Are long USB-C charging cables a fire hazard?

Anker 3 Meter/10 Foot 100W USB-C to USB-C Cable

Not a week goes by without someone asking me about USB-C charging cables and whether it’s safer to buy a shorter charging cable for a smartphone or laptop, because longer cables are more prone to overheating and can ignite.

When I prompt the questioner about this, they will admit to hearing or reading something about “increased resistance” and how that can cause overheating. And for this reason, they should choose the shortest cable possible.

Not true.

I’m currently using a 3 meter/10 foot USB-C to USB-C cable from Anker to charge my 16-inch MacBook Pro M1 Pro, and it charges the battery at 94W, which is the best I’ve come to expect USB-C charging (if I want more, I’ll use the 140W MagSafe cable).

The cable is flawless.

macOS system report showing charging current

macOS system report showing charging current

It just works and does not heat up or even heat up.

I also tested longer cables, including the 5-meter MicroConnect USB-C cable which also supports 100W. These cables also worked very well.

From a fire safety perspective, I would avoid two things here:

  • No-Name Brand Long Cables: My experience with these has been variable. They seem to suffer an untimely death when pushed hard.
  • Damaged cables: 100W USB-C chargers produce a fair amount of power, and while there are many safety features built into USB-C chargers, a damaged cable can still pose a safety concern.

But I have another security concern with long cables. A much bigger safety issue than fire.

They are a travel risk.

Having long cables lying around on site is a real danger. Not only can tripping over a cable harm people, it can also harm the equipment they are connected to. And I’ve seen a lot of people and laptops stolen, all because of long cables.

Although long cables may seem convenient, they can also be a real pain.

So if you’re tempted to buy a long charging cable, ask yourself if you need one or if it’s something that seems like a good idea but in reality will prove to be boring.

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