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Cheap USB phone chargers are potentially dangerous

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Ben321:
There's a lot of phone chargers out there that don't ship with the phones they were meant to charge (and aren't even made by the companies of the phones they are designed to charge), and aren't even made by major electronics manufactures (such as Intel, GE, Sony, or other companies you would tend to trust with making electronics). These chargers often have no logo on them at all, or have some logo you don't recognize, because they come from some company that most Americans never would have heard of. These chargers tend to be made by small Chinese companies. And from my understanding they tend to be defective too, especially in the category of electrical safety. They tend to be very cheap, like in the $1 to $5 price range, and can be found at many stores that aren't even electronics stores. You know how a lot of stores have a rack of cheap items (usually things like candy bars) they hope you will buy on your way out, right near the checkstand? Some stores have other super-cheap Chinese junk electronics in these same areas, and I've even seen some of these cheap Chinese phone chargers (as well as similarly cheap LED flashlights, etc).

I've actually heard quite a few bad things about these cheap chargers. I've literally heard about people electrocuted by them. Well, at least I THINK it's these cheap junk chargers (and not legit ones made by Samsung, Apple, etc) that caused the electrocution. Unfortunately I can't verify this, as when I have read stories about this, they usually simply mention that somebody got electrocuted by using their phone as it was charging, making absolutely ZERO MENTION as to whether the charger was an original charger that came with the phone, another charger from the same company that made the phone, some charger from another trusted company, or a cheap junk "dollar store" type charger that was made by some no-name company.

Does anybody here have more info on some of these incidents, info that maybe wasn't mentioned in the news stories put out by major news companies?

tunk:
Diodegonewild has a handful of youtube videos about cheap chargers (including full teardowns).
There's also quite a few tests here: https://lygte-info.dk/info/indexUSB%20UK.html

ataradov:
The issue here is that most of the reviews are highly hypothetical. It is hip to discuss creepage distance, makes you sound cool and smart. Most of the time even the worst looking changer are perfectly fine.

In many of those stories people are using phones while taking a bath and charging. Or another common thing is to use broken cables, since Apple cables are so expensive. I see people do that all the time, unfortunately.

I too would like to see a legitimately bad design that actually traceably lead to a death or other serios damage.

Ben321:

--- Quote from: ataradov on April 24, 2021, 11:09:03 pm ---The issue here is that most of the reviews are highly hypothetical. It is hip to discuss creepage distance, makes you sound cool and smart. Most of the time even the worst looking changer are perfectly fine.

In many of those stories people are using phones while taking a bath and charging. Or another common thing is to use broken cables, since Apple cables are so expensive. I see people do that all the time, unfortunately.

I too would like to see a legitimately bad design that actually traceably lead to a death or other serios damage.

--- End quote ---

How would a broken cable shock you? 5 volts isn't the cause of the electrocution, no matter how broken the cable is, or if you were charging in a bath. The problem is that the mains voltage is somehow getting on the output. The output of a low voltage power supply should NEVER be electrically coupled to the input, only magnetically coupled via the step-down transformer (which is also the switching transformer if you are talking about a switching supply, not just a simple linear supply). The problem with electrocution from the low voltage output power supply is the result of one of two things. Some piece of metal at the factory somehow got inside the power supply's case before it was closed, and electrically connected the primary to the secondary, or alternatively a failure in the transformer (likely too heavy a load was attached to the output so overheating of the transformer to the point that the enamel insulation around the wire burned off and also melted off the tape insulation between the primary and secondary winding layers), and allowed the primary winding metal to touch the secondary winding metal). So whether it was a piece of metal getting in it, or whether the transformer was designed below spec so it overheated even when operating the intended load, it still is the result of a factory error, which mostly happens in poorly run factories trying to make things cheaply so as to make a product they can sell cheaply.

ataradov:

--- Quote from: Ben321 on April 24, 2021, 11:53:31 pm ---How would a broken cable shock you? 5 volts isn't the cause of the electrocution, no matter how broken the cable is, or if you were charging in a bath.

--- End quote ---
Broken cables are mostly the reason for fires. Sooner or later 5v line shorts out.

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