Author Topic: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds  (Read 57793 times)

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Online TassiloH

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #200 on: December 19, 2018, 06:19:36 pm »
So the fuse IS the primary winding and if you plug it into 240 you deserve to burn up the station.

Of course the soldering stations might be safe in the sense that they won't catch fire, probably the transformer will smoke and draw more and more current until the wire melts someplace or the current is so high that it trips the circuit breaker. As long as the enclosure plastics is flame retardant and is not melted yet when this happens, the device is safe.
But consider this: Here we have 3-phase power to almost all buildings. It is rare but not unheard of that a neutral connection fails somewhere. Depending on the load distribution, this will give you almost 400V instead of 230V on the outlets - no stupidity involved. I would prefer equipment that either just burns a fuse or breaks without emitting lots of smoke (e.g. transformer with thermal fuse) in that case regardless of regulations, and I'd say it is not an unreasonable expectation that brand name stuff satisfies this.
 
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Offline eugenenine

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #201 on: December 19, 2018, 06:39:26 pm »

Weller should be going into damage control soon.


I hadn't thought too much about that phrase in the Weller brochure. Let me reproduce it here for posterity.


I'm sure no comments are needed, it speaks for itself.

This is probably why it took so long for a response, (Weller) legal had to make sure they had documentation showing UL test passed = safety
 

Offline drussell

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #202 on: December 19, 2018, 06:42:46 pm »
That would happen regardless if it was fused or not. The fuse would only work if the iron got down to some point on the board where it caused a short. But look at the picture, does that look like someone who should own a soldering station or anything that gets above 20C?

I think you missed the tongue-in-cheek satirical humour on that one...   ;)
 

Offline floobydust

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #203 on: December 19, 2018, 06:44:58 pm »
Let's be careful, if that's possible with all the flames here.

There are component-level certifications for a power transformer, like UL 1411, UL 506, CSA 22.2 No.66 and ‪IEC 61558. We don't know this transformer's approvals.
There are product-level safety standards for soldering irons, audio-, radio-, and television-type appliances, IT equipment etc.
There are regional differences in safety standards between North America, Australia and Europe as well for the component's and the product itself.

It makes a complicated soup.

Weller safety cert. for Europe is IEC 60335, and the 240VAC transformer pic https://www.eevblog.com/forum/blog/eevblog-1160-weller-responds/msg2051086/#msg2051086 shows a third bobbin lead, surely a thermal fuse is in there. 60335 does not specify a mains fuse but calls 61558 for the transformer's requirements.

Weller safety cert. for North America is UL 499. A different standard with different requirements, although the confusion around other soldering stations incorporating a primary fuse begs the question of WTF. UL 499 seems for higher power heaters and the mains breaker is the protective element.
At the 80VA power level, it is not an "energy-limited" transformer (Class 2) or "fail-safe".


This was not a "normal use" scenario as defined in the safety standards - but it did flush out an error in the product's safety.
Is there a safety hazard running it off 120VAC? Of course. I've seen three power transformer fires in electronics gear, quite a mess of smoke, soot and carbon.
Notice other safety standards IEC 60950 and 61010 require a fuse (DUH!) and (torture) load test a transformer for "maximum heating effect" limited by the fuse if there is one:

IEC 61010
9.6 Overcurrent protection     
9.6.1 General       
"Equipment intended to be energized from a MAINS supply shall be protected by fuses, circuit-breakers, thermal cut-outs, impedance limiting circuits or similar means, to provide protection against excessive current being drawn from the MAINS in case of a fault in the equipment."

4.4.2.7  MAINS transformers
4.4.2.7.1 General       
"The secondary windings of MAINS transformers shall be short-circuited as specified in 4.4.2.7.2, and overloaded as specified in 4.4.2.7.3.

4.4.2.7.3 Overload       
Each untapped output winding, and each section of a tapped output winding, is overloaded in turn one at a time. The other windings are loaded or not loaded, whichever load condition of NORMAL USE is less favourable. If any overloads arise from  testing in the fault conditions of 4.4, secondary windings shall be subjected to those overloads.

Overloading is carried out by connecting a variable resistor across the winding. The resistor is adjusted as quickly as possible and readjusted, if necessary, after 1 min to maintain the applicable overload. No further readjustments are then permitted. If overcurrent protection is provided by a current-breaking device, the overload test current is the maximum  current which the overcurrent protection device is just capable of passing for 1h. Before the test, the device is replaced by a link with negligible impedance. If this value cannot be derived from the specification, it is to be established by test.

