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USB Charging explained

It’s not as simple as plugging in your phone

Have you noticed that charging the same device with different chargers and cables gives you vastly differing results? Some will charge quickly to full capacity while others will take a long time and never reach full charge. USB charging is incorporated into a huge range of consumer electronic products these days yet the way USB charging works remains a mystery to most. This combined with a market that is flooded with cheap low voltage power supplies that are plagued with issues causing fire hazards, damaged devices and slow charging is a significant issue.

Did you know?
  1. Unless you are using the original charger that came with your device it will not charge as quick as it potentially could? This is because universal chargers cannot typically determine what device is being charged and thus cannot provide the correct voltage for that specific device.
  2. Cheap low voltage chargers and cables have been attributed to house fires and other electrical accidents due to overheating or short circuits.
  3. Without intelligent device recognition most aftermarket USB chargers are prone to issues
  4. Using the wrong charger can potentially damage your device
  5. iPads and tablets require a much higher powered charger than other devices to reach full charge
Charging options available today:
Native (original from manufacturer) power socket chargers
  • The original charger that came with the device is typically a satisfactory solution for charging the specific device that the adapter is made for however are not adequate when used with other devices.
  • These chargers are increasingly not being supplied with devices due to government and environmental regulation and will soon be excluded from all products (USB cable only).
  • Multiple devices will require multiple charging cables (mobile, tablet, camera etc)
Via PC USB ports
  • Devices charging from a standard computer USB port are increasingly slow. For instance an iPad being supplied the standard 500mA that a computer provides would take up to 16 hours to charge completely. All devices charge considerably slower from a computer.
Domestic universal USB chargers
  • Often use low quality components resulting in a shortened lifespan and eventual failure.
  • Prone to overheating and short circuits causing potentially hazardous environments for the user (Fire hazards, electrical hazards, etc).
  • Do not have the intelligence to recognise the device and as such do not provide the optimum charging performance.
Commercial grade universal USB chargers
  • May not be compatible with all devices available on the market
  • Do not have the intelligence to recognise the device which is required to provide the optimum charging performance
  • Some require main power reset after shutting down
  • Some do not incorporate user and device protection features (i.e. overcurrent)
Atdec Power Module commercial grade USB charger with the Intelligent device recognition (IDR)
  • Works with any devices irrespective of brand or model
  • Provides optimum amount of charging power to every device thanks to its intelligent design
  • High quality components and vigorous testing ensure longevity
  • Over voltage, over current, overheating and short circuit protection
  • Lowest stand-by power
  • When integrated into your mounting solution offers enhanced ergonomics, safety and style.

USB charging in business environments

All of the issues stated above are even more relevant in business environments because
  • Businesses have an obligation to occupational health and safety and are responsible for the wellbeing of their employees.
  • Businesses typically must protect their systems from intentional or accidental damages via third party electronic devices.
  • Valuable work time can be saved when effective solutions are implemented.
  • The ergonomics of the work place can be improved by moving cabling above the desk thereby discouraging employees from having to deal with cables underneath desks or in other awkward areas.
  • Typically business environments integrate a range of different chargers within the office that are left plugged in and powered for long periods of time. This introduces a much higher risk of failure, over-heating and considerably higher energy costs.

USB charging requirements in the business environment:

Safety of the employees

Safety for the network



Universal compatibility

Low stand-by power

Optimum charge rates

Every device has an optimum charge rate which is achieved when the device is supplied the correct amperage. Due to the diversity of devices, manufacturers and chargers available it is simply not good enough to charge a device off any charger. Chargers typically range anywhere from around 500mA (a standard USB outlet on a PC) to 2.1A (modern iPad/tablet charger).

This is particularly relevant when talking about iPads and Tablets. For instance an iPad being supplied by a standard 500mA PC charger would take 16 hours while if connected to its correct power source (2.1A) that same amount of charge can be achieved in just 3 hours.

The European Union directive and the future of USB charging

Due to the rapid development of modern technologies many device manufacturers have been forced to incorporate a narrow scope of compatibility into their devices to ensure the phone and charger are protected from one another. This implements a level of safety into the product but is not fool proof, causes some chargers to be very slow and also introduces some environmental issues.

These kinds of problems are beginning to shape the future of USB charging. Due to changes in government and environmental regulation regarding e-waste devices will soon be shipped without power adapters, only a USB cable will be provided. This implementation is designed to slow the over production of redundant technologies that are adding to our planets pollution levels. The European Union is already in the process of passing these laws and they are set to take effect over the coming years. This initiative will cover all European Union countries and will effectively make it illegal to supply power adapters with any devices shipped after it comes into effect.

Energy costs and the environment

In addition redundancy is built into these products to encourage users to regularly replace the product to keep the industry a float. This creates excessive waste and is an unnecessary use of materials and is only increasing as our reliance on these devices continues to rise.

In Europe mobile phones are increasingly being shipped without chargers and due to government regulation this trend will gradually begin to spread across the world due to the increasing waste inherent in USB charging.

Already in Europe regulations stipulate that all charges must be “compatible”, ie capable of being charged from a USB outlet.

Click here to learn more about Atdec’s Intelligent Power Module