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XBox (Games)

Xbox 360 Power Supply Blamed for Arkansas House Fire 89

Posted by timothy
from the when-burning-in-hell-is-just-too-late dept.
Beryllium writes "In Arkansas, an XBox 360's power supply (or power cord, the story is a bit ambiguous) apparently caused a fire with over $10,000 in damages. The fire chief says that it was probably due to the power supply unit being crammed into a space that had poor air circulation. The previously-documented heat issues with 360s led me to buy 'Andy', an affordable IKEA wireframe stand for my gaming system — with drawers! Since I've also got the power supply inside one of the unit's drawers, it should have more than adequate airflow to dissipate heat. I wonder what other airflow-improving ideas Slashdotters have come up with for their consoles?"
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Xbox 360 Power Supply Blamed for Arkansas House Fire

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  • Are you sure...? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by OMNIpotusCOM (1230884) *

    In Arkansas, an XBox 360's power supply (or power cord, the story is a bit ambiguous) apparently caused a fire with over $10,000 in damages. The fire chief says that it was probably due to the power supply unit being crammed into a space that had poor air circulation.

    Doesn't that mean the fire was caused by an idiot who didn't realize that a power brick weighing 5 pounds with a fan on it kinda needs to have airflow? Not only that but it was probably a old-school one that wasn't registered and didn't get the replacement cables.

    The previously-documented heat issues with 360s led me to buy 'Andy', an affordable IKEA wireframe stand for my gaming system -- with drawers! Since I've also got the power supply inside one of the unit's drawers, it should have more than adequate airflow to dissipate heat.

    There's a lot of "should" in that... I'm sure the people who owned the home that had fire damage had a lot of "should" insurance too.

    • by B3ryllium (571199)
      It has a fan in the brick? Hrm, I hadn't noticed. It seems passively-cooled, to me.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by OMNIpotusCOM (1230884) *

        From the XBox 360 Manual [fcc.gov]

        Failure to properly set up, use, and care for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system can increase the risk of serious injury or death, or damage to the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system

        Do not block any ventilation openings on the console or power supply. Do not place the console or power supply on a bed, sofa, or other soft surface that may block ventilation openings. Do not place the console or power supply in a confined space, such as a bookcase, rack, or stereo cabinet, unless the space is well ventilated.

        From the Amazon description of power cables [amazon.com]

        Features: Internal cooling fan

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by enosys (705759)
      There should be protective devices inside which prevent a fire even in those conditions. For example simple transformer based wall warts have an overtemperature protector inside the transformer windings. I thought such protection was necessary to get UL certification.
    • by sjames (1099)

      Doesn't that mean the fire was caused by an idiot who didn't realize that a power brick weighing 5 pounds with a fan on it kinda needs to have airflow? Not only that but it was probably a old-school one that wasn't registered and didn't get the replacement cables.

      I have tons of bricks and wall warts here. Not a single one of them is the least bit of a hazard if stuffed into a corner with no airflow. The MS brick strongly violates people's expectations in a way that can burn the house down. Most devices that can potentially overheat that badly have thermal protection to shut them down long before they catch fire.

      They should have provided better ventilation, but the brick should be safer in the first place.

      • The MS brick strongly violates people's expectations in a way that can burn the house down.

        Especially since it's been out for nearly three years, sold over 18 million units worldwide, and this is the absolute first case of any damage what-so-ever being reported... and this one is reported as not being Microsoft's fault.

        That's it, take it off the market. People aren't smart enough to read the manual, heed the warnings, obey common logic, or be allowed to handle shiny things!

        • by sjames (1099)

          Actually, it's not the first fire attributed somehow to an Xbox. There was a recall because of a different but related fire haard.

          All I said they should (and could) have done better. Considering that beyond the multiple fires and burn injuries, there have been a great many unit failures attributed to poor thermal design, I feel reasonably justified in suggesting they should REALLY pay more attention to heat issues.

  • Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by What Would NPH Do (1274934) on Saturday April 19, 2008 @02:53PM (#23128898)

    The fire chief says that it was probably due to the power supply unit being crammed into a space that had poor air circulation.
    Did the submitter even read their own summary before writing their title? It clearly is said that the problem was due to the person putting the PSU into a space with poor air circulation which is clearly against the instructions given by Microsoft with respect to the PSU.
    • Exactly. The comments for the linked story are split between "Microsoft is endangering lives" and what you just said. No Child Left Behind my ass =)
    • by BSAtHome (455370)
      But it didn't say it required liquid nitrogen cooling when crammed into a closed space. So, in good tradition, sue the manufacturer for failing to state the obvious.
    • by peragrin (659227)
      while you are 100% right the fact is PSU's shouldn't need their own cooling fans. I can see the device needing airflow but the PSU should be passive enough to not require a fan.