For equipment in which the output voltage is designed to collapse when a specified overload current is reached, the overload  is slowly increased to a point just before the point which causes the output voltage to collapse.
In all other cases, the loading is the maximum power output obtainable from the transformer.

Transformers with overtemperature protection which meets the requirements of 14.3 during the short-circuit test of 4.4.2.7.2 need not be subjected to overload tests. "
----------------------------------
In all likelyhood, UL 499 has been wrongly interpreted/assessed or is simply antique.
A modern safety standard like 61010 and 60950 requires a fuse, which is what I go by.
 
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Offline thm_w

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #204 on: December 19, 2018, 06:56:26 pm »
Quote
Thank you for contacting Apex Tool Group.
...
This is no different to any number of other products that also have transformers include literally millions of plugpacks, TV’s, radios, Stereos, battery chargers and other small appliances, very few of which contain primary fuses.

When is the last time anyone has seen a plugpack with a transformer inside? Every major brand is using SMPS now due to standby power regulations (and cost). A modern TV without a fuse, what?
The cheapest of crap might have a fusible resistor instead of a glass fuse, but that is better than nothing (and probably questionably certified). Toaster is really the only thing I can think of that is a modern device without a fuse (that I am aware of).

This guy is living 20 years ago.
 

Offline jmaja

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #205 on: December 19, 2018, 07:02:11 pm »
"Equipment intended to be energized from a MAINS supply shall be protected by fuses, circuit-breakers, thermal cut-outs, impedance limiting circuits or similar means, to provide protection against excessive current being drawn from the MAINS in case of a fault in the equipment."

So a fuse is not required. The task described can be achieved even with unspecified "similar means".
 

Online SeanB

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #206 on: December 19, 2018, 07:10:42 pm »
I have taken apart lots of assorted wall warts, and every one with a small iron core transformer had, buried in the primary winding either in the middle (with a 130C rating) or on the outside (with a 110C rating) a non resettable thermal fuse. Many different Chinese manufacturers, and even some Korean ones ( Samsung) along with some locally made ones. Those also had built in mains filters and phone line protection ( and 1mm of separation from mains live or neutral, depending on how the assembler felt that day for the phone line protection), and they all had mains fusing on the primary side. While the diodes on the secondary side could look like charred blobs, the filter capacitors look like well cooked sausage ( complete with domed top and bottom rubber extruding) and be brittle as anything they still worked, and shorting the secondary would just result in the primary side eventually popping, meaning another trip to find a replacement.

Even clock radios with the mains transformer as part of the line cord have this fuse built in. That Weller does not simply means this was a grandfathered part, you probably find this part number is the same transformer ( 110VAC 24VAC 60W) used in 1956 in the first WTCP soldering stations, and has never in all the decades been upgraded part wise, because it was tested then, the design did not change, and the original test certificate is still in an archive somewhere.

Standards may have changed, but rarely do they require you to redesign existing parts. You can still buy E27 stove fuses, despite the common circuit breaker having been de facto the go to part for the last half century, and there probably are still brand new stoves made with those screw in fuses in them, just the same old model of industrial cookware that has literally had standards written around them.

Then again, I do have some very old control relays, dating from the 1980's, that I use as spare parts donors, and a good number have unfused  110VAC primary transformers in them, might just take one outside, connect it to a somewhat dodgy mains connection, or find a 11 pin base and plug it in correctly ;) and power it up with the relay cover removed. Toss up if the transformer will fail or if the Siemens capacitors on the power supply will blow up first, or if the 555 IC in some will survive 30V till something fails. Outdoors, because there will be flames, spitznsparken and possibly confetti generation. Mains protection is a 20A CBI residential breaker, and upstream is a 100A Heinemann breaker, with the substation 220m away having a 400A fuse on this phase. I think the little mains cable I intend to use will pop first.
 
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Offline Robaroni

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #207 on: December 19, 2018, 07:11:35 pm »
So the fuse IS the primary winding and if you plug it into 240 you deserve to burn up the station.

Of course the soldering stations might be safe in the sense that they won't catch fire, probably the transformer will smoke and draw more and more current until the wire melts someplace or the current is so high that it trips the circuit breaker. As long as the enclosure plastics is flame retardant and is not melted yet when this happens, the device is safe.
But consider this: Here we have 3-phase power to almost all buildings. It is rare but not unheard of that a neutral connection fails somewhere. Depending on the load distribution, this will give you almost 400V instead of 230V on the outlets - no stupidity involved. I would prefer equipment that either just burns a fuse or breaks without emitting lots of smoke (e.g. transformer with thermal fuse) in that case regardless of regulations, and I'd say it is not an unreasonable expectation that brand name stuff satisfies this.

