Tuesday, 8 April 2014

FIRE DANGER: cheap US/EU plug adapters

A cheap Chinese EU/US
travel adapter
A couple of weeks ago I posted a story on bridged fuses and the danger they can present in a home. Well, here is another one:

This cheap Chinese EU/US adapter bought off eBay for 1$ is a fire waiting to happen AND it is rated for 250V and 10Amps!

I was using this one with one of my USB chargers and prongs were becoming a little loose so decided to take it apart to see if I could do something about it. Here is what I discovered...
Once open, you can see that, as expected, the device is quite simple:
The EU/US adapter open
Taking a closer look at where the prong are attached gave me the goosebumps... in this case, the prongs are held in position by bending little strips of metal. With time (and friction) this metal got a little loose (reducing the quality of the contact):
The prong is attached with two little strips of metal
I strongly believe that selling such items is criminal, even for eBay where you can expect to find sub-quality products. Rating it for 10Amps is even worse: 10A (250V) is the rated current for a domestic washing machine.

The EU/US adapter: rated for 10A !!!
If you have no other option, you can probably fix this problem with a little solder. I would however not use it for anything else that a phone charger or electric razor on it.

Note that not all these adapters are as terrible as the one above. You can see below another one (of apparently the same model) I had lying around and see that the prong is better attached (I would still not trust it with 10A):

Same EU/US adapter, with the prong better attached