X10 Community Forum

Reviews => X10 Hardware => Home Automation Reviews => Topic started by: bikerjoe on February 06, 2008, 05:38:05 AM

Title: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: bikerjoe on February 06, 2008, 05:38:05 AM
Please read this entire post.

I have purchased many X10 products over the past several years and have enjoyed the ease of installation and use.  However, I now feel compelled to bring your attention to a very serious matter.

As you may know, people are switching to the CFL (Compact Florescent Lamp) bulbs.  In fact, the government has mandated that incandescent bulbs not be sold after 2012.  These CFL bulbs screw into ordinary table lamps and ceiling fixtures, so you may not be aware of the FIRE HAZARD that exists when mixing a CFL bulb with the LM465 Lamp Module.

A few months ago, I came home to discover that one of my LM465 modules had burst into flames without warning and scorched the solid wood pine tongue and groove paneling wall that bore the outlet powering a table lamp.  I reasoned that the X10 unit was "old" and this was probably the cause.  Fortunately, the fire only melted the module and scorched the wood, but missed the upholstered chair that was only a foot away from the unit.  The molten plastic dripped down to the baseboard and scorched the carpet, but happily, the carpet did not catch fire. Had the flames found the back of this chair or ignited the carpet, I am certain my home would have burned to the ground.  I replaced the module with a NEW LM465 purchased from Fry's. 

Today, Feb. 5, 2008, I came home to discover that ANOTHER LM465 lamp module (not the replaced unit) had burst into flames.  Again, luckily, the fire damage was minimal and the flames missed the wooden end table that was just above the unit.  I immediately pulled ALL of my LM465 lamp modules.  It was then that I noticed the small tag on the back of the unit which reads "For indoor INCANDESCENT lamp  use only.  Both of the lamps associated with the fires had the 13 WATT CFL bulbs in the sockets!  Another module in another room showed signs of melting as well, with the metal melting through the back of the unit near the power tabs and a black burnt carbon spot on the top rear left corner surface.  This lamp ALSO had a 13 watt CFL bulb in it.

This is important, as the CFL bulbs we are now using to replace the old standard incandescent bulbs are still FLORESCENT bulbs, and the LM465 units HEAT UP while powering these bulbs for any length of time, and can burst into flames WITHOUT WARNING.

I want to stress that the X10 LM465 units are NOT defective, but it is imperative that you understand that when you plug a lamp or fixture into these modules when a florescent bulb is providing the light, you run the risk of the LM465 unit overheating and causing a spontaneous fire in your home or business.  You MUST use an incandescent bulb in lamps that are plugged into the LM465 module, as the attached warning label states!

I hope that the fine folks at X-10 look into this incompatibility issue and begin to manufacture lamp modules that can handle the new, soon-to-be federally REQUIRED CFL bulb's power requirements.  Since my entire home is now converted to cFL bulbs, I will not be using my old X10 lamp modules until a safe solution is found.


.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: Brian H on February 06, 2008, 06:46:23 AM
Thank you for your very valuable findings.
I would also say this could happen with mixed systems with other brand lamp and dimming wall switches.
CFLs if UL rated require they be made of a fire resistant plastic. LM465s and such probably are not required to use fire retardant plastic. Also the B&D Lamp Module and Insteons also have a fuse in them that May or May not have helped.
I believe the users manual also states "Incadescent type bulbs ONLY!"
Yes all manufacturers are gong to have to address this issue shortly. I have LED type that never go off just 1/2 brightness from the Local Sensing Circuits current.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: JeffVolp on February 06, 2008, 10:14:33 AM
While you may very well have had a serious failure with X10 lamp modules, I would like to get more information to understand the mechanism involved.  CFLs rectify the powerline voltage to feed the internal electronics.  Newer units with small bases may include a switching pre-regulator to allow them to use a smaller filter capacitor and lower voltage components for the chopper.

As long as the lamp module is just turned on or off, I don't understand what could cause the failure.  However, if the lamp module is dimmed there can be switching transients near the peak of the AC waveform.  That could produce voltage transients in excess of what the CFL circuitry can withstand, particularly in the type with the switching pre-regulator.

We have used lamp modules with CFLs switched ON/OFF for over a decade.  Some were the Phillips Earthlights that were designed for dimming.  We have had no lamp module failures, and the Earthlights lasted a very long time.  Now we have a mix of brands, and all have been working fine on the lamp modules.

It would be interesting to find out what brand and model of CFL you had a problem with so others using X10 lamp modules can steer clear of it.  I would also like to purchase one to find out what might be the mechanism that causes the failure.  I understand that some of the newer lamp modules may ramp on and off, and that might be a factor too.

