If you’re a regular headphone user, you must have noticed that they can often make your ears uncomfortably warm. Even the most breathable ear cups have this problem.
So, are your headphones overheating?
Headphones generally can’t overheat from normal use as they draw very little current, so the drivers don’t heat up too much. However, Bluetooth headphones may get a bit warmer because of some additional components. Additionally, headphones can overheat if left out in the sun or car for too long.
Read on to learn seven facts about headphones and how they might overheat if you don’t use them correctly.
1. Your Headphones Won’t Overheat From Regular Use
When you think of electronic components overheating, you probably visualize processors or graphics cards.
Bluetooth headphones do have one or even multiple tiny processors.
These are the elements responsible for receiving the Bluetooth signal, pairing, digital audio conversion, noise cancelation, etc.
However, these processors are nowhere near the power of a computer or even a phone processor.
Let’s look at earbuds as an example. One milliwatt of electricity can produce 106 decibels.
But what do 106 decibels sound like? That’s about as loud as a Boeing 707 before landing.
That volume is enough to cause permanent hearing damage if you listen to it enough.
My point is – headphones can’t overheat just by using them. It doesn’t matter how large and powerful they are – they just won’t overheat.
This is because the surrounding air cools them down quickly, so they never feel too warm to the touch.
There’s also another reason why Bluetooth headphones can overheat.
But we’ll get to that later.
2. Leaving Your Headphones Out in the Sun Leads to Overheating
Using your headphones won’t overheat them, but leaving them out in the sun will. Be careful where you put your headphones at the beach or even in your home.
If the hot summer sun is blazing your headphones, the plastic can and inside components will deteriorate.
Bluetooth headphone users should be especially careful. If the battery is exposed to extreme heat, it can explode.
When left under the sun, the natural heat will kickstart the overheating effect. The battery will continue overheating on its own and blow up like a one-hit-wonder.
Even if you don’t use Bluetooth headphones, you can’t leave your headphones in the sun.
This is because most headphones are made of plastic, and the sun’s scorching UV rays will destroy the look and feel of your fancy headphones.
The color will change, the finish will flake, and the headphones will become more brittle.
It’s essential to protect your headphones from UV light by keeping them in the shade. Even better, use a protective case.
You can get the Homvare Hard Shell Case from Amazon.com. They use a standard size that you can fit most headphones into.
It’s a hard shell case, so it’ll protect your headphones from the sun and any minor drops. And it’s a compact design so that you can put it anywhere.
3. Headphones Can Overheat in the Car
Your car cabin can get extremely hot. In some cases, it can even hit 200 °F (93 °C). The glovebox gets especially hot because it’s exposed from all sides.
Such extreme temperatures are detrimental to any piece of technology. Prolonged exposure to high heat can kill any pair of headphones, and this effect is exacerbated if you have Bluetooth headphones.
Now, I’m not saying that you can’t keep your headphones in the car. You can, but you have to be more careful about it.
For starters, don’t use the glovebox. Pretty much any place in the front seats is bad.
The trunk is the best place because it’s usually designed to have some form of thermal insulation.
The next best place is the floor behind the front seats as it is the second coolest place in your car.
Additionally, it ensures that a potential headphone thief won’t see your expensive headphones.
4. It’s Normal for Headphones To Feel Warm After Prolonged Use
Have you ever worn a pair of over-ear headphones for two hours straight? If you have, I’m sure your ears felt very hot and sweaty.
This is because your body is already pretty hot – about 98 °F (37 °C). A headphone’s ear cups insulate your ears, and this means your ears aren’t in contact with any air to cool down.
If you’ve just taken off your headphones after a long gaming or music listening session and they feel warm, that’s probably why.
So don’t get concerned that your headphones are overheating. They got hot from you, not the other way around.
Open-back headphones with breathable earpads can help mitigate this problem.
I’ve used pretty every type of earpad out there. Leather and faux leather are the worst offenders.
Mesh ear pads, on the other hand, let your ears breathe and also feel good when worn.
I recommend getting the Breathable Krone Kalpasmos Earpads from Amazon.com. They are very comfortable, breathable, and extremely durable.
They also give your headphones an open soundstage feel, which makes listening to music more enjoyable.
It’s also perfect for FPS games, allowing you to pinpoint footsteps.
5. Bluetooth Headphones Can Overheat When Charging
Bluetooth headphones use Lithium-Ion batteries, which are also used in smartphones. You must have noticed that your phone gets warm to the touch when it’s charging.
That’s because a lot of electric current is going into the battery. Some of that power is inevitably lost to heat.
While Bluetooth headphones usually don’t use nearly as much power as your phone, any kind of charging causes the battery to heat up.
If the battery is heating up so much that the headphones or earbuds feel hot to the touch, don’t use them.
This means that the battery is bad and could blow up any minute. You will need to take the headphones to an electronics repair shop to have the batteries replaced.
However, if they were a cheap pair of Bluetooth earbuds, don’t bother. Instead, get a better pair that won’t have overheating issues from the get-go.
The Tozo T6 Wireless Earbuds from Amazon.com are a great pair at an affordable price.
They are IPX8 waterproof, use Bluetooth 5.0, and charge in just 55 minutes.
6. Using the Wrong Charger Leads to Overheating
Related to the previous point, never use a phone charger for your headphones. You’re better off charging them from your desktop PC or laptop.
Furthermore, always use the cable that comes with your headphones. Using the wrong cable may also cause overheating.
You need to avoid phone chargers because they’re too powerful for your Bluetooth headphones.
If the headphone manufacturer included an adapter, use that instead.
The adapter will not only protect your headphones from overheating, it’s also better for your battery life in the long term.
In my experience, your Bluetooth headphones should barely heat up at all when you charge them.
7. The Battery in Bluetooth Headphones Can Get Warm
If you’ve noticed that your wireless headphones get somewhat warm after use, it’s probably the battery. It’s just like when you play games for too long on your phone.
Note that I used the word “warm,” not hot. Bluetooth headphones should never feel scorching hot no matter how much you use them.
If there is an issue with the batteries, they need to be replaced – but how can you tell if there is a problem?
Swelling is a sign of bad lithium-ion batteries. Bad batteries slowly expand. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell if your batteries have swollen.
The only real giveaway is if the earcup is starting to come loose. This happens because the battery is pushing the earcup out of the housing.
However, this is only true for some models.
An overheating battery is a fire hazard. If the headphones are still under warranty, return them. They could seriously hurt you.
Don’t believe me? A woman back in 2017 was injured due to a pair of headphones whose battery exploded.
Headphones can’t overheat from regular use. They don’t draw a lot of power, which is why a headphone jack is usually enough to power them.
However, Bluetooth headphones do have some considerations that can lead to overheating. They are related to the battery, which can swell, overheat, and even explode.
Additionally, Bluetooth headphones will get hot if you use a powerful phone charger. Use the USB port on your PC instead.