'Fire Hazard' Leads to Recall of 15 Million APC-Brand Surge Protectors

October 11, 2013

By Ed Silverstein - Power Protection Contributor

A massive 15 million APC-branded surge protectors are being recalled by American Power Conversion (News - Alert) (APC), now known as Schneider Electric IT Corp.

The company is recalling APC 7 and 8 series SurgeArrest surge protectors. They were made in China and the Philippines before 2003, and were sold in the United States between January 1993 and December 2002. They were sold at Best Buy (News - Alert), Circuit City, CompUSA, and other stores for between $13 and $50.

The surge protectors can melt, overheat or smoke, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. There were some 13 reports of injuries in connection with the surge protectors, including smoke inhalation and burns.

Also, the devices were suspected in incidents which caused at least $1.7 million in fire damage, the commission said, including $916,000 worth of fire damage to one house and $750,000 worth of fire damage to a medical building.

It was also reported that the company received 700 reports of the devices overheating and melting. Property damage caused by smoke and fire likely occurred some 55 times, the commission said.

Consumers can get a free replacement from the company. They are urged to unplug the old surge protectors and no longer use them, Reuters News Service reported.

To contact the company, call (888) 437-4007 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, or visit http://recall.apc.com or www.apc.com, and click on the recall link.

“Consumers should stop using this product unless otherwise instructed,” according to a statement from the commission.

The model type and serial number are found on a label at the bottom of the surge protector. The two numbers that follow the first letter or letters in the serial number show what year the device was built. Look out for numbers: 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 00, 01 or 02. “APC (News - Alert)” and “Personal,” “Professional,” “Performance” or “Network” are printed on the surge protectors, the commission said.

When looking for surge protectors, remember that some do not pose similar safety risks, such as those from Minuteman Power Technologies. In addition, Minuteman's MMS Series AC Surge Protectors defend non-critical equipment (such as peripherals and printers) against spikes and surges in power. Also, Minuteman’s LineGuard products provide protection for data lines.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson