Too Hot! Technology Heat Damage and Fire Risks

When you need to replace a battery or power cord to your phone or computer, the brand you buy doesn’t seem like a big deal. Off-brands can save you $10, $20, even up to $50, and, for most people, spending big money on a charger or battery seems wasteful. However, the investment may prove to be more beneficial than you realize. Two significant problems with off-brand batteries and cords can occur:

  1. The battery or cord will overheat the inside of your phone or computer, causing it to fry, costing you possibly hundreds of dollars to repair or replace the device.
  2. Your battery may explode, or the cord may catch fire.

The former scenario would be a pain to deal with, but is far preferable to the latter. Take a recent real-life example, for instance: The Moore’s* are a family of three who, last year, ordered a replacement battery for their family laptop. Unbeknownst to them, the battery was recalled. With the computer left on a living room ottoman, they were out of the house for all of ten minutes when the computer battery exploded, generating a fire that destroyed over half their home.

Hopefully, you have never suffered through a house fire; certainly, few things are as devastating. From the loss of property to the even more devastating loss of memories, it’s an overwhelming experience one wouldn’t wish on their worst enemy.

While it’s unlikely that your iPhone is going to spontaneously combust in your hip pocket, when we leave electronics charging, they are producing heat. In some cases, those batteries are getting hot enough to burn through fabric and, left unattended, can have devastating effects. It seems innocuous enough, but leaving a charging laptop or phone on a bed or sofa is the last thing you want to do.

How can a cord or a battery cause this much damage? It boils down to construction. The manufacturer (or certified dealer) has created products that regulate the power being sent to a machine. They are more expensive because more parts are involved, as well as safety considerations. Off- brands are cheaper because those factors are excluded from the cost of manufacturing.

While nothing short of awareness is going to prevent a faulty battery from exploding or a cord causing a fire, there are some tips to help keep your technology cool and prevent the risk of overheating, burns, and accidental fire:

  1. Adjust the power setting to use less power.
  2. Make sure the vents are clean and not blocked, especially by soft, fabric surfaces.
  3. Laptop cooling pads are inexpensive and a great way to cool down a hot battery.
  4. Power your laptop down when it’s not in use.
  5. Make sure your batteries, chargers, and accessories are factory-issued from the manufacturer. Off-brands may have too much wattage and cause damage.
  6. Keep your electronics on flat, hard surfaces that allow for the best ventilation.
  7. Invest in the good stuff. Spending upwards of an extra $50 is nothing compared to the financial and emotional hit of a total product loss, or worse—your home.

Take care of your technology to ensure safety, not only for your equipment, but your home and loved ones.

Special thank you to Robert Phelps of TriadMac for his assistance with this article. TriadMac is located at 851 Old Winston Road, Suite 109, in Kernersville. TriadMac offers full IT support and repairs to Apple products, and can also assist with those transitioning to Apple products.

*Name has been changed.