USB Type C spec reaches v2.1 and 240W power rating

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We looked at Type C in detail here, but the power ratings and (chipped) specifications keep improving. We have news that the v2.1 spec for Type C now includes up to 50V/5A power handling, rounded down to 240W maximum. So enough for the hungriest hub, monitor, or laptop. Don't worry, in theory everything will stay backwards compatible - there's no chance to blow up an older phone or accessory by plugging in a 2021 high power Type C charger.

Type C bay(Image from Microchip)

Although Type C as a standard has been dogged by some confusion, just think of it as a rugged and versatile connector on top of which a multitude of hardware and software protocols can be implemented. Again, see the detail in my earlier piece.

The USB Implementers Forum, the industry group that develops the technology, has now revealed the new power levels in its version 2.1 update to its USB Type-C specification - the new 240W option is called 'Extended Power Range', or EPR for short.

The USB-IF said:

"We expect devices supporting higher wattages in the second half of 2021. End users will be able to confirm visually that the cable supports up to... 240W. 

For USB Power Delivery, each cable assembly is identified as being either only usable for Standard Power Range (SPR) operation or usable for both SPR and Extended Power Range (EPR) operation."

Essentially, SPR (Standard Power Range) and EPR will be clearly marked in some way, we're guessing a coloured connector or cable ring.

With the change, you can also expect a new look for lower-power cables, called Standard Power Range. "" the specification says. Today's higher-power cable products, which can carry current up to 5 amps, will be replaced by EPR cables.

Interestingly, the power increase has led the USB-IF to add a section to the USB Type C standard, advising how manufacturers can "prevent problems from electrical current arcing through the air between the USB-C plug and port when you unplug a device". Err.... ok!

There's also a (confusingly) separate USB Power Delivery specification, and this has been updated to version 3.1 to accommodate the 240W power level.

The sheer variety in data standards, over-the-top protocols, and now charging capabilities, mean that USB Type C (and its cables and jacks) will continue to cause as much confusion as it actually improves connectivity, we predict.

Source / Credit: USB Forum