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Thread: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

  1. #1
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    Default La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    1/9/2006

    Many of you are familiar with the La Crosse BC-900 charger. It has a lot of excellent features and has been highly recommended by myself, and others.

    In the last month, there have been several reports of meltdowns with this charger. At first I thought it had to do with charging high capacity cells at a low charge rate. Several have reported their chargers and cells melting together when charging Energizer 2500 mAh cells at 200 mA. However, I just recently became aware of another melt down involving Sanyo 2500 mAh cells in the test mode charging at 1000 mA and discharging at 500 mA.

    I have been in touch with La Crosse and have discovered that the high temperature shut down on the BC-900 is set for 160 F. It seems that once the outside case of the cell gets to 160 F, there is some momentum left and the cells continue to heat up resulting in a melted case.

    The other problem is that the BC-900 does not completely stop the charge in the event of high temperatures. It shuts the charge down until the cell cools off, then resumes charging again.

    I have instructed people to keep a watchful eye on their battery charging, and to keep combustibles away. As a result, there have been no reports of loss of property (other than chargers and cells).

    I have had no problems with my charger, but in light of the recent reports, I feel a word of caution is advised.

    If you have any problems, you can contact La Crosse at 888-211-1923.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

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    Flashaholic* BatteryCharger's Avatar
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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    Wow, that sounds like something worthy of a recall.
    I got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell.

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    Flashaholic* Grubbster's Avatar
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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    Yikes! My brother-in-law bought my 71 year old mother-in-law one of these chargers for Christmas. She is the type to put a battery in there and forget about it. Guess I need to make a phone call.

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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    Quote Originally Posted by BatteryCharger
    Wow, that sounds like something worthy of a recall.

    To cynically paraphrase Fight Club: "A new battery charger built by the company starts charging at 200ma. The overtemperature behavior of the design is flawed. The charger melts and burns with everyone trapped inside the house. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of chargers in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one."

    Not all companies think like this, but there's an element of truth there. A counter example would be Nikon's recent recall of a whole bunch of li-ion batteries even though there'd been only 4 confirmed incidents with no injuries. Or, then again, maybe X was greater...

    I have seen a few comments about melted LaCrosse chargers and batteries, but have there been cases of the burning/melting of surrounding materials or the production of smoke/fumes?
    Last edited by dfred; 01-09-2006 at 05:30 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    hi,

    i got the same charger and the first thing i have done was opening !
    i read about that the ptc`s sometimes have no contact to the cells.
    in my case the ptc under the first and second cell had only contact to the plastic-case (and not to the metal) . i fixed that.
    could that be a part of the "melting problem" ? in that case the charger recognize only a lower temp and can`t stop heating up.

    oh,and i got firmware 31 .

    greetz
    cacer

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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox
    1/9/2006

    Many of you are familiar with the La Crosse BC-900 charger. It has a lot of excellent features and has been highly recommended by myself, and others.

    In the last month, there have been several reports of meltdowns with this charger. At first I thought it had to do with charging high capacity cells at a low charge rate. Several have reported their chargers and cells melting together when charging Energizer 2500 mAh cells at 200 mA. However, I just recently became aware of another melt down involving Sanyo 2500 mAh cells in the test mode charging at 1000 mA and discharging at 500 mA.

    I have been in touch with La Crosse and have discovered that the high temperature shut down on the BC-900 is set for 160 F. It seems that once the outside case of the cell gets to 160 F, there is some momentum left and the cells continue to heat up resulting in a melted case.

    The other problem is that the BC-900 does not completely stop the charge in the event of high temperatures. It shuts the charge down until the cell cools off, then resumes charging again.

    I have instructed people to keep a watchful eye on their battery charging, and to keep combustibles away. As a result, there have been no reports of loss of property (other than chargers and cells).

    I have had no problems with my charger, but in light of the recent reports, I feel a word of caution is advised.

    If you have any problems, you can contact La Crosse at 888-211-1923.

    Tom



    I just ordered the BC-900 today and had been debating whether to get it or the 8 cell Maha. I guess I made the wrong choice. Just out of curiousity, where have you read these reports? Have any CPF users actually had one melt down? I guess I am trying to asess just how big of a problem it is. Was Lacrosse any help in reasuring you or offering to give you a refund?

    Thanks,
    Paul



  7. #7

    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    And I thought my only problems with this charger was relegated to 2 faulty power supplys. I will be aware. Since I've had 3 units now, I was accustomed to leaving the charger fill with batteries while I was off at work. Now I will have to rethink that strategy.

    Just when I thought I finally had what appears to be the perfect charger, this news....

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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    Quote Originally Posted by dfred
    I have seen a few comments about melted LaCrosse chargers and batteries, but have there been cases of the burning/melting of surrounding materials or the production of smoke/fumes?
    When my BC-900 went down, It was the smell that first alerted me. It was really dark in the house, so I have no idea if there was smoke or not...
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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    Quote Originally Posted by senna94
    I just ordered the BC-900 today and had been debating whether to get it or the 8 cell Maha. I guess I made the wrong choice. Just out of curiousity, where have you read these reports? Have any CPF users actually had one melt down? I guess I am trying to asess just how big of a problem it is. Was Lacrosse any help in reasuring you or offering to give you a refund?

