What Causes a Battery Charger to Explode: The Shocking Reality you NEED to know

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What causes a battery charger to explode

Have you ever wondered What Causes a Battery Charger to Explode? It’s a scary thought, but it’s a real problem.

In recent years, there have been several reported incidents of phone chargers exploding. These have caused injuries and even death to some of their unsuspecting users.

And, like most people, I have seen cheap chargers on online marketplaces and bought them. Why pay $20 when I could pay $5? It feels good that I saved money. But it might not be the best decision in the long run.

In this article, we look at why phone, laptop, and tablet chargers can be dangerous and what you can do to protect yourself.

Real Life Incidents

I recently came across a few cases of battery charger explosions that I’d like to share with you. In one instance, a four-year-old child was seriously injured when a cellphone charger exploded in Madhya Pradesh, India.

Another incident took place in Singapore. Reports suggest that a phone charger exploded and started a fire, damaging property.

An alarming situation occurred on a flight when a phone charger caught fire mid-flight, causing panic.  Can you imagine how scary this could be while airborne? Luckily, the cabin crew dealt with the situation, and no one was seriously injured.

Unfortunately, not all cases end so well. In Erode, India, a man lost his life when his mobile charger exploded. This is a sobering reminder of the potential dangers that come with charging devices.

What Causes a Battery Charger to Explode

The overarching reason battery chargers explode is when they are cheap counterfeits. When you buy a charger that’s cheap and doesn’t come from a reputable brand, you may be putting yourself in danger. These chargers often do not follow strict safety regulations and can cause severe problems.

Many counterfeit chargers contain low-quality components that are prone to overheating. When the components get too hot, it is dangerous. If a cheap charger gets very hot, it is a huge red flag.

Another issue with fake chargers is their improper electrical design. These chargers often won’t provide the right voltage, current, or charge control. This can stress the batteries we connect to them and increase the risk of an incident or damage to my device.

To keep safe, I always buy chargers from reputable brands that guarantee quality and safety. Buying from authorized dealers can also help me ensure that I’m getting a genuine product. Let’s take a closer look at the problem.

The Problem With Cheap Chargers

The job of your phone charger is to take in high voltage, like 120 or 240V, and lower it down to 5V. Though this happens in a tiny space, a well-designed charger uses good-quality insulation. It is well-designed and keeps the high and low-voltage circuits separate. But cheap chargers might not be as safe.

Fake chargers can lack enough separation between the high and low-voltage circuits. This makes it possible for electricity to jump between them.

This causes a short circuit.

With poor quality control, the risk is even higher. This is because tiny pieces of solder or wiring can be prone to coming loose and causing problems.

Transformers in chargers drop the high voltage to low. It’s the only spot where low and high voltage should be close. A good charger should have at least two layers of insulation here. Some cheap chargers only use a single layer. This can cause the insulation to fail and cause a huge problem.

Another potential problem is that chargers need capacitors to filter out interference. These capacitors should always fail open circuit—meaning they don’t conduct electricity.

Cheap chargers tend to use less expensive capacitors. These can fail and conduct high voltage onto the low voltage side. This makes them less reliable and more dangerous.

Cheap chargers risk safety with cheap components, poor insulation, and dodgy design. It’s important to choose a reputable charger for peace of mind for yourself and your device.

A well-designed charger contains fuses and fail-safes to protect us if there is a problem. There is no chance that one of these premium chargers will explode or catch fire.

Risks of Using a Counterfeit Charger Description
Electrical shock Counterfeit chargers may not have adequate insulation, resulting in the risk of electrical shock to the user.
Overheating Counterfeit chargers may not have proper temperature control, leading to overheating of the charger and the potential for fires or explosions.
Fire Counterfeit chargers may not have proper circuit protection, which can cause short circuits and result in fires.
Explosion Counterfeit chargers may not have proper battery protection, causing batteries to overcharge and explode.
Device damage Counterfeit chargers may not be designed to provide the correct voltage and current, leading to damage of the device being charged.

The following possible causes of exploding chargers apply mostly to fake chargers. With genuine chargers, this is a largely non-existent problem,

Real-life battery charger – Proof

Check out this take-down of a cheap charger made in China. 

