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Only a little thought

Modern household appliances hit the scrapheap sooner than older models
White goods such as microwaves and dishwashers have a shorter lifespan than they did in 2011 as tech becomes more complex, figures show

Well, OK.

He believes the advent of “complicated parts, high-tech appliances and sophisticated manufacturing” is the prime reason for the trend.

“Modern appliances often rely on complex circuit boards and software, which can be more prone to failure over time than simpler mechanical components,” he said.

Right, OK.

And the thought:

From 1 July a wide range of electrical and electronic products put on the European Union market may no longer contain certain hazardous substances that can endanger human health and the environment. Four heavy metals and two groups of brominated flame retardants are being banned as they can pose a direct risk to workers’ health when waste electrical and electronic equipment is recycled and can be released into the environment when such waste is incinerated or disposed of in landfill dumps. ‘E-waste’ is the fastest growing type of waste in Europe. Producers have had over three years to prepare for the ban’s entry into force since it was decided in January 2003. This EU initiative has been closely followed by public authorities in some third countries, with China, a leading producer of electrical and electronic equipment, intending to introduce similar legislation next year.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “This ban has a double benefit for human health and the environment. Ending the use of these hazardous substances in many e-products not only removes the intrinsic hazard they pose but will also enable us to considerably increase the amount of waste equipment that is recycled by making this activity safer and also less costly. I welcome China’s plans to follow Europe’s example and would encourage other countries to do likewise.”

The six hazardous substances being banned are the heavy metals lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium, as well as two groups of brominated flame retardants, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE).

Lead is now banned in solder, therefore we get tin whiskers. Which means circuit boards blow up sooner.

Hmm…..

34 thoughts on “Only a little thought”

  1. Harry Haddock's Ghost

    There is a chap I sometimes watch on YouTube who fixes electronic stuff. Strangely cathartic and better than most of the shite on TV. Often, he just has to “re-flow” the solder on a component using hot air to get it working. I wonder if that’s linked?

  2. They seem to have completely neglected the influence of fashion on, well, just about everything nowadays. I’d guess that a fair proportion of the “broken” electrical / electronic gadgetry that finds its way into the recycling system is perfectly OK – just not “the latest thing”.

  3. I read somewhere years ago that stuff manufactured for the military still uses lead solder, because of the ‘whiskers’ problem…..

  4. A lot of things that go wrong with electrinic equipment cost pennies to replace. But if one is as cack handed as I am, it really isn’t worth the aggro. My “repairs” usually break the equipment even more.

    Also a repair is often not much less than replacing the equipment.

  5. “The military still uses lead solder”

    So do I on any “projects” or repairs I undertake. Not that it will be required on my 45 year old tumble dryer. The last time it needed work – at least 20 years ago – involved freeing a seized bolt with my Oxy torch to remove the motor, in order to replace the bearings. Compare that to the “Vax Spot Washer” I bought last year which had become very noisy after no more than half and hours use. I dismantled it and diagnosed a rusty bearing, managed to get the motor to bits, fitted a new bearing (£7) and eventually got it all back together. Typical of the crap Chinese quality we have little choice over buying these days…

  6. My objection is to firms that introduce a good design and then stopping selling it. We have a Bosch fridge: it’s excellent in that it has drawers rather than shelves so you can see the contents and take stuff out easy as pie. We also have a pretty good Zanussi: its freezer is a stack of drawers to the side of the fridge compartment.

    My googling suggests that such fine designs are no longer available.

  7. Missing an important thing that more and more robots are being used to make this stuff, so the cost is barely rising, or even getting cheaper, while the cost of a bloke in an industrial unit to repair them has been rising.

    The cost of repairing a microwave oven, a blu-ray player, a cheap phone is going to be close to the price of a new thing. Those are £90, £80 and £130. What’s a bloke going to charge you? Probably a minimum of £60. Might be worth paying for a replacement battery for the phone but beyond that you might as well bin it and get another.

