Tag Archives: Apple devices

The importance of safety certification for charging systems

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No doubt you have already been through at least one or two technology decisions for your school, choosing devices that will meet your student and curriculum needs. Just as you discovered that you weren’t always comparing Apples to eReaders, the same is true with the charging systems that keep your devices powered up and in play throughout the school day. There is a tendency to assume that all charging systems are safe, but this is not always true. In fact, all device charging systems are not created equal.

Therefore, it is equally important to choose a charging products that has been safety certified by a third-party organization and that the system is being evaluated as a complete and integrated system. It is important to require this of your supplier to ensure the safety of your devices, your facilities and your students.

Some manufacturers use individual components that are safety certified, but then combine them into a larger charging system that is not certified. Charging systems that are not evaluated and certified may exceed allowable load limits, thereby causing electrical arcing, facility problems and/or interaction and interference with other equipment. Safety certification also ensures that mechanical hazards such as user “pinch points,” tipping, sharp edges and crush/cut potential are mitigated.

What are the risks of using non-certified products? You may be surprised at how many there are. Here is a list of considerations when choosing the right systems for your campus:

  1. Critical materials are not fire resistant: This is a potential fire hazard if a battery or electrical fault occurs.
  2. Electrical hazards are not physically enclosed: Shock hazards exist if energized circuitry can potentially be touched either directly or if exposed metal is not safely grounded or properly isolated. Another fire hazard can exist if the enclosure can potentially let out flames or molten metal if an electrical fault occurs inside of the enclosure.
  3. Mechanical hazards are not mitigated: If not properly tested and certified, pinch points, tip, crush or cut, sharp edges, and moving parts can injure students and staff.
  4. Equipment ratings must meet National Electrical Code: Non-evaluated systems may exceed allowable load limits causing electrical arcing, facility problems and/or interaction and interference with other equipment.
  5. No manufacturing factory quality surveillance: Product quality and consistency must be managed and ensured.

Whether you are a choosing a small desktop unit for a back office, a wall unit for an AV center, or a full cart for laptops, tablets, Chromebooks, or netbooks in the classroom, safety should be a number one priority for all the stakeholders involved. Technology is meant to open up new worlds to the students, not new headaches for teachers and IT staff. Look for the certified safety labels or documentation and be sure to differentiate the whole system is safe.

Check out the educator resources on our website, including a grant writing kit, to power up every classroom safely and securely. Also, our charging matrix (PDF) can help you choose the right solution for your environment.

Bob Hill, Ergotron’s Global Education Manager

Bob Hill, Global Education Manager, @LearnFit_Bob

Bob Hill, @LearnFit_Bob

2.1, 2.4, Lightning, 4, Air, Mini…what does it all mean?

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It means that a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not necessarily a square.

First, let me point out we are talking about charging speeds, and in particular, charging Apple products. The question comes up often when reviewing charging systems for a fleet of iPads, “What is the best charging speed for my solution?”

Here are the charging speeds of the various iPad generations at the two amperage rates that today’s iPad charging carts and wall stations support:

iPad Model (connection type) 2.1A 2.4A
iPad 4 (Lightning) 7.0 hrs 5.0 hrs
iPad Air (Lightning) 6.0 hrs 4.0 hrs
iPad Mini (Lightning) 5.5 hrs 3.25 hrs.

If you want to take full advantage of the 2.4A charging speeds of iPad 4, iPad Air or iPad Mini, then go with a charging cart or wall mount that is MFi (Made for iPad) and able to charge at that full rate.

DM10-1001-rem-ipad_smIf the nominal difference in charge times is not as pressing as budget limitations, or if you are using a mixture of older and newer Apple devices, then consider a charging cart or wall station that charges at the 2.1A rate.  The charging time difference could be a moot point based on your usage model and charging patterns.  For instance, are the iPads going to charge overnight anyway?

Ergotron offers both 2.4A and 2.1A iPad charging systems:

  • Ergotron’s MFi (Made for iPad) 2.4A charging carts and wall stations come pre-cabled for Lightning devices, but are also backwards compatible to swap in 30-pin cables for charging older-generation iPads. Lightning-cabled devices will charge at the full 2.4A rate, while iPads connected via a 30-pin cable will still charge at their 2.1A rate.
  • Ergotron also has 2.1A versions of its charging carts and wall stations as well. Whether using 30-pin or Lightning cables, and whether using iPad 2, iPad Air or iPad Mini, all Apple devices connected will charge at the 2.1A rate. This is an economical way to go for mix-and-match iPad generations, and if the devices will be charging all night any way.

One final note, it is also very important to make sure that the charging cart or wall station that you choose is fully safety-certified.  If not, your devices, students and staff are at risk. For more information about this, we’ve put together a brief white paper for you to share with your IT group or other stakeholders in the decision process.

Bob Hill, Global Education Manager @ Ergotron

Bob Hill