What’s the difference between a discount store battery charger and an industrially rated unit?
Most of us have tried to save a few pennies by buying a cheap charger online or at the local discount store.
One time, I opened up one such charger to find out how it looks on the inside. It had a collection of manually soldered wires in the breadboard which didn’t seem particularly safe-looking.
This is a big problem because such chargers can’t adapt to the voltage supply and are unable to halt the flow of charge when not required by the device.
To understand this problem lets go to the basics of how batteries are charged.
The four stages of charging:
Stage 1: As the device is connected to the charger and plugged into a power supply the voltage increases rapidly.
Stage 2: Once the voltage reaches its peak, the current from the charger starts to decrease.
Stage 3: When the battery reaches full charge the charger cuts off the current to the device completely.
Stage 4: This is called standby mode; in this stage only a top-up charge is supplied to the device when the battery drops below a certain specified voltage limit.
It is crucial that your charger is designed to follow these stages. The charger is built in such a way that it takes a normal current as input and provides a suitable output for device usage.
Now, if you purchase a cheap charger online or at the discount store, what problems can occur?
Firstly, the USBs of most cheap chargers are not efficient enough. Most of the time these chargers are unable to distinguish between a wall socket and a USB port.
Now, this is not such a big issue until the device requires a surge of power. But the charger limits it to only a fixed amount, say 500mAh USB speed.
However, if the charger is industrially rated it will be built to the correct specification, passing several quality checks before becoming available for sale.
These easily adapt to wall ports and USB ports, ensuring the proper amount of power is sent to the device.
A budget charger will generally charge your device slowly, especially when compared to manufacturer-recommended chargers.
Now, let me explain why this happens. Nowadays, most charging extensions work both as a data transfer cord and also as a charging cord. We get both of these in one and pay less because these discounted stores provide a low quality 28/28 gauge cable.
An industrially rated unit will consist of 28/24 gauge cable, which is good quality. These 24 gauge cables are able to handle up to 2 Amperes and also 500mAh, which means that the device will be charged during a standard time period, not too slow or too fast.
Harm to the device
A charger from a discount store can in certain circumstances damage your device. There have been many cases recorded of phones catching fire or even exploding.
It has also been ascertained that the use of budget or fake charging cables can damage the U2 Integrated chip, a vital component of the logic board. This chip controls the battery usage details on the screen, meaning that users’ phones will show less battery percentage than there is. Users might then connect it to a charger, leading to a superfluous flow of current into the device, which can cause further logic board related problems.
Logic board solutions cost a lot, so saving a few bucks by buying discounted chargers might actually be more expensive in the longer term.
Effect on the battery
When a device is charged we expect it to show proper cyclic stats. The charger we use should contain advanced circuitry, properly synced with the device so that it can understand when to stop charging.
Now, if our charger does not have the circuitry to understand the device’s requirements, it can seriously damage the battery. This may result in having to replace it.
Again, we see here that to save a few bucks at the start we create highet costs down the line.
Harm to the owner
Many times in the news we have seen warnings related to fake battery chargers, and not without good reason. Such chargers have been known to explode in the hands and can cause serious fires.
In 2014, a case was reported in which a woman died in Sydney due to an electric shock from a fake charger.
Quality of chargers
Much of the time a discounted charger will not carry the worldwide accepted standards and certifications, such as CE, MFI or RHOS.
Chargers displaying these stamps can be trusted in terms of circuitry and build quality. So, getting a more expensive, genuine charger will ensure that it was manufactured to a high standard, passing many audits and quality checkups before reaching the market.
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