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Charge Up safely this Christmas


With Christmas just around the corner, Hampshire County Council’s Trading Standards Officers are warning shoppers about the dangers of buying cheap mains chargers for electronic gifts.

Most electronic gadgets given as gifts this Christmas will either have, or require, a mains charger, including mobile phones, games consoles, radio controlled toys, tablets, and GPS units.

Trading Standards is asking people to think twice before buying cheap mains power supply units, after a number of them failed safety tests carried out by officers, due to poor design and assembly of the chargers.

Although prices may seem like a bargain, these chargers may have the potential to cause harm. Whether bought as a replacement or an accessory, they could destroy an expensive present if they explode, overheat and melt, cause a fire or even electrocute someone.

How can I make sure I buy a safe charger?

By buying branded electrical items from well-known and recognisable sources, the equipment is more likely to have been fully tested by the manufacturer. Should something go wrong, there is a better chance of getting some compensation.  

How can I spot a charger that may be unsafe?

Unfortunately, it is difficult to be entirely sure whether a charger is safe without testing it.

Generally, chargers that do not meet safety standards tend to be from lesser-known brands and do not have any obvious branding at all.

  • When you are buying a charger, mains to USB or mains power supply unit, make sure you recognise the manufacturer’s name or trade mark.
  • Check that the charger has the standard UK three pins, two pins should be covered when you purchase. Also make sure that the pins are in good condition.  
  • Even if a charger comes as part of a package, make the same checks.
  • Check out the Electrical Safety Council web site for advice on keeping your family safe from electrical dangers and the latest electrical recalls.

What should I do if I think I have a counterfeit charger?

If you suspect you have bought a counterfeit charger, or you receive one for Christmas, don’t use it, and buy a new one following the advice above.

For more advice, or to report a counterfeit charger, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06.

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 control the safety of electrical goods through product standards which set the safety benchmarks.