Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
HP

HP Recalls 6 Million Power Cables Over Fire Hazard 137

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the what's-that-smell? dept.
Via the Consumerist comes news that HP is recalling power cables after about 30 reports that they were melting from regular use. From the article: Hewlett-Packard received 29 reports of the melting or charring power cords, two that included claims of minor burns and 13 claims of minor property damage. The black power cords were distributed with HP and Compaq notebook and mini notebook computers and with AC adapter-powered accessories such as docking stations and have an "LS-15" molded mark on the AC adapter. About 5.6 million power cords were sold in the United States, while 446,700 were sold in Canada from September 2010 to June 2012 at electronic stores and hp.com.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

HP Recalls 6 Million Power Cables Over Fire Hazard

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @04:15AM (#47763401)

    How do you fuck something like that up?

    • by Narcocide (102829) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @04:28AM (#47763435) Homepage

      Outsourcing.

      • by Monoman (8745)

        Outsourcing to the lowest bidder and then not adequately sampling items to verify they were made to spec.

      • Outsourcing.

        Power cables are always outsourced.

      • Outsourcing and quality control are separate things, unless you are convinced that things can only be built right in your country.

        • by idontgno (624372)

          Is true. Only great motherland can make correct power wires.

          Glory to Arstotzka and its great Patriotic Wire and Cable Harness Factory #4!

      • I bought some lamps and other electrical stuff from the big box stores and even from IKEA. The power cords on all these products appear to be manufactured by a plastic that loses its flexibility and dries out, peeling away from the copper conductors underneath.

        The insulation is good for about 2 years before problems start. The problem is not due to flexing, but to some kind of soft disintegration plastic

    • by havana9 (101033)
      THe cable manufacturer got a spec, then passed the order to a subcontractor. The subcontractor tried to shave costs buying cheaper cables. Cheaper cable while sold as on spec, actually were made under spec, say with tinned aluminium instead of tinned copper.
      The cables pass quality checks, because maybe are lax, and then you have a low quality cable that will work most of the time. Sometimes doesn't work, in other word the last quality inspection is made unknowingly by the buyer...
      • The cables pass quality checks, because maybe are lax

        The root problem.

        Nothing else you wrote matters if the quality checks are good.

      • by hurfy (735314)

        It wasn't that long ago a tons of standard power cables were discovered to be subpar. Grab your thinnest feeling one and cut it open.

        I think I still have a cable that says "18 GA 15 amp" that contains at best 24 ga wire but looks even smaller. Probably ok on the cheap thing it came with, but they get swapped around a lot and hooking that to your laser printer is not so good.

        I always found the ones with 3 strands like the pic to be the better ones (Dell usually)
        Luckily my HP one has been replaced a friendly

    • by Neil Boekend (1854906) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @04:47AM (#47763471)

      With the limited info I have I would guess either a cheapskate manufacturer that tried to pass the wrong gauge of cable as the correct one or a crappy connection between a plug and the cable.
      In both cases the cable can't handle the current in a hot room and that could cause the insulation to melt. Especially when the cable is buried under a stack of nice insulating and flammable paper. Molten insulation doesn't stay in it's place, cables connect, short circuit and with the hot insulation (hot means more easily flammable) a flame is born.

      • With the limited info I have I would guess either a cheapskate manufacturer that tried to pass the wrong gauge of cable as the correct one or a crappy connection between a plug and the cable.

        I have one of these cables and after having analysed it, we (the guys on the forum and I :-)) think its more an issue of "dirty" plastics. If they get, e.g. carbon in the plastics used for injection molding the plug, it will conduct a small current, which will lead to heat, which will lead to charring, which will lead to more conduction, and you have a vicious circle going. So just to be clear, it's the "Mickey Mouse" plug that plugs in to the PSU that's faulty, not the PSU as such.

        In my own case, the cable

        • I work at HP, and I'm hoping my power cord I leave plugged in 24/7 starts a fire and burns my building down. Oh, the irony...an HP building burned down do to a faulty HP power cord!
    • How do you fuck something like that up?

