Why “Cheap” and “Charger” Are A Dangerous Combination
Second in a Series

“You get what you pay for” rings true in almost every instance—especially when it comes to complex electrical devices such as portable chargers. On the outside, one charger may look the same as the next but inside it’s a completely different story. Not knowing the critical differences can damage devices and even cause fires. Let’s start with the most important component in a charger—the battery.

A battery is basically a tank that relies on its PCBA (printed circuit board assembly) to give it instructions, such as to convert to charging. The PCBA also has safeguards to protect the battery and, ultimately, your device from overcharging and overheating.

The Components of a charger

Both the battery and PCBA are encased in plastic housing to secure and separate the PCBA and battery, and protect them from being touched by the user. The charger’s housing must be made of quality plastic that can withstand high temperatures. If the battery fails, the housing should be able to hold tight and contain all the components.

All the necessary electronic components are soldered on the PCBA and if they are touched by human hands, they can be damaged. This number of components is essential to the safety of the charger and is one of the reasons safe chargers cost more than cheap ones.

When you buy a charger, you are assuming it’s safe—but you’ll only know for sure if you buy from a reliable manufacturer whose chargers are UL or CSA certified.

Learn about the tests and inspections required to certify safe chargers and what to look for to protect your client in the next article in this series.

See all stories in this series here.

– Dr. John Zhu

About this Series:

Ask Dr. John

PowerStick has been designing and manufacturing portable power chargers at its Canadian manufacturing plant for over 10 years. During that time, this product category has been the focus of much publicity around safety and compliance. Some extreme cases involving batteries have caused fires in chargers and phones and prompted airlines to treat their conveyance with an abundance of caution.

As distributors and their representatives field more and more requests from their clients for portable charging devices, and in an effort to demystify battery and charger safety, we have asked Dr. John Zhu to pen a series of short, easy-to-understand tutorials to explain the how-tos and safety aspects of responsibly buying and selling these convenient and popular tech products.  Learn More>

About Dr. John Zhu:

John Zhu is director of engineering at PowerStick.com. Following graduation and teaching in one of China’s top universities, he was offered a visiting scholar position at University of Pennsylvania. After that, John joined PowerStick with responsibilities for all areas of engineering and technical product design. He was responsible for the original CES award-winning PowerStick Classic and every charger since. He has more than 10 patents to his name and is highly regarded in his field.

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