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How Safe Are Counterfeit Phone Chargers?

As smart phones become increasingly popular, so is the need for chargers. People having to take them with themselves if they travel all the time results in loosing those chargers, and if you’re an iPhone user you wont want to pay up to £15 for a new charger, and that increases to £30 if you wish to purchase the adapter too. So if you were to go online and find a similar charger that will cost £2 or less then that might seem like the preferred option.  However, counterfeit electrical charges can be a very serious fire risk. For example, in May 2014, a faulty phone charger started a fire that killed 5 people in Sheffield. Majority of these cheap and unbranded chargers fail to meet the UK safety regulations and can cause fires, injury and electric shock.  To help you know what to look out for, there is a three-point safety checklist as shown below:

Plug pins

First thing to look out for in counterfeit chargers is the plug pins, whether it be European or British etc. There should be at least 9.5mm or more between the plug pins and the edge of the charger case. To put that in perspective 9.5mm is around the width of a ballpoint pen.  If these plug pins are closer to the case than that then there is a risk of electric shock when plugging the charger in and this can be very dangerous. Another feature that’s a tell sign of a sub standard plug is does; it fully plug into the wall socket and also how easily. If the charger doesn’t fit into the wall completely then this could be a sign that the plug pins maybe the wrong length, size or it could be that the pins may be arranged slightly wrong.  If the charger doesn’t slot into the wall fully, or it a struggle to put it into the wall then this can cause the charger to over heat, which again could be dangerous and lead to a potential fire.

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Markings

The markings on the charger are also a big tell tale sign in it being a counterfeit charger. Of course if you have bought a charger with the knowledge that it’s a fake you don’t need to hunt for these signs, but if you have bought one with the belief that it is in fact a real charger, then you should check for the manufacturers logo, brand name and batch number on the case of the charger. Check that the charger bares the CE mark, which shows that the manufacturer has checked that these products meet EU safety, and is in compliance with EU legislation.  However, due to the mark being a simple design, it can be forged easily; so do not reply on the CE mark.

Warnings and instructions

Finally, within the packaging of the charger box should be sufficient instructions and warnings. All chargers that are sold should at least include the information on the conditions it can be used and the limitations of use. There should be instructions on how to operate the charger safely, and always included will be details on how to safely dispose of the charger when it is no longer working or required. The official chargers do cost a lot more that the counterfeit ones, however at least you’ll have peace of mind and be able to sleep well at night knowing that the charger isn’t going to overheat and set fire.  Spending a bit more money is worth it too not having to put your family’s/friends etc. lives at a potential risk.

For news articles related to counterfeit phone chargers look at the links below:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-27371854

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/11077657/Fake-99p-iPhone-chargers-putting-lives-at-risk.html

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