      How many other media devices out there require a PSU with a cooling fan? anything can someone name me more than 1? it is a stupid design flaw as smart people know that the area behind the tv always has little airflow. People don't want to see that mess of cables.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        while you are 100% right the fact is PSU's shouldn't need their own cooling fans. I can see the device needing airflow but the PSU should be passive enough to not require a fan.
        While that is all well and good, the fact of the matter is that implicit instructions come from Microsoft to not have the PSU in a place with poor air circulation. It's not their fault that some idiot in Arkansas disregarded those instructions.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Explicit instructions, I mean.
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          There's a difference between disregarding something you've read, and not reading it at all. How many people read their manual before hooking up the console to the TV?
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by OMNIpotusCOM (1230884) *

            And honestly, how many people read contracts before signing them? Come on, I mean all of the contract. Alright, still some dissenters, how about this... how many understand all the terms? There we go. That's what I thought.

            And how many of us have been burned by a cup of coffee when it didn't say "Served Hot"? And how many of you have had a firework blow up in your hand and take a finger off? That's right. All of us. Obviously this is a manufacturer problem in all of these cases. The salesperson s

            • by CastrTroy (595695)
              No, but burying it in the manual isn't the right place to put this. A big yellow sticker with black writing directly on the power supply would probably be a much better idea. Especially considering most other power bricks that come with home electronics don't tend to need quite as much heating.
              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by B3ryllium (571199)
                ... so you advocate placing some flammable (and airflow-blocking) material on the unit suspected of causing this fire, in the hopes it would prevent future fires? :)
                • IT... DIDN'T... CAUSE... FIRE!!! It's not even suspected or alleged by anyone with a brain. They didn't follow the rules, they didn't read on their investment, they just wanted shiney pixels without all that pesky searchin, and they live in Arkansas.
                  • by B3ryllium (571199)
                    The fire department captain said that it did cause the fire, albeit not spontaneously. It caused the fire through a lack of common sense; putting a sticker on something won't ever fix that. All it will do is add fuel to the fire.

                    (Literally, in this case)
                    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                      by OMNIpotusCOM (1230884) *
                      That's like saying I lit a match, dropped it on some newspapers, it caused damage to my house, but the newspapers caused the fire, then complaining that the match had an instruction booklet that said not to drop it on newspapers.
                    • by jimicus (737525)

                      The fire department captain said that it did cause the fire, albeit not spontaneously. It caused the fire through a lack of common sense; putting a sticker on something won't ever fix that. All it will do is add fuel to the fire.

                      (Literally, in this case)

                      I'd agree with the lack of common sense, but not entirely on the part of the owner.

                      It is, IMO, reasonable to assume that a games console and its PSU will be just put down around the back of the TV where there is poor air circulation. It is also reasonable to assume that no matter how clear the warning in the manual to "locate the PSU somewhere with good air circulation", someone will ignore it.

                      Therefore, it makes sense to design the unit such that in the event of failure, it won't do anything dangerous li

                    • by B3ryllium (571199)
                      Are you BadAnalogyGuy posting under a different nickname? Seriously.
                    • You can't be this dense. Go get shot and blame the gun. I give up.
                    • by MBGMorden (803437)
                      I have to agree with this. The power supply unit should have enough failsafes in there to at a minimum not cause a fire.

                      Put it this way: if Microsoft had some fine print in on the bottom of page 39 that said "Warning: Pressing the eject button twice within 5 seconds will cause the DVD to eject from the front tray at supersonic velocities.", do you think they'd be in the clear when the family of someone decapitated by a flying DVD sues? There are some things that manufactures just shouldn't do regardless o
              • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                by OMNIpotusCOM (1230884) *
                It's like page 3. Do you need Cliffs Notes for the guide? You dropped $400 or so on it, you expect to get years of use out of it... don't you think you'd peruse the manual, or just the fact that it is one of the biggest power bricks in existence and has a fan on it isn't enough of a hint?
                • It's like page 3. Do you need Cliffs Notes for the guide? You dropped $400 or so on it, you expect to get years of use out of it... don't you think you'd peruse the manual, or just the fact that it is one of the biggest power bricks in existence and has a fan on it isn't enough of a hint?

