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Old 08-10-14, 03:11 AM   #1
ICanHas
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Default Unnecessary use of line-voltage power electronics is getting excessive

Like it or not, passive devices are extremely reliable and far more durable and resilient than line voltage power electronics. Power surge damages wasn't as common before everything was infested with extremely fragile electronic front-end that becomes perfectly good to unusable like glass shattering.

I don't have Cable TV right now, because the switch-mode "Efficiency level V" wall wart for the Comcast box failed. I've experienced a handful of power adapters failing. All the failures have been in the recent years and each and every one of them has been China sourced switch mode type with power electronics operating directly across the line.

I've not seen a single old tech 60Hz transformer where no semiconductor parts talk to line side fail that wasn't related to overload on the low-voltage side.

I've had five or six failed power adapters. Each and every one of them China sourced switch-mode with line side power electronic.

Router
Power tool charger
Comcast cable box
Laptop AC adapter
cell phone charger
External USB drive

I've seen incredibly low failure rates in things that DO NOT use power electronics on front-end. In many applications, its all about pushing cheapo China sourced junk. The shipping cost savings is considerable for them vendors.

Semiconductor parts are quite durable in low power applications in that glassware and ceramics theoretically outlasts plastic, because they don't wear out. In the real world, breakage losses dominate glassware loss and "power electronics" crap blows up just like that.

Passive core and coil technology is practically indestructible and failure mechanism is generally by wear or chronic abuse.

The cost of proper replacement wall wart generally far outweighs what the device would have used in electricity in lifetime. For desktop computers and laptops, its an acceptable compromise to use the unreliable technology since the size of power supply unit needed to provide that level of power using passive technology is unreasonable.

Failure rates on electronic embedded ballasts in CFLs as well as high ambient conditions in commercial buildings are quite high. You'll find that when every bulb is out in a commercial building fixture, it is usually due to fried electronic ballasts.

Inverter microwave ovens and front load washing machines using power electronics embedded systems generally have been an epic fail. There are very many consumer complaints involving those power electronics components that wipes out any hopes of savings or take out what you've saved up, then put you far back in the red. The failure rate of inverter type microwave oven is quite high and the repair cost generally means a write off and its all power electronics related. Same with inverter motor drive type washers. If it's out of warranty, the replacement cost of power electronics parts compared to the going price for a comparable used appliance generally means a write off too.

The ECM type motor used in HVACR systems are particularly troublesome as well. The high risk factor from high failure rates and the high cost of service are never justified by what you'll save in "energy savings" and when you do simple pay back calculation on anything that involves energy saving solutions that's power electronics up the wazoo, its about as silly as using "zero breakage loss rate" on glassware expenses. Contactors and relays wear out gradually. Replacement costs aren't bad. When some drive parts in that FOC VFD PID mPIC stuff fails in those third class brand mini splits fail... oh you're at $500 in just parts.

Power electronics.. paving our ways into low durability, high priced, disposable appliances(and generally made in China, or manufactured with... parts mostly from China)


Last edited by ICanHas; 08-10-14 at 03:16 AM..
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Old 08-10-14, 06:26 AM   #2
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I can recognize the older and far more robust power supplies as they have a buzz (from the transformer), but how can we recognize the lack of them in electronics that have this integrated (like washers, etc)?

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Old 08-10-14, 08:12 AM   #3
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I haven't experienced this outside of 2wire power supplies, I've killed 3 of those before I ditched buying used ones off of Craigslist. Other than that I've been fine with everything in my house including all of the major appliances such as the oven electronics, laptop power supplies, cell phone chargers, etc.
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Old 08-10-14, 08:18 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by stevehull View Post
I can recognize the older and far more robust power supplies as they have a buzz (from the transformer), but how can we recognize the lack of them in electronics that have this integrated (like washers, etc)?

Steve
If it says "inverter" or have push button control and the drum spins at different speeds without using a transmission, there's probably line voltage side power electronics embedded systems crap in there. Anything that says "100-240v" is line voltage power electronics crap for sure.

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Old 08-10-14, 09:32 AM   #5
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Applied properly, power electronics are very reliable. At work, there are thousands of PSUs in various server rooms and it's very rare for one to fail. The problem is when OEMs skimp on quality. And then there's planned failures like the "smart" fans in most modern PC PSUs, which they market as a feature...
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Old 08-10-14, 09:46 AM   #6
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Relax, it's all part of the new world order. If your power pack never failed, then Larry the cable guy wouldn't have much service to do every day. If your microwave or washing machine lasted twenty or thirty years, the manufacturers wouldn't sell as many. Just go back to college and get a better job, so you can afford to replace these devices more frequently. Progress will not be stopped, improvements must be made so that profit can be maximized.

Your ideas are so 1950. The world has changed since goods were built to last. Now, everything is disposable. You are thinking outside the box; please alter your mindset.

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Old 08-10-14, 09:58 AM   #7
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Or learn how to do electronics repair and fix up junkers to get cheap stuff!
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Old 08-10-14, 06:55 PM   #8
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or avoid China sourced stuff entirely giving us the excuse to let the pollution take place in China instead
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Old 08-10-14, 06:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff5may View Post
Your ideas are so 1950. The world has changed since goods were built to last. Now, everything is disposable. You are thinking outside the box; please alter your mindset.
And... how's disposable, unreliable foreign made junk appliances eco?
E-waste is a serious modern issue hence the development of RoHS and such.
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Old 08-10-14, 07:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MN Renovator View Post
I haven't experienced this outside of 2wire power supplies, I've killed 3 of those before I ditched buying used ones off of Craigslist. Other than that I've been fine with everything in my house including all of the major appliances such as the oven electronics, laptop power supplies, cell phone chargers, etc.
Your oven most likely don't use the hunk of pile, failure prone power electronics. The control circuits are floating on its own island. The highly reliable coil and core transformer provides the low voltage power source for the controls and the exceptionally resilient and robust relays operate the heating element.

Power electronics can fail without notice and often failing by sticking closed. The manufacturing cost streamlining embedded systems type design that incorporates power electronics just means power surge, poof and a total loss.

Light dimmers often fail by becoming stuck on full brightness. Cause? Power electronics, duh.


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