      All too easily it seems; my first MacBook Pro power lead caught fire a few years ago as well. This was the low-voltage (hence high current) end, though: in their quest to make everything thin and light, the cable was thin and flimsy, so one of the braided conductors frayed after a while. More current going down a thinner wire meant more heat - which softened the remaining copper and made the problem worse, until arcing started and I got a micro-firework display on my d

    • by rholtzjr (928771)

      Made in China. Saving money is the key here, not quality and definitely not safety.

    • by dywolf (2673597)

      sounds like cutting corners with narrower gage wire and possibly thinner insulation jacket as well.
      i don't know the current draw of the devices in question, but if the wire gage is too thin it will get very hot.
      another possibilty is the connection point between the wire and the connectors. it also needs to be of sufficient cross section to tranfer the full current load without overheating.

      either way the answer is: cutting corners.

    • by RobinH (124750)
      I had one of those cheap 12V switching power supplies (came with a 3D printer kit actually) and the power cord that came with it was getting very hot. I looked at the cord itself and it had 10A stamped on the plug end. That should have been more than enough current capacity, so something was definitely wrong with the cord. I took an old PC cord out of my junk box and noted that it also said 10A, then cut the PC end off of it and compared the wire gauge between the two. The faulty one's wire was much, mu
      • We get a lot of donated machines where I work and one of the standard desktop power cords actually did burn itself in two. Luckily it didn't cause a fire. Your story about a contractor substituting substandard materials reminds me of a documentary on the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. Turns out one of the contractors was sneaking in substandard steel wires that were woven together for the support cables. I believe that wire is still in there.
        • by Anubis350 (772791)
          I believe much of that cabling was actually replaced when the bridge was last rehabbed (not the current project working on the ramps and roads)

          /they kept the substandard cabling in though because the bridge was built with several different support mechanisms, each one sturdy enough for the bridge on its own, Roebling was being paranoid with his design
          //the cable crosshatching *is* because of the inferior wire however, though in the end they really are a just decorative feature since they aren't needed
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      How do you fuck something like that up?

      Separate assemblies - the ones who do the power supply generally are very good at it (including the IEC plug the AC power goes into). The output end is typically just a header, and the cables are provided by a third party who specializes in making terminated cables. (Especially modern laptop cables which can have several conductors and indicators), with the only requirement that the power supply end use a mating connector.

      Though, cases and other stuff are also often do

  • It's not just HP that uses the LS-15 style, Acer does too for their laptops. Incoming recall for 4-6 years worth of cables coming from Acer tomorrow then?

    • What LS-15 style? I thought that was just some internal identifier text for HP.
    • It's not just HP that uses the LS-15 style, Acer does too for their laptops. Incoming recall for 4-6 years worth of cables coming from Acer tomorrow then?

      Don't hold your breath - my experience of Acer is that they don't give a damn about their customers once they've got their money

  • HP = Horrible Product

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I am actually impressed that 20 failures from 6 million power cords leads to a recall. Seriously, I love the fact that we have building techniques that a failure rate that low is _completely_ unacceptable :)

    Humanity really does kick serious arse sometimes.

    • by jones_supa (887896) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @05:49AM (#47763625)
      Do still not forget that 20 is the amount who happened to run into problems and bothered to file a proper complaint. It is a hint that there might be actually thousands of faulty cables.
      • It is a hint that there might be actually thousands of faulty cables.

        No, its not, unless you have more info about how representative those 20 are.

        Generally the ones who have problems are the "vocal minority": that is, if you have problems, you are more likely to speak up, so if you're only seeing 20 / 13million, it could well indicate that the problem is quite limited.

        • How many users of those power cables have right now them unknowingly slightly warming up somewhere under their desk? How many users just say "darn cable, did I break it already" and just chucked in a new one? How many users have a problem coming up in following months?
          • Again: Without more information, all of this is wild speculation.

            The world needs more facts, not more guessing.