  8. @Addolff

    The military is very concerned about the leadless solder. The problem is that fewer and fewer components are made with the leaded solder. Nowadays they have to send out critical components to have the leadless solder removed and leaded solder installed.

  9. Martin Near The M25

    Lots of people (God knows why) buy extended warranties. That predisposes whoever turns up to declare the thing unfixable. They can either spend several hours dismantling it to try to find the fault or make it somebody else’s problem and go on to the next job.

    Also, anything that’s purely electronic is a lot more reliable now than a few decades ago. TVs for example.

  10. I had a washing machine with an electronic drive motor in it that was guaranteed for 10 years, but it stopped working after 3 years.
    As a washing machine machine gets older the motor generally has to work harder to overcome the extra resistance. This can end up cooking the motor, so to protect it they measure how hard the motor is working and declare an error condition and stop if the software decides the motor is being driven too hard. Which is just great. The motor is in beautiful condition but doesn’t turn because the software is protecting it from damage, so despite the fact the motor doesn’t turn you can’t claim on the guarantee because the motor is still in factory fresh condition.

  11. My last piece of “e-waste” was a set of expensive computer headphones. Took them in for diagnostics. Repair estimate was 50% more than the price of the same headphones, new.

    Ended up buying a different, cheaper brand. At least if/when it breaks I’m out less money.

    Note: Logitech used to be good, but not for the last decade or so. Vastly overpriced for what you get. Their keyboards have custom key caps, so you can’t replace them with others, and they don’t sell their own. Break a key cap (easy to do) and you’re out of luck.

  12. Recently had to throw out a perfectly good 1990’s vintage microwave oven on the wife’s say so.

    They really don’t make em as solid as they used to. I felt like a right arsehole junking perfectly functional electronics, but nobody wants them even for free.

    Of course, you’re fucked if you buy a telly now, because they’re all “smart” TVs that won’t let you use any of the features you want unless you allow the bastard things to connect to your internet and offer you up shite to watch through 3 million streaming services you don’t want. (We don’t even have a telly antenna plugged in because we don’t watch terrestrial telly or pay a Licence Fee).

    The washing machine wants to connect to my WiFi. The washing machine can fuck off, because I’ve already seen Battlestar Galactica and I know how this turns out.

    I am happy because Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World, is alive and so are we. Jesus never worried about extended warranties so I don’t either.

  13. Moved into this house 30 years ago, got a new fitted kitchen by Moben. The dishwasher still works, also the oven. Only replacements have been fridge and freezer, in last three years.

  14. I sneeze in threes

    Steve,

    JC is the ultimate extended warranty. Repaired within three day of going unserviceable. If you sign up to his plan (post) lifetime guarantee.

  15. 4 possible factors:
    New stuff is now dirt cheap which means the relative cost to repair is higher
    Manufacturing methods changed away from manual assembly (therefore disassembleable) to bonding, machine assembly
    More intelligence in little parts not easily replaced
    Under the WEEE regulations you pay for potential electrical waste based on weight. So there’s a drive to make stuff lighter at the cost of durability

  16. “a perfectly good 1990’s vintage microwave oven”: we put ours in the front porch and use it as a store for jars and tins of food that don’t need refrigeration. (You wouldn’t believe how much chutney we own!)

    The damn thing is so heavy there’s no chance of accidentally knocking it to the floor and its top is a handy working surface. Our “new” microwave is 2000s vintage.

    I’d comment on our telly if I understood anything about it. A young friend set it up for us and assured us that he did it in a way that meant we don’t need to pay the licence fee. Jolly good, eh?