I don't know how Weller addresses 230V stations. They may simply tap off one side or phase and if the center leg opens the station loses voltage too. What happens with wall transformers where you are? Do you get smoking transformers? If what you're saying is true then a neutral leg failure would be doing major damage with appliances wouldn't it? Does Weller make 3 phase stations? I took a quick look and all I see are single phase.

I have transformers here that work on 120 or 230. All you get are two wires to the transformer with dual windings. How you run those windings (series or Parallel) determines the input voltage. I would think Weller probably does it pretty much that way saving money on different transformers.
 

Offline Robaroni

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #208 on: December 19, 2018, 07:15:35 pm »
OK, I just checked my Weller WX2 station (110V)
Here's the photo:



 

Offline Robaroni

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #209 on: December 19, 2018, 07:20:39 pm »
One more note.
When I was 8 years old my mom asked what I wanted for my birthday. As any budding wire nut would say - "Mom, I want a soldering iron!" That Weller iron still works and I'm 73 years old, so you do the math.

Me, I'll stick with my Weller station.
 

Offline Robaroni

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #210 on: December 19, 2018, 07:34:56 pm »
That would happen regardless if it was fused or not. The fuse would only work if the iron got down to some point on the board where it caused a short. But look at the picture, does that look like someone who should own a soldering station or anything that gets above 20C?

I think you missed the tongue-in-cheek satirical humour on that one...   ;)

Right!! I missed it because I'm still scratching my head that people actually complained about a manufacturer after plugging the thing into 230 volts! I'd love to see them around high voltage, I guess you can't complain to the grid supplier if you're dead!
This whole thing is so preposterous to me that I can't stop laughing!
 
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Offline Robaroni

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #211 on: December 19, 2018, 07:37:58 pm »
Quote
Thank you for contacting Apex Tool Group.
...
This is no different to any number of other products that also have transformers include literally millions of plugpacks, TV’s, radios, Stereos, battery chargers and other small appliances, very few of which contain primary fuses.

When is the last time anyone has seen a plugpack with a transformer inside? Every major brand is using SMPS now due to standby power regulations (and cost). A modern TV without a fuse, what?
The cheapest of crap might have a fusible resistor instead of a glass fuse, but that is better than nothing (and probably questionably certified). Toaster is really the only thing I can think of that is a modern device without a fuse (that I am aware of).

This guy is living 20 years ago.

No, he's comparing apples to apples. The Weller has a transformer so do a lot of higher end audio products, etc.
 

Online SeanB

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #212 on: December 19, 2018, 07:56:38 pm »
Toasters do have a thermal fuse in them, somewhere in the element path. Might not look like a fuse but is there in some form or the other.

As to Weller, they make different transformers for 120V and 230V, different standards to conform to with each one in different countries, so much easier to conform one to EU specs ( which require primary side thermal fuse) and the other to the old US spec. Cheaper than having to recertify every single product again, with a major part change like that. you can see that in pics of them, US one no fuse, EU one has the tell tale third connection showing they have a fuse. My Weller WTCP-S, from The Cooper group 11-91, does have both primary side 0.315A slow blow fuse and thermal fuse in the transformer primary. This is the "travel iron' as it goes out to functions, even though the magnastat switches, heaters and tips themselves are getting expensive. Can buy a Solomon complete for the price of just the heater, tip and magnastat.
 
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Offline Robaroni

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #213 on: December 19, 2018, 07:59:38 pm »
Toasters do have a thermal fuse in them, somewhere in the element path. Might not look like a fuse but is there in some form or the other.

As to Weller, they make different transformers for 120V and 230V, different standards to conform to with each one in different countries, so much easier to conform one to EU specs ( which require primary side thermal fuse) and the other to the old US spec. Cheaper than having to recertify every single product again, with a major part change like that. you can see that in pics of them, US one no fuse, EU one has the tell tale third connection showing they have a fuse. My Weller WTCP-S, from The Cooper group 11-91, does have both primary side 0.315A slow blow fuse and thermal fuse in the transformer primary. This is the "travel iron' as it goes out to functions, even though the magnastat switches, heaters and tips themselves are getting expensive. Can buy a Solomon complete for the price of just the heater, tip and magnastat.

My US one does have a fuse, again, here's the pic:
 

Offline chris_leyson

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #214 on: December 19, 2018, 08:06:40 pm »
Quote
do you own wall warts with huge iron transformers in them?
Only one or two.