Jeff
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: Oldtimer on February 06, 2008, 10:19:46 AM

This is important, as the CFL bulbs we are now using to replace the old standard incandescent bulbs are still FLORESCENT bulbs, and the LM465 units HEAT UP while powering these bulbs for any length of time, and can burst into flames WITHOUT WARNING.


As soon as I read this I immediately checked the lamp modules I'm using to control CFLs to see if they were getting too hot.  Mine were only mildly warm to the touch BUT were being used with resistors to bleed off the local control current  so the CFLs wouldn't blink when the module was turned OFF!  Click here to see how to do this. (http://www.x10community.com/forums/index.php?topic=14210.msg78893#msg78893) My experience has been that CFLs interact with X10 modules to produce a very choppy AC waveform in the wiring between the module and the bulb.  It may be that the resistor has the additional benefit of shunting the worst of this signal away from the module.

It sounds like bikerjoe has found some CFLs that work, as is, with his lamp modules.  Perhaps he could give us some more details about the brand he's usiing.  Also my lamp modules are older production, some white some brown but none of the very latest production.  Again it would be good if bikerjoe could document what vintage he has since X10 has a history of keeping the same model numbers across major design changes.

This is an important issue and I'll be watching it closely.  I'll also post appropriate links in my tutorial as I get more data. I've also given bikerjoe a helpful for this post.

P.S.  I had just finished writing this when Jeff posted his reply, above, asking for the same info.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: steven r on February 06, 2008, 01:17:18 PM
As JeffVolp said, I don't see why a LM465 module just turned on and off would cause a problem. It does point out the danger of using a module capable of dimming for a non dimming CLF. X10 has changed their wall switches to remember their dim setting. If they did that with the LM465 module, once dimmed just turning module off and on wouldn't restore full brightness. If you still have the LM465 modules, please post their date codes.

I'd love to have the benefit of Jeff's experience on the situation and hope you will provide him the information for him to test the CFL bulbs you are using.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: Boiler on February 06, 2008, 05:24:12 PM
At least some of the "new" LM465's were reported to have "soft-start".  Depending on the ramp rate, I could see this being a serious issue with CFL's. 

Given enough on/off ramps, the pre-regulator could be taken out as Jeff described.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: bikerjoe on March 05, 2008, 02:03:16 AM
Okay, I have one of the burned units right here.  The other one melted beyond recognition and burned the tongue and groove pine paneling in my living room, but fortunately did not ignite the chair which was only 12 inches in front of it.  WHEW!

The tag reads:

Lamp Module
Model No. LM465
Remote Switch LR69519
120 Volts AC 60 Hz
Maximum 300 Watts
Do not connect appliances to this module
For use with X-10 Powerhouse controllers

and a little round tag "01D16"

Checking inside for more clues ...

UPDATE! To be completely fair to X-10, I must report that the second unit DID NOT burn up!  The exterior case was damaged and blackened by what appears to have been a large heat source (a spark?) OUTSIDE of the second unit, as if someone crossed AC lines right next to the plastic.  The interior of the case at this point shows no signs of distress.  There is no sign of damage to the internal components of the second unit.  Therefore, only ONE of my LM465 modules officially burned and melted.

In the plastic molding the "graph" has dots at 00-3, 00-4, 00-5, 00-6, 01-3, and 04-11

There is a "C1" molded into the case.

On the circuit board: "H10004AA"

and the microchip:

F78561
69145914 0050

They were all bought and shipped at the same time, so I can assume the others are the same.

Someone mentioned something interesting though.

I am using the slim wall switches SS13A to control the lamp modules.  It was mentioned that DIMMING a lamp module that is powering a CF bulb might create an overheat condition.  I am fully familiar with the X-10 units and accessories, but I now believe it is possible that one of my roommates may have pressed the "BRIGHT/DIM" switch at the bottom of this panel while trying to turn one of the three lamps controlled by the SS13A ON or OFF.  Perhaps they DIMMED the module that eventually failed, not realizing that they cannot dim a CF bulb.  Maybe they were fishing for the correct switch to another light.  Whenever I get a new roommate, she nearly always changes the codes on my switches until she learns how they work.

Based on statements made above in the responses, I am going to assume that this is what happened.  I may even plug a light in (at a safe location) and experiment with the DIM feature and a CF bulb, to see if I can recreate the module failure.

Still, I will stick with incandescent bulbs in lamps controlled by the LM465 units until a suitable CF compatible unit is produced by X-10.

I think we found the problem!

.

Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: bikerjoe on March 05, 2008, 02:14:37 AM
Now I have to find the source of the EXTERNAL spark that melted and charred the case of the second unit!  It was plugged into a power strip.  Could plugging something into the next plug just above the head of the LM465 cause a spark like that?  I suppose it could  ::)
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: bikerjoe on March 05, 2008, 02:20:42 AM
It sounds like bikerjoe has found some CFLs that work, as is, with his lamp modules.  Perhaps he could give us some more details about the brand he's using.

I'm using the G.E. "Energy Smart 60"  825 lumens, 13 watts, 8000 hour life (yeah, right!)

They work GREAT with the LM465, assuming that the dimming issue was the cause of the module failure!

These bulbs start out a bit dim, but brighten up in a minute or two.  I buy them in an 8-pack from Lowe's.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: Brian H on March 05, 2008, 06:54:56 AM
Thank you for all the added data. Some CF bulbs are dimmable and I have had mixed results with them.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: JeffVolp on March 05, 2008, 10:01:56 AM
Since this is now one module that failed internally, it may have been due to a random failure.  Military and space applications use components with failure rates of 1 in 10's or 100's of millions of hours of operation.  But systems rely on thousands of components, and even that minuscule failure rate can add up.  Failures do happen, especially when the system is operated outside the original design criteria.  Our space shuttle program is an example.

One would expect that the failure rates in X10 devices would be higher than in military devices.  When dealing with 120V, it is possible that some component failed in such a way to cause excessive internal heating.  As you suggest, interaction with a CFL could have been a factor.  However, it is also possible that it was just a random component failure.

A significant portion of my career was spent designing fault-tolerant computers.  Failures do happen, and the goal is to prevent that failure from propagating further.  A flame retardant case is normally used for applications like this.  This points out something we should be aware of when using any electrical device.  Keep them away from especially combustible materials.  This applies to not only X10 modules, but everyday devices like cell phone chargers and other "wall warts".

Jeff
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: Brian H on March 05, 2008, 12:20:11 PM
So true Jeff. I have had a few CFLs fail and burn the outside plastic and smoke. They where UL rated so the plastic was of a flame resistant type. Looked and smelled bad but I doubt a fire would have happened. Though I am now more careful of remotely turning them on with my Touch Tone Telephone Responder.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: Jaimito on March 07, 2008, 11:27:55 PM
Gentlemen:  It is with much interest I have reviewed all of the posts for this topic.  I recently installed two CFLs (Sylvania Soft White, 13W, CF13EL/Mini) controlled by X10 3-way wall switch module however the lamps would not turn on at all.  I did notice a rather strong hum coming from the wall switch but that was it.  These incandesents (exterior home lighting) have always been set for full brightness so I do not believe the dimmer function was active.  The wall switch was activated for only a short time so I do not know if any over heating would have occurred.  I have removed the CFLs and returned to the incandesents.  This wall switch has been in service w/AHP for at least 2 years w/o any problems.
But I do want to switch to CFs in many circuits, is X10 going to design a module to control the CFs?  Are there any proven work arounds for this situation?
Thanks.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: JMac on March 08, 2008, 06:59:27 AM
I don't think I ever saw that X10 WALL switches should be used with CFL bulbs on this forum.  Maybe lamp modules and socket rockets could be used (at your own risk).  Perhaps some one could elaborate on this.  My own use is restricted to socket rockets and lamp modules, the lamp modules controlling a CFL bulb/15 Watt incandescent combination.  No dimming......
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: Dan Lawrence on March 08, 2008, 09:40:51 AM
I would use Socket Rockets and Appliance Modules with CFLs only.   I have CFLs in all my Socket Rockets and when I converted my Breakfast Room (where we eat is not where we cook) Swag Light to a CFL, I also replaced the lamp module with an appliance module, complete with a 3-way tap and a night light to kill the "buzz" some CFL's have.

Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: dave w on March 10, 2008, 12:32:08 PM
This wall switch has been in service w/AHP for at least 2 years w/o any problems.
But I do want to switch to CFs in many circuits, is X10 going to design a module to control the CFs?  Are there any proven work arounds for this situation?
Thanks.