  17. I had a recent experience with a TV. When we first moved into this place there was a big empty wallspacee in the salon so I bought a fuck-off great screen for it. But none of us here are great TV watchers. And it’s a tri-lingual household. There’s smaller TV’s in the other rooms, so if you want to watch something & prefer your own language you tend to go in one of them & watch it on your own. I don’t suppose the big one had more than a hundred hours use. Not once in the past year. It tried it out a couple of months ago. Dead as a doornail. The repairer said the screen had gone but it was probably on an input wasn’t putting any data in because everything else was functional. Unrepairable. I’ve now replaced it & am using it for Spotify in the hope it will last longer. But why? It certainly wasn’t a power spike coming down the antennae because we don’t have an antennae. All sets are wified to the broadband.

  18. OT but writing the above made me think of something. TV antennae. It’s so long since I’ve watched broadcast TV, it seems such a strange concept. How many other people feel like that? No wonder the BBC are feeling the draught. They’ve really picked the wrong horse when they hitched their wagon to the multi-cultural society, didn’t they? How many effniks are going to be watching broadcast TV? Or their multitudinous offspring? They’ll be watching their own shit over the interweb. Talk about being complicit in your own demise.

  19. I am an extremely dab hand at repairs, including electronic shit. Screen relay gone on laptop? Send it to me, but you must be able to find the board somewhere. That is often the biggest problem.

    But, I have bad luck with dishwashers. The last was a Miele, bought at immense price, to last, after its many predecessors managed an average of 4 years.

    It died, in under 4 years, requiring a 700 euro part. Already uneconomical, even for Miele.

    I now buy a dishwasher expecting to dispose of it after ~4 years.

  20. M,

    love Logitech’s wireless keyboards, but have become used to replacing them almost as often as I replace the batteries in them.

  21. “Medical equipment also uses leaded solder”

    I assume that’s because reliability trumps “Eco Friendly” when lives are at stake?

  22. All the expensive Neff gear I bought for my kitchen snuffed it within 10 years. Replaced bit by bit with Indesit for fridge and washers and Montpelier for cooker. All mid range all going strong so far.

    I don’t watch telly these days except for videis and dvds but my Panasonic Viera (18 yrs) and Sony Bravia (14 yrs) are still running fine.

  23. Bloke in North Dorset

    “ I now buy a dishwasher expecting to dispose of it after ~4 years.”

    I’ve never had a dishwasher fail. The one in our last house was at least 15 years old and going strong when we left, this one has been going for nearly 14 years. In both cases I’d save average use was every other day.

    And now I’ve put the mockers on it so expect a rant about failing dishwasher anytime soon.

  24. yep fairly well know. Big issue in condenser boilers as the heat cycle (and smart toasters , washer dryers and so on etc) encouraged whiskers whilst needing more delicate electronics . They can design around it with thicker and more spread out pcbs but it took a while and is not done if corners are being cut.

    Just about managed to move my old pre condenser boiler before that became illegal and now a keeping it going until i move out! It needed a new fan in over 23 years and it was old before i got it then.

  25. Vaguely on topic

    Listening in the car to wireless this afternoon. Radio3 Private Passions.

    Chap called Krebs. Thinking “I know that name…”. Turns out he was the Food Safety Head Chap around 2001 under Blair. He employed UCL to do the modelling on Foot n Mouth. He was quite proud of it too ! Instead of saying “Please forgive me for employing these twats who are always fucking wrong.” He was totally unrepentant and lauded their use for Covid.

    Arsehole.

    Sorry bad mood because I’ve just had to go into the ofice and fix someone’s software issue and missed my opera on the radio.

  26. There’s more misinformed, pearl-clutching bulls**t waffled in the First World about “E-waste” than you can shake a stick at. A large proportion of what well-fed Westerners discard as “E-waste”, is, in fact, highly-repairable, highly-recoverable and contains significant remaining utility and value, and poor, brown-skinned people in the Third World are just aching to get their hands on it and wring that value out of it – if only they were not prevented from doing so by well-meaning but profoundly-misdirected regulations that classify all this material as “waste” and actively forbid it from being exported for reuse and recycling.

    There’s an excellent book called ‘Secondhand’, by Adam Minter, which takes a deep dive into the global markets for used goods and shows some of the ways that the holier-than-thou, white-saviour complexes that infest First World governments combine to keep poor people poor and deny them the benefits that so many of their own citizens so heedlessly enjoy.

