The common charger: nice idea, bad in practice and happening anyway

There will be a vote in the European Parliament on Monday calling for a common charger across a whole range of portable devices. While sounding worthwhile, there are lots of reasons why this is a bad idea and will actually disrupt the huge consolidation already taking place.

techUK thinks it makes sense to consolidate the number of chargers, but it needs to be done organically and in a way that fits different device safety and performance profiles. In the 10 years since the first MoU was signed with Brussels, charger types have consolidated from 30+ to just 3 – a 90 per cent reduction that lowers the costs to consumers, allows interoperability, delivers convenience and reduces e-waste.

If the EU did go down the route of mandating a specific charging technology, there is a real chance that it will lock out future innovations. If the new law passes and says we must stick with a 2020 spec charger for 10 years this will inhibit the exciting developments around batteries and smart/wireless charging.

It’s also important to remember that energy efficiency is important to meeting climate change targets, so mandating a type of technology now may also hinder the development of products that use power in a different way.

Objectively there was a need to look at this back in 2009, when almost all manufacturers had their own proprietary chargers. This was done to ensure they would meet the safety, power and performance profiles of specific devices, but industry and regulators came together to develop an MoU and it really has delivered.

techUK responded to the EU consultation in partnership with the wider European tech industry and commenting, Susanne Baker said :

“techUK members and consumers want common charging solutions which is why we are moving to USB Type C organically without the need for inflexible regulation. Mandating a charging technology will effectively lock-in a type of technology and stop innovations around smart and wireless charging. We have already seen huge consolidation in the charging market, and this will continue”.

To learn more what we’re doing on product legislation and energy efficiency, get in touch via the details below.

  • Craig Melson

    Craig Melson

    Programme Manager | Digital Devices, Consumer Electronics, Export Controls and Environment and Compliance
    T 020 7331 2172
  • Susanne Baker

    Susanne Baker

    Associate Director | Climate, Environment and Sustainability
    T 020 7331 2028

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