A two wire wall switch such as a WS467 derives it's operational power parasitically through the load. Only incandescent bulbs allow this, CFLs do not. X10 can't change that fact. One thing you can try is to keep at least one incandescent light in the CFL circuit (multiple socket fixture?). X10 does have methods of controlling CFLs such as Socket Rockets and "non dimming" wall switches .
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: noodles168 on March 10, 2008, 01:55:42 PM
I have been using X10 switches and modules with  CFLs that I bought from Costco. some of which were marked as usable with dimmers. I do not dim those  but the one time I tried the bulb over heated and failed. I have multiple recessed ceiling lights that are controlled by X10 wall switch. I had to install one incandsent bulb for the CFLS to work. ditto with my two light (top and bottom) cellar stairs). I have been using the bulbs for three years and except for the above mentioned failure I have not experienced any problems.
Thanks though for the hazard warning.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: 4plus3vette on April 03, 2008, 02:32:46 PM
I don't think I ever saw that X10 WALL switches should be used with CFL bulbs on this forum.  Maybe lamp modules and socket rockets could be used (at your own risk).  Perhaps some one could elaborate on this.  My own use is restricted to socket rockets and lamp modules, the lamp modules controlling a CFL bulb/15 Watt incandescent combination.  No dimming......

When I switched from incandescent lamps to the CFLs I was using WS467 switches.  I was very cautions about it when I first put the lights in and turned it on.  In the off position, they flickered (like OldTimer has stated with plugin style lamp modules).  So I put the incandescent bulbs back in until my XPS3 wall switch modules came in.  These work as wall switches, but handle current more like appliance modules - and they do not dim.

In conclusion, the XPS3 works well for CFL bubls. 
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: LittleLarry on August 23, 2008, 12:13:42 AM
 Geez, this stuff makes me nervous as I was contemplating using the LM465 with a standard 120v halogen (one that does NOT have a built in dimmer or transformer - plugs in with regular 2 prong electrical cord) per this link:

http://www.homeautomatedliving.com/forums/archive/index.php?t-1424.html

Do you think that this would be a bad idea?

"If you're talking generic 120V Halogens, then they are simply incandescent lights and will work with any dimmer."

I definately do not want to run the risk of a fire, and just hearing about this potential risk with the cfl's makes me wonder if the more expensive Insteon's or Leviton's are worth the extra cost if they have better fire-retardant materials than these x10 modules do? Any thoughts on that?

Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: -Bill- (of wgjohns.com) on August 23, 2008, 01:16:16 AM
Geez, this stuff makes me nervous as I was contemplating using the LM465 with a standard 120v halogen (one that does NOT have a built in dimmer or transformer - plugs in with regular 2 prong electrical cord) per this link:

http://www.homeautomatedliving.com/forums/archive/index.php?t-1424.html

Do you think that this would be a bad idea?

"If you're talking generic 120V Halogens, then they are simply incandescent lights and will work with any dimmer."

I definately do not want to run the risk of a fire, and just hearing about this potential risk with the cfl's makes me wonder if the more expensive Insteon's or Leviton's are worth the extra cost if they have better fire-retardant materials than these x10 modules do? Any thoughts on that?



The issue here is not specific to using CFL's or other bulbs with X10.  The issue is that CFL's by nature can have internal short-circuit problems in the electronics that produce the high voltage that makes them light.  I have had a couple CFL bulbs fail in "normal use" and fortunately just let out a bad "burnt electronics" stink.  Depending on how they fail and how they are constructed, the possibility of catching fire is there, just hopefully not common.   :'

Halogens ARE NOT normal incandescent lights!  Most halogen lights that I am familiar with work similarly to CFL's in that they have an electronics board that steps up the normal wall outlet voltage to a high voltage to ionize the gas inside.

The circuitry that steps up the voltage will in most cases not like being dimmed in the way that X10 (and most other) dimming lamp modules accomplish dimming.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: JeffVolp on August 23, 2008, 10:04:27 AM
Halogens ARE NOT normal incandescent lights!  Most halogen lights that I am familiar with work similarly to CFL's in that they have an electronics board that steps up the normal wall outlet voltage to a high voltage to ionize the gas inside.

We use a bunch of halogens here - 12V versions in the landscape lights, and 120V Sylvania "HaloFloods" for the dimmable ceiling lights.  All our halogens are just like incandescents, but produce a brighter "whiter" light.  The filament runs at higher temperature, causing the tungsten to evaporate faster.  The halogen atmosphere is supposed to cause that to re-deposit on the filament so it doesn't quickly burn out.  I understand the re-deposition doesn't work very well (or at all) when the lamp is dimmed.  However, the tungsten evaporation should also be slower with the filament running cooler when dimmed.  The 120V Sylvania HaloFloods work perfectly on dimmers, and we have yet had one burn out after several years.  I am not aware of any halogens that need the gas inside to be ionized.  Are they more efficient?  I would be interested in reading about that technology.

Jeff
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: -Bill- (of wgjohns.com) on August 23, 2008, 07:23:38 PM
Halogens ARE NOT normal incandescent lights!  Most halogen lights that I am familiar with work similarly to CFL's in that they have an electronics board that steps up the normal wall outlet voltage to a high voltage to ionize the gas inside.

