A CCFL Warning Message

    Cold Cathodes are arguably the most popular product used today for lighting the interior of a modded PC.  They are easy to install, inexpensive, bright and readily available in a wide range of color, lengths and shapes... but are they safe?  Short answer, no.

    If you have a high end modded PC you know how expensive this hobby can be, I have a few paychecks wrapped up in MOBY2 between hardware and mods so I wanted to be sure that nothing I did as far as modding it went would damage or kill it.  I also bought an APC power backup unit to protect against the occasional power surge or brown out and always made sure to ground myself before touching any static sensitive parts while building it.  The case lighting is entirely LED based, there are no CCFL's in MOBY2 and I would personally never use one again.  My opinion is that cold cathode fluorescent lamps aren't safe, maybe I should rephrase that to say that the inverter part of the kits sometimes suck. 

Click on the picture for a larger view

    I smell smoke... a friend of mine went through it twice before it finally happened to me, I heard a really loud "POP!" and then caught a whiff of smoke when powering on a just completed modded system.  After my initial reaction of "What the hell?!?" I saw that the inverter lay in three pieces on the bottom of the case... not good.  You can see in the picture above what appears to be a capacitor that now more closely resembles a piece of fluffy, burnt popcorn.  But, the very best argument against CCFL lighting I have so far seen comes from Fistgar, his machine was almost a complete loss due to a CCFL inverter fire incident.  The charred mass circled below in red was at one time a functional CCFL inverter. 

BBQ anyone?

    The picture below shows the extent of the damage caused by a single CCFL inverter, which is argument enough for me not to use them in my case ever again... especially after witnessing an inverter explode first hand.

Click on the picture for a larger view

    I will admit that the cold cathode is a bright lighting solution but they are not worth the fire they can sometimes cause.  You can make up your own mind whether or not using a CCFL kit is worth risking your entire system over, I know that I no longer have any use for them.  I won't call my writing this article a rant or consumer alert, call it a heads up for the community and call it good.

- Article written by Troy, aka ARTbyTROY