                  You make the assumption that the purchaser is literate. A possibly incorrect assumption [wikipedia.org]:

                  This government study showed that 21% to 23% of adult Americans were not "able to locate information in text", could not "make low-l

                  • This government study showed that 21% to 23% of adult Americans were not "able to locate information in text", could not "make low-level inferences using printed materials", and were unable to "integrate easily identifiable pieces of information
                    Those numbers seem awfully low to me....
            • by sjames (1099)

              I'm guessing very few do. Personally, I read them and often the sales rep looks at me like I just sprouted antlers. Sometimes I find huge glaring defects. Some of them appear to have been written by someone who is barely literate. I'm guessing nobody ever read those before.

              Practically no sales rep knows what to do if I strike a paragraph and ask him to initial his acceptance of the strike (usually they just do it after a moment's hesitation).

              At the same time, people develop reasonable expectations about

      • by tepples (727027)

        How many other media devices out there require a PSU with a cooling fan?
        Home theater PCs, for one.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by wjsteele (255130)
        "How many other media devices out there require a PSU with a cooling fan? anything can someone name me more than 1?"

        My Tivo does AND my Media Center PC does.

        Come to think of it, so does every home computer I have ever owned!!! It's just that the Power Supply is IN the computer. The XBox designers decided to move it out of the unit.

        Bill
        • by peragrin (659227)
          funny the Media Center PC runs windows. yet another MSFT based concept running hot.

          The Tivo I find odd but believe you.

          There is no fan in my Mac Mini's PSU , and it can do everything your media center can do(with a separate tuner) I would even bet that it takes up less space too.
          • by Peil (549875)
            FFS, are you seriously blaming a software company for the excess heat generated by a chipset and associated components in a PC?

            Microsoft's only involvement is the sofware running on it and a shiny sticker to say it's certfied/up to the marketing spec
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The problem is that manuals have so many bullshit precautions that nobody bothers to read them. (What? You mean I shouldn't drop my Xbox on a baby? Now what am I supposed to do with it?)
      • But, in turn, we have those warnings because of dumb fuckers like the Arkansas... Arkansasian... Arkansonian... Arkansasonites... because of those dumb fuckers.
  • Owing to, well, owing more than I can afford, my most recent console is a nice purple Gamecube (unless you count my Yobo FC Dual [yobogroup.com]). However, years ago after my Sega Genesis power supply burned out, I came up with a simple solution for it. I put a cheap plastic fan on the floor, aimed it at the power supply (which was well ventilated) and made sure to turn on my surge protector when I was playing. Did it help? Who knows? It is the same basic principal as the fans in a computer case though. After a while
  • What aren't you guys understanding? When vented properly the power brick doesn't heat up to the point where it catches fire. This guy had his brick in a tightly compact spot. The expelled heat was collecting in the area, and naturally, a small area will heat up much quicker than a larger one. It's not like this guy had his brick out in the open and it caused a fire. No, he had it in a very tight spot which raised the overall temperature of the area enough to cause a fire. Get this through your heads: The
    • by Xest (935314)
      It's not that straightforward, the 360 (like laptops and many other electronic devices) has an external power supply. The 360 itself does infact shut off if it overheats but as with just about every power supply ever created, the power supply itself doesn't.

      There is no reason this couldn't have happened with a Laptop, the power adapter for a speaker system, a router or anything similar. You're right in that devices with integrated power supplies are often more capable in terms of shutting down if heat becom
      • by sjames (1099)

        There is no reason this couldn't have happened with a Laptop, the power adapter for a speaker system, a router or anything similar.

        Actually, yes there is a reason. They don't generate enough heat to cause a fire even without any airflow.

        I agree that we can't afford to make everything proof against everything, but a simple dirt cheap meltable link would prevent power supplies from causing a fire.

        My space heater has 2 thermal switches in series in addition to the thermostat just in case. This even though it's blatantly obvious a space heater should have free airflow. Why should a power supply be more likely to cause a fire than an

  • Unlikely (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gweihir (88907) on Saturday April 19, 2008 @03:45PM (#23129238)
    Birch-type PSUs have to have overheating protection. Without that the diesign would be crimonally neglient. It is far more likely that this was one of the incompetently done power connections, were MS showed its typical lack of understanding for engineering questions.

