The amount of accidents related to improper cell phone charging is on the rise. These accidents are sometimes minor, resulting in damaged phones but they can be much worse. In the worst cases an improperly charged cell phone can lead to melted wires and possibly a fire. It’s important to know how to avoid these accidents since households these days have multiple mobile devices that seem to need constant charging. I’ll cover some of the parts related to cell phone charging and proper techniques to avoid having your own accident. If you’re not up for reading too much I’ll highlight the important parts right away.
Use the Right Charger
Quite simply you should only use a charger approved for your cell phone. You probably saw that warning somewhere with the papers that came with your new phone but ignored it. Sounded like a ploy just to sell expensive chargers at the time. Right? Actually no. The truth is that cell phone chargers aren’t all the same and it’s the differences that cause fires.
The difference is in the amount of power that a cell phone charger actually delivers to a device connected to it. A charger designed for a phone is going to put out less power than one designed for a tablet that has a larger battery inside. If you charge your phone with a tablet charger then you’ll be pushing more juice into your phone than it was designed for. The result is extra heat that can lead to an accident.
If you want to get into the details I’ll get more technical below. The important thing to remember is to try and use only chargers that were designed for your phone.
Keep it Cool
When charging a cell phone, even with the correct charger, it produces some heat. You’ve probably noticed your phone is a little warm after you’ve had it plugged for awhile. The problem comes when a phone is charging and that heat has no place to go. The big culprit is a charging phone in a bed.
You go to bed, you’re tired but you want to check those last few updates for the day but you also need to charge up your phone. So you plug it in, scroll a bit then fall asleep with the phone still plugged in and eventually it ends up under a pillow. There the heat begins to build up and if it gets bad enough it can begin to burn the sheets.
When you charge your cellphone, make sure it’s on a hard, flat surface. Avoid bedding, clothes or anything else that could potentially fall on top and cook things up.
Amperage, Batteries, and Charging
If you want to know more I’m going to get more technical about charging the cell phone. I’ll talk about batteries, chargers and a little bit about electricity. Knowing these things can help you avoid accidents and purchase the right equipment for charging your cell phone.
Cell Phone Chargers
Cell phone chargers are all a little different, designed to charge a particular phone based on specific power requirements. The charger that came with your phone provides a certain amount of amperage that is balanced to properly charge your phone quickly without overloading. This amperage rating is important to know so you can avoid using a charger that puts out more juice than your phone can safely handle.
To find out what amperage a charger puts out you just have to look at the plug. The ‘Output’ rating should be printed out on the case. It will be very low, such as 0.7 amps or possibly measured as 700 milliamps. Check the charger that came with your phone to find out what the ideal amperage for your phone is. Then when you’re using other chargers you can know how your phone will handle it.
- If the amperage is lower than your factory provided charger then the phone will charge slower but there is less chance of dangerous heat buildup.
- If the amperage is the same then you’re safe.
- If the amperage is higher it’s recommended you don’t use it. Your phone will charge faster using a higher amperage but you’ll build up heat quick. If it’s significantly higher you can quickly fry your phone and melt wires which can start a fire. This is common with chargers that claim to ‘quick-charge’ your phone. There’s no magic or breakthrough in technology in ‘quick-charge’ equipment. They simply pump lots of amps to your device which can cause problems or worse.
It’s also important to use the wires that came with the charger if they are removeable. Since many come with removable USB cables it’s easy to get them mixed up. Cheap chargers come with cheap cables. Using a cheap cable with thinner wire with a higher powered charger can lead to heat and a fire.
Sometimes we charge our phones in the car or use our computers to charge them when we are at work. This is typically safe with any charger because the power output of a car’s power point or computer’s USB port are significantly lower than a wall outlet. There’s still power being pumped into the battery so make sure it isn’t covered up and has room to stay cool while charging. You just want to stay away from using the cheap chargers you see at gas stations. Those colorful little plugs that aren’t even sold in a package look neat but are often made with inferior materials that could cause problems.
Another thing I’ve seen is people using a USB charging hub that plugs into an outlet. These four or five port devices let you plug a bunch of devices into one outlet. Be very careful when using these since they can easily lead to fires. Too many power hungry devices all charging at the same time can quickly overload the hub and start a fire. Especially if those devices require less power than the devices provides. However, there are some models that make things really easy to check. Our recommendation would be to check out the Fintie Grid Charging Station sold at Amazon.
Cell Phone Batteries
Cell phone batteries have become just as hi-tech as the phones they power. The switch was made to what is called a Li-Po battery a few years back because they offer lots of power in a lightweight package. Li-Po, or lithium polymer, is a type of lithium ion battery constructed with lighter weight materials that also don’t need a solid case. They can also store lots of power which new devices need.
The downside to the Li-Po battery is that they get hot while charging or discharging. They are also easily damaged since they don’t have the hard case like older batteries. It’s important not to mess with a Li-Po battery since a little damage can easily cause burns. If you are able to access the battery on your phone handle it carefully. Also you’ll want to take old ones to a recycling center ASAP and not leave them laying around. Don’t for any reason shove them away in a box or a junk drawer. They are easily punctured which can lead to fires.