Here are some highlighted issues. 

The two chargers have a similar appearance, but the differences become apparent when they are opened up. 

The real charger has advanced components, including a common mode filter, a differential filter, primary capacitors, a fuse, a transformer, an optocoupler, and a USB connector. 

The Chinese copy has a simple construction with wires coming from the plug, a traditional screw-hole board, and a questionable switching transformer. The construction of the switching transformer and the board layout are also questionable.

There is no fuse or interference filter. The lack of protection against inductive spikes could cause the transistor to break down, which could result in a fire. 

The video starkly highlights the importance of buying authentic chargers to avoid potential safety hazards.

Short Circuits

A short circuit is a low-resistance path between two conductors with different voltages. This can happen when wires touch each other, or when the insulation on a wire gets damaged. Far too much current then flows through the circuit, causing overheating or fire.

It amazes me that some battery chargers can explode because of their poor design. Sometimes, they don’t even have a fuse to break the circuit. So when a short circuit occurs, the thin wires inside vaporize, causing the charger to explode.

To make things simpler, here’s what happens:

  • Wires touch each other or insulation is damaged
  • Low-resistance path forms between conductors with different voltages
  • Large current flows through the circuit
  • Overheating, damage, or fire may occur

So awareness of short circuits helps us understand why battery chargers may explode.

Risks of Using a Counterfeit Charger Description
Electrical shock Counterfeit chargers may not have adequate insulation, resulting in the risk of electrical shock to the user.
Overheating Counterfeit chargers may not have proper temperature control, leading to overheating of the charger and the potential for fires or explosions.
Fire Counterfeit chargers may not have proper circuit protection, which can cause short circuits and result in fires.
Explosion Counterfeit chargers may not have proper battery protection, causing batteries to overcharge and explode.
Device damage Counterfeit chargers may not be designed to provide the correct voltage and current, leading to damage of the device being charged.

Age: Wear and Tear

As my battery charger gets older, wear and tear can take a toll on its performance. One issue to watch for is exposed cables. Over time, the protective coating around the wires can crack or split.

This can cause short circuits if the cable comes into contact with other metal objects.

Ensure that your cable is loose and not wound or bent tight. As well as damage to the coating and interior wires, this can cause hot spots in the cable that can be hazardous.

I always make sure to inspect my charger’s cables to check for any signs of damage. If I find any, I replace the charger to avoid potential safety hazards.

Wrapping the cables too tightly around the charger can cause them to weaken and fray over time. I always make it a point to coil my cables loosely when not in use. This prolongs their lifespan and maintains their integrity.

Lastly, with age and decay, even a quality charger can start to malfunction. Here are some things I pay attention to when it comes to detecting malfunctions in an older charger:

  • Slow charging speeds
  • Inconsistent or intermittent charging
  • Overheating of the charger or device

Keeping an eye on these signs can help me identify when it’s time to replace my charger.

Environmental Factors

Certain environmental factors can damage battery chargers. Heat, exposure to direct sunlight, and moisture ingress are all potentially hazardous.

Heat is a major issue for battery chargers. When exposed to high temperatures, the charging components may become damaged or weakened. This increases the risk of an explosion. So, it’s essential to keep the charger away from heat sources, like heaters and stoves.

Similarly, avoid leaving your battery charger in direct sunlight for extended periods. Sunlight can cause the charger’s interior temperature to rise. This can put stress on its internal components.

Moisture ingress is another environmental factor that can harm a battery charger. Water or moisture seeping into the charger can result in short circuits. To protect my charger, I ensure it’s not used in damp or wet environments and avoid spills near the charging area.

Power Surges and Voltage Spikes

When I think about chargers and potential hazards, power surges or voltage spikes come to mind. Power surges are short-term increases in voltage. They are caused by events like lightning strikes, power outages, or equipment malfunctions. These sudden increases in voltage can damage electronic devices if they’re not protected.

It’s important for all devices connected to the power line to have surge protection. This includes battery chargers. But a potential issue arises with cheaper, counterfeit chargers. Fake chargers lack adequate protection against power surges and voltage spikes.

I use only genuine chargers with built-in surge protection. This way, I am confident that my battery charger won’t explode due to power surges or voltage spikes.

