Should A MacBook Charger Get Hot? (A Guide To Charger Heat)

It’s not uncommon to notice that your MacBook charger feels warm. However, these chargers can sometimes get worryingly hot. And it’s difficult not to wonder whether the hot chargers pose a serious fire hazard. Should your MacBook charger be getting hot?

Your MacBook charger shouldn’t be getting hot. It’s normal to notice that your charger is slightly warm to the touch, but if it is so hot it’s uncomfortable to hold, it may malfunction or fail to dissipate heat adequately.

In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about MacBook chargers getting hot, including the reason overheating happens and when you should be concerned about how hot your charger is getting.

I’ll also provide some tips on how you can help keep your MacBook charger cool. 

Two MacBook chargers are placed side by side.

MacBook Charger Heating Up: Why It Happens and When To Be Worried

Why MacBook Chargers Overheat

MacBook chargers usually overheat because a flaw with the charger or something in the environment prevents the charger from cooling down faster than it produces heat.

In some cases, this heat can become so excessive that the charger poses a risk to your device and everything around it.

There’s a normal level of heat you should expect to come from your MacBook charger.

Inside your MacBook charger, a component called a transformer converts the AC power from your power outlet to the DC power that your MacBook uses.

Because the process of converting AC to DC inherently results in losses of energy in the form of heat, you may find that your MacBook charger heats up when you’re charging your computer.

Generally, the amount of heat produced by normal function shouldn’t be enough to overheat the charger.

The heat produced when a charger can’t cool down can quickly reach dangerous levels.

If you notice that your charger is so hot that it’s uncomfortable to hold, you should evaluate the conditions you’re using it to determine if the environment needs to be adjusted or the charger needs to be replaced.

Also, you can use the methods I’ll discuss later in the article to troubleshoot an overheating MacBook charger and to determine if the charger might be broken or malfunctioning. 

When To Be Worried About an Overheating MacBook Charger

If your MacBook charger is just slightly warm to the touch, there’s no reason to be concerned. If your MacBook charger starts to become so hot that it’s uncomfortable to hold, you should be worried about whether the charger is safe to use.

You’ll need to assess the situation more closely to determine how safe the charger is to use and what the potential issue may be. 

If you noticed that the charger became hot when it was placed on insulating materials like blankets, you should move the charger to a spot with good airflow and see if the temperature improves.

You should also verify that debris on the plug prongs isn’t causing the charger to overheat or malfunction.

You can do this by unplugging the MacBook charger and inspecting the prongs closely for debris, wiping them with a dry cloth if necessary. 

You should also make sure that the charging port on your MacBook is clean.

At this point, you’ve verified that the charger connections are clean and that the charger can adequately cool down from the nearby air.

If the MacBook charger still seems to be overheating, it’s worth considering where you sourced it.

If you’re using a third-party MacBook charger, the hardware within the charger is likely faulty. You should discard the third-party charger and purchase a MacBook charger produced by Apple.

If you’re using an official charger and it still overheats, you should consider whether your warranty may apply to have it replaced.

Of course, these aren’t the only factors that can cause a MacBook charger to overheat.

In the rest of the article, I’ll explain the best methods you can use to prevent your MacBook charger from overheating and clarify when you should replace your MacBook charger.

Are Overheating MacBook Chargers a Fire Hazard?

Overheating MacBook chargers can be a fire hazard. This is particularly common with poorly-made third-party chargers but can also happen with official MacBook chargers that are improperly used or maintained. 

If you notice clear signs of electrical fire burns, like burn marks or unusual smells, you should immediately disconnect the charger and stop using it.

If you notice any signs of a fire hazard, addressing the situation as soon as possible and discarding the charger is essential for your safety. 

Here are some signs you should look out for:

  • Strange smells, such as the smell of smoke or burning plastic.
  • Sudden, extreme amounts of heat.
  • Visible melting or deterioration on the charger cable or charger plastic.
  • Black or brown burn marks (scotch marks) on the outlet, charger cable, or charger plastic.
  • Physical damage to the charger, cable, or outlet, including fraying or cracks.

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t use third-party MagSafe chargers under any circumstances.

While you can find these chargers for cheap prices on online marketplaces, the lack of quality control for the internal components means that they can easily malfunction, often in extremely dangerous ways. 

It’s also worth noting that if you have a MacBook with a USB-C charger, you can purchase third-party chargers from reputable manufacturers like Anker. 

While purchasing an official charger might be a larger investment initially, you’ll find that the device’s safety is worth it in the long run.

Why Are Official MacBook Chargers Better Than Third-Party Chargers?

An original authentic Macbook charger is still in its packaging.

While MacBook chargers might seem like extremely simple devices, they’re actually very sophisticated devices.

They even include a small microprocessor that monitors the voltage going through the MagSafe charger and shuts it down if the voltage seems dangerous.

This small feature makes official MagSafe chargers significantly safer to use than third-party chargers, which are likely to only include the components required to charge the MacBook without any extra safety features.

Aside from the safety features, the components within the MacBook charger are also just higher quality than third-party providers can offer at a low price.

The resistors, transistors, and capacitors are all extremely well-made and less prone to breaking or creating electrical hazards.

