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Apparently it's happened again (Dell laptop goes incindiary)

Discussion in 'Laptops' started by Barry Watzman, Jul 25, 2006.

  1. From Infoworld, today's Column by Robert Cringely:

    "Cringester Thomas F. says he'd just loaded his 1966 ford F25 truck with
    camping gear when the Dell Inspiron 1300 sitting on the floor of the cab
    burst into flames, just like the laptop that made headlines in Japan.
    When the fire reached the truck's gas tank, well, remember that scene in
    Star Wars when the Death Star gets destroyed? When he got back home
    eight hours later, Dell's online support tech demanded the service tag
    from the bottom of the charred-beyond-recognition notebook before he
    would help him. Dell spokesfolk say they take such matters very
    seriously and are investigating it thoroughly. Earlier Dell had blamed
    its combustible laptops on defective lithium ion batteries (like that's
    going to reassure us) and has asked the Consumer Product Safety
    Commission for help. When Dell says its computers are "the bomb," I
    never thought it meant that literally."
     
    Barry Watzman, Jul 25, 2006
    #1
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  2. Barry Watzman

    BigJim Guest

    if you have been reading about this, it apparently is the batteries that are
    causing the problems.
    lets see if dell is going to replace them.
     
    BigJim, Jul 25, 2006
    #2
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  3. Barry Watzman

    ric Guest

    "demanded the service tag" - smashing. quality support at it's finest.
    i doubt dell are going to do anything other than make very very sure no
    new batteries go out like this. if they do a recall, they're opening
    the floodgates to being sued. as it stands i'd imagine it's pretty
    hard to prove one way or the other the cause, seeing as the battery and
    laptop will end up completely destroyed...
     
    ric, Jul 25, 2006
    #3
  4. Barry Watzman

    budgie Guest

    They've done Li-Ion battery recalls before ....
     
    budgie, Jul 25, 2006
    #4
  5. That point has been understood from day 1 (that it is the batteries).
     
    Barry Watzman, Jul 25, 2006
    #5
  6. Don't be silly, if they don't do a recall on a product they know is
    defective they open the same floodgates.

    Note that Dell needs to figure out exactly what went wrong before
    recalling batteries. Maybe the motherboard shorts the batteries out,
    maybe some motherboard component catches on fire, maybe moisture gets
    into them, maybe they get set down in a puddle, maybe the owners
    bought aftermarket (non-Dell) batteries. Sure, the batteries are the
    smoking gun, but without a root cause analysis, a knee-jerk battery
    recall is _worse_ than nothing, as it diverts attention from figuring
    out what's really happening.

    [Maybe "Cringester" should sue Ford for selling him a vehicle that's
    prone to gas tank explosions...]
     
    William P.N. Smith, Jul 25, 2006
    #6
  7. Barry Watzman

    tho x. bui Guest

    Last year, Dell issued a recall on certain model's AC adapter in our
    company (we were all issued Dell laptops), so the danger isn't
    necessarily always with the batteries.

    I suspect that with these types of occurances, the battery is the fuel,
    but the source of ignition isn't always within the battery itself.

    Tho
     
    tho x. bui, Jul 25, 2006
    #7
  8. Barry Watzman

    M.I.5¾ Guest

    The fuel and the source of ignition are both within the battery as indeed is
    the oxygen as well.

    There have been numerous reports of fires and damage caused by after market
    and (in particular) counterfeit batteries that have not bothered to include
    the vital safety devices. This is not only in the laptop arena, with
    digital cameras being particularly targetted.
     
    M.I.5¾, Jul 26, 2006
    #8
  9. Barry Watzman

    tho x. bui Guest


    I agree to what you said. My point, however, is that it isn't always
    _just_ the battery that is the problem, and it isn't always just non-OEM
    battery that is the culprit (re: the recent recall at our company).