We use a bunch of halogens here - 12V versions in the landscape lights, and 120V Sylvania "HaloFloods" for the dimmable ceiling lights.  All our halogens are just like incandescents, but produce a brighter "whiter" light.  The filament runs at higher temperature, causing the tungsten to evaporate faster.  The halogen atmosphere is supposed to cause that to re-deposit on the filament so it doesn't quickly burn out.  I understand the re-deposition doesn't work very well (or at all) when the lamp is dimmed.  However, the tungsten evaporation should also be slower with the filament running cooler when dimmed.  The 120V Sylvania HaloFloods work perfectly on dimmers, and we have yet had one burn out after several years.  I am not aware of any halogens that need the gas inside to be ionized.  Are they more efficient?  I would be interested in reading about that technology.

Jeff

You know Jeff, I must admit, even I don't know what I was thinking of when I posted that!   ???

Best I can figure is I still had CFL's on the brain.   rofl

Thanks for pointing that out.  We have plenty of misinformation around here without me unintentionally contributing to it!

 #:)    >!
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: evadorev on October 03, 2009, 01:56:02 PM
i think i have some answers to your posts:

1- module burn down and module hum: when you use triacs at the undercurrent state with a magnetic load like the ballasts of CFL or HMI, the triac generates a lot of heat due to the incapacity of the triac to work on this state. that can cause the burn down of the module, the flickering light and the hum of the module. I saw this problem on professionnal stage lighting equipment i designed.

2- the spot on the exterior of the second module maybe caused by an arc generated by a loose connection on the power strip you tell us the module is plugged.

The difference between the dimmable CFL vs the non dimmable is on the dimmable, the circuit is electronics not magnetic ballasts, so if it tells to use incandescent only, use it. it will cost you a bit more but You can keep your house up this way !!!!!

Hope it helps !!!
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: Walt2 on January 26, 2010, 07:25:06 PM
I have been using X10 switches and modules with  CFLs that I bought from Costco. some of which were marked as usable with dimmers.

IMHO, that is the real key here.   -:)

 
Shouting in large red type, doesn't change it.

All the CFL I have seen, are pretty clearly labeled as to if they are compatible with a dimmer, or not.   If one chooses to ignore such warnings, and use a non-dimmable CFL with a dimmer like a lamp module, have no one to blame, but themselves.  It certainly is not X10's fault.

Personally, I use dimmable CFL with my new style lamp modules, and have no problems with them ramping up at power-on, ramping down at power-off, and dimming as I whim.   
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: Brian H on January 27, 2010, 06:06:48 AM
walt2;
Just curious.  Are your new lamp modules the latest? My one year old and last weeks soft starts act differently from each other. The latest must have been changed for the security console not flashing them correctly. My latest ones go on and off instantly with a All Lights On all Units Off command and don't ramp. They also go on and off instantly with a standard on and off if in a one second cycle.

I have done some tests and you are correct. Even at 100% the CFLs act differently on a Lamp Module. I use appliance types myself but don't use dimmable ones. I do have some CCFLs that can be dimmed.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: Twayne on August 11, 2010, 09:50:51 AM
 I know this is an OLD post, but since I don't see a good response in total, I'd like to leave a little infor about it.
   The Manual AND X10 say NOT to use these with Flourescents, which includes CFLs, and that the load on them IIRC needs to be 40watts or greater. I even recall a statement somewhere that damage to the unit could occur if those were violated. There are specific units that WILL control flourescents though I never looked up the required miin load on them. Any product that can emit a flame or dangerous temperature is totally unacceptable and indicative of very poor design.
   So it boils down to READ THE available DATA before you install anything! I don't see any Saftey Markings (UL, CSA, EC, etc) on many of the X10 products, so it becomes very, very important to follow the instructions for installation and use of these items. UL would not have allowed their mark to be used on a part that could become excessively hot and had the likelihood of catching fire that went external to the box.  In the worst case, one of these things burninig down your home could concievably negate one's fire insurance were it noticed. UL requirements can be found on the UL site but must be read in their entirety to fully understand them. This point was a big disappointment to me and is probably going to cause me to uninstall anything without proper markings.
   UL et al is "voluntary" but ... you cannot legally sell product in N.A. without a relevant safety marking.


Please read this entire post.

I have purchased many X10 products over the past several years and have enjoyed the ease of installation and use.  However, I now feel compelled to bring your attention to a very serious matter.

As you may know, people are switching to the CFL (Compact Florescent Lamp) bulbs.  In fact, the government has mandated that incandescent bulbs not be sold after 2012.  These CFL bulbs screw into ordinary table lamps and ceiling fixtures, so you may not be aware of the FIRE HAZARD that exists when mixing a CFL bulb with the LM465 Lamp Module.

A few months ago, I came home to discover that one of my LM465 modules had burst into flames without warning and scorched the solid wood pine tongue and groove paneling wall that bore the outlet powering a table lamp.  I reasoned that the X10 unit was "old" and this was probably the cause.  Fortunately, the fire only melted the module and scorched the wood, but missed the upholstered chair that was only a foot away from the unit.  The molten plastic dripped down to the baseboard and scorched the carpet, but happily, the carpet did not catch fire. Had the flames found the back of this chair or ignited the carpet, I am certain my home would have burned to the ground.  I replaced the module with a NEW LM465 purchased from Fry's. 

Today, Feb. 5, 2008, I came home to discover that ANOTHER LM465 lamp module (not the replaced unit) had burst into flames.  Again, luckily, the fire damage was minimal and the flames missed the wooden end table that was just above the unit.  I immediately pulled ALL of my LM465 lamp modules.  It was then that I noticed the small tag on the back of the unit which reads "For indoor INCANDESCENT lamp  use only.  Both of the lamps associated with the fires had the 13 WATT CFL bulbs in the sockets!  Another module in another room showed signs of melting as well, with the metal melting through the back of the unit near the power tabs and a black burnt carbon spot on the top rear left corner surface.  This lamp ALSO had a 13 watt CFL bulb in it.

This is important, as the CFL bulbs we are now using to replace the old standard incandescent bulbs are still FLORESCENT bulbs, and the LM465 units HEAT UP while powering these bulbs for any length of time, and can burst into flames WITHOUT WARNING.

I want to stress that the X10 LM465 units are NOT defective, but it is imperative that you understand that when you plug a lamp or fixture into these modules when a florescent bulb is providing the light, you run the risk of the LM465 unit overheating and causing a spontaneous fire in your home or business.  You MUST use an incandescent bulb in lamps that are plugged into the LM465 module, as the attached warning label states!

I hope that the fine folks at X-10 look into this incompatibility issue and begin to manufacture lamp modules that can handle the new, soon-to-be federally REQUIRED CFL bulb's power requirements.  Since my entire home is now converted to cFL bulbs, I will not be using my old X10 lamp modules until a safe solution is found.


.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: Brian H on August 11, 2010, 10:43:52 AM
The warning labels on the CFLs and their boxes should also be followed.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: Dr.Fiero on August 11, 2010, 12:01:31 PM
And toss low voltage track lighting into the mix of 'do not use with dimmers'.

I killed a (ws467?) and a couple of track lights already.  No fire (or I probably wouldn't be typing this!) but BOY were they hot!
I'm sure not all are made the same way - but whatever mine was, it didn't like it.

Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: dave w on August 12, 2010, 11:38:44 AM
FWIW

[Rant ON]
Since this thread has come back to life my two cents is this:
I have been a participant on this forum since it began, and a user of X10 control/automation products since 1979 when their "pilot marketing" hit south Florida.

There simply is no "history" of X10 modules "bursting" into flames. IMHO where X10 modules have overheated or went thermo nuclear, there were probably external factors which caused it. Non incandescent bulbs connected to modules that X10 has clearly labelled "Incandescent Bulbs Only" , modules used in wet locations, modules with loads exceeding their stated load maximums, external shorts on the load side of the module, etc. etc. I am regularly amazed at continual abuse of users expecting lamp modules and dimmer wall switches to run ceiling fans, or CFL bulbs, or LED bulbs.

I think one exception is the 500W rating on the WS467 and WS12 switchers. IMHO running 500watts might be OK if the WS467 is mounted in a metal wall box, but when mounted in a plastic box with a big decorative wooden plate over the top, really impedes the switches ability to dissipate heat.

[Rant OFF]
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: Brian H on August 12, 2010, 12:42:52 PM
One more point.
Two WS467s or WS12As next to each other should be derated wattage wise.
Other brands warn users. To lower the total wattage for each dimmer type switch next to each other. In the electrical box.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: JeffVolp on August 12, 2010, 12:52:44 PM

I agree fully with the unlikelihood of any X10 module “bursting into flame”.  I have seen the XPPF heat up and start to stink when loaded to the max.  And the beta CM11A could get stuck in a mode where it got rather warm.  But I have not seen ordinary X10 modules do anything other that get a little warm when controlling a heavy load.  That is a result of the roughly one watt per hundred watts of load that must be dissipated as waste heat.