For low power, lets say 10W for example, an SMPS wall wart will make a lot of sense from a manufacturing point of view. In general they will be flyback supplies and will be "universal" i.e. they will work from 80V to 265V or at least they should if they've been designed properly. They will also have to pass transient, surge and maybe ESD tests as well as conducted and radiated EMC. If it accidentally gets shorted out because of a capacitor or connector failure how hot is it going get ?

For higher power, lets say 150W and that would include laptop supplies for example, you can either do flyback or forward topology it doesn't matter it's whatever is cheapest and meets the safety and EMC standards for that particular product and there is a lot more design work and testing involved when switched mode supplies get bigger.

Those who say use an SMPS have probably never designed one that is guaranteed safe from an isolation point of view, that is reliable and will work for a decade or more and one that is squeaky clean from an EMC point of view. It takes a lot more R&D budget than some piss ant soldering iron manufacturer can affford so that's why they use big lumps of iron for voltage translation.

If you're talking about phone chargers, laptop supplies, TV's or any whitegoods you could be talking about 100's of thousands or millions and it would nice if they were universal, 80V to 265V, so you get a bigger development budget. You don't have to go to school to learn economics, just use some common sense.

 
« Last Edit: December 19, 2018, 08:12:18 pm by chris_leyson »
 

Offline thm_w

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #215 on: December 19, 2018, 08:11:28 pm »
No, he's comparing apples to apples. The Weller has a transformer so do a lot of higher end audio products, etc.

Not sure which high end audio product you are referring to, something like a Yamaha or Sony integrated stereo amplifier will all have mains fusing before the transformer.
If you are referring to $2k+ hand built audiophile amps, I don't think that is a reasonable comparison.


Those who say use an SMPS have probably never designed one that is guaranteed safe from an isolation point of view, that is reliable and will work for a decade or more and one that is squeaky clean from an EMC point of view. It takes a lot more R&D budget than some piss ant soldering iron manufacturer can affford so that's why they use big lumps of iron for voltage translation.

https://www.digikey.ca/product-detail/en/mean-well-usa-inc/RPS-75-24/1866-4083-ND/7706111

Heres a medical grade 75W PSU for $22.
Not saying it would be suitable to use for the product, I'm sure a transformer costs them less, maybe $5-10?
« Last Edit: December 19, 2018, 08:24:59 pm by thm_w »
 

Online eliocor

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #216 on: December 19, 2018, 08:13:11 pm »
Please take care that the 60950 norm cannot be applied for soldering irons: Quote
1.1.1 Equipment covered by this standard
This standard is applicable to mains-powered or battery-powered information technology equipment, including electrical business equipment and associated equipment, with a RATED VOLTAGE not exceeding 600 V.
This standard is also applicable to such information technology equipment:

− designed for use as telecommunication terminal equipment and TELECOMMUNICATION NETWORK infrastructure equipment, regardless of the source of power;
 
− designed and intended to be connected directly to, or used as infrastructure equipment in, a CABLE DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM, regardless of the source of power; 
 
− designed to use the AC MAINS SUPPLY as a communication transmission medium (see Clause 6, Note 4 and 7.1, Note 4).
 This standard is also applicable to components and subassemblies intended for incorporation in information technology equipment. It is not expected that such components and subassemblies comply with every aspect of the standard, provided that the complete information technology equipment, incorporating such components and subassemblies, does comply

But I add: if you follow this norm it would be A LOT better!!!
 

Online TassiloH

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #217 on: December 19, 2018, 08:14:35 pm »
I don't know how Weller addresses 230V stations. They may simply tap off one side or phase and if the center leg opens the station loses voltage too. What happens with wall transformers where you are? Do you get smoking transformers? If what you're saying is true then a neutral leg failure would be doing major damage with appliances wouldn't it? Does Weller make 3 phase stations? I took a quick look and all I see are single phase.

If there is a neutral fault (I admit this is rare, but not non-existent), there are indeed broken small appliances. I don't think Weller makes 3-phase stations (does not make sense for the low power). Three-phase outlets are generally not available unless in special circumstances, but there is 3-phase power to most homes, each phase (to neutral) is used for some of the 1-phase 230V outlets in a building, and all three phases (400V phase to phase) for things like tankless water heaters (at home) or large motors (commercially).
 

Online eliocor

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #218 on: December 19, 2018, 08:17:28 pm »
I forgot to mention: I'm a really happy user of several (de/soldering) Weller stations.
All of them are mains fused, but I live in Europe!!!
 

Offline chris_leyson

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #219 on: December 19, 2018, 08:22:11 pm »
From a safety point of view you are always going to get better creapage and clearance from a big lump of iron, try doing that with an SMPS transformer. Besides, I don't want another SMPS noise source on my bench.
 
