Beware of cheap phone chargers

An extra phone charger is always a handy thing to have around.  However, a recent spate of fires and incidents caused by cheap phone and mobile device chargers, should make you consider whether cheap is worth the risk.

A recent fatal fire in Sheffield, which caused the deaths of five members of the same family, is believed to have been caused by a faulty phone charger.  Fire chiefs are now warning of the risks of using fake, cheap or copy chargers to power mobile devices.

Internet auction sites are littered with imported phone chargers, which can save the user several pounds when compared to branded versions.  However, many of these units have not passed strict  European safety tests and shouldn’t even be sold within the EU, let alone used.  Unofficial iPhone chargers are available on eBay for around £1, whereas a genuine charger, manufactured by Apple would cost £30.

Charity Electrical Safety First recently commissioned tests looking at the safety of chargers bought from online trading and auction sites.  It discovered that half the units tested had been manufactured in a sub-standard way and horrifyingly, not a single one met the requirements of the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations Act 1994.

At Acewell, we have stripped down various cheap chargers imported from overseas.  What we found was worrying, with no isolation between mains and low voltages,  sub-standard internal components and low quality overall manufacturing – all problems that could cause a charger to overheat, explode or burst into flames.

So, what can you do?  Well, the advice is to only buy genuine branded chargers from trusted sources and use the original charger rather than generic ones, wherever possible.  Also, even with genuine chargers, try not to leave them on overnight – it is far safer not to leave your charger unattended, especially when you are asleep.  Always charge your devices on a non flammable surface, which could limit the spread of fire if the worst should happen and consider the items around your charger, such as papers, card or other flammable materials which could ignite if the charger or device was to overheat.

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