  • Little Rock, Ark., media are reporting this week that a local gamer now has a singed house following a fire blamed on the power supply cord to his Xbox. Firefighters investigating the blaze say the cord was found pinched between the wall and the Xbox power brick, which tends to get very hot during extended game play. Xbox 360 blamed for house fire [stltoday.com]

    Too often on Slashdot, it can be difficult - if not impossible to trace a link to a primary source, and this link is really no better.

    But the impression I have

  • Perhaps there should be a temperature sensor which would turn the system off if the temperature got too high. Fires aside, it would prevent hardware problems as well.
    • by westlake (615356)
      Perhaps there should be a temperature sensor which would turn the system off if the temperature got too high.

      Where do you put the sensor? What is it reading? The ambient temperature of the power brick as a whole - or that pinched little pocket between the brick, the cord, and the wall, which is the real danger?

      • by canavan (14778)

        Where do you put the sensor? What is it reading?
        The hottest components of the power supply of course. Why measure anything on the outside if that must be cooler than the power supply unless it is getting heated by something else (which should have shut down itsself before getting dangerously hot).
  • The 360 has a fairly large install base. It's inevitable that something like this would happen. The PS does require adequate airflow and generates a considerable amount of heat. I would venture to say that it was in a cabinet or laying on the carpet.
  • Ha ha. This story just reminded me that my brother, a volunteer firefighter, had a 360 in the firestation. Fire wasn't their main concern with the 360's heat problem-- obviously, it was something they could handle, and the building was made completely out of concrete-- but due the fact that the console was typically running 24 hours a day. The thing crashed all the time. Because the way the shifts worked out, someone always had the ability to sit down in front of it, so this quickly got on their nerves.
  • FTFA: "According to Little Rock, Arkansas fire department captain Jason Weaver, a 360's power cord was to blame for a blaze that injured no one (thankfully) but caused some $100,000 in property damage."

    So what first looked like the blaze might have been contained to one room, at $100,000 means it probably took out most of the house.

    LoB
  • ... having their house burn down will encourage them to stop playing so many video games and get outside more :)
  • by blincoln (592401) on Saturday April 19, 2008 @06:50PM (#23130592) Homepage Journal
    Isn't the whole reason that various government entities in the US have effectively granted a monopoly to a private corporation (Underwriters Laboratories) to help ensure the safety of consumer products powered by electricity? Or is UL now as corporation-friendly as the Better (for) Businesses Bureau?
    What happened to the sorts of tests where devices were deliberately abused to make sure they failed in a way that didn't involve burning down the owner's home?
    Failing that, why is MS not building the heat equivalent of a circuit breaker into these PSUs? The possibility of corrupting the hard drive or whatever due to a non-graceful shutdown has to be less than the bad publicity caused by burning down customers' houses.
    • by westlake (615356)
      Failing that, why is MS not building the heat equivalent of a circuit breaker into these PSUs?

      again, I am not sure how that helps.

      you can read the ambient temperature of the power supply easily enough. but that doesn't mean there won't be dangerous hot spots if you shove the PSU into the back of a poorly ventilated storage unit.

      set it on shag carpeting or some other easily ignited surface.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        You've said that three times now, and you've been wrong three times. It is not possible for the air around the power supply to get hotter than the power supply itself unless something else is heating it (in which case it wouldn't be the PSU's fault) or it's being compressed, like in an air compressor, which it is not. If it ever DID get as hot as the only source of heat, the PSU, then the PSU would not be able to heat it anymore, because heat does not flow from cold to hot. So stop spreading nonsense.
      • P.S. Sorry if my tone was rude.
  • If you have a lot of electronic components, it is hard to find a stand or cabinet to fit, most of them have lousy airflow, and many are flammable. The wireframe stand recommended by the OP looks nice, but I am a big fan of industrial wire shelving, which you can assemble to exactly the size, shelf spacing, etc. that you need. A light-duty consumer grade version is available in most hardware stores. It's probably OK (I haven't tried it), but the industrial version is heavier grade, available in more sizes an
  • "Since I've also got the power supply inside one of the unit's drawers, it should have more than adequate airflow to dissipate heat. I wonder what other airflow-improving ideas Slashdotters have come up with for their consoles?"

    I've submersed mine in an old aquarium filled with 15 l of EVOO. Since this is a nonconducting liquid which can diffuse all heat, I feel quite safe with this setup. Not to mention the soothing effect of home-cooked Belgian fries after an intense Halo session. Mmmmm!

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

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