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Online wraper

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #220 on: December 19, 2018, 08:22:35 pm »
Please take care that the 60950 norm cannot be applied for soldering irons: Quote
1.1.1 Equipment covered by this standard
This standard is applicable to mains-powered or battery-powered information technology equipment, including electrical business equipment and associated equipment, with a RATED VOLTAGE not exceeding 600 V.
This standard is also applicable to such information technology equipment:

− designed for use as telecommunication terminal equipment and TELECOMMUNICATION NETWORK infrastructure equipment, regardless of the source of power;
 
− designed and intended to be connected directly to, or used as infrastructure equipment in, a CABLE DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM, regardless of the source of power; 
 
− designed to use the AC MAINS SUPPLY as a communication transmission medium (see Clause 6, Note 4 and 7.1, Note 4).
 This standard is also applicable to components and subassemblies intended for incorporation in information technology equipment. It is not expected that such components and subassemblies comply with every aspect of the standard, provided that the complete information technology equipment, incorporating such components and subassemblies, does comply

But I add: if you follow this norm it would be A LOT better!!!
I don't see why soldering station would not fall under information technology equipment.
Quote
Information Technology Equipment (ITE) is electrical/electronic equipment that inputs, stores, modifies, or outputs data. Typical examples of IT Equipment are servers, personal computers, office equipment, data storage devices, telecommunication equipment, display monitors, printers and various IT accessories.
It certainly inputs, stores and modifies setting data and outputs it on display.
 

Offline Richard Crowley

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #221 on: December 19, 2018, 08:30:34 pm »
If there is a neutral fault (I admit this is rare, but not non-existent), there are indeed broken small appliances. I don't think Weller makes 3-phase stations (does not make sense for the low power). Three-phase outlets are generally not available unless in special circumstances, but there is 3-phase power to most homes, each phase (to neutral) is used for some of the 1-phase 230V outlets in a building, and all three phases (400V phase to phase) for things like tankless water heaters (at home) or large motors (commercially).
You may have missed the point here.  Sure it makes no sense to have a hand-held soldering apparatus operated from 3-phase power.
But in many places, that "single-phase" circuit is just one of the three phases in the larger scheme of power distribution. And establishing the proper voltage depends on the "neutral" connection. If that fails, in some conditions, you could have considerably more than 230-240 volts in your wall outlet.  That is just one of the hazards that fuses protect us from.
 
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Offline Robaroni

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #222 on: December 19, 2018, 08:35:57 pm »
From a safety point of view you are always going to get better creapage and clearance from a big lump of iron, try doing that with an SMPS transformer. Besides, I don't want another SMPS noise source on my bench.

I agree, I'm happy there's an xformer in the Weller.
 

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #223 on: December 19, 2018, 08:42:07 pm »
Let's blame Weller for my stupidity.

I don't think the crux of the matter is blame but instead frustration.

Frustration happens when we have an unmet expectation. Case in point, the expectation is that a very reputable brand of electrical products would add a century-old safeguard mechanism to all of their products regardless of being forced by an external agent (regulatory agency or certification norm). Instead, when an inquiry was made, the company replied with a garden variety response from a public relations department that did not understand the core of the matter.

It is an entirely personal opinion if this frustration is important enough to blame and shame the company publicly.

Blame would be the scenario where Dave or the others were asking for reparation for the damage caused. I don't think anyone is blaming Weller for what happened - although one could argue there was a small possibility of lesser damage if the century-old safeguard mechanism was used, but asking for reparation is not reasonable.

At any rate, this discussion would be bound to happen anyways, especially due to the competitor's approach to fuse protection and the price level of Weller's products. Not only Weller but many other corporations degraded severely in the last decades in pursuit of market dominance / lower cost.
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Oh, the "whys" of the datasheets... The information is there not to be an axiomatic truth, but instead each speck of data must be slowly inhaled while carefully performing a deep search inside oneself to find the true metaphysical sense...
 

Offline Robaroni

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Re: EEVblog #1160 - Weller Responds
« Reply #224 on: December 19, 2018, 08:46:37 pm »
No, he's comparing apples to apples. The Weller has a transformer so do a lot of higher end audio products, etc.

Not sure which high end audio product you are referring to, something like a Yamaha or Sony integrated stereo amplifier will all have mains fusing before the transformer.
If you are referring to $2k+ hand built audiophile amps, I don't think that is a reasonable comparison.



Weller cited other products with xformers as a comparison not SMPS. Again, my Weller has the transformer and it's fused. I don't know what model was plugged into the 230 mains but it wasn't a WX2 from the US running 120.
 


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