Nintendo NES AC adapter replacement

If you misplaced the AC adapter/power supply that came with your Nintendo NES, or it broke, you may need a replacement Nintendo NES AC adapter. Fortunately, you have a number of options.

Most devices are super picky about electricity. Don’t use random AC adapters as a general practice. What I’m about to say applies to the original Nintendo NES console, and the original NES only. I have general advice on replacing AC adapters that applies to other devices.

Unlike most devices, the Nintendo NES isn’t very picky about its electricity. Any 9 volt adapter that serves up around 1 amp (or 1000 mA) will work, whether it’s AC or DC. Polarity doesn’t matter, which is highly unusual. All that matters is whether the plug fits. I don’t know why Nintendo made this design decision back in 1985, but I’m glad they did.

While you’re getting your NES into shape, I also have some advice on cleaning the console and cartridges so the console doesn’t blink.

Buying a new replacement Nintendo NES AC adapter/power supply

Nintendo NES AC adapter/power supply
If you lost your original Nintendo NES AC adapter/power supply, there are numerous acceptable substitutes.

The Nintendo NES was immensely popular and remains so today. So there’s no shortage of aftermarket replacements for them, even today. If you don’t want to use a 30-year-old AC adapter that may fail, I don’t blame you for wanting something new and theoretically more reliable.

You can get a “Universal” AC adapter compatible with the NES, Super NES, and Sega Genesis that includes plugs for all of them. If you don’t want to buy online, your local game store may very well carry that adapter or something very similar. Lots of game stores still carry them. The problem is that some of these devices that supply as little as 350 mA, which is far less than the console needs. An underpowered AC adapter will overheat and stop working, and at the very least, you’ll be out your ten bucks. Also, many of them only supply 850ma, which is probably enough. But I prefer more headroom than that.

If you want to be certain you’ll get something with enough power, and don’t mind if it’s not universal, get any 9V 1A AC adapter with a 2.1mm x 5.5mm plug. Get a center negative supply if you want to use it with a Genesis too. The NES doesn’t care about polarity but the Genesis does. After you get the new AC adapter, I recommend writing on it what systems it will work with. The upside to this approach is you’ll get a better quality power supply for your Nintendo NES, and it may cost less too.

Scrounging a replacement Nintendo NES AC adapter/power supply

The Sega Genesis AC adapter turns out to fit and work perfectly. Just be careful. The reverse isn’t true. The Nintendo AC adapter will damage a Genesis. The Atari 5200 AC adapter also works on the NES. But an original NES adapter will damage a 5200, and the 5200 adapter will damage a Genesis. So I recommend putting notes to this effect on your various AC adapters if you swap them between systems.

I’ve used AC adapters from old modems and PC speakers to power Nintendo NES consoles with no issues whatsoever. Thousands of other retro gaming enthusiasts have done the same.

If you’re a packrat and save old AC adapters even after you discard whatever they came with, look in your personal stash. You may have something suitable already. If not, pay a local thrift store a visit. Thrift stores often have a box of random AC adapters. You’ll probably find something suitable there. You may even find an original Nintendo or Sega unit. And you probably won’t pay much more than $1 for it.

2 thoughts on “Nintendo NES AC adapter replacement

  • August 31, 2017 at 4:25 pm
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    I generally always just pay a visit to Amazon or Ebay and buy the lowest priced replacement adapter! This is a useful guide, thanks for the write up.

    Reply
    • September 1, 2017 at 11:23 am
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      You used to be able to do that safely, so I’m glad I checked as I was writing this. Those 350mw adapters aren’t nearly powerful enough.

      Reply

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