Laptop power supplies can cause devastating electrical fires stemming from electrical failure or misuse. While these fires are not a common occurrence, they can – and do happen.
The risk of a power supply malfunction or overheating from improper use is not as uncommon as you might think. Have you ever noticed how warm they can get? Laptop power supplies work hard to provide the increasing energy demands of computers. As more of us find ourselves working from home, we are asking for even more of our laptops and keeping them plugged in 24/7.
Fortunately, Ting is designed to help identify more than home electrical infrastructure hazards such as wiring inside walls and ceilings that can lead to fires. The arcing signals Ting is designed to detect across your home electrical system can also originate from any device or appliance plugged into it.
Of the thousands of documented fire hazard cases, Ting has identified nearly a dozen laptop power supplies that were exhibiting clear electrical arcing and potential fire hazards. The good news is that the hazards were caught early by Ting and the Fire Safety Team, avoiding a potential fire. Each family simply disposed of the defective power supply and replaced it. Some of the supplies were older, so age and a lot of use likely played a factor. In other cases, the power supply simply failed prematurely or was just defective.
It is important to remember that even if a power supply, charger, or battery shows no signs of malfunction or failure, the lack of proper ventilation combined with combustible materials close by can present a potential hazard from heat alone.
One of the best ways to help minimize potential fire hazards from a power supply (or the corresponding battery it is charging) is by unplugging it when the device is finished charging. Of course, this is not always practical. If you absolutely need to charge a device overnight, or if you need to step away for a spell, avoid placing the charger or device under your pillow, on/in your bed, on the carpet, on a couch or other upholstered furniture, or in a location exposed to direct sunlight.
As well, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and only use chargers and devices that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory.
Finally, be sure to keep an eye on all your computer power supplies, as well as power supplies for mobile phones and other electronics. When plugged in ensure the connection in the power outlet is snug, and be on the lookout for common signs of failure, such as excessive heat, crackling sounds, or burnt odors. You can learn more about these common signs here.