Most of us charge our smartphones overnight: you go to bed and plug in your phone, so it’s waiting for you the next day with a full battery. But according to a TikTok from the Kent Fire Brigade, a fire department in England, that’s a terrible idea. In the video, which has over 500,000 views, a firefighter explains why this can be dangerous.
Most cell phones contain lithium-ion batteries. They’re made of two metals and a liquid called an electrolyte. The electrolyte causes the two metals to react with each other, which is how it stores energy. But that’s also a risk: if such a battery overheats, it can get as hot as 1,000 degrees, inflate and start to burn.
The good news is that the chance of such a battery starting to burn is very small with high-quality devices. External influences, such as falls, can increase the risk, though. Almost more dangerous, however, are the chargers: Here, some buy cheap products or use cables that are already damaged. This, according to the English firefighter, increases the risk of fire.
“If your cell phone starts burning while you’re sleeping, you won’t wake up from it,” the firefighter says in the video. Besides, he says, just three deep breaths of smoke are enough for you to lose consciousness. He ends the video with an appeal, “If at all possible, don’t charge your smartphone overnight!”
An additional reason not to charge your phone overnight is battery performance. True, your phone stops charging at 100 percent, so “overcharging” is not possible with new devices. However, after some time, the battery will drop to 99 percent, and your device will start charging again. If it does this several times a night, it can hurt battery performance in the longer term.
If you drain your phone’s battery each time and then fully recharge it, the capacity will degrade. However, newer devices are often equipped with battery protection. This means that the machine learns, for example, when the owner gets up and only charges to 100 percent shortly before. There is also a function for both Android and iPhones that limits assigning to 80 or 85 percent, which can extend the lifespan.
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