Just about everyone has them, USB chargers. For your smartphone, your MP3 player, your tablet, your camera, you ... well, you name it. But do you also know that these USB chargers are not so safe? According to the NVWA, most chargers are even ONsafe. But how big is this risk? What can happen in the worst case? How can you prevent it? I dived into the world of USB chargers, because actually I was - with at least 10 USB chargers at home - quite a bit curious.
Where is the danger with the cheap USB chargers?
The danger lies in the fact that the chargers are directly connected to the 230 Volt which comes from our sockets. If the plug is not completely correct, 230 Volt is immediately on. That is quite something. Some chargers can give a power surge and in the worst case cause fire. Of course you are not waiting for that. Especially not in the middle of the night, when you are sleeping and do not notice what is happening next to you.
A lot of chaff among the corn
Everyone wants to make money and everyone wants to spend as little as possible. There is a discrepancy in this. For a good charger (cord and plug) from Apple you can easily pay 15 to 20 euros. That is quite a lot of money, because this set does not have eternal life. When I look at my household, a lot of sets are being hunted through. Especially the cables are fragile and often die here.
The temptation to buy a cheaper version, for only a few euros, is very big. And there the wrinkles are wringing. Many manufacturers try to save money by using thinner, cheaper and therefore lower quality products. The chance that these plugs go wrong is considerably larger. In this case, inexpensive is not only expensive but also very risky.
You can read this in the NVWA research (pdf).
After extensive investigation, the NVWA came to the conclusion that 12 of the 41 USB chargers tested had technical shortcomings with a risk of fire or electric shock. OMG! That is almost 30%! I was shocked by that. A good chance that you also have one or more of these dangerous chargers in your home. In 10 of these 12 cases, it was even a serious risk!
Not only chargers can be risky, but batteries can also have some! I can remember an evening, about 4 or 5 years ago. It was late at night and I was still working. Suddenly I hear a bang behind me and I see something in the corner of my eye pass by. I was alone in the room, I was shocked and my heart pounded in my throat. What happened?
Exploded cell battery
After a thorough inspection in my room, I found an exploded cell battery. You know them, such a flat, round battery that is often used in toys or scales. It was just on the other desk, not even in a device. And from one moment to the next he exploded. Fortunately, there are no injuries, there is nothing damaged and I am literally released with the shock. If, however, I had sat at the other desk, part of that cell battery could easily have landed in my eyes. I should not think about it.
In the bra
This can of course also happen with the battery in your mobile. If I do not have a bag or bags, I sometimes put my mobile in my bra, close to my heart. Actually, this is stupid, because there is always a risk that the battery in my Iphone explodes. Really really stupid.
How do you discover a dangerous charger
That is a very difficult question, because they are almost unrecognizable. The CE mark (European guidelines) is a self-declaration and therefore does not represent anything. Control is missing. The best thing is to buy an original charger that belongs to your phone or tablet. Even if it is considerably more expensive than all those cheaper variants. The quality is really more important than the price.
Tips to limit risks
1) Always use an original charger that has been specially developed for your device
2) Never leave your devices on at night
3) Never buy one of the ten most dangerous chargers (the red ones on this list)
4) Always place your charger on an incombustible surface
5) Never cover the appliance (heat formation)
6) Never leave chargers unnecessarily plugged in, but remove them after use
7) Do not buy your original charger online (to reduce the risk of counterfeiting)
8) Place good smoke detectors in the house
Safer is never 100% safe
Original chargers are probably a lot safer, it is never 100% secure. Recharge as much as possible during the day, even with the original chargers.