A couple of months ago news emerged that LG was undertaking a program of free repairs to around 60,000 of its OLED TVs to prevent a potential overheating problem that could apparently cause the affected TVs to start smoking and run so hot that their rear panels may be capable of causing burning and scalding injuries.
Back then, the issue appeared to be limited to South Korea, with LG telling South Korea’s YonHap News Agency that “TVs sold overseas are not subject to the repairs.” It now seems, though, that the potential flaw is becoming an issue in other territories too.
This is especially the case in China, where the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) Defective Product Administrative Center has ordered the recall of 13 LG OLED TV models sold between 2016 and 2019.
The recall impacts an estimated 9,434 sets with the following model numbers: OLED65C7, OLED65E7, OLED65W7, OLED65E6, OLED65G6, OLED77G6, OLED77W7, OLED77W8, OLED65W8, OLED65W9, OLED77C8, OLED77W9, and OLED77C9A.
As with the South Korean recall, it’s interesting to note that the China recall includes no 55-inch models.
According to Chinese IT News website fonow.com, the overheating issue is caused by a flaw in a power board element designed to eliminate interference from impurities in the power supply causing the current in the power supply board to increase to excessive levels. The repair presumably involves the same power board replacement that 18 affected South Korean LG OLED models had to receive.
It’s not clear whether any of the listed Chinese sets have actually suffered with the overheating problem, or whether China (or LG) has decided to act simply based on what happened in South Korea. But the SAMR’s action certainly suggests it isn’t prepared to take any chances.
The situation in the EU is – currently, anyway – less drastic. As initially reported by chip.de, five LG OLED sets sold in 15 European countries from 2016 and 2017 have been subject to ‘Investigations’ by the European Commission’s Single Market and Standards division over the same overheating issue.
To see what this means, head to the Consumer Product Search page of the European Commission’s Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (ICSMS) website and type in LG OLED65W7, OLED65E6, OLED65E7, OLED65C7 or OLED65B7. Then follow the resulting product link and you will see at the bottom of the product information sheet an Investigations tab (dated September 17). Click on this and you will see the full background of the investigation, including the fact that it was raised by the Federal Network Agency for Electricity, and the following description of the “health/safety defects” involved:
“During the [sic] operation it is possible that the TV overheats which might cause certain damages to the power board or back cover preventing the normal operation of the TV.
Potential burn/scald of finger in case of unintentional contact with hot surface of TV back cover; Potential smoke inhalation from defected [sic] TV.”
The investigation notes also state that the affected TVs were distributed in France, Greece, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Sweden, Spain, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Latvia.
I contacted LG for comment on the situation, and while it hasn’t as yet responded to the China situation, it did point out that the European Commission’s ICSMS has categorised the OLED overheating issues as ’N – Low Risk’ – actually the lowest risk assessment level the investigations team can issue. This low risk categorisation is based, according to LG, on there seemingly being as yet no actual reported incidences of the overheating problem taking place in any EU country.
LG additionally provided me with the following formal statement (which perhaps alludes in its second paragraph to the China situation):
“Whilst conducting the voluntary replacement service in South Korea, where the power board issue was first discovered, LG has continued to investigate the possibility of certain TV models being affected in overseas markets.
Through these investigations, LG ultimately found that there have been some cases in markets outside of South Korea. As a result, the replacement program is being expanded globally as a preventative measure to avert any potential issues from occurring in the future.
LG has been actively investigating the situation throughout Europe. If we find there are any additional countries in the region where this particular issue has occurred, we will then operate the program in those countries.”
It’s interesting to note that the ICSMS investigation report for each affected model states under a section headed ‘Voluntary Measures’ that “The manufacturer has contacted its dealer and will replace the affected component.” This sounds rather like a potential recall/repair scheme – but based on the comment LG provided to me, presumably the Voluntary Measure resolution wording should have something like “should instances of the problem start to appear” attached to the end of it.
Should the situation in Europe – or elsewhere – escalate further, I will cover it on my Forbes channel.
60,000 LG OLED TVs Found To Need Critical Overheating Repair