I have also bought some spray that supposedly puts cats off chewing. Hopefully that will work out...

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Thank you everyone for all the advice. I ended up buying the 85 watt MagSafe 2 adapter from the Apple store. Quite expensive but you guys and the internet scared me away from 3rd party adapters. Apparently the only down side to 85 watts is I waste more electricity (and it's bigger!). But I can use it with MacBook Pro. I have pointed out to my cat that the cost of a new cat at the humane society is less than an adapter. I think he knew I was bluffing though. – Dave Jan 7 '13 at 19:49

8 Answers 8

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The Apple cables appear to be designed to safely melt without starting a fire in cases where the internal insulation breaks down in case of crushing, slicing, piercing (kittens are even worse than cats in this regard) or simply worn out due to repetitive bending in the same spot.

I've seen people decide to use cords when lightly damaged - sealing the cable with electrical tape. Since the voltage is low on the MagSafe side of the cord, this is more a heat/fire risk than a shock risk. The MagSafe board on the Mac usually protects your hardware from any sort of short - and it also is replaceable if it's fusing blows.

I have on rare occasion seen some nice third party adapters that work with MagSafe connections - but none yet on MagSafe 2. I have seen far, far more dangerous adapters than safe ones.

The worst part of counterfeit adapters is that they typically carry the same "safety" markings as a quality electronics adapter. Having a short on the transformer side of things is a very much larger fire and shock hazard. Unless you are using the adapter in an environment where a small fire could reasonably be contained without undue risk to finances or life, you might avoid using a third party adapter if you are not skilled at evaluating electronics for build quality.

I've been well served by buying Apple adapters in terms of reliability and safety, despite the higher cost. I know many that have had good luck with quality third party adapters, but wanted to explain the why and how it could be dangerous since some third party adapters are dangerous to use.

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My 2¢: Purchase OEM.

Apple's chargers (along with everything else, it may seem) are remarkably expensive, but of anything, from what I have seen, there is a reason for it. When it comes to the life-blood of the computer, charging it with something that could potentially harm the entire system is quite a risk. It would be sad to save ~$40 only to have $1000+ worth of equipment fail for some reason.

Unrelated iPhone charger review (but maybe related):

iFixit message post:

Neither of those links are very impressive, but you may find what at least some people think about Apple's chargers interesting.

For the new charger (either OEM or third party), I wouldn't worry too much about the higher wattage, unless the price is almost exactly the same, or the higher wattage unit is more available. If you purchase a Macbook Pro, it will come with a power cable as well.

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Its probably not your cat. I blamed someones dog for my first cable failure, but with repeated failures, I learned that its just the rubber getting cut open by metal shielding wires poking out due to fatigue failure. The cables are simply poorly designed; the rubber is too flexible, putting a strain on the metal its never going to be able to cope with.

Building adaptors isn't rocket science, and my half-priced knockoff works just fine. But if you don't trust them, nor want to reward apple with another $80 for poor design; you can buy magsafe replacement cords on ebay, and attaching a new cord only requires a little bit of soldering. If that doesn't faze you, its the cheapest option.

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Apple doesn't license the MagSafe connector so any 3rd party adapters will be illegal knockoffs, which if they cause other problems with your laptop, those will not be covered by Apple. I would strongly recommend you just buy an Apple adapter.

While possible your coworkers could fix it, it won't be easy for them. It is more than just a simple power cable. It has many wires for communication between the laptop and the power adapter brick.

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It's not worth trying to repair the damaged adapter, even if you manage to find someone skilled enough to repair a damaged cable its very likely to fail later. Buy a new one from Apple or even better locate a local authorised Apple service provider.

