EE Power Bar recall: Customers should return ALL chargers after safety risk

EE is recalling its Power Bar chargers again, but rather than the limited recall of a few months ago, this time the network wants customers to return all of them. In August, the network recalled a batch of around 500,000 – roughly 25% at the time – of the chargers, but yesterday the network released a statement saying a very small number of “further incidents” had made a full recall of all 1.4 million chargers necessary.

As well as a tweet, along with a statement and post on its forum, the network also alerted customers in a text message at around 5pm yesterday. 

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I have a Power Bar. What do I do now?

EE has asked customers to stop using the faulty chargers immediately, and remove them from handsets and mains power. Users are then instructed to take the affected chargers to their local EE store. Although the chargers were free, EE says eligible customers will also receive a £20 gift voucher as a gesture of goodwill.

The last recall

Back in August this year, EE recalled over 500,000 of the chargers after a batch was deemed to be faulty. The mobile retail giant identified five cases of the units malfunctioning, with varying degrees of severity. Medical student Katy Emslie was one of the worst affected, and suffered severe burns after her Power Bar exploded and set fire to her bedroom floor.

In a statement, EE said that it had “identified a very small number of incidents where Power Bars have overheated, all of which relate to batch E1-06 (written as Model:E1-06 on the side of the device), and could pose a fire-safety risk”. At the time, EE said: “We’ve not seen any issues of overheating with other batches and they meet all safety standards.” But it appears now all Power Bars are affected.

What is a Power Bar?

A Power Bar is a portable charger designed to top up your phone battery on the go. As well as a 2,600mAh battery, the units also feature an LED torch, and last for 500 charges. The Power Bar first launched in April and is free for all EE customers on a contract, and those who have used its pay-as-you-go services for more than three months. As part of the scheme, customers are also able to replace flat Power Bars for fully charged ones, simply by visiting their local EE store.

Why were the Power Bars exploding?

In rare cases, lithium-ion batteries experience a phenomenon called thermal runaway, and it’s likely to be the issue behind the incidents. Caused by an unregulated increase in temperature, thermal runaway can sometimes occur in mobile phone and laptop batteries.

During the latest recall, an EE spokesperson told us: “All lithium-ion charging devices have an in-built safety feature. In exceptionally rare cases, this feature can fail, resulting in the device overheating. We are now focused on establishing the root cause of the problem.”

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