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Headphones are great when you want to focus on your work or listen to music. But what if you also need to charge your laptop? Is it safe to use headphones while charging?
Generally speaking, you can safely use headphones even on a charging laptop. The risk of being electrocuted from simply using headphones is rare. And if it does happen, it will most likely be due to bad wiring in the headphones, a faulty electrical system, or using a cheap adapter.
Yes, you can use wireless headphones while charging your laptop without fear of electrocution.
Wireless headphones and earbuds typically utilize Bluetooth technology to stream audio. By connecting or pairing your wireless device to the Bluetooth network on your laptop, you create a wireless connection to transfer data.
Since there are no wires involved, there is also no risk of suddenly getting a shock of electricity. Even if the laptop encounters a power surge for some reason, the excess current cannot reach your ears. Because there is no physical circuit for the current to travel from the laptop to your body.
Additionally, wireless headphones and earbuds have batteries that supply their power. They do not rely on the laptop’s battery or a power outlet. So, even if there is a power surge, there is no chance for the headphones to overheat or burn out.
Plus, batteries are a more stable source of electricity. They will not create a sudden rush of energy to cause electrocution. And wireless headphones have the structural integrity to prevent any such problem.
However, if the structural integrity of the headphones is at risk, then so are you. Broken headphones can have metal wires or other metal parts sticking out. If you are not careful, this part may touch the flesh on your ear or the surrounding region. Once this happens, you inadvertently end up creating an electrical circuit through your body.
This happens because our bodies are pretty good at conducting electricity. The reason for this is the water and salt (mineral) content of our whole body, not just the liquid portion.
But keep in mind that this sort of freakish accident is not a result of using headphones on a charging laptop. It is a result of faulty equipment and carelessness on the user’s part. So, if you do notice a broken part on your headphones or feel a slight tingle whenever you put them on, you should try to get them fixed or replaced.
Wired headphones are a different proposition from their wireless counterparts. So, there is an added level of threat. Still, you will remain safe as long as you are careful and you thoroughly check your equipment.
Here, you do have a physical circuit connecting the headphones to the laptop. This circuit is complete when you plug in the headphone’s connector to the audio jack on the laptop (the port you insert the plug into). Now the electricity from the laptop’s battery can pass through the headphones and reach the earpieces.
So, because there is a solid connection between the headphones and the laptop, you might think this enhances the risk of electrocution. And you are correct to assume that.
However, the risk is still minimal because of a few safety mechanisms. First of all, the charger you will use for the laptop converts the volatile AC power supply into a more useable and stable DC supply. And these chargers are very specific to the laptop’s model. Meaning they can comply with the power needs in the most efficient way possible.
So, the charger will take the 110-120V power supply and convert it to a supply of around 20V. Meaning your laptop gets a fraction of the voltage that is coming from the main power line. The 110V electricity can potentially do great harm if other requirements are met. But the steady rate of 20V is much less threatening to you and your laptop.
Now, consider the fact that your headphones will get the only fraction of the power going into the laptop. Manufacturers design these headphones in a manner that conceals all the metal or conductive parts of the device inside plastic or rubber. And the parts that touch you are also plastic.
The rubber or plastic acts as an insulator. So, as long as you do not touch the parts that are actively receiving electricity, you will be safe. If this was not the case, then simply plugging in the headphones to any electrical device would result in getting shocked, regardless of whether the device is charging or not.
Using headphones while the smartphone is in charge may not be as common as is the case with laptops. But many smartphone users will resort to this, not allowing the dying battery of the phone to ruin their musical passion.
Fortunately, a charging phone is almost as safe as a charging laptop. Modern phones have chargers that convert the AC mains voltage into small amounts; usually around negative 5V. This will not be enough to kill you or cause serious damage in most cases.
Plus, the same safety mechanisms inside the headphone applies here as well. Be it wireless or wired headphones, you will be safe so long as you are not in contact with the metal parts of the device.
Now, should you run headphones while charging the phone is another question? Usually, it is better to allow the phone to charge properly before doing anything with it. Because using the headphones and playing apps on the phone will consume power. This will significantly slow down the charging process.
With power coming in and going out at such rapid speeds, it may cause the phone to get excessively hot very quickly. And if you let your phone get hot repeatedly, it will shorten the lifespan of the device drastically. The hotter the phone gets, the batteries become less efficient in storing energy.
So far, we have discussed how your laptops and headphones have features that prevent you from receiving a nasty electrical shock. But accidents like this do happen occasionally. And it can lead to severe physical damage and even death. So, the question is – how?
The role of an adapter is to provide a stable and secure power supply. But the power requirement is different for different devices. This is why when you buy any phone or laptop, you are also given a charger or adapter with them.
And it is best to charge your device with those adapters or at least, use adapters from the same company and made for the same model or series. While the chances are low, using a third-party adapter or charger can lead to power fluctuation.
But a faulty adapter will almost always cause power surges. Because the malfunctioning charger cannot provide the necessary level of power. If it fails to keep the voltage levels low, it can cause the phone or laptop to overheat and even explode.
A fully functioning headphone can keep the electricity away from human contact. This is accomplished by a rubber or plastic insulator that contains the wires safely.
Now, using the headphones repeatedly can cause deterioration of the headphones. This can cause the wires to protrude out of their insulation. Some headphones can also have manufacturing defects that can create this scenario.
Using such a device raises the risk of contact between your ears and the headphones. If this happens, current flows through your body and you feel a shock. Though the jolt will not be life-threatening, it will cause a sharp pain-like sensation.
As you can see, headphones are very secure so long as you wear them responsibly. Always use the right charger for your laptops and phones and avoid using faulty products.