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Author Topic: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module  (Read 145820 times)

bikerjoe

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FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
« 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.


.
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Brian H

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Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
« Reply #1 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.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2008, 07:00:44 AM by Brian H »
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JeffVolp

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Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
« Reply #2 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
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Oldtimer

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Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
« Reply #3 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. 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.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2008, 03:05:01 PM by Oldtimer »
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steven r

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Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
« Reply #4 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.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2008, 05:48:26 PM by steven r »
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Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
« Reply #5 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.
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bikerjoe

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Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
« Reply #6 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!

.

« Last Edit: March 05, 2008, 02:08:44 AM by bikerjoe »
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bikerjoe

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Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
« Reply #7 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  ::)
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bikerjoe

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Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
« Reply #8 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.
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Brian H

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Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
« Reply #9 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.
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JeffVolp

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Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
« Reply #10 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
« Last Edit: March 05, 2008, 10:04:13 AM by JeffVolp »
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Brian H

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Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
« Reply #11 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.
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Jaimito

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Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
« Reply #12 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.
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JMac

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Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
« Reply #13 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......
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Dan Lawrence

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Re: FIRE HAZARD WARNING! LM465 Lamp Module
« Reply #14 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.

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