    Regarding washers and driers – there’s a company in the US called Reliance Laundry Systems that sells washers and dryers under the Speed Queen brand. These are, in fact the identical machines that are sold to coin laundries and apartment complexes, minus the coin mechanism. They are guaranteed unconditionally for 25 years, and they are built like a brick s**thouse. They have none of the gaudy touch-screens and digital displays of their more-fashionable competition – which now last, on average, about 7 years before needing repairs that cost more than the machine is worth. Instead, they use mechanical switches and timers, easy and cheap to replace and repair – they are, in fact, the simple, reliable and rugged machines that dominated the market in the 60s and 70s. Fancy electronics, hot, soapy water and vibration do not mix. Speed Queen washers are also famous for their ability to get laundry clean, something which their competitors, for all their fancy programming and “green” credentials, seem unable to achieve. Yet, while Speed Queen machines cost no more than their top-end competitors, consumers still seem to prefer the gaudy flashing lights, digital displays, wi-fi connectivity (!) and 465 programmable options of the short-lived competition over the simple and rugged reliability of the older technology. Markets – go figure.

    llater,

    llamas

  27. Sneeze x3 + α and Ω

    My son asked about the free chocolate he got at Church, bright and early this morning. I think we’re doing either exceptionally well or poorly with this one, he’s always asking awkward questions about everything.

    I told him, yes, unlike free trials on the internet or anything strange men you don’t know offer you, the chocolate is truly free. Just like Christ willingly ascended the cross, suffered and died, before rising from death as a free gift to you, to save your immortal soul from an eternity of torment in Hell. Happy Easter, laddie.

    He enjoyed the chocolate.

    BiS – OT but writing the above made me think of something. TV antennae. It’s so long since I’ve watched broadcast TV, it seems such a strange concept. How many other people feel like that? No wonder the BBC are feeling the draught. They’ve really picked the wrong horse when they hitched their wagon to the multi-cultural society, didn’t they? How many effniks are going to be watching broadcast TV? Or their multitudinous offspring? They’ll be watching their own shit over the interweb. Talk about being complicit in your own demise.

    Telly is a rapidly dying medium, it’s just flailing about throwing money at streaming hoping to have a future (it doesn’t).

    Youngsters don’t watch films or TV shows. That’s a Millennials and older thing.

    The Millennials are starting to hit 40 now, I regret to say. Long form televisual media of all kinds are doomed, doomed, I tells ye. Expect a lot more racially Diverse adverts for stairlifts and denture cream.

    To youngsters, the idea of watching “TV” or a “film” is as exciting as Victorian novels about camping in Wales. Zoomers do everything on smartphone. It’s gotta be brief, their attention span is

  28. I think it’s more complicated & nuanced than that Steve. Maybe it’s because I’ve been outside mainstream Brit culture for so long I notice it. I converse with Brits & they may reference something I haven’t a clue about. It’s obviously TV & not something from the distant past. And then there’s the tabloids. Who’re continually running stories that connect with TV programs or their casts. They’re not all in their dotage. I can’t imagine some of the reality TV shows full of 20 summinks draw an older audience. That people reference things & expect one to recognise the reference implies there’s still some sort of shared TV culture. And therefore one deduces that people are incentivised to be part of it. How else do you explain Strictly & those talent contest shows? I’m thinking it may be the only thing keeping broadcast viable. But the more you multiculturalise, the less incentive there is for that. I can’t see many watching a soap written around the daily lives of a bunch of immigrant grifters for instance. You’re mentioning millennials implies a possible potential lifespan for it of at least 50 years. But I can’t see it making anything like that. Can’t see it making 10.

  29. dearieme – “a perfectly good 1990’s vintage microwave oven”: we put ours in the front porch and use it as a store for jars and tins of food that don’t need refrigeration. (You wouldn’t believe how much chutney we own!)

