How safe is your phone charger?

Fake electrical products, accessories are fraught with dangers, warns new testing lab in the capital

  • Underwriters Laboratories’ lab in Mussafah checks the safety of a variety of electrical items used in the consImage Credit: Supplied
  • Ahmed Eldidi, regional development manager (Middle East), at the Mussafah-based Underwriters Laboratories (UL)Image Credit: Supplied
XPRESS

Abu Dhabi: A leading product testing laboratory in the capital has warned consumers against using counterfeit chargers, cables and other accessories as they pose a high risk to their safety.

Speaking to XPRESS, Ahmed Eldidi, regional development manager (Middle East), at the Mussafah-based Underwriters Laboratories (UL), “Using counterfeit goods like phones, tablets and their accessories like chargers and earphones is fraught with multiple dangers which the public must be aware of. This is true with other kinds of household products too, including kitchen appliances and children’s toys.”

Sub-standard

To begin with, he said sub-standard products can lead to electrical failure. “Short circuits and overheating can result in fires and electrocution which could prove fatal.”

Eldidi said the actual performance of a gadget is compromised or the gadget completely destroyed when a fake product is used. For example, a sub-standard charger can over- or under-charge a laptop and affect its performance or even render it non-functional.

Eldidi said, “The financial and economic impact is another major concern. You may be saving a few dirhams in buying the cheaper counterfeit products, but every time you do that, you are funding an illegal trade and endangering the regular market and economy.”

He said many products available in the regular market have knock-off versions, though the most commonly bought fake products include chargers, cables, earphones, extension cords and electrical sockets.

“Invariably, these dubious products do not conform to required safety standards and can emit high levels of radiation which are very harmful to consumers.”

Prime aim

He said as a world leader in product safety testing and certification, UL’s new lab in Abu Dhabi checks the safety of electrical items used in the construction of buildings to prevent the risk of fire, power outages and electric shock.

He said, “Our prime aim is to minimise the risk of fires in the region by expertly testing electric panel boards being used in numerous hospitals, schools, commercial and residential buildings. The boom in construction has led to increased energy consumption. This has meant greater supply of electrical products such as switchgears, circuit breakers, cable management systems, transformers and distribution accessories.” Although the authorities have set benchmarks and pre-qualification requirements to ensure public safety, the easy availability and cheaper cost of counterfeit products have made them popular.

“The community has a huge responsibility in ensuring safety. Building contractors and lay consumers should refrain from buying counterfeit products just because they are cheaper. These components do not undergo the right level of testing to ensure they have the necessary quality to guard against risks such as fires,” he noted. He said UL is the first electrical laboratory of its kind in the region which was set up in October last year to elevate the benchmark in safety and quality for local testing and compliance regulations. The lab has four specialist zones - Environmental, Dust, Aqua and Heat with the region’s largest temperature rise test facility.

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