There are a few manufacturers you can trust if your MacBook uses a USB-C charger, but you shouldn’t purchase third-party MagSafe chargers under any circumstances

Is My MacBook Charger Fake?

There are a few signs you can look out for to determine if you have a genuine MacBook charger.

It’s noteworthy that reputable third-party chargers are often clearly branded as third-party, while fake chargers often attempt to mimic official chargers. 

Here are some of the signs of low-quality fakes to look for:

  • Fake MacBook chargers often have shorter cables than genuine MacBook chargers.
  • The charger cable on fake MacBook chargers often feels cheaply made.
  • Fake MacBook chargers typically have indicator lights that are slightly delayed.
  • The divot on the back side of the wall plug is metal inside genuine chargers and plastic inside most fake chargers.
  • Fake MacBook chargers often have typos on the charger or the packaging.
  • The Apple logo on the side of the charger is often smooth or barely indented in fake chargers.
  • Fake MacBook chargers generally have uneven or imperfect seams on the sides.
  • The serial number sticker above the ground pin is often poorly placed or missing entirely on fake MacBook chargers.
  • Fake MacBook chargers usually have plastic ground pins instead of metal ground pins.
  • The weight of fake MacBook chargers is often significantly less than real MacBook chargers since they’re missing a lot of components and often use substitute parts like plastic ground pins.

How To Prevent Your MacBook Charger From Overheating

Verify That Your Charger Is Legitimate

As mentioned before, one of the most common causes of an overheating MacBook charger is that the charger itself is illegitimate.

Before taking any other steps, you should verify that your MacBook charger is real by using the guidelines above to examine the charger closely.

If the charger seems legitimate, you can use the following steps to keep it running as intended.

Check the Voltage of Your Charger

If you’re using a third-party charger, it’s possible that the charger is actually giving your computer the wrong voltage of electricity.

Improper voltage tends to overwork the charger and produce a lot of heat, and it can quickly become dangerous.

Official MagSafe chargers are sold at 45W, 60W, and 85W. Official Apple USB-C MacBook chargers can come in a variety of voltages, including 30W, 67W, and 140W.

You should make sure that your charger is the minimum voltage recommended for your MacBook model.

Ensure the Charger Is Properly Ventilated

One of the most common issues that cause MacBook chargers to overheat is improper ventilation.

While it might be tempting to use your MacBook in bed, allowing your charger to become insulated with materials like pillows and blankets is a recipe for disaster.

An essential step to using your MacBook safely is verifying that the charger is properly ventilated.

It shouldn’t be covered by any materials, surrounded by clutter, or placed next to a device or appliance that also generates heat. 

Ideally, you should place your MacBook charger on a surface like a table that allows heat to dissipate in all directions.

If the charger still seems to be running hot, you can use a small fan to improve airflow or attempt to find a cool, dark spot to put your charger in.

Check for Damage on Your Charger

Sometimes, physical damage to the MacBook charger can cause it to malfunction and overheat.

If you’re worried that your MacBook charger might be overheating because of damaged components, you should closely examine the charger.

Here are some signs of severe damage you should look out for.

  • Fraying charger cable.
  • Charger pin damage.
  • Missing power plug prongs.
  • Bent power plug prongs.
  • Burnt or charred components.
  • Strange odor.

If you think that your charger might be damaged, you should stop using the charger.

Legitimate Apple MacBook chargers are often covered under warranty, but you should read the warranty terms to determine whether it applies to your situation.

Specifically, it’s important to note that the warranty for Apple accessories protects against “defects in materials and workmanship for a period of one year from the date of original retail purchase when used in accordance with Apple’s user manuals“. 

If you used the MacBook charger properly and it started overheating due to a defect within a year of purchase, you’re entitled to replace the charger.

If the charger outlasted the warranty or broke due to user error or unintended use, you’ll have to replace the charger with your own funds.

Turn Off Demanding Applications

Another common cause of MacBook chargers overheating is demanding applications be allowed to run for extended periods, especially when you’re not using them. 

If you want to keep your MacBook charger (and MacBook) in optimal condition, you should close applications when you’re finished using them and lower performance settings if you notice your MacBook or charger running hot.

Don’t Charge Your MacBook Overnight

Lastly, it’s important to note that you should never charge your MacBook overnight if you’re worried about the charger overheating.

There’s a strong risk that the charger will overheat when you’re not there to cool it down.

Unfortunately, many people were stricken with tragedy when they allowed their laptops to charge overnight.

This is particularly common with people who use third-party chargers since the devices offer none of the safety features of legitimate chargers.

When defective chargers or low-quality third-party chargers are allowed to overheat unattended overnight, they can often ignite in flames.

Without anyone nearby to quickly put out the electrical fire, it can quickly spread and cause significant loss of property and life.

While charging your MacBook during the day and purchasing an expensive official Apple charger might feel like a hassle, the process is made worthwhile when you know that you’ve significantly reduced the risk of electrical fires in your home.

Final Thoughts

While devices like laptops are a common and safe feature of almost every home, it’s important to know how to use them safely. 

If you notice that your MacBook charger is overheating, determining the cause and taking measures to keep the charger cool is essential.

By taking the right measures to use your MacBook charger properly, you can keep yourself and your MacBook safe from disaster.