ATTENTION LA CROSSE BC 900 USERS! Another meltdown

Started Dec 18, 2006 | Discussions
viorel00 Regular Member • Posts: 162
ATTENTION LA CROSSE BC 900 USERS! Another meltdown

Hi Guys, sorry for the CAPS, I read a few months ago about these Chargers suffering of meltdown in some cases and I became a little worried, so I decided to use mine ONLY WHEN I WAS AT HOME (in other words never unattended).

This morning I set it for 500 mA and started to charge a set of Duracell 2650 NiMH batteries that I have used many times before (these seems to self-discharge slower than Energizer 2500 BTW).

Oh My God, what is that smell? where is it coming from? WHAT? The CHARGER MELTED? How is that possible? I used it so many time before, never had a problem. What happened? what was different this time?

Well, the answer is NOTHING was different, in fact I just used it last night to charge 2 AA from La Crosse that came bundled with the charger and it performed great. In other words, even if you have used this charger 100, 200, 1000 times, DO NOT TRUST IT.

I am going to contact La Crosse (I asked them before about this possible meltdown but got NO RESPONSE). I am also going to contact the Consumer Protection Commission (or something like that) to make them aware of the problem, and possibly initiate a recall.

And the last thing I want to say: I treat my batteries and chargers nice, as you can see, they were numbered, at some point I even had a lot of which battery was charged and what capacity it had, etc. This is not the result of a user mistake, but poor and dangerous design of this product.

I am lucky my apartment is not in flame at this time, this while thing happened about 20 minutes ago.

Go to flickr for large pictures and comments about the photos.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/11974821@N00/

Brian Innes Regular Member • Posts: 389
Re: ATTENTION LA CROSSE BC 900 USERS! Another meltdown

I have the same charger.

One thing I'm going to comment on is surely if the charger had an internal fault then the casing of the charger would show signs of discolouration due to overheating. From what I can see on the pics only the batteries show signs of damage.

Do keep the forum updated on what info you get back from Lacrosse.

Meanwhile I'll only be charging batteries when I am around to keep an eye on the charger.

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Brian

pjv Senior Member • Posts: 1,319
Re: ATTENTION LA CROSSE BC 900 USERS! Another meltdown

viorel00 wrote:

This morning I set it for 500 mA and started to charge a set of
Duracell 2650 NiMH batteries that I have used many times before
(these seems to self-discharge slower than Energizer 2500 BTW).

My batteries get quite warm at 500mA (should be the same or worse for any > 500mA charger I'd expect), so I always use the lowest setting for basic charging.

Mine is always on and always has batteries in it. It never even approaches warm on the lowest setting. I use it with Sanyon 2700's and Eneloops.

Pete

OP viorel00 Regular Member • Posts: 162
Re: ATTENTION LA CROSSE BC 900 USERS! Another meltdown

pjv wrote:

My batteries get quite warm at 500mA (should be the same or worse
for any > 500mA charger I'd expect), so I always use the lowest
setting for basic charging.

well, some claim that charging 2500+ batteries at 200 mA is not a good idea, the current is too small to cause the "negative delta V" needed to detect full charge, so the charger keeps on charging the cells. At least one of the previous cases of "meltdown" or "runaway" as others call this problem happened at 200 mA.

You do whatever you want, it's your charger (and your house). I had the same attitude like you until this morning. Not anymore!

here is another link

http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?t=103802&page=3&pp=30

James O'Neill Veteran Member • Posts: 5,851
Re: ATTENTION LA CROSSE BC 900 USERS! Another meltdown

viorel00 wrote:

This is not the result of a user mistake, but poor and dangerous
design of this product.

I am lucky my apartment is not in flame at this time, this while
thing happened about 20 minutes ago.

Look, even if it was a result of end user mistake, just what kind of mistake could you make that the designers didn't foresee ? I do wonder if the fault is in the batteries but something here is faulty. I'd take the lot to your local consumer protection folks and get them to see if there is fault because many people charge overnight ... not a good time for things to be bursting into flame.

