Are phone chargers a fire hazard?
4 minute read
In the past, landlines were a necessity if you wanted to call someone from your home, while telephone booths were used when out and about. However, with the introduction of mobile phones, many households have done away with the home telephone, and even more may do so when changes to landline telephones are implemented in 2025. Even red telephone boxes are slowly being turned into other things, such as book exchanges, ATMs and even defibrillator units.
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Nowadays, it seems hard to imagine a life without mobile phones. For many, they’re not just a phone, but a navigation system, a camera, a notebook, a calendar and much more, too. But all this usage requires a lot of power and therefore it’s likely that you’ll be charging your mobile phone regularly. Depending on how much you use the phone, it could require charging every few days or even every day.
Can phone chargers cause fires?
The risk of any device catching fire is so small that it shouldn’t be a cause for concern, but any electrical device in your home has the ability to catch fire, including phone chargers.
To ensure that you and your family are kept safe and to reduce the chance of a fire at home, you can follow the below safety tips.
How to charge your mobile phone safely
Use chargers provided by the manufacturer
It is advisable to charge your mobile phone using the charger that came with it or one that was purchased from the manufacturer themselves. Purchasing a cheaper alternative or accidentally buying a falsely branded product could mean there’s a higher risk of a fire. Fake copies can look very authentic but often don’t meet the UK’s strict safety regulations, so only buy chargers from stores that you trust.
Around 1.8 million phone chargers are purchased in the UK each year and customers often want a good deal or a cheap charger. These are not always safe, so it’s worth spending that little bit extra to purchase from a reputable source, if you can afford to.
Avoid overcharging and undercharging
There are a lot of myths about charging your phone. Some say to only charge your phone when the battery is less than 30%, while others say to wait for it to die completely and then recharge it. Some say that it’s best to charge it to 100% before unplugging it, but others say 80% is optimum. So who should you listen to?
Firstly, let’s tackle the issue of letting your phone lose power completely once it reaches 0% charge. The more times you allow this to happen, the faster the battery will lose power in the future. This means that over the years you have your phone, you may find that it loses battery much faster. To prevent this, it’s advised that you plug it in when it has between 10% and 30% charge.
Secondly, it’s also advised that you don’t always charge your phone to 100% battery. This is because many modern phones use lithium-ion batteries that suit partial instead of full charging. It can be much safer to unplug once it’s reached around 80% charge instead of leaving it charging well after the battery is full.
Is it safe to charge my phone all night?
Many people choose to charge their phone at night. This might make logical sense, as it’s likely you’re not using your phone as much during this time. However, people who charge their phone overnight may leave it plugged in for a long time, such as eight hours, for example. This is an example of overcharging, which is why it may be best to charge your phone for the amount of time it needs in the day.
Check the charger for signs of damage
If your mobile phone charger is showing any sign of damage, such as exposed wires or cracking on the outer casing, it may be safest to purchase a replacement. Damage like this can increase the risk of an electrical fault occurring.
Avoid extreme temperatures
Batteries can be affected by the weather, particularly as they can get quite hot. A warm battery is okay, but it can become dangerous if the battery isn’t able to get rid of this heat easily. When charging your phone, it’s best to keep it in a cool place and out of direct sunlight. You should never cover the phone with anything while it’s charging, as the battery could overheat.
Avoid overloading sockets
This advice isn’t just applicable to mobile phones but any electrical device. It’s important that you don’t plug too many devices into one plug socket by using multiple extension cables. It’s safe to use one extension cable in a double plug socket, but it would be dangerous to plug one extension cable into another or to have two extension cords plugged into one double socket.
So, are phone chargers a fire hazard? Overall, the chances of a phone charger causing a fire are quite low, especially if you follow the guidance provided above and it need not put you off using your mobile to keep in touch with friends and family.