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Old 07-08-14, 07:04 AM   #26
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It's almost comical that they closed down a stall because they were selling cheap chargers. In the US anyway, cheap chargers are the NORM in the aftermarket - so much so that it's almost difficult to find a GOOD charger. Even if you go to Amazon and look for name brands, you are still likely to get a cheap knockoff.

I finally had to give up on my Belkin boycott which I've had going for > 10 years and use Belkin - at least for cables and chargers, I still won't buy their routers.
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Old 07-08-14, 02:59 PM   #27
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It's almost comical that they closed down a stall because they were selling cheap chargers. In the US anyway, cheap chargers are the NORM in the aftermarket - so much so that it's almost difficult to find a GOOD charger. Even if you go to Amazon and look for name brands, you are still likely to get a cheap knockoff....
Ain't it the truth. As for the woman who was killed by a faulty charger; That is so completely improbably that it defies explanation. I have a feeling there is more to the story than what is being reported. To have such a thing happen would require a set of circumstances to be present that could only be described as "The Perfect Storm"...Unless, someone had intentionally jury-rigged the charger to supply line voltage to the phone but that would mean that there was more to the story than what we are reading. Generally speaking a person has more a chance of winning a 250 million dollar lottery than of being electrocuted by a wall charger. ( Unless, the person KNEW something was wrong with the charger ( smell of burning plastic is a dead give-a-way ) and continued to use it.
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Old 07-08-14, 08:46 PM   #28
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Not really. The charger simply shorted the 220v mains to the ground side of the USB connector. This made the case of the iPod and also the headsets live. All she needed to do then was to touch something that was grounded, which was apparently the metal case of her laptop. It's actually not improbable, if you've ever seen the inside of those ****ty chargers, it's surprising it doesn't happen more often.
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Old 07-08-14, 09:30 PM   #29
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even the OEM and name brand chargers are right on the edge of what is safe, in my opinion. Then again, we wouldn't be happy if they were big.
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Old 07-08-14, 09:36 PM   #30
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Not really. The charger simply shorted the 220v mains to the ground side of the USB connector. This made the case of the iPod and also the headsets live.
The first part is easy to understand, but I'm surprised that any exterior part of the phone or headset would be metal that's electrically connected to the USB power pins (either ground or live). I always have my phone in a protective rubber case anyway but safe electrical design would call for the metal parts of the case to be insulated from electrical power.
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Old 07-09-14, 07:27 AM   #31
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I don't think they were connected to the power pins, I think it was connected to the shell. it's pretty normal for the shell of a connector to be electrically connected to the shell of the unit and also possibly to the common ring on the headphones. It's normal design to connect all the earth connections together, but when your source for "earth" is broken and attaches the "earth" to a 220v main, things get ugly.
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Old 07-09-14, 12:51 PM   #32
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or that enough amps would go across the cable w/o it acting like a very long fuse...
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Old 07-09-14, 01:27 PM   #33
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Doesn't take very much at 220v to kill a person. A small fraction on an amp. Also, it's going to be an EXTREMELY slow blowing fuse. The wire is going to heat up and burn the insulation off and smoke for many seconds before it actually breaks, even if it's carrying a couple hundred ma at 220.
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Old 07-10-14, 03:41 AM   #34
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... It's actually not improbable, if you've ever seen the inside of those ****ty chargers, it's surprising it doesn't happen more often.
Hey, whatever. I charge my phone on a plug-in wall charger. Writing on the charger says it's rated for between 100 and 240 volts. To me it looks like a small plastic box with a plug on it that weighs a couple ounces. Written on back are the words, "Made in China". I bought it at Radio Shack for maybe $24. I plug it in every night before I go to bed and I sleep like a baby. Riding my bike on the road; now that will give me the heebie-jeebies. Now if I start hearing about more people turning to toast while using a plug in charger I'll have to rethink that opinion.
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Old 07-10-14, 07:15 AM   #35
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Hey, whatever. I charge my phone on a plug-in wall charger. Writing on the charger says it's rated for between 100 and 240 volts. To me it looks like a small plastic box with a plug on it that weighs a couple ounces. Written on back are the words, "Made in China". I bought it at Radio Shack for maybe $24. I plug it in every night before I go to bed and I sleep like a baby. Riding my bike on the road; now that will give me the heebie-jeebies. Now if I start hearing about more people turning to toast while using a plug in charger I'll have to rethink that opinion.
If it was from Radio Shack and it actually had the Radio Shack brand on it, it probably is actually a UL listed charger.

I actually threw away the chargers I bought on ebay after seeing a teardown of one on YouTube. I paid $1.87 each for them. They worked pretty well but the inside of them is scary - really bad components, no proper isolation routing or anything like that. It looks EXACTLY like an Apple charger on the outside, but the inside of the Apple charger is actually very well designed.

