Categories: Workspace

Fire Risk From HP Laptop Cables Prompts Recall

Hewlett-Packard has issued a recall after it was discovered that six million of its laptop cables pose a fire risk.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission warned the affected AC cables could potentially start a fire, after HP received 29 reports of power cords overheating and melting or charring, resulting in two claims of minor burns and 13 claims of minor property damage.

Fire and burn hazard

The problem cable has the “LS-15″ marking molded into the connector that plugs into the AC adapter. However, somewhat confusingly, not all cables with LS-15 will be affected. The affected cables were sold with Compaq and Hewlett-Packard laptops between September 2010 until June 2012.

Hewlett-Packard has now issued its own recall for the cables, and promises to replace the cable free of charge.

“HP believes that certain power cords shipped with notebook PC products and AC adapter accessories may pose a risk of a fire and burn hazard to customers,” the tech giant said. “We are taking this action as part of our commitment to provide the highest quality of service to our notebook customers.”

Previous Recalls

Product recalls for faulty laptops items are nothing new and affect all laptop makers, although they tend to be mostly associated with faulty batteries, rather than cables.

For example in May 2009, HP recalled 70,000 batteries used in HP and Compaq laptops. It then recalled an additional 54,000 lithium ion batteries in May 2010 after further reports emerged that they could catch fire.

Another recall in July 2011 saw 162,000 lithium-ion batteries recalled after a number of people reported incidents of injuries and burns from batteries that hadn’t previously been cited.

There is good financial reason for all these recalls: in 2012, HP agreed to pay a civil penalty of $425,000 (£272,797) in order to resolve allegations that it knowingly sold laptops with battery packs that could overheat or catch fire. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) made the announcement after staff claimed that HP failed to report immediately, as required by federal law, that it knew about a fault which posed an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death.

Last year HP also issued a recall notice for the power chargers of its Chromebook 11, after some overheating reports.

The usual risk associated with these recalls are overheating or burns. But sometimes the injuries caused can be a bit more bizarre. For example, in 2011, a British man living in New Zealand was impaled by his laptop computer. According to the New Zealand Herald newspaper, 52 year old William Warner suffered a horrendous hand injury after the DVD drive of his Toshiba laptop fired out a piece of metal which impaled his palm

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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