    Thanks,
    Paul


    Mine completely melted down, and I made a post about it here on CPF. LaCrosse is replacing my charger and batteries, and gave me a UPS return slip so that I could mail the melted one back at no expense to me. I talked to a guy named Brian, He was very nice and very helpful.
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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    Quote Originally Posted by Beacon of Light
    And I thought my only problems with this charger was relegated to 2 faulty power supplys. I will be aware. Since I've had 3 units now, I was accustomed to leaving the charger fill with batteries while I was off at work. Now I will have to rethink that strategy.

    Just when I thought I finally had what appears to be the perfect charger, this news....
    How long have you had yours and what version do you currently have? Did Lacrosse replace it or did you go through your distributor? I am dissapointed because I asked Thomas Distributing if they had had any problems with the BC-900 and they told me no!!!!!!


    Last edited by senna94; 01-09-2006 at 08:22 PM.

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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    I bought one of these about two weeks ago, but I have yet to even open the box. These "meltdown" stories have me a little worried, so now I'm kind of waiting to see how everything plays out before I begin putting it into regular use.

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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    I have had mine for 3 weeks now, no problems so far...version 33

  13. #13

    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    SilverFox:
    1. Is this the first charge of those sanyo 2500ma battery? Sanyo is an OEM of Energizer.
    2. Is the third party power supply used (the 3.3 Volt)?

    I think something is wrong with the CPU when melting down happens or the MOSFET is malfunction. The MOSFET is NTGS3443T1 with max current 3 A, almost no margin at all

    My BC-900 works fine for over 6 mos. I'm plan to change the MOSFETs with one having some margin.
    Last edited by tacoal; 01-09-2006 at 10:26 PM.

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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    Hello Tacoal,

    Welcome to CPF.

    The Sanyo batteries, as I understand it, had several cycles on them and were being tested to match capacity in a multi cell application. It was not the first charge on them.

    The BC-900 was used with the stock power supply.

    As I mentioned before, I have had no problems at all with mine, which is a version 32 unit. I use mine all the time with all kinds of differing capacity cells. I am very pleased with the performance of my unit.

    However, there have been enough reports of things getting hot, that it prompted me to get in touch with La Crosse and ask them some questions. When I found out the cut off temperature was set to 160 F, I decided that I needed to pass on a warning. Basically that high a cut off means that if the charger misses the end of charge signal, and you don't notice that the cells are getting hot, you will most likely end up with a meltdown, and ruin the cells you are charging at the time.

    I still like the BC-900, but I keep a pretty close watch on it while I am charging. I have always charged on a fireproof surface, so I am not worried about the actual heat, but I would hate to ruin a set of cells that I have spent an extended amount of time conditioning and cycling.

    I am not sure if we can "adjust" the high temperature value, but it sure would be nice to have it kick in at around 120 - 130 F range.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  15. #15

    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    Heres my meltdown story:

    My La Crosse BC-900 just took a nose dive and "fried" four batts and the center part of the console, and display.

    Funny thing about this situation is, I had set the charger to charge at 200 mA in order to wake up to fresh charged batts for Christmas morning.

    My wife came into the room and stated that something smells burning...I didnt think anything of it, then about five mins later-I hear what sounds like sizzling hot popping sounds.

    I jumped up and ran to the bathroom disconnected the plug, ran and got some pliers and pulled out the batts and placed them on an old rag and started squirting water on them--(still sizzling).

    Bottom Line:

    I'm out a charger, 4 batts, and a wife that keeps telling me how I could have burned down the house! (she's right).

    The batts were the "Digital" brand from Walmart 2000 mAh

    And heres a pic:



    EDIT: This was the 2nd time charging these batteries.

  16. #16

    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    @ snoofer

    do you know how fast a 56 k Dial up inet connection is???????


    to complet the thread http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...=100382&page=2
    There you find another Foto.

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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    Does anyone know if the BC-900 has a UL listing or a European Conformity certification CE???

    Paul

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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    I have a had a BC-900 for about a month without problems so far... I am wondering if their are any other chargers which display similar quantitative voltage/capacity info? If so what would the least expensive alternative be?

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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    Hello Snoofer,

    If you haven't already, would you please call La Crosse at 888-211-1923 and report what happend.

    They are telling me that they are not aware of this happening, and I just want them to know that it is a real issue.

    Thanks.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    Hello Paul,

    My unit has a CE label on it.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  21. #21

    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    Hi SilverFox,

    Thank you for the reply.

    It is strange that the melting down happens even when charging current is 200ma.
    In worst case, about 2V X 0.2A =0.4W heat will be generated in the battery,
    supposing no energy is transferred into chemical one. I don't think such heat
    will cause the melting down. It might be the malfunctioning of the CPU there or
    the chemical reaction inside the battery.