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OP viorel00 Regular Member • Posts: 162
Re: ATTENTION LA CROSSE BC 900 USERS! Another meltdown

James O'Neill wrote:

Look, even if it was a result of end user mistake, just what kind
of mistake could you make that the designers didn't foresee ? I do
wonder if the fault is in the batteries but something here is
faulty. I'd take the lot to your local consumer protection folks
and get them to see if there is fault because many people charge
overnight ... not a good time for things to be bursting into flame.

I totally agree. One could plug in a battery backwards, but the charges will detect that. No, it is not the batteries, it is the charger. I have read about the same problem (see link in previous post) and I think they were charging a different brand.

I will contact both LaCrosse and the consumer protection agencies. I am surprised there isn't a recall already.

Brian Innes Regular Member • Posts: 389
Re: ATTENTION LA CROSSE BC 900 USERS! Another meltdown

viorel00 wrote:

You do whatever you want, it's your charger (and your house). I had
the same attitude like you until this morning. Not anymore!

here is another link

http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?t=103802&page=3&pp=30

That is quite an alarming link. Not sure whether I'm happy using this charger now (mine is the Technoline IC8800 branded version of it)

My first reply may have given the impression that I didn't believe it was a fault with the charger. Now i've read more threads on other forums I can see that there must be a fault with the charger. Surely the charger should pick up if the cells are faulty and so abandon charging them? Looks like this isn't the case.

A shame as I had spent £40 on it. But I think I'd rather look to buy another charger rather than risk anything catching fire. I keep the charger on my computer desk in my bedroom!

GossCTP Veteran Member • Posts: 5,990
Maybe we should all be more careful

I don't know if the cells would have started a fire or not, but perhaps we should take a page from the electric RC crowd (especially now the K10D is out). All the newer electric RC planes and helicopters now use state-of-the-art lithium polymer batteries which put them on par with gas powered equivalents for power. Unfortunately, they're about as flammable during charging. It is standard practice to charge lithium polymer batteries in a ceramic pan in case they burst into flames. Not a huge inconvenience when you think about something like this.

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(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 6,759
Sadly

people love gimmick these days and buy into feature riched instead of quality made products.
--
Alan Chan
http://www.pbase.com/wlachan

rondeann Veteran Member • Posts: 3,765
Thanks for the warning,needs 2 stay on page one

This post needs to remain on page one as long as possible. I know bumping is not allowed but this is a safety matter.

OP viorel00 Regular Member • Posts: 162
Re: Sadly

wlachan wrote:

people love gimmick these days and buy into feature riched instead
of quality made products.
--
Alan Chan
http://www.pbase.com/wlachan

Alan,

This seemed to be quality made charger, i.e. the hardware is first class in my opinion, I liked the design, the built quality and yes, the features. I don't think there is any gimmick with this charger. When it works, it is a great charger. However, there seems to be either a software (firmware) bug, or a malfunction of the temperature sensor inside, so that in certain conditions this meltdown effect happens. Others called it runaway. Either way, it's the right word. I was lucky I was home and caught mine on time before it started a fire. Who know, maybe the temperature would have never gotten high enough to start a fire (it was placed on a wooden shelf though), but there is a chance that some day someone's house will be in flames because of this charger.

I didn't buy gimmicks, I bought what I though was and what seemed to be a quality device. It had one fatal flaw though, impossible to detect at the time or purchase.

Carnildo Contributing Member • Posts: 515
Re: Maybe we should all be more careful

GossCTP wrote:

I don't know if the cells would have started a fire or not, but
perhaps we should take a page from the electric RC crowd
(especially now the K10D is out). All the newer electric RC planes
and helicopters now use state-of-the-art lithium polymer batteries
which put them on par with gas powered equivalents for power.
Unfortunately, they're about as flammable during charging. It is
standard practice to charge lithium polymer batteries in a ceramic
pan in case they burst into flames. Not a huge inconvenience when
you think about something like this.

The electric RC crowd, particularly the serious racers, deliberately overcharge the batteries to get more energy out of them early in the discharge cycle. It wrecks the batteries and creates a fire risk, but it also gives a major advantage in a race.

