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:
- Critical materials are not fire resistant: This is a potential fire hazard if a battery or electrical fault occurs.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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