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The association UFC-Que Choisir warns the public about third-party chargers for smartphones. Out of the twenty models tested, more than half of them are defective and could put the individual at risk. It is also an opportunity to recall what the law provides and what are the good practices to run as little risk as possible.

What are the UFC’s findings?

The UFC-Que Choisir published on January 23 a dossier on the risk that individuals incur by using certain third-party chargers instead of the one that comes with their smartphone – or, more generally, any other electrical device. Indeed, the association has noted sometimes very serious problems on several references sold in the trade.

The association responsible for defending consumer rights has not been able to test all the offer that exists in France. She focused on 20 models. Only 4 of them are perfectly safe and clear with the regulations. 5 others sometimes have a signalling fault. The remaining 11 are considered dangerous. Following these tests, the association alerted the authorities.

What are the risks with a smartphone charger?

The least serious danger you can run when using a dubious or frankly dangerous charger is damage to your smartphone. And that is the scenario that is most favourable to you, even if it may result in the loss of a terminal worth several hundred euros. The other risks, in ascending order, are injury, electrocution and, of course, fire in the home.

While it is difficult to determine the weight of defective chargers in fires, the Paris fire brigade estimates that at least one third of the fires it responds to are fires of electrical origin. In the Netherlands in 2017, the insurers’ federation indicated that almost half of all domestic fires in the Netherlands are caused by electronic devices, especially smartphones.

Which charger to use for an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy?

If you have a choice, it is recommended that you choose the original charger that comes with your smartphone to charge it. That’s the advice you’ll find on the pages of the various manuals – which we’re sure you read carefully before starting up a device – that come with commercially available smartphones.

For example, Samsung states for the Galaxy S10 that “Using … a generic charger may shorten the life of your device or cause malfunctions. This can also cause the battery to explode“. In addition, “Use of an incompatible battery, charger and cable may cause serious injury or damage to your device“. This is the case of the original iPhone chargers.

An original charger will directly deliver current at the right intensity and voltage to the smartphone for which it was designed. Of course, it is possible to use another one, as long as it is of good quality and ticks all the boxes of the European standards. Indeed, a good charger is able to modulate itself according to the device. However, the charging time may be longer (or shorter, if your original charger does not offer quick charging, for example).

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Ideally, you should use the charger associated with the smartphone to recharge it. // Source : Unbox Therapy

Which third-party chargers are reliable?

UFC-Que Choisir did not claim to provide an exhaustive analysis of all references that may exist in the trade. The association has focused on 20 third-party chargers that are commercially available (Amazon, Fnac, Rakuten, Leclerc, Darty, Auchan, Boulanger, Gifi, La Foir’fouille, etc.). Only 4 of them are fully satisfactory. These are the models:

  • Tekmee 40.448.254, sold in store ;
  • Essential B 8003310, sold in store ;
  • Homeday X-Pert 370324, sold in store ;
  • Samsung EP-TA20EWE.

“Voltage, frequency, current intensity, model number, name and address of the manufacturer, CE marking, recycling, indoor use, clear instructions… these chargers are clearly marked and documented. They also passed all our safety tests,” comments UFC-Que Choisir. The icing on the cake is that the first three models cost between 3.99 and 7.99 euros.

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A charger must have several markings in order to be compliant // Source: Antoine Turmel

Five other models are also considered safe to use, but the association regrets a lack of marking, explanation and/or safety instructions. This is the case of a charger sold by Apple. Model AR1400 does not explain the double insulation symbol (one square in another square) and it omits to show the symbol for indoor use only (one house).

The other four models are:

  • Maxxter Act-U1AC2-02V2, sold in store ;
  • Re-load RL-CH-W2P0524-R, sold in store ;
  • Goobay 73274;
  • Selecline 87040/TC3A842A, sold in store.

To this selection, we would add at least two brands that have been giving us complete satisfaction for years, offering equipment that is both reliable and robust:

  • Anker and its PowerPort range.
  • Aukey and its Quick Charge range

Which chargers should be avoided?

Here again, the work done by the UFC-Que Choisir does not cover all the models that are commercially available. That said, out of the 20 tests carried out in an accredited and independent laboratory, 11 devices are to be discarded. The first three in the list below have “serious design flaws“, while the next eight are even “downright dangerous“. Go on your way.

● Hoé P.K.0504/LY-SA20;

● Temium 4279441; ●

Électro Dépôt 937554; ●

Zinniaya XD35704; ●

A1400; ●

Comomingo XD35703; ●

Comomingo AR-600; ●

Joja XBA014/YHC 10-67; ●

EP-TA20EWE; ●

ATA-U90EWE; ●

AR-600.

You think the UFC-Que Choisir is too alarmist? The association’s description of these devices should convince you: “insufficient welding” of certain wires, poor insulation, presence of “frightening” electric arcs, risk of “real” fire starts, great fragility of the devices, lack of internal protection against overloads and short-circuits, etc.

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Large brand chargers can also be prone to failure, but the risks are much less // Source: José Fonseca

How to use your charger properly?

These recommendations can be found in the pages of the departmental fire and rescue services as well as in the pages of insurance companies: once the device has been partially or completely recharged, make sure to unplug it and remove the charger from the socket on which it was installed. You will reduce the risk of fire, especially if you are using a dubious model.

This is especially true when you are away from home or at bedtime. It can be tempting to leave a device charged overnight to have it at full capacity the next morning. But unless it’s a device that takes a very long time to charge, like an electric car, it strains the battery for nothing, through microcycles of recharging and discharging.

And of course, a charger is a device that tends to get hot. So we make sure we don’t put him in a situation where he could start a fire, whether it’s under a duvet or sheets, on a rug or carpet. In short, it is left out in the open air to dissipate its heat and, as far as possible, it is placed in such a way that it can be looked at at any time or attended to at the slightest concern.

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At night, it’s best to unplug your appliances. // Source: Mark

What to do with a questionable charger?

Two paths open up before you: you can go for the simplest and get rid of your charger, if it seems dubious (and especially if it is one of the models brocaded by the association). Replace it with the original model or a recommended model.

If you are in a litigious mood, you also have the possibility to mobilize the right to obtain a refund or a replacement of the model. The legal guarantee of conformity, set out in article L217-4 and following of the Consumer Code, is a lever that the customer can activate. This provision, introduced in 2014 thanks to the Hamon law on consumption, has been applied since 2016.

Please note that an action undertaken under this regime is not necessarily likely to result in a refund or exchange. If you wish to proceed in this direction, UFC-Que Choisir provides a sample letter for you to exercise your rights, as well as various legal clarifications on the scope and restrictions of the legal guarantee of compliance.

  • Read: A defect on a guaranteed device? You may have to prove that he was there from the beginning…