All USB chargers are not made equal

All USB chargers look alike, they all have the same familiar USB socket – they must all be the same, right? Wrong!

USB chargers are complex pieces of electronics with over 50 components all working together to get the charge bar moving across your smart phone or tablet. They handle the difficult task of transforming the potentially dangerous 240V AC mains power from your wall socket to a safe 5V DC – and all of this often in a space smaller than a golf ball.

There have recently been a number of media reports about chargers catching fire, damage to mobile phones, and even electrocutions and as engineer and blogger Ken Shirriff reports, there is a big difference between the genuine Apple i-Phone or i-Pad charger and the many cheaper “phony” Apple chargers out there. Unfortunately an Apple logo on the case or a CE mark on the product label is no guarantee that the product is genuine or actually safe.

Firstly, the cheaper chargers are often not rated correctly and lack adequate overload protection, i.e. they may claim to be 10W chargers but they are actually only able to safely output 5W – that means slow charging for you and the danger of overheating if the device tries to overload the charger.

Secondly, safety in the design and specification of electronic components is especially critical and, as highlighted in Ken Shirriff’s report, the essential separation between high and low voltage components is one area where the “phony” chargers skimp – often with potentially dire consequences!

Another area where cheap chargers often fall short is in output noise. An ideal charger would supply the USB socket with a smooth 5V output, with little or no variation. Cheap chargers, on the other hand often have huge spikes and the voltage levels vary wildly, with peaks over 6V and troughs under 4V. A recent blog post by repair business MendMyi has reported a common problem with iPhone 5s that don’t charge as a result of damage to the USB charge chip – and they attribute this directly to dodgy chargers, whereby the high input voltage spikes, provided by the charger, cause damage to the sensitive internal electronic components of the device.

But if danger and damage are not enough, electronic chip manufacturer Cypress discuss in their technical note on noise in mobile devices how a noisy “bad charger” can make using the touch screen impossible while charging. Apparently the noise from the charger disrupts the sensitive electronics that measure the position of your finger on the screen. So if your Angry Birds aim is a bit off – maybe upgrade that charger.

OE group TUF brand chargers are designed to safely output optimum charging power to a wide range of devices and they have been tested and certified to the highest levels for Safety and Electro-Magnetic Compatibility by independent test laboratories. In addition, every TUF charger is individually tested at three times during the manufacturing and assembly process, so you can be assured of a quality product!

OE Electrics, originally founded in 1986, as Office Electrics, operates its business on a policy of “Service – Quality – Safety”. This enables the company to achieve a highly respected reputation in the commercial office soft wiring and cable management industry, providing cost effective and innovative ‘Solutions by Design’.

Operating as a family owned and managed business, an underlying principle that ‘people matter’ is maintained, because “…it is the people we work with: our customers; suppliers; and, of course, our staff – that make everything possible!”

Our sales and technical teams boast some of the most experienced and respected individuals in the industry, keen to listen to client’s needs and propose the most cost effective and user-friendly solutions. Their success measured, not only by the continued repeat business, resulting from their excellent working relationship with clients, but by the 3rd party referrals from clients confident enough to promote us themselves.

In 2006, expansion plans and the globalization of the business took shape, with an office in Dubai serving the Middle East and the acquisition of Elsafe (Australia) Pty Ltd. Together with partnerships in France, Benelux and China, the OE Group has established itself as a global solutions provider – gaining Exporter of the Year Award, Going Global 2009.

With its headquarters in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, the company supports “Made in Britain” with in-house CAD design, plastic moulding, CNC machining, painting, assembly, 100% end-of-line testing and even web design. Managing the whole manufacturing process in-house allows complete control of quality and service which, in turn, has the effect of building confidence with the client. No better is this confidence exhibited than when clients ask us to help design and manufacture specific OEM products.

During the GFC, a policy of continued investment into new technologies, products and equipment, led to an explosion of revolutionary products, most notably with the unique USB TUF Charger in early 2013. Supporting “Made In Britain”, Office Electrics commissioned a fully automatic socket assembly line (SAL), wholly designed and manufactured in the UK, which can now manufacture over half a million sockets per year. Feel free to watch SAL on YouTube

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This