    I think the shutdown temperature could be changed by changing the resistors near
    one of the holes where the thermal sensor is mounted. They are two 7.500K
    precision resistors in parallel, 3.750K equivalent. Since the thermal sensor is
    measured about 9K @70F, a 6K resistor will change the shutdown temperature to
    about 120F, I think. Need to be confirmed by experiment.

    So keep an eye on those 2500mah batteries and above when they are being charged.

    I'll order another one as backup in case melting down happens on me.

  22. #22
    Flashaholic* senna94's Avatar
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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    I called LaCrosse today and was put on hold while the tech. helping me asked around. He was told that there had only been one unit overheat that they knew of.

    I guess until you know for sure if your unit is defective it would be prudent to take some precautionary measures.

    1) Place unit away from walls and anything flammable.

    2) Place unit on a metal tray or other non flammable surface.

    3) If possible place near a smoke detector.

    It is really a shame to have to take such measures but I guess it is better to be safe than sorry.


  23. #23
    * The Arctic Moderator * Sigman's Avatar
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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    I've not even used mine for the first time yet - and have to say that this info is certainly bothering me!

    Maybe they are waiting for their first law suit?!

    Is the loss of my house or worse yet - my family or a member of my family worth it?

    Unacceptable!
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  24. #24

    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    Just to put in a word for the BC-900 charger- I use mine all the time and have yet to have a problem.

    I've charged my cells at 1 amp and they barely even got warm. I've put them on refresh cycles at 500 mah that lasted several days and nothing got warm.

    I've used good cells in them, I've used crappy cells in them.....never had a problem.

    After using RC car chargers that make packs so hot that you can't even pick them up, I wasn't sure the BC-900 was working on the 1 amp setting until I used a multimeter to check things out. Sorry some people have had bad luck, but the charger has worked as advertised for me.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    I posted in the Charger Comparison thread where I took a dual input temperature meter using two K-Type bead probe. I wrapped it around two of the cells enough times to insure contact.

    The La Crosse BC900 at 1000ma charge rate on four 2000mAh cells reached 110F and at 1800ma charge rate on two 2000mAh cells reached 130F.

    These were Titanium 2000mAh cells. On the other hand I've charged four MAHA 1800mAh 700ma and the unit shut down for high temperature! This makes me wonder if it's the cells. Has there been meltdowns with any cells other than 2500mAh Energizers?

    I got some new "Made in China" 2300mAh Duracells that I'm trying to break in. I did one cycle on a Sirius Pro Former and tried a auto discharge on a Schultze 330d. It has four hour max limit for Ni-MH and at 3 1/2 hr is wasn't half way discharged. This could be due to these young cells being unstable or it didn't like my eight cell spring type holder. I just used the auto D/C cycle on a couple of DeWalt 14.4V Ni-CD packs with no problems
    Bill

    I'm a retired mechanic not a electronic/electrical engineer!

  26. #26

    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    The 2000mah La Crosse Tech cells that came with my charger melted down, so it is not just the 2500mah cells. I caught it in time and just the cells were damaged. Thomas replaced the cells, this was about 6 months ago, before I found out about the problems this charger has. Don't remember the charge rate, charger just went into a reset loop, displaying 32 then a blank display then 32.....

  27. #27
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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    Hello Regnim,

    Welcome to CPF.

    La Crosse does not seem to be getting the information that these overheating problems are happening. I am not sure if Thomas Distributing is relaying the information to them.

    If you don't mind, would you call La Crosse at 888-211-1923 and report to them what happened?

    Thanks.

    I would also ask that if anyone else has had overheating issues, they should contact La Crosse directly even if Thomas Distributing has already taken care of the problem. La Crosse can not remedy a problem they do not know exists, and I want to make sure they know about this.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  28. #28
    Flashaholic* Pellidon's Avatar
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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    Because of my days with RC car packs and melting one with a timer rapid cooker. I almost always use a secondary fan to blow on the cells. I just charged up some new 2000's on a Lacrosse with a fan and without. The cells without the secondary fan were warm but not overly hot. Less than a RipVan 4000 or my Maha 204 heats them up. They were stone cold room temp with the fan.

    I'm using a Radio Shack 12 volt wall wart and a 12 volt DC 3" box fan. Soon I will make a bracket to hold it over the unit rather than have both sitting on their sides. I charged all cells at the 700ma rate.

    I had an old Maxell charger that got cells very warm compared to my others. It also killed several cells due to it's overheating them. It now resides in a waste dump.
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  29. #29
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    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    just wondering, don't the charger's turn off based on temp? if you cooled it (via fan) wouldn't the batt's maybee over charge???


    [


    QUOTE=Pellidon]Because of my days with RC car packs and melting one with a timer rapid cooker. I almost always use a secondary fan to blow on the cells. I just charged up some new 2000's on a Lacrosse with a fan and without. The cells without the secondary fan were warm but not overly hot. Less than a RipVan 4000 or my Maha 204 heats them up. They were stone cold room temp with the fan.
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  30. #30

    Default Re: La Crosse BC-900 Charger Warning

    Silverfox, I have called La Crosse and they have advised me to send them my charger. It went out via Fedex today. We will see what they have to say.

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