What Kind of Power Adapter Does the TomTom Use?
By Fred Decker
A rechargeable battery is part of almost every GPS device, from mainstream automotive models to the wristwatch versions used by athletes. Except for those watches and a few other special-purpose devices, most GPS devices use the same standardized USB chargers you'd see with cellular phones, MP3 players, cameras and other electronics. For example, if you've put a TomTom navigator in your car, it would include a cigarette lighter adapter to provide power and battery charging.
About USB Adapters
The USB standard was established initially for use by computers and their related accessories. Its four-wire interface sends both a data signal and 5V power, enabling low-power devices to work without an additional power source. A normal USB port is limited to 500 milliamps of current, which will power many devices but is slow for charging. TomTom GPS devices and other portable electronics use smaller mini- and micro-USB connections, which add a fifth wire. By bridging the fourth and fifth wires with a resistor, manufacturers can increase the current to as much as 2.1 amps, providing faster charging for your electronics and providing ample operating power.
TomTom DC Charger
The standard adapter that comes with most TomTom devices is intended for use in your car, where it acts primarily as a power adapter for your day-to-day driving and navigating but also charges the built-in battery. The standard output for TomTom's DC adapter/charger cords is 1.2 amps, which ordinarily will provide a full charge in four hours or less. Some TomTom models have a special DC power adapter that incorporates a receiver and antenna for traffic data into the cord. The company also manufactures a high-speed dual car charger, which puts out 2.1 amps of power and can charge iPads or other higher-drain devices.
There are times when charging your GPS in the car isn't a convenient option, so TomTom also sells AC chargers for most models. A few are specific to individual models or series, but the company's universal AC charger will accommodate most. It comes with a mini-USB connection permanently installed at the end of its cable, and uses a micro-USB adapter for GPS devices with the smaller connector. Like the car charger, it puts out 1.2 amps for charging purposes, and you can use it to power your TomTom while you plan or edit routes. It accepts 110V to 240V input, and can be used internationally with the appropriate AC plug adapters.
Computer USB Ports
It's also possible to charge your TomTom from your computer's USB ports. Some newer computers have special high-output USB charging connectors, which provide enough amperage to power or charge your TomTom. Conventional USB connectors are limited to 500 milliamps of current, and can charge your battery overnight but won't power the GPS. Some mini- and micro-USB cables are intended for data use only and won't charge your TomTom, so be sure to test your cables before you depend on them. Most cables look alike, so it's prudent to mark your charging cables with paint, colored tape or some other form of identification.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.