        • Generally the ones who have problems are the "vocal minority": that is, if you have problems, you are more likely to speak up, so if you're only seeing 20 / 13million, it could well indicate that the problem is quite limited.

          Sure, I'm one of those. I raised hell, on a Swedish electrical/electronics forum... Didn't even bother to call HP. I assumed it was a one off, and what are they going to do anyway? Tell me to send the cable to them? (That's too much of a hassle) and give me a new one? (I could just grab a new one from one of the conveniently situated piles at work).

          In fact, the usual rule, born out by science, when it comes to customer satisfaction here in Sweden (originally talking about large enterprises like TV/Radio) is

    • by kiza (80367)

      No more details are known. Just that some cables catched fire. Maybe they examined one of the returned ones and found out that they were not manufactured to spec or maybe the contractor reduced safety margins to a point where they become potentially dangerous. I don't think any company wants to be responsible in case someone dies.

      Better to collect all the cables before more bad publicity gets generated.

      Plus (other comment) most just throw away a cable if it smells funny so actualy numbers are sort of a gray

    • by dywolf (2673597)

      the actual number could be much higher, but go undetected because the user isn't drawing enough current to expose the flaw. or maybe the user just says "damn, what a cruddy power cord" and just grabs another out of his collection.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...poisonous plastics, sub par materials and thus products. i can't blame them really. it's not the workers who really profit from outsourcing all of our production.

  • A little 8-white-LED key chain flashlight, it's cheap and what a miracle it is. Anyone old enough to remember strapping on 2 lb lantern batteries for a couple of hours' light knows. Really bright, runs cool with and extremely low current draw. All Glory to the Human Race. And Hypnotoad.

    1. flickered on the first day when I tapped it against something. Probably shelf life corrosion patina, took out batteries, cleaned them, ok.

    2. flickering again. spring on screw end not made of spring steel, weak. stretched o

    • by MadKeithV (102058)

      9. flickering again. this time it is my campfire. A rhinoceros appears and stamps the fire out.

      10. It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

  • I've been noticing this for several years now ... what the hell is up with URLs at HP?

    It's like they've designed their website so nobody could ever actually find anything.

    I mean "http://h30434.www3.hp.com/" is one of the most strangely formed URLs I've seen, what is it, the virtual host or something?

    • That's a good point actually. :D Their URLs are indeed quite wonky.
    • by Nikademus (631739) *

      I would say, there are probably loadbalancers/web redirectors, which redirect you with to one server which you will contact during that whole session. So your session will be kept on the same server and they don't need to use anycast or sync. Just a guess though...

    • I've been noticing this for several years now ... what the hell is up with URLs at HP?

      It's like they've designed their website so nobody could ever actually find anything.

      I mean "http://h30434.www3.hp.com/" is one of the most strangely formed URLs I've seen, what is it, the virtual host or something?

      I was under the impression that most commercial websites were intentionally designed so no one could actually find anything... At least, that's the only explanation I can find...

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      HP URLs appear to be by-department. Whether this actually represents the structure of HP's web servers or is only a logical arrangement is another question

      I use the word "logical" loosely here

  • by coastal984 (847795) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @09:09AM (#47764703) Journal
    I really wish I was making this up - I called asking about bulk replacement for my organization, and the email address they gave me was not working. So tier 1 said they would "transfer me to the team in charge of the recall." Well, I was connected with Scott, the service manager of a Chevrolet Dealership in upstate New York. Besides a good laugh, he obviously wasn't able to help me very much. *sigh*
  • These are 6 million ways to die?

  • by vipw (228)

    From cpsc.gov:

    Customers should immediately stop using and unplug the recalled power cords and contact Hewlett-Packard to order a free replacement. Consumers can continue to use the computer on battery power.

    I must say that I am very impressed by the fast shipping!

  • HP products melt and catch fire ALL THE TIME. How is this news? At my repair shop we have an average of 1 HP every 6 months light on fire.
  • Seems a tad hysterical.

  • Can't even make a fucking power cord right anymore.

HELP!!!! I'm being held prisoner in /usr/games/lib!

Working...