    I know exactly how you feel though. We are plagued with fruit in late summer, much of which ends up filling a second freezer. I don’t mind the strawberries, but there’s only so many blackberries, rhubarb and plums a sane man wants to eat.

    I blame my wife Goldberry, the River-Daughter. She casts some sort of fertility spell on our little domain. I, on, the other hand, could kill a plastic cactus and my only gardening contribution is burning things.

    I am basically Stig of the Dump, and have somehow blundered my way into all this, you see. Sometimes I wonder if Peter Sellers in Being There is, um, more of us than would care to admit?

    But all will be well, in the garden.

    The damn thing is so heavy there’s no chance of accidentally knocking it to the floor and its top is a handy working surface. Our “new” microwave is 2000s vintage.

    To think that the cavity magnetron was once the most sparkling jewel of the British scientific-industrial establishment:

    American historian James Phinney Baxter III later said “When the members of the Tizard Mission brought one cavity magnetron to America in 1940, they carried the most valuable cargo ever brought to our shores.”

    The Tizard Mission, of course, included a bootstrap guide for the Manhattan Project and the jet engine. But it was the cavity magnetron that gave the Allies a priceless radar advantage during WW2. It was the cavity magnetron that made American boffins shit their boxers with nerdlousy.

    And now it’s a cheap, mass manufactured component of microwave ovens. This markets lark, eh?

    I’d comment on our telly if I understood anything about it. A young friend set it up for us and assured us that he did it in a way that meant we don’t need to pay the licence fee. Jolly good, eh?

    We have been visited by some very polite TV Licensing people, after I cancelled our TV licence.

    I cancelled it in good faith, after learning that you can do so if you don’t watch broadcast telly or iPlayer. We only watch Netflix and barely at that. Otherwise, select films and TV shows I pirated in good faith with a Russian VPN.

    Anyway, the low-key harassment doesn’t go away, I’ve been the subject of a few “urgent investigations”, or however they put it, in their faux-official pretend-enforcement spam letters that go straight in the bin. (This is after TV Licensing both accepting and acknowledging in writing that I don’t need to buy a TV Licence, by the way)

    But the visit was nice. They sent a couple of polite young men to my door who asked if they could come in, to somehow check on my stated reasons for not having a TV Licence. Perhaps catch my children illicitly enjoying John Craven’s Newsround or something.

    They promised me that a quick look round would mean I’d be free from any further visits for two years!

    Now, you and I have never met, but you can probably guess how I reacted, dearieme. I explained to the gentlemen that Capita will just have to take my word for it, and if that’s not good enough for them, too bad. To be fair, these guys took no for an answer quickly and left with good grace. I’ve had much more persistent Jehovah’s Witness visitors.

  30. I assume that’s because reliability trumps “Eco Friendly” when lives are at stake?

    Not in The Envy Of The World: NHS rolls out new electric vehicles to help patients and the planet

    Anyway, the low-key harassment doesn’t go away, I’ve been the subject of a few “urgent investigations”, or however they put it, in their faux-official pretend-enforcement spam letters that go straight in the bin. (This is after TV Licensing both accepting and acknowledging in writing that I don’t need to buy a TV Licence, by the way)

    Strangely, they seem to have given up knocking on my door. Which is actually a shame, as I got far more entertainment making them stand in the rain while telling them I don’t need to pay the telly tax than I ever did watching the bbc.

    I still get the frequent harassing letters though. Apparently the detector vans are in my area next week.

    Oh, and there’s no need to tell them you don’t need a licence. Because fuck’em.

  31. “Instead, they use mechanical switches and timers”

    Just like my 45 year old Creda dryer. It even has a mechanical reversing mechanism to reduce creasing of the clothes: A threaded rod with a free nut attached to a weighted bracket. The rod is geared to the drum, and when the nut reaches one end it hits a microswitch reversing the motor. At the other end it hits another switch, and the process repeats!

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