Why do cheap cel phone chargers burst into flames?



Had this happen with a $5 charging block, and stories are legion. Why does this happen?

In: Technology

Poor materials and QC.

Power bricks like that are usually being purchased on a cost basis, rather than a quality basis, so the manufacturers are cutting every corner they possibly can. If that leads to a dangerous failure, they’ve already moved on and re-formed the company three times since then so it doesn’t matter to them.

You can make a product cheaper by reducing the materials used to make it. Make the wire traces thinner to save on metal. Due to manufacturing variation, there’s a chance the wire traces are too thin and can’t handle the power flowing through them, causing them to catch fire.

You can use cheaper electronic components that just barely handle the application and may not wear well. Wear and tear from use and time could cause these components to fail.

You can not pay for testing to catch these failures on the manufacturing line. Developing a tester and having people run it takes money and affects yield. These costs are eventually rolled into the cost of the product so the company can turn a profit. If you don’t pay for testing, you get better yield and a cheaper product with the downside that they sometimes catch fire.