For some things, it's not a big deal. I buy MicroUSB cables 5 for $10 on eBay and don't worry about it. Worst they can do is to short out or the end break off, neither are deadly hazards. Anything that connects to the mains though, lately I've stuck to name brands purchased through reputable channels. Simply "name brand" doesn't work anymore, since the product copiers are EXTREMELY good at making products indistinguishable from the real thing.
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Old 07-10-14, 09:35 AM   #36
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needless to say it's not UL listed? edit - haha you beat me to it
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Old 07-10-14, 09:57 AM   #37
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needless to say it's not UL listed? edit - haha you beat me to it
Every cheap clone that I've bought has had UL and CE logos on them. They are not, of course, UL or CE listed/approved. The clone makers do not care, they will print anything on the device that helps sales.
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Old 07-10-14, 10:32 AM   #38
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Ken Shirriff's Blogs on this topic have been often cited, and quite interesting. Compares some cheap clones to real (Apple) chargers, and the safety issues. He has several blog articles on chargers, but here is a start:
Ken Shirriff's blog: iPad charger teardown: inside Apple's charger and a risky phony

Ken Shirriff's blog: Tiny, cheap, and dangerous: Inside a (fake) iPhone charger
Ken Shirriff's blog: Apple iPhone charger teardown: quality in a tiny expensive package

IMO, battery chargers for other devices such as lights are another whole wild west. You can never really tell about the quality of these device specific chargers, and the specs are often cloudy if you want a replacement. My original Magicshine charger has some LED indicating a charge/stop charge function, and some units have been known to burn up.

Chargers for specific cells such as 18650 LiIon are a little better if you do research such as on Candlepower Forums.

Danger is certainly there; I decided to never charge batteries when I'm not there. It's amazing to me that more fires and so on aren't seen.
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Old 07-10-14, 06:08 PM   #39
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If it was from Radio Shack and it actually had the Radio Shack brand on it, it probably is actually a UL listed charger....
Sorry, my mistake....the car charger I bought was from Radio Shack, I can't remember where I bought the wall charger. The product name is "Rocketfish". It has no UL or CE listing or markings. Doing a quick search I didn't see any particularly bad reviews. Still, with all things in perspective, while on a rare occasion a wall charger will malfunction and fail, rarely would the malfunction escalate and cause a fire or electrocution event to happen.

Regardless, these things are cheap and mass produced with likely little to no quality control. I think it's in my best interest to unplug it when I leave the house. I might also rethink using it while I sleep although I've never had any problems with it. My reasons for doing a 180° flip-flop, simple; I don't trust cheap battery chargers for charging my bike batteries while unattended so why should I trust these cheap phone chargers? Oh I still plan on using them but I'll be home and wide awake when I do. In the mean time I might see if I can find a plug-in circuit breaker/Surge protector to use with the phone charger just to keep things a little more safe.

...now if they make a UL listed phone charger with built in 1A circuit breaker I'd like to get me one of those.
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Old 07-10-14, 07:05 PM   #40
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Doesn't take very much at 220v to kill a person. A small fraction on an amp. Also, it's going to be an EXTREMELY slow blowing fuse. The wire is going to heat up and burn the insulation off and smoke for many seconds before it actually breaks, even if it's carrying a couple hundred ma at 220.
WOW!

Personally, I'll do anything with 110.

But ever since I saw 220 blow a sizable hole in 1/4 stainless on a stove... I wouldn't touch it.

Still figured that the cable would vaporize nearly instantly.
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Old 07-11-14, 08:59 AM   #41
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WOW!
But ever since I saw 220 blow a sizable hole in 1/4 stainless on a stove... I wouldn't touch it.

Still figured that the cable would vaporize nearly instantly.
You should never leave the US then. Japan is maybe OK. Pretty much the rest of the world uses 220v as their standard mains outlet.

It's current that's going to vaporize the cable. Since it's going through a human body, it's hitting a resistance of at least a thousand ohms even if the person is sweaty and it's a direct skin to metal contact across a small piece of their body.

Assuming worst case 1,000 ohms and 220v, that's 220/10000 = 220 milliamps. The wire will probably carry that indefinitely. A very thin wire would get pretty warm, but i doubt it would actually melt in two. At 220v that's only 220*.22 = 48 watts.

Note that at 110v, you'd still be dead. 110ma at 110 volts is MORE than enough to stop your heart. Though of course assuming the same design on the charger it would be half as likely to jump an identical air gap in the first place. If you got the thing wet though it would fail the same either way.
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Old 07-11-14, 01:09 PM   #42
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You should never leave the US then. Japan is maybe OK. Pretty much the rest of the world uses 220v as their standard mains outlet.

It's current that's going to vaporize the cable. Since it's going through a human body, it's hitting a resistance of at least a thousand ohms even if the person is sweaty and it's a direct skin to metal contact across a small piece of their body.

Assuming worst case 1,000 ohms and 220v, that's 220/10000 = 220 milliamps. The wire will probably carry that indefinitely. A very thin wire would get pretty warm, but i doubt it would actually melt in two. At 220v that's only 220*.22 = 48 watts.

Note that at 110v, you'd still be dead. 110ma at 110 volts is MORE than enough to stop your heart. Though of course assuming the same design on the charger it would be half as likely to jump an identical air gap in the first place. If you got the thing wet though it would fail the same either way.
I've been hit with 110 directly off the wire.
many times.
Fixing wiring around various houses, garages, and student slums when I was in college.

Sometimes it hurt, occasionally it hurt a lot.

I guess I still got lucky.
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Old 07-12-14, 04:03 PM   #43
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I've been hit with 110 directly off the wire.
many times.
Fixing wiring around various houses, garages, and student slums when I was in college.

Sometimes it hurt, occasionally it hurt a lot.

I guess I still got lucky.
I have too, several time.

The key is which part of your body takes the hit. As long as it doesn't go through your chest or directly across your brain, you're probably going to be fine.

I once read of a lineman who took a hit from one arm to the other directly off multi thousand volt neighborhood feeds, having it cook both of his arms (both had to be amputated) but for some reason the current went through his pectoral muscles instead of through his heart, and he lived to become a safety lecturer for the company.

A small fraction of that could kill you if the current goes a different way. Your body position, chemistry, what you're wearing, etc could all change it.
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