I just signed a lease on an apartment. I didn't look carefully at all the outlets, but I noticed that each bedroom has exactly one outlet, and the overhead light fixture in the kitchen works by pulling a chain, i.e. there is no light switch in the wall. So I think the electrical wiring must be very old-fashioned.

My question (I hope I may ask this here even though I do not want to do any DIY electrical work -- not sure where else to ask): may I safely plug in my laptop? I suspect it would not be good to use a surge protector. Should I make sure to unplug it if there's a chance of a thunderstorm? Should I go to the library every day to charge it?

The electric company required an electrical inspection before I could open an account for the address. The apartment passed the inspection. I didn't have the opportunity to speak with the inspector.

Sorry, I forgot to say, I'm in the U.S., specifically New York State.

  • Where are you on this planet? Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 3:56
  • @ThreePhaseEel - sorry, forgot to include location. NY State. Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 3:58
  • Upstate or NYC? Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 4:25
  • 2
    You shouldn't have any problems using your laptop charger with a 3 prong to 2 prong adapter with your receptacles. If there are any problems on the line the external charger will protect the laptop from damage although the charger may be sacrificed. Ditto for your cell phone charger.
    – ArchonOSX
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 9:43
  • 1
    I would use the 3 to 2 prong adapter but get a surge power strip to at least protect your laptop from any surges since the outlet isn't grounded.
    – Eric F
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 13:44

1 Answer 1


First yes you can connect a laptop into a two prong outlet. Is it Safe? That's anybody's guess.

My easiest answer without out rewiring the apartment is to purchase a small UPS system for your laptop. KVA size depends on your computer equipment demands. It has no direct electrical connection to the supply side power. In other words it creates it's own power. This keeps you power supply clean and constant and it protects from surges and sages and requires no electrical knowledge.

If you would like to provide a little more protection. You could ground the source side power and bond the case (should be already done within the unit).

Good Luck

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    The ups will provide good surge , brownout and lightning protection. Make sure if you get one to use with digital equipment to get one that creates "pure sine wave" some create a square wave that doesent work well with electronic or switching power supplies.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 13:46
  • @EdBeal and Retired, I never heard of "UPS system." Can you give me a sample link so I can get an idea what it costs and how to choose one that creates "pure sine wave"? Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 15:03
  • Uninterruptible power supply. You plug it in it has a battery and electronics that create 120v for a true isolated unit the output is always running from the battery/charging voltage so when there is any power disturbance your electronics never know something went wrong. Many inexpensive units will run for 15 minutes to an hour with a total power outage, more expensive larger unites are sized to the load an can run for days until the battery(s) are depleted.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 15:44
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    Overall a good idea, however, not all UPS's are isolated you need to make sure it is a double conversion or better to be line isolated, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uninterruptible_power_supply
    – ArchonOSX
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 15:46
  • Here is a (link)[://www.tripplite.com/products] to a brand I have used in the past. Not sure why the link is not working Tryed editing brackets still looks funny on my phone maybe chasing loose horses this morning scrambled my mind.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 16:03

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