Regarding using lamp modules for non-incandescent loads, this is more of a factor today since X10 added the ramp-on / ramp-off.  The lamp module is essentially a solid-state relay whose turn on time can be varied across each half cycle.  As long as it only turns on near the zero crossing, it can indeed control non-incandescent loads.  We have been using one like that to control a recirculation pump in our hot water system.  Since that is an old lamp module without the ramp-on / ramp-off, and is only controlled by ON and OFF commands, it has worked fine for years.  An appliance module would have produced an annoying Klack …. Klack every 15 minutes throughout the day.  And, I question how long its mechanism would have held up when cycling almost a hundred times a day.

The issue with the lamp module triac is that when dimmed at all, the switching occurs when there is substantial voltage across the device.  Since it switches on instantly, there will be a very rapid rise in voltage across the load.  That induces magnetic effects in some devices, and causes the low frequency buzz often heard in dimmed incandescent lights.  Some devices using transformerless power supplies can be stressed to the point of failure by the rapid rise time.

So, the bottom line is to only use dimmer modules to drive loads specifically designed to be used with dimmers.  When deviating from this rule, be sure you understand exactly what you are doing to prevent failure of either the module or the device it is powering.

And, like with any electrical device, it is always a good idea to keep them away from any particularly combustible objects.  Things do fail.  How many houses go up every year because of a short in holiday lighting?

Jeff
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: dave w on August 12, 2010, 03:03:45 PM
As long as it only turns on near the zero crossing, it can indeed control non-incandescent loads. 


So, the bottom line is to only use dimmer modules to drive loads specifically designed to be used with dimmers.  When deviating from this rule, be sure you understand exactly what you are doing to prevent failure of either the module or the device it is powering.


Jeff, a trifle disagreement with your first statement.
We use a lot of "accent lighting" in the home. One form is a series of "flameless" candles powered by two 3V DC transformer wall warts in the bedroom. I controlled these wall warts with two LM15A Socket Rockets, figuring they would be fine as the triac gating closely follows the sine, and dimming isn't possible.

When first trying the LM15A/wall wart combination I closely monitored the combination for problems, for a couple of days before tucking them behind a dresser and chest of draws. A couple of years later when one set of candles suddenly quit working, I paniced when I saw the wall wart with the plastic case completely deformed and melted down around the transformer which was now a beautiful smoked bronze color. I found the second wall wart to have the same symptoms, but it was still happily lighting it's candles. Two other identical wall warts, powering similar candles, but left on all the time, not switched with X10, were in like new condition. No evidence of any over heating.

Apparently the triac turn-on distortion of the LM15A was enough to cause the transformers to run slightly hotter than the plastic case could dissipate. I doubt there was ever enough heat developed to become incendiary. At least there was never any "burning tronics"  odor that we could detect. And for reasons I will not elaborate on, I am very sensitive to, and well practiced at identifying said odor's.  :'

I have replaced the two inductive wall warts with cheap cell phone chargers (over a year ago) and everthing seems happy.

But your sage advice of (paraphrasing): only use dimmer modules to drive loads specifically designed to be used with dimmers. When deviating from this rule, be sure you understand exactly what you are doing to prevent failure of either the module or the device it is powering."
Can not be over emphasized, to point of, even if you think it is OK, check it repeatedly for a while...

Finally, someone is going comment "Dave, only three post up this thread you rant about putting non-incandescent loads in a module labelled 'Incandescent Lights Only'  and now you confess you have done exactly that. How do you explain that?" 

u-h-h therapy(?).
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: JeffVolp on August 12, 2010, 03:40:42 PM

60Hz transformers can run fairly warm, especially if the manufacturer is cutting corners on wire turns and laminations to save a few pennies.  The LM15A triac probably doesn't switch on exactly symmetrically, so there could be some slight DC bias in the output waveform.  If the transformer is already running near its saturation limit (due to the forementioned reasons), a little bit of extra DC bias could have caused the core to saturate on one half of the AC waveform, resulting in higher than normal current.  Even if the saturation was not enough to make an audible hum, the plastic case would have made it hard for the transformer to dissipate the extra heat.  It would be interesting to test a well designed transformer from Stancor, Triad, Signal, or one of the other well-known brands to see if it exhibits a similar problem.  In fact, I think I'll do that myself out of curiosity.

Jeff
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: dbemowsk on August 12, 2010, 06:36:38 PM
I was running some of my outdoor pond lights with a lamp module using it simply as an on off switch, with no dimming.  The supply powering the lights was an AC corded plug in style transformer that had 2 - 24 volt receptacles for the lights.  This worked fine all last summer and part of this spring.  I had purchased a 120 LED light ring for my fountain and figured that a lamp module used in the same fashion as the other light would work fine.  This one had a 12 volt AC transformer wall wart style supply.  Within a day, I had lost the 2 transformers and the lamp modules.  Though the lamp module did not catch fire or appear to be overheated in any way, it did burn out both transformers primary coils along with the modules themselves. 