    Tho
     
    tho x. bui, Jul 26, 2006
    #9
  10. Barry Watzman

    M.I.5¾ Guest


    I agree to what you said. My point, however, is that it isn't always
    _just_ the battery that is the problem, and it isn't always just non-OEM
    battery that is the culprit (re: the recent recall at our company).

    --------------------------

    True. The usual trigger is abuse of the battery, either by over charging;
    over discharging or short circuiting (though this latter should be protected
    against using PTC devices in the cells themselves). The battery monitor and
    the charger electronics should make either an impossibility. Yet incidents
    occur.

    Dell's recent recall does not make it clear whether there was a specific
    problem or the recall was purely precautionary (liability laws these days
    mean it could be either - and Dell are unlikely to ellaborate). Not enough
    is known about the two incidents to comment further.
     
    M.I.5¾, Jul 26, 2006
    #10
  11. Barry Watzman

    tho x. bui Guest

    Sometimes, it's hard to blame the device maker. I worked on case of a
    toasted power supply (not a laptop) where the ignition is clearly caused
    by a badly made inductor that runs hotter than spec. This is a 5-cent
    off-the-shelf core, working inside a thousand-dollar worth of switching
    power supply. The device maker has no way of checking it when they buy
    the core and put the thing together, but is still the one everybody
    points their fingers at.

    It's a wonder why everything electronic don't occasionally spontaneously
    combust!

    Tho
     
    tho x. bui, Jul 26, 2006
    #11
  12. Barry Watzman

    timeOday Guest

    If I were Dell I'm perform a very thorough investigation before buying
    the guy's story.
     
    timeOday, Jul 27, 2006
    #12
  13. Barry Watzman

    J. Clarke Guest

    Seems to me that a Hell of a lot had to burn before the fire could reach the
    truck's gas tank.

    There's more to this story than has been told here.
     
    J. Clarke, Jul 28, 2006
    #13
  14. There may be more to the story, but at the same time you have carpet,
    seats, wiring in the passenger compartment. Once you start a major
    fire, the original source may well become irrelevant.
     
    Barry Watzman, Jul 28, 2006
    #14
  15. Barry Watzman

    zwsdotcom Guest

    Have you ever seen a car fire? Seen how quickly it spreads and how HOT
    it can get? Would you want to get close to it and try to put it out?

    I was walking down the street one evening when a late-model Saab
    suddenly stopped in the middle of the road and four people bundled out
    of it leaving the doors open. In less than a minute, there were
    forty-foot-high flames that burned through the tram [streetcar]
    overhead wires [this incident happened in Toorak, Melbourne, Australia,
    along Toorak Rd. on the number 8 tram line]. The radiant heat was
    sufficient to melt the sides of parked cars.

    A '66 truck probably has a lot less plastic and a lot more metal in it
    than a modern car, but even so...

    If a laptop in my car did the old explodin'-Dell trick, I'd jump the
    hell out and stay out. Car burning? Let it burn - not worth my life.
    The fire department has the equipment to put it out safely, if there's
    anything left to put out by the time they arrive.
     
    zwsdotcom, Jul 28, 2006
    #15
  16. Barry Watzman

    J. Clarke Guest

    We aren't talking about a fire that started due to a failure of the car, we
    are talking about a computer smouldering away on the passenger-side floor
    mat in a pickup truck.
    Suit yourself.
     
    J. Clarke, Jul 29, 2006
    #16
  17. Barry Watzman

    J. Clarke Guest

    I'd be very surprised if there was any intact carpet in a 40 year old pickup
    truck. If it was like my Dad's of the same vintage there's not a whole
    Hell of a lot of stuff in the cab that is not metal or rubber (which is
    damnably hard to ignite) except the seat upholstery.
     
    J. Clarke, Jul 29, 2006
    #17
  18. If you look at the photos from the first fire in Japan, it's hardly what
    you would call "smouldering". It was more like a fire-bomb.
     
    Barry Watzman, Jul 29, 2006
    #18
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