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I just fixed the cables that our kittens chewed on a Magsafe 2 adapter. The chewing was in the middle of the cable and took some time to cleanly cut the cable and open the wires about 3/4" long on each side and twisted them together. Applied the electrical tape and my Macbook Pro Retina started to charge again. There is nothing special about it, but to be careful in cutting just the plastic portion and trim the inside plastic with a sharp knife. This is a lesson to all pet owners to keep the cables far away from pets. They also chewed couple more cables - iPhone USB charger, Panasonic Cordless telephone charger - I fixed them all. The iPhone USB charger - it ain't worth as it takes longer to fix it and wires are too thin.

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I had a adapter that was beheaded internally and would rotate 360° and obviously not work. I went to a Apple store trying to get a "their fault free recall replacement" as this one was newer than all my other ones. they told me they could swap it with a factory refurbished one for $45-50 or I could buy a new one for $80. so what you think I did? I bought a new one, the old one went onto my workbench and I Almost repaired it but broke the connector trying to get it apart. it went into a box, i moved, gathered some money ($15?) and ordered the replacement cable off of eBay. and now for $95 I have a travel and home adapter.

the hardest part is actually opening the adapter although that can also be avoided if you don't mind doing a splice.

the biggest problem with Apple products is the cable they use, from Dock cables to lightning cables to MagSafe cables to iBook power adapters. they all have the same flaw, they are weak and wear out sooner so you have to buy a new one.

there is a GOOD reason why you don't find that style wire on your table lamp, in fact most twin lead zip cord is double insulated in countries with 250V AC to prevent the wires from fraying and shorting out or coming in contact with humans. But somehow because it is DC it's perfectly acceptable.

and it's not just Apple, I see the same problem on HP and Dell power adapters although the wire is a little bit better quality. and it doesn't stop there, 9V power supply for guitar pedals..... ( I got that last one for free because the original owner rather get a new one.) however the manufacturer change the wire style from coaxial to twin lead. I guess they learned their lesson and improve their product?? !!shocked face!! ) at least with the Apple adapter there is no "power adapter sense wire" as the circuitry is in the end, whereas HP and Dell have a 3 wire cord which has its own host of problems.

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Having read all the posts and knowing as much as I know about Apple power supply circuits, I would prefer to build my own power supply.

Apple power circuits are at best on the weak end of the spectrum and apart from being super innovative in proprietary protection are fairly basic and low end. It is all relative nonetheless. If one's benchmark is fake Hong Kong, Taiwan or China power supplies (The likes of Bestec, etc), then Apple power devices are much preferred.

However, neither the efficiency, neither, the stability, nor the reliability of Apple power supplies is anything to look at with admiration. Yes, the cable is designed to melt when short circuited, so is a plain fuse, and more intelligent power supplies have short circuit protection in addition to a fuse as a contingency against a general failure. Even the most basic power supplies have thermal protection, which is present in an Apple adaptor but it is pushed to the limit so that other elements may fail before it is activated.

Apple power adapters and accessories are a case of point in economics, like OEM spare parts on a car. No replaceable 50c fuse is there but replaceable $80 adaptor. Why trigger thermal protection before general failure? Because it is suboptimal economics.

Apple, can use top of the line power supplies with modular cables, however, sales of high margin accessories will decline and about 20% of market cap will be axed.

A user can build their own power supply, which even with the balance of risks is far more attractive.

Think of the intellectual capital that you will build by creating something far more perfect than the fat executive bonus and and outrageous return on capital behind the pretenses of innovative designs. This pragmatism and not ideology.

In fact, one adds a lot more value to the global economy by improving faulty designs (Bill Gates will probably agree) than labor, supplier and service provider arbitrage.

Case in point was Apple's founder and despite his anger at Google, his approach and philosophy was never to take impossibilities for granted.

Unless for some insane reason I opt in to believe the OEM marketing fluff, I am far from convinced that I should not build my own power adaptor to replace the intentionally flawed OEM device! My approach has a lot of risk, but if successful it's return increases with each subsequent Apple device that I own.

Something that Apple can no longer be indifferent to and maybe realize that such a symbiotic outcome may actually be on par with the high margin but subpar accessories sold, and refocus the company on innovation, not rent seeking from tied products!

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