TCP axes outsourced lamp manufacturer after LED electrical shock

Lamp giant TCP has parted ways with a contract manufacturer that is says delivered a batch of electrically faulty LED bulbs, including the one that recently shocked an independent UK test engineer, Lux has learned.

TCP has destroyed all of the roughly 800 bulbs in the lot, none of which reached the market, TCP European CEO Thomas Luecke said in a phone interview today.

Luecke said the Chinese contractor failed to properly insulate the bulb, which was a decorative style LED lamp made to look like an old style incandescent or filament lamp. He declined to identify the manufacturer.

TCP makes about 95 per cent of its products at its own facilities in China, and outsources the remainder to different companies as needs arise, he noted.

'It was a new outsourced manufacturer that appeared to be competent enough and good enough and went with flying colours through all the quality checks,' Luecke said, declining to identify the group. 'But unfortunately on this occasion mistakes were made. Rest assured we will not be using that particular company again.'

The electrical fault surfaced in two different independent test labs in the UK – one run by consumer publication Which?, where as Lux reported a tester suffered a shock, and another operated by the Lighting Industry Association. No one at the LIA was injured, he said.

The Which? engineer was not seriously hurt.

'We started checking these bulbs and after looking at eight we found issues with three, so we decided to speak to TCP,' Which? told Lux. (Which? posts a general bulb buying guide on its website, and is planning a thorough review of bulbs in its upcoming June print edition).

TCP's Luecke said the Chinese contractor built the lamp by hand rather than by machine, and that it did not properly wrap insulation around wires in the base of some of the bulbs. TCP had sent a minimum of five bulbs both to Which? and the LIA. He explained:

  • 'During the tests, it became apparent that a particular type of lamp was not insulated properly at its base, which meant that as and when you would remove a light fitting that was still live and switched on, there was a chance that you'd get an electric shock. I isolated the batch I sent it back to the factory and asked them to destroy it. I made sure it was never launched to the consumer.'

TCP, based in Aurora, Ohio, had planned to offer the bulb in the UK 'early this year' and to subsequently roll it out in Europe. It will push back that schedule indefinitely until at least late in the year or early 2016, Luecke said.

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Photo is from Arcady via Shutterstock