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Old 02-18-2008, 04:55 PM   #1
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Had an experience today - smoke and fire in a Thin-LITE, Model 766NS REPLACEMENT light unit. Back in Dec 07, the 30W tubes were "flickering" and finally would not light up. I checked the fixture with my VOM and the starter (solid state) had failed. I removed the fixture and took it to La Mesa RV in Mesa, AZ. They verified it as OEM and checked the starter. They agreed it had failed (unusual they said). I purchased a new unit and installed it. Today, after approximately 2 months of intermittent use, the unit flamed up. I removed it and the solid state starter board had burned. I noted that the label on the unit stated "MADE IN MEXICO". I returned it to La Mesa RV and they gave me a new one. That label stated "MADE IN USA". They said that they purchased their replacement light fixtures from Winnebago - NOT Thin-LITE. I'm not knocking the Made in Mexico, BUT . . . . Can you imagine leaving the light on in the coach and going shoppping, only to find the Fire Department at your site when you return? No FUN!! Just thought I would do this post to inform you.

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Old 02-18-2008, 04:55 PM   #2
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Had an experience today - smoke and fire in a Thin-LITE, Model 766NS REPLACEMENT light unit. Back in Dec 07, the 30W tubes were "flickering" and finally would not light up. I checked the fixture with my VOM and the starter (solid state) had failed. I removed the fixture and took it to La Mesa RV in Mesa, AZ. They verified it as OEM and checked the starter. They agreed it had failed (unusual they said). I purchased a new unit and installed it. Today, after approximately 2 months of intermittent use, the unit flamed up. I removed it and the solid state starter board had burned. I noted that the label on the unit stated "MADE IN MEXICO". I returned it to La Mesa RV and they gave me a new one. That label stated "MADE IN USA". They said that they purchased their replacement light fixtures from Winnebago - NOT Thin-LITE. I'm not knocking the Made in Mexico, BUT . . . . Can you imagine leaving the light on in the coach and going shoppping, only to find the Fire Department at your site when you return? No FUN!! Just thought I would do this post to inform you.

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Old 02-18-2008, 05:24 PM   #3
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I had one burn up awhile back. It stinks and wipes out the board but I doubt if it would literally catch fire off since the board is encased in metal, but it sure makes a mess in there. It doesn't really matter where the unit is assembled since it's usually a component failure and there is an extremely high chance those were produced in China.
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Old 02-18-2008, 05:26 PM   #4
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Scary, for sure. Glad you were there when the light caught fire.
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Old 02-18-2008, 05:40 PM   #5
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Those Thin-LITES must be real dandys. I had to replace mine in a '97 Fleetwood after 3 years when it started interfering with the refrigerator controls, and in a brand new Winnebago because they (3 of them) were keeping the TV remote from working back in the middle of the coach, usually at the dinette. Has anybody looked at any other replacement models of lights that might work?
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Old 02-19-2008, 04:20 AM   #6
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I had issues with the Thin-Lite lights in our Journey, but the problems presented themselves as interference with radios and other electronic devices.

What was happening is the electronic ballast iside the fixture runs in a very warm enviroment. This ballast has an electrolytic capacitor which doesn't (in my opinion) have a high enough voltage rating and is degraded by the temperature enough to fail.

Electrolytic capacitors fail in one of two ways. When good, a capacitor should appear as an open circuit to a DC voltage once they charge. If you put a ohmmeter across them, the meter will quickly read a resistance as the capacitor charges, then read a open circuit if the capacitor is good. When they fail, they begin to conduct DC as the dielectric inside the capacitor breaks down. Soon after passing current through them, they Usually fail open as they conduct a large amount of current which typically blows the end out of the capacitor followed by in immediate opening of the circuit when the termination wire on the capacitor separates from the wound foil layers inside it.

Sometimes though, the failure of the cap is accompanied with smoke, or a burning smell as the current passed through the cap overloads it but often times the parts just spit out a small amount of the melted dielectric insulation.

In my case, they failed very undramaticly, by just opening up with a spatter of dielectric at one end. If that happens in the Thin Lite fixture, you can actually change the capacitor with one of similar value, but a higher working voltage and temperature rating and the fixture will work again. If I recall, I think I used a higher capacitance capacitor as well as higher temp and working voltage. Since it's just a filter and not in any type of timing circuit, a higher capacitance is OK.

I installed this capacitor in each of my fixtures. Two were as repairs for failures, and one was as a preventative measure.

You might be able to read, it's rated 63V at 125 degrees C.
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Old 02-19-2008, 11:59 AM   #7
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THANKS ALL. YEP, I know a fire when it appears. The CB had actually caught fire and the protective insulation wrap on the interior of the metal shield had also "melted". While the fire would likely be contained within the light, there is always a strong possibility that the styrofoam insulation packed around the light could easily combust. The other concern is that no breaker tripped and the wire insulation inside the light fixture also melted. This was not a good condition and is one that leads us to be far more observant of the light useage and leaving them on when we are not in the unit. I'm writing to Thin-LITE and we'll see what they have to say.

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