Are cheap electronics worth the risk?

When looking to buy new chargers for our phones and other electronics it’s always tempting to find the cheapest option in order to replace what’s been lost, broken or stolen. When looking for these replacements were quick to go to eBay and Amazon with the large choice of cheap cables and electronics.

Many of these look and feel similar to the official accessories, however, instead of a bigger price tag, they have a tendency to malfunction and can turn dangerous very quickly. This was first seen when e-cigarettes were first introduced. Their chargers were often not capable of charging the devices safely with many reporting explosions and melting due to overpowering circuits. This has been seen with other charging devices due to the increase in popularity of online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay to replace the more expensive branded accessories. 

Why do chargers overheat?

As these marketplaces are online it’s hard to keep track on which of these products are registered as safe by external bodies and can falsify information in order to be stocked on these marketplaces. In a Which? report it was found that, out of 11 non-genuine Apple chargers tested, only 3 were able to pass the safety test with the other 8 of those products being unable to pass the standard electrical strength test.

The reason behind all the potential hazards is due to the design of the devices. When taken apart it is obvious to see that components within the devices are too close together. This can result in electricity passing between the components due to the short distance and in extreme circumstances result in the charger overheating, catching fire or causing the product that’s being charged to explode in the most extreme cases.

Phone charging

Can power banks be dangerous?

Sadly, when it comes to portable chargers there are a lot that can become defective and dangerous to the user. When making these products, the cheaper companies cut health and safety corners in order to become competitive. These corners include leaving out thermal protection within the devices or poorly soldering jobs that can have detrimental effects to the circuit board. In the Which? tests they found out that out of the 11 they tested, 6 failed the test with some producing smoke and melting whilst charging.

Tips for avoiding these hazards

  • Make sure to buy from a known brand. Although many companies claim that they’re compatible with your products there is no way to check until bought 
  • Don’t believe every review you read- Anyone can make reviews on products meaning even people who make the products claiming how good they are. 
  • Check where the supplier is based. Many fake products are made in China so their address will be traced back to factories in China.
  • When being advertised using words like ‘genuine’ can be a red flag as authentic brands don’t need to qualify their products.

Signs to look out for with a faulty charger

  • The charger makes a buzzing sound when plugged in
  • The charger is hot to the touch when charging 
  • It catches fire

Phone charger

When looking to get a new charger, power bank or other electronics we advise spending the extra £10- £20 this is because the risk of your own safety and the safety of others isn’t worth the discount you get from the cheap fakes.

If you have purchased any of these products already, are worried about them malfunctioning or catching fire, then make sure to head over then make sure you get in touch with the relevant company.