New Program Tackles USB-C Power Fails


Avoiding USB chargers that might fry your motherboard could be easier with a new certification program. There’ll be a special logo to show chargers meet the required specifications.

It affects Type-C connectors, introduced in 2014 with the killer feature of being symmetrical and ending the dreaded under-the-table plug flipping (along with the gag about USB’s creator being buried in a casket that immediately had to be rotated.)

The big problem was that many Type-C cables, often cheaply made, work fine for carrying data but aren’t up to scratch when it comes to carrying charger power. That led to one enthusiast leaving numerous detailed and scathing reviews of sub-par cables until one turned his laptop into a write-off.

The USB Implementers Forum has now announced a compliance program that specifically checks and confirms a cable can work safely as a charger. Manufacturers who meet the standards will be able to use a logo that not only confirms the cable works for charging, but lists its specific power capability in watts,

The Forum is pushing the program as an environmental measure, suggesting that if users are more confident about cables working safely for charging, they’ll carry and in turn buy fewer cables, cutting the eventual electronic waste.

The logo scheme may turn out to be a stop-gap measure as another industry body, the USB 3.0 Promoters Group, is working on a technology to add a cryptographic signature to compliant cables such that computers and other devices can physically check if a cable is safe before acceptincg a power charge.