Why do my Xbox 360 power supplies keep going bad?
March 10, 2014 8:27 AM   Subscribe

For the third time in a row in the past few months, the power supply on my Xbox 360 has gone to the solid red light. This one was a brand new one, new in the box; the previous two were pre-owned ones from Gamestop. Of course, in each case, it happens right out of warranty, and they are not cheap ...

Is it possible that something else in our configuration is making one power supply after another go bad? The device gets used for an hour or two on most days, but not all, and the machine is always powered off when not in use.

Anecdotal: After this one went red, my wife mentioned that she had heard it making "really loud noises" a day or two ago. I've never heard an Xbox power supply make noise, but she swears it was very loud.
posted by jbickers to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's not sitting directly on the carpet or in a small confined space is it? The Xbox 360 runs pretty hot, system and power supply both. There have been some well publicized problems with device failures.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:33 AM on March 10, 2014

No, it's on a countertop a few inches away from the machine, with airspace on all sides.
posted by jbickers at 8:34 AM on March 10, 2014

Two thoughts:

Firstly, are you using a surge protector? Perhaps, you're getting power surges that the power supply is absorbing. It's probably a worthwhile investment regardless.

Secondly, have you checked the wiring of the electrical outlet you're using? If the outlet is wired badly, it could be damaging your power supply. It's easy to check yourself with a receptacle tester like this one.
posted by suetanvil at 8:40 AM on March 10, 2014

I burnt through a couple when my apartment was having more general electrical issues. I eventually blew out some lightbulbs and burnt out a few other electronic devices. In my situation, in retrospect, the Xbox power supply was the canary in the coal mine.

(Sorry, I don't know what the actual issue with my apartment was. The maintenance guy fixed it while I was out and didn't leave a very detailed work order.)
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:41 AM on March 10, 2014

If you are using a surge protector, is the outlet properly grounded? You can get an outlet tested for $5 or less at home improvement big box stores.

At my last house, the circuit that we had two computers plugged into was three-prong, but ungrounded (sigh). I was going through a power supply about every 6 months between the two of them, and one had some capacitors blow first on the mobo, and then on the video card shortly after replacing it. When I finally realized the problem and got everything grounded, I didn't have anything fail for the next 1.5 years before we moved.
posted by nobeagle at 8:57 AM on March 10, 2014

Thanks for the answers so far, all. It is indeed plugged into a three-prong six-outlet surge protector, but frankly it's as old as the house and I probably need to replace it.

Possibly related data: Elsewhere on the same floor, there's one wall where all of the electrical outlets stopped working a year or so ago. We worked around it with extension cords, but now I'm starting to wonder if the house has a larger wiring problem. I suppose it's time to call an electrician? Any guesses as to how much money we should expect to spend on an estimate, or a repair?
posted by jbickers at 9:42 AM on March 10, 2014

Definitely time to call an electrician, especially if you have an area like that which is not working right. Maybe it's just me, but electricity-related mysteries (especially when they may be in the walls) are sorta not good.
posted by jquinby at 9:55 AM on March 10, 2014

If you call around, getting a free estimate may not be too hard to find, but depending on the house, the estimate could be anywhere from $100 - $4500 . If the answer isn't very obvious (they plug in an outlet tester and open up the problem outlet cover), they'll probably want a diagnosis-fee (either flat, or hourly). Once I knew the diagnosis of my issue, I got a different electrician to give me a free estimate on time/labor/options to fix (on the phone, they knew they were looking at a $500-1000 job), but I had to pay for the initial estimate/diagnosis, which turned out to not be enough as they kept going and finding more problems). If your basement is finished, and they need to trace cables, that's bad.

There's a dead wall? Is/was that wall on the same circuit as the xbox's outlet?

To demonstrate how hard it is to give an estimate: It could possibly be just that an outlet has bad connections, or a failing outlet, $100 via electrician ($5 if you're comfortable doing it yourself). Or it could be that there's a water/rodent problem on the other side and new cable needs to be pulled, and they don't patch dry wall when they're done. Or the cable might be two-wire ungrounded and they need to replace everything on that circuit back to the fuse box... oh, do you remember that finished basement question? With electrical issues, the problems can quickly escalate as they dig further / make more holes in your home (oh, look a live, uncapped wire just hanging there between the old ceiling and floor).

My rule for replacing surge protectors is every 5 years. Some newer surge protectors will also say if they detect a fault (grounding/polarity) in the circuit, but you might as well get a cheap circuit tester.
posted by nobeagle at 10:04 AM on March 10, 2014

« Older Care and feeding of a turbo car   |   How do I find a couple people to cheaply move a... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.