London Fire Brigade

Don't let fake electrical chargers cause a Christmas catastrophe

19 December 2016

We are warning last minute Christmas shoppers to make sure they don't put the lives of loved ones at risk by buying fake electrical chargers to go with the gifts they are giving.

The latest electrical gadgets are often at the top of people's Christmas lists but buying counterfeit or incompatible chargers to power them could cause a potentially devastating electrical fire and leave your festive celebrations in ruins.

One of our biggest concerns are fake Apple iPhone chargers. Since 2013, our crews have attended 15 fires involving these dodgy devices and other counterfeit chargers, including this one in Wandsworth.

How to spot a counterfeit iPhone charger

  • The finish on the plug pins on genuine chargers was found to be matt and uniform, but on the counterfeit chargers the finish was found to be glossy/shiny and the pins irregularly angular. 
  • The position of the USB sockets on the dodgy chargers was often found to be upside down when compared to the real product. 
  • Genuine chargers were found to weigh over 40 grams, but the imitations tested usually weighed less.
  • The printed text on the faceplate was found to be a darker shade on the sub-standard chargers and the casing on the majority of counterfeit chargers tested was found not to be flame retardant.

Head of Fire Investigation Charlie Pugsley said: "For the sake of saving a few pounds this Christmas it just isn't worth putting the lives of your loved ones at risk and potentially destroying your home by buying a fake charger to go with Christmas toys and gifts

"Genuine chargers may cost a  little bit more, and while you may think you're only paying for the brand name, you are actually buying peace of mind because you know the charger is going to be specifically designed for your phone and that it will meet the correct safety standards."

As well as counterfeit charging devices, blazes caused by people using chargers which are incompatible with the products they are connected to is another fire risk we are highlighting this Christmas.

Charlie Pugsley added: "It's also vitally important to use the correct type of charger for your product.

"Using an incompatible charger runs the risk of over-charging, which can have explosive results and cause a fire which could not only leave your Christmas in ruins but destroy your home and put lives at risk too."

Can you spot an iFake?