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Consumer Reports Testing Shows HP Chromebook 11 Charger Can get as Hot as 140° Fahrenheit

December 13, 2013 - Written By Eric Abent

It was just last month that Google and HP pulled the Chromebook 11 from store shelves, and today we’re getting a clearer picture of why the companies did it. The two originally pulled the Chromebook 11 after reports of the power adapter overheating, but details are presently slim while the Consumer Product Safety Commission carries out an investigation. For starters, we’re not sure when the Chromebook 11 will be available to buy again, just as we’re not sure what temperatures these defective power adapters are capable of reaching.

Enter Consumer Reports. In an article posted to Yahoo, Consumer Reports said it tested these power adapters itself, just to see how hot they can potentially get. Using an infrared thermometer, Consumer Reports recorded a surface temperature as high as 140° Fahrenheit, which seems pretty hot. Is it too hot, though? That question is a little more difficult to answer. In an attempt to get a better idea, Consumer Reports got in touch with John Drengenberg, consumer safety director at Underwriters Laboratories. UL has standards for internal and external temperatures for chargers, and in fact, the company certified the chargers for the Chromebook 11.

Drengenberg pointed out that UL bases its ratings on the materials used in the charger and what kind of housing its enclosed in, so it isn’t as if there’s a baseline acceptable temperature. He also mentioned that his internal threshold for pain sits right around 131° Fahrenheit, meaning that he might have a difficult time holding on to the Chromebook 11’s problem adapters. “Now is that a fire or shock hazard? I don’t know,” he added. Considering the Chromebook 11’s charger was UL-listed, Drengenberg said that the company will probably open up an investigation of its own.

In the meantime, Google and HP are suggesting that users charge their Chromebook with another UL-listed charger. Consumer Reports said that it tried doing this, but experienced varying degrees of success. Low-power chargers serve as a poor replacements for the defective adapters, as the Chromebook 11 won’t charge while it’s on. For now, though, consumers will have to make do, because there hasn’t been much talk of when the Chromebook 11 will go back on sale or even when HP and Google will begin offering replacement adapters. Were you one of the people plagued with overheating chargers? If so, how are you dealing with it?