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MacBook Charger Hot: Is It Normal?

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MacBook Charger Hot

It’s common for MacBooks to get hot when running heavy workloads, such as exporting high-definition video footage. But what about MacBook chargers? Do they get hot as well, or should you be worried that something is wrong with your charger?

How Hot Is Too Hot?

All chargers become warmer when doing what they’re designed to do: charging a battery, so a temperature increase of a few degrees isn’t something you should worry about.

You should start to worry when the charger becomes uncomfortable to hold firmly in the hand.

Why? Because the inside temperature will always be much higher than the outside temperature. If it gets too hot, the electronic components inside may fail and a short circuit may occur and potentially cause a fire.

If your MacBook charger ever gets so hot that it becomes impossible to touch, then you should unplug it from power immediately regardless of how desperate you are to charge your laptop.

Why Do MacBook Chargers Overheat?

MacBook chargers may overheat for many different reasons. Let’s take a closer look at the most common ones.

Faulty Charger

MacBooks are notorious for being picky when it comes to chargers. Even working third-party chargers from non-reputable manufacturers have caused MacBook users issues, such as producing too much heat when charging.

A faulty charger that has suffered mechanical damage or whose internal components have failed can start overheating and eventually burst into flames, so it goes without saying that it should be replaced immediately.

Faulty Battery

A faulty battery is another possible cause of overheating. Old batteries do overwork the charger. It does work harder than it should to push electric power into the cells of the battery. This, in turn, makes the charger overheat.

The good thing to do is check your MacBook battery health:

  1. Open the Apple menu.
  2. Navigate to System Preferences.
  3. Click Battery and then click Battery again.

Environment

Your MacBook charger is designed to operate in a certain temperature window. If you expose it to boiling temperatures, it’s almost guaranteed to overheat.

For example, quite a few MacBook users have damaged their chargers by placing them near household radiators and other sources of heat. As a rule of thumb, we recommend you avoid placing your charger anywhere you wouldn’t feel comfortable yourself.

Third-Party Chargers

Genuine Apple chargers are expensive compared with their third-party alternatives, but that’s because Apple didn’t cut any corners when designing them, so they always deliver exactly the right amount of voltage and current.

That’s not to say that all third-party chargers are bad, but you’re far more likely to encounter issues with overheating when using a third-party charger than a genuine one.

Unauthentic Battery

An unauthentic battery is equally as problematic as an unauthentic charger. When purchasing a replacement battery, many people choose price over quality, only to pay the price later when their charger starts overheating because the battery is slightly different than the original battery for which it was designed.

If at all possible, always go with a genuine battery, even if it means paying more money. Your MacBook will thank you for it, and you will be able to sleep soundly at night knowing your apartment or house won’t catch on fire.

Precautions to Prevent Charger Overheating

There are several measures that you can take to ensure your MacBook charger will not overheat:

  • 🔥 Proper ventilation: MacBook chargers emit heat when charging. When ventilated correctly, the emitted heat can escape and not accumulate, which would only cause the temperature of the charger to increase.
  • 💧 Ambient conditions: All MacBook chargers are designed with certain ambient conditions in mind, mainly temperature and humidity. You should keep these conditions in mind when charging your laptop and take the steps necessary to stay within them.
  • ⚠️ Careful handling: MacBook chargers are fairly durable plastic bricks, but they’re not completely impervious to damage. For example, a single drop of water can be enough to short-circuit your charger and cause it to overheat. Likewise, the cable connecting your charger to your MacBook can start fraying and eventually snap, so careful handling is paramount.
  • ✔️ Using genuine chargers: As we’ve explained, third-party chargers are not always as well made as they should be to supply your MacBook battery with the right voltage and current, so it’s best to avoid them and use genuine chargers instead.
  • ⏰ Intermittent charging: If you absolutely have to charge your MacBook in an environment the charger wasn’t designed for, then you should practice the so-called intermittent charging. Basically, you should charge your laptop in short bursts lasting just long enough for overheating to be avoided.

These five precautionary measures can prevent your MacBook charger from overheating and your MacBook from becoming damaged as a result.

Why Do MacBook Chargers Get Warm?

The job of a MacBook charger is to convert alternating current (AC)  from a wall outlet to direct current (DC) suitable for the battery inside the MacBook.

This conversion is accomplished by components like rectifiers (to convert the AC to DC) transformers (to step the mains down to a working output voltage), and voltage regulators (to keep the voltage constant).

These components emit heat when doing what they’re designed to do. Of course, well-designed laptop chargers can handle the produced heat, but not all chargers are well-designed.

Never Use an Overheating MacBook Charger

At this point, it’s probably clear that you should never use an overheating MacBook charger, but we think that it’s still worth repeating why:

  • 🔥 Fire hazard: An overheating MacBook charger may reach a critical temperature and burst into flames, and that’s obviously the last thing you want to happen. Yes, it sucks having to buy a new charger because the current one is hotter than it should be, but what sucks even more is having to deal with the consequences of even a relatively minor fire incident.
  • 🚫 Battery damage: The lithium-ion batteries inside modern MacBooks have a very small tolerance when it comes to the charging voltage and currents applied to them. An overheating charger may not be able to maintain them, which can lead to permanent battery damage.
  • ⛔ Laptop damage: Modern chargers are equipped with short circuit protection, but it may not be enough to prevent damage to your MacBook. A fried motherboard, for example, pretty much means that your entire laptop can go straight to the garbage dump.

Conclusion

It’s normal for MacBook chargers to become warm when charging the battery. This is because they are responsible for regulating the voltage that goes into the laptop to meet its power needs. However, it’s not normal for chargers to overheat to the point that they can burn your skin. In this article, we’ve described the most common reasons why MacBook chargers overheat, and we’ve also provided tips to help you ensure your own charger never runs too hot.

Jeff Cochin
13 posts
About author
Jeff Cochin has been immersed in the Apple ecosystem for most of his professional career, relying on his trusted MacBook and iPhone when deploying SaaS solutions and troubleshooting server issues. Now, he’s covering the latest Mac news and writing in-depth reviews and data recovery guides for the readers of AppleNApps.