Multiple reports have recently emerged about a potential fire hazard with two CyberPower UPSes (uninterruptible power supplies). Hot on the heels of our recent news coverage, a CyberPower UPS owner named Mit, who lives in Maryland, reached out to Tom’s Hardware to share a similar experience he encountered with his unit just last week.
Mit said that he had been using his CyberPower CP1500AVRLCD regularly without issue since he bought it in 2017. However, apparently, on July 6th, he lost power for 15 minutes and the unit turned off instead of operating. When the power came back on, the device began making popping and crackling noises while smoke billowed out. He writes:
“At around ~6:15PM Eastern Time on 7/6/2022, the power goes out. The unit turns off immediately instead of staying on as you'd expect a UPS to do for a bit. At ~6:30PM, power is restored. I check the UPS, since it started making terrifying noises, to see smoke coming out and I pull the power out of the wall along with everything plugged in. I grab a fire extinguisher just in case. The unit is still smoking at this time but not violently, I take it and place it outside due to the fumes and call CyberPower.”
Mit sent us a slew of pictures of his fried CP1500AVRLCD UPS and has also shared a video of smoke still coming from the unit’s vents. He told us that the UPS had been connected to a low-powered PC (100W under full load), a Netgear GS108E Ethernet switch, a Fios Quantum Gateway router, a Philips Hue Bridge and an Arlo Smart Hub. He noted that, during its four-year lifespan, the CP1500AVRLCD had successfully stayed on through multiple power outages of 25 to 35 minutes.
Unfortunately, complaints about smoking CyberPower UPSes go back a lot farther than the video we reported on earlier this week. We checked Amazon's user reviews of the CyberPower CP1500AVRLCD and counted 47 reviews (opens in new tab) where users complained of smoke and popping noises coming out of their units. The oldest of these complaints dates way back to 2013 and the newest ones were from the past year. However, the product has more than 15,000 user ratings with an average of 4.5 stars.
YouTuber Mark Furneaux posted a video in May 2021 theorizing that the units are failing because of a yellow glue that “becomes conductive and corrosive” over time. But adhesive doesn't appear to be implicated, at least in Mit's case.
Tom’s Hardware power expert Aris Mpitziopoulos says he doubts that the glue is the culprit in any failures because it is commonly used in a lot of power supplies and doesn’t cause issues. Mit’s photographs don’t even show any trace of yellow glue on the PCB in his unit.
After viewing Mit’s pictures and reading his account, he notes that the power cables for the main transformer have melted on both sides. Mpitziopoulos said he thinks the UPS’s battery is the source of the smoking and that either the battery pack itself went bad, or the UPS sent too much charging voltage to it. However, he couldn’t say for sure what is causing the different failures without doing a thorough examination and testing of the failed units.
CyberPower also says that the glue is safe to use, writing in a statement that “we have thoroughly tested the adhesives we use, and our results are aligned with industry and UL standards.”
In its statement, which we published in full in our previous article, the company also says that it takes all such complaints seriously and that it thoroughly tests its products before sending them to market. The company said it was aware of the original smoking UPS video we reported on earlier, but said it had no record of that user opening a case with them.
As for Mit, he says he called CyberPower as soon as his device started smoking and, though his device was out of warranty, the company offered to send him a new one. Exactly why Mit’s UPS and the others have emitted smoke remains a mystery. The problem could be bad luck as parts wear out or it could be evidence of a defect.
What type of batteries are being used? Are they being used in other devices or I guess I should ask, what else are those batteries compatible with?
The large pressure fractures in the battery housing make the failure of the battery pretty clear, but not the source of the failure. With the lack of obviously blown components on any of the (photographed) boards that would indicate a short across the terminals, I'd point the finger at a bad batch of batteries as the first line of investigation.
When I realized my LX1500 was cooking its battery, the battery pack temperature was 50C. Software monitoring reported 24V pack voltage, my DMM said 18V with the UPS pumping over 1.5A into the 24V pack. This must have been going on for a month or so - first time I came home to a dead PC, I shrugged it off as possibly an outage that exceeded the battery capacity. Second time though, I was at my PC when it immediately shut off on power outage.
(Been doing quality control on industrial electrical and electronic equipment for over twenty years.)