Manufacturer recalls 554,000 LED bulbs from four major brands
From Professional Lighting Design
The Consumer Product Safety commission of America have announced that The Lighting Science Group have had to recall 554,000 LED bulbs sold under the brand names Definity, EcoSmart, Sylvania, and Westinghouse because of danger of fire. 68 reports of LEDs overheating, with damage to light sockets, fixtures, rugs, carpet, floors, circuits or lamps has led to the LED light sources being recalled.
The affected bulb models are A19, G25 and R20 (also known as PAR20) LED bulbs. The model type will appear alone or with one of the following prefixes: “ECS” referring to Ecosmart (a brand of Home Depot), “DFN” referring to Definity (a brand of LSG), “OSI” referring to Osram Sylvania, or “WHP” referring to Westinghouse. The suspected bulbs are identified by a date code from October 2010 to March 2011. These codes can be found at the base of the bulb printed in the format “L4810”, which would indicate the 48th week of 2010 (i.e. Nov 29th, 2010). The 6 or 8-watt LEDs were apparently manufactured in China, and some in Mexico. For the full list of 24 date codes, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall notice.
The “Consumer Reports” magazine tested the EcoSmart A19 LED Bright White 40W ECS 19WW 120 864680, but did not encounter the overheating problem. Anybody who may have bought an affected LED, should stop using it.
Comment from Joachim Ritter
The Lighting Science Group have had to recall 554,000 LED lamps because of danger of fire. This news is startling, to say the least. It will leave many people feeling scared. Some will claim they saw it coming, and that LED light sources are not all they are made out to be; others will state unbelievingly that they were not aware that LEDs produce heat and are loathe to acknowledge the fact. The announcement will doubtless give rise to discussion: suddenly LEDs will not only be known for energy efficiency, but also for fostering fear. To be frank, this is a good thing, and the heat generated by LED lamps will hopefully lead to the hotheads among the LED fans cooling down enough to begin to understand the truth of the situation. I would say we can be lucky that this has now come to light (no pun intended).
That doesn’t mean to say I relish the fact that things go wrong sometimes, but rather that this occurrence spells out the risks inherent to rapid development and to the never-ending array (again, no pun) of suppliers of LED products on the market. The time has come to really define quality and safety standards, and to channel the hype into interested but realistic debate. We have to realise that good, safe products cannot be purchased for next to nothing from low-wage countries and that competition and free enterprise can lead to safety hazards, which in turn can trigger disasters. Free-market economy has already caused the financial world to collapse. In the lighting world, this could cost lives.
But let’s not overreact. Every technological development contains a certain element of risk and conventional lighting technologies also operate on electricity. The problem is not the LED itself that clouds our view, but rather the hype around SSL technology as a whole. LED technology not only fuels our expectations as a kind of magical remedy to quell energy consumption, but also fires the readiness to assume risk. Manufacturers do not necessarily see the LED as an all-round blessing that generates endless easy income. It is often the reason for a fall in profit margins, coupled with significant cost pressure – it’s not surprising that people succumb to taking risks.
This again shows that faith in engineering per se and the endless belief in all things technical can be dangerous. History has taught us that infinite belief can result in catastrophes of huge dimensions – such as the sinking of the Titanic, the Hindenburg disaster, or the explosion of the Challenger Space Shuttle. As far as I know there has not been a catastrophe of these dimensions in the solid state lighting world, but this product recall could be taken as a warning shot and encourage us to review the status of development in the hard-fought LED retrofit market.