How to Prevent Battery Charger Explosions

When it comes to battery chargers, I always focus on safety. I spend a little extra money to buy a charger made by the manufacturer or from a respected company like Anker. By doing this, I am getting a high-quality charger designed for my specific battery.

Another tip I follow is to avoid overcharging my batteries. I make sure the charger is compatible with my battery and I don’t leave it connected for too long. While charging, I also keep an eye on the temperature – if it feels too hot, I unplug it.

Proper storage of my batteries and chargers is essential, too. Remember when we said about dampness being a problem? I keep my charger in a cool, dry place, away from moisture, direct sunlight, or extreme temperatures. This helps maintain optimal performance and reduces the risk of any issues.

Finally, I always remain vigilant and watch for warning signs. If I notice any swelling, a strange smell, or unusual noises coming from my charger, I unplug it immediately and dispose of it. Being aware of these potential issues can help in preventing battery charger mishaps.

How to Spot a Fake Charger

When I buy a charger, I always make sure it meets safety standards. In the US, products must pass ‘agency approval’ before they can be sold. Agencies like Underwriter’s Labs perform a Failure Mode Effects Analysis to ensure safety. In Canada and Europe, organizations like CSA or VDE do the same thing.

I check for approved safety stamps on my charger to know if it’s genuine. If I can’t find any safety stamps, it’s probably a fake.

Another thing I look out for is the quality of the materials. Fake chargers are often made with inferior materials, which can be dangerous. Specifically, I inspect the pins on the charger. If they have imperfections, glossy finish, or use low-quality metal, the charger may not be genuine.

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this article helpful in understanding What Causes a Battery Charger to Explode. It’s often due to overheating, improper charging, or both.

And remember that it is not only the charger you should be aware of. The handset itself is vulnerable to explosion as well, usually caused by a faulty charger.

So follow recommended procedures, and use the right charger for your battery type. Never leave charging devices unattended. Also, always remember to handle and store batteries with care to prevent accidents.

As technology advances, I’m optimistic that innovations will make batteries and chargers even safer. In the meantime, stay informed, be responsible, and stay safe.

Before You Go …

As we wrap up this article, I want to leave you with a warning: don’t take battery chargers lightly. They may seem like simple accessories, but using the wrong ones can have dire consequences.

Cheap, discount chargers are often poorly made and can cause havoc.

If you want to avoid these risks and ensure that your devices are charged safely and efficiently, you need to read our next post, “What’s the difference between a discount charger and an industrially rated unit“.

It will give you the knowledge you need to choose the right charger for your needs and protect you and yours.


Here are some of the most commonly asked questions.

What causes a battery charger to explode?

A battery charger can explode due to overheating, overcharging, or a short circuit, which can cause a buildup of gas inside the battery, leading to an explosion.

Can a battery charger explode while in use?

Yes, a battery charger can explode while in use if it is damaged, faulty, or used improperly. Overcharging, overheating, or a short circuit can cause the battery to explode.

Can a battery charger explode when not in use?

Yes, a battery charger can explode even when not in use if it is damaged, faulty, or exposed to extreme temperatures. It is important to store the charger in a cool, dry place and away from flammable materials.

How can I prevent a battery charger from exploding?

To prevent a battery charger from exploding, use a charger that is compatible with your battery, avoid overcharging, do not expose the charger to extreme temperatures, and replace the charger if it is damaged or faulty.

What should I do if a battery charger explodes?

In case of a battery charger explosion, immediately turn off the power, evacuate the area, and call for emergency services. Do not attempt to touch or move the charger as it may still be dangerous.

Are all battery chargers prone to exploding?

No, not all battery chargers are prone to exploding. High-quality chargers that are designed for specific batteries and are used properly are less likely to explode. It is important to choose a reliable charger from a reputable brand.

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Steve Brown


Steve is a gadget enthusiast who's always been intrigued by batteries. The founder and editor of Battery Chargers Info, he's assembled a group of like-minded experts to cover every facet of portable power His aim is to help you learn more about your favorite gadgets and their batteries so you can maximize both their performance and their life. Follow him on Twitter: @batterycharge1

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