GossCTP Veteran Member • Posts: 5,990
Seconded

The LaCrosse charger and the Maha chargers are praised as the best chargers out there for their abilities to charge batteries completely without overcharging. Neither one is designed to be a gimmicky budget job.

viorel00 wrote:

Alan,

This seemed to be quality made charger, i.e. the hardware is first
class in my opinion, I liked the design, the built quality and yes,
the features. I don't think there is any gimmick with this charger.
When it works, it is a great charger. However, there seems to be
either a software (firmware) bug, or a malfunction of the
temperature sensor inside, so that in certain conditions this
meltdown effect happens.

There wouldn't be any "firmware" per se in a battery charger. Any program would be hard coded - most likely hardwired. I'm curious if the charger destroyed itself or just the batteries. Sounds like there is a logic loophole in the design that can be exploited by a peculiarity (not necessarily a flaw) in the batteries. Even if the temperature circuit failed, the charger should still know not to bake the batteries. Most chargers don't even have a temp detector and know to stop by the voltage characteristics. The Lacrosse temp system is supposed to turn off the charger if the batteries get hotter than recommended, not determine when to stop charging from my understanding. More than one system seems to have failed.

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Undah Veteran Member • Posts: 5,335
Re: ATTENTION LA CROSSE BC 900 USERS! Another meltdown

Wow that is disconcerting. Thanks for the heads-up. Glad I didn't get this charger when it was all the hype. I'll be more careful with my current charger from now on, though I do usually only use it when I'm around that's not very convenient. Just another good reason for lithium ion imho.

(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 6,759
Re: Seconded

GossCTP wrote:

The LaCrosse charger and the Maha chargers are praised as the best
chargers out there for their abilities to charge batteries
completely without overcharging. Neither one is designed to be a
gimmicky budget job.

These 2 brands are well known to the rest of the world as they are widely available. But at some part of the world, like Asia, they are kind of unknown and people use some Japanese chargers which are also excellent, and very safe if I must say.
--
Alan Chan
http://www.pbase.com/wlachan

OP viorel00 Regular Member • Posts: 162
Re: Seconded

wlachan wrote:

GossCTP wrote:

The LaCrosse charger and the Maha chargers are praised as the best
chargers out there for their abilities to charge batteries
completely without overcharging. Neither one is designed to be a
gimmicky budget job.

These 2 brands are well known to the rest of the world as they are
widely available. But at some part of the world, like Asia, they
are kind of unknown and people use some Japanese chargers which are
also excellent, and very safe if I must say.
--
Alan Chan
http://www.pbase.com/wlachan

This LaCrosse charger was made in China, FWIW. I don't know whether it is sold in Asia or not, but that's where it was made.

mskad Veteran Member • Posts: 3,329
Firmware version?

Thanks for the warning.

I read somewhere that "firmware" version 33 is supposed to address this issue. Would you mind to tell us which version is yours? (firmware version shows on the right most LCD for few seconds when you plug the charger in).

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rondeann Veteran Member • Posts: 3,765
Thanks for the warning...n/t

Thanks for the warning

Pete Fang Senior Member • Posts: 1,900
Re: Firmware version?

mskad wrote:

Thanks for the warning.

I read somewhere that "firmware" version 33 is supposed to address
this issue. Would you mind to tell us which version is yours?
(firmware version shows on the right most LCD for few seconds when
you plug the charger in).

Mine shows version 33 so I guess I am ok. But I usually don't use the 1000mA setting unless I am really in a hurry.

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Peter Fang - Pentax user for more than two decades: K10D / *ist D / MZ-S / Z-1 / SFX / LX

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Pete Fang Senior Member • Posts: 1,900
Re: Seconded

viorel00 wrote:

This LaCrosse charger was made in China, FWIW. I don't know whether
it is sold in Asia or not, but that's where it was made.

There are too many things that are made in China but not available for sale there. I live in China and I know the LaCrosse is not available here, not sure about other parts of Asia though. I got mine from Amazon.com last year and it's been working great.

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