I have since rebuilt the 24 volt transformer and got a replacement wart for the LED light and put them both on appliance modules.  Lamp modules are not designed for inductive loads.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: Brian H on August 12, 2010, 06:41:57 PM
Dan did you by chance verify they had transformers in them?
Some wall warts are real cheesy switching supplies now.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: JeffVolp on August 12, 2010, 11:35:06 PM
I did some testing with both the LM15A and an ordinary lamp module (RCA version), and received some surprising results.  For a transformer I used a Triad 26.8VCT @1A F40X, so marginal transformer design should not be an issue.

With a 100-ohm load on the transformer, the transformer output voltage measured just over 30V, so that represented a 9W load.  A Kill-a-Watt read 9W, or 10VA.

With either the LM15A or RCA lamp module the waveform on the secondary was almost a pure sine wave with small glitches just after each zero crossing until the triac switched on.  The transformer emitted no hum, and there was no discernable heating of either unit after a few minutes of operation at that load.

Then I removed the load resistor to check the transformer by itself, and obtained very different results.  The waveform from the LM15A was still somewhat sinusoidal, but had severe distortion.  The transformer started to hum.  And the Kill-a-Watt reading jumped to about 150W.  I only left it in that configuration for a couple of seconds, so neither the LM15A nor the transformer had time to exhibit any significant heating.

The RCA lamp module acted differently.  With the purely inductive transformer load, the lamp module triac apparently did not remain switched on because the transformer output was just some high frequency ringing.  The Kill-a-Watt again displayed a high wattage reading, but I suspect that in both cases it was due to the corrupted waveform.

Note that for all testing with the lamp module, it was just switched on and off.  I used a RCA lamp module because it does not have the ramp on /off feature of the newer lamp modules.

Something to consider is that 120V variable speed power tools use essentially a dimmer designed to operate inductive loads.  X10, Leviton, and perhaps other manufacturers do make wall dimmers designed for inductive loads.  However, neither the LM15A nor the standard X10 lamp modules are designed to power inductive loads.

In summary, I totally agree that neither the LM15A nor a standard lamp module can be used for purely inductive loads.  However, when loaded properly, a good transformer can look almost resistive (as shown by the wattage and volt-amp reading being virtually the same).  As long as the asymmetry of the waveform does not cause core saturation, that configuration may be feasible.  The fact that our Grundfos hot water circulation pump motor has operated flawlessly for seven years gives some credibility to that hypothesis.

Jeff
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: dbemowsk on August 13, 2010, 08:28:26 AM
Dan did you by chance verify they had transformers in them?
Some wall warts are real cheesy switching supplies now.

Yes, these were definitely transformers.  Both transformers are AC output transformers, so I can't imagine that they would use a switching supply for that.  This is a picture of the 12 volt transformer.
(http://php.twinner.com.tw/site/filedata.php?Table_Name=Product&Table_SN=Product_SN&Product_SN=90361&Field_Name=Product_1_MImage)

The 24 volt one I had to take the case apart and found a green epoxied transformer in a brick with 4 wires coming out  I could actually see part of the transformer inside the epoxy.  I was able to get the epoxy loose from the plastic case and get it out.  I actually ended up replacing it with a 25 volt CT transformer from Radio Scrap and it works now.  It just ran 2 - 24 volt incandescent bulbs.  They just shine a little brighter now and I am guessing will not last quite as long, but hey, they work.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: Brian H on August 13, 2010, 10:59:39 AM
Thanks for the information on it being an AC low voltage output.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: babybearjs on April 05, 2013, 12:37:33 AM
anyone dumb enough NOT to read the warning label on this device should expect exactly what the get.... a CFL is NOT incandecant. Its INDUCTIVE! its concidered an APPLIANCE! PAY ATTENTION!
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: sparkie951 on May 15, 2014, 07:00:53 PM
I think that I have found the fix for this... and it is very simple... There is a device called a "Triac". On the board it is at location MT1. Part number replacement is BTA10 fromn ST MicroElectronics and the parts are cheap. You can order them from Mouser Electronics for .99 cents each for a pack of 10 and real easy to replace.
Title: Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
Post by: Brian H on May 16, 2014, 06:10:48 AM
Replacing the triac isn't going to fix a users not following the warnings and using an improper load.  B:(

Also many of the X10 Automation module owners. Will not have the technical skills to properly disassemble the module and replace the part.