Monday, December 26, 2016

A Switch, a Switch, my Kingdom for a Switch

High-end Panasonic NB-G110P Quartz Element Toaster Oven: it is well designed for a toaster oven in that the pushbutton power switch is low voltage, indirectly activating a solid state relay that energizes the heating elements. But it occasionally wouldn't energize the heating elements unless you tapped the power switch lightly.
It was an easy disassembly, the circuit board is cleanly laid out, and Panasonic makes parts available (hurray for them). The low quality electro-mechanical pushbutton power switch (SW15) is the one thing wrong, yet is only available by ordering an entire circuit board for about the price of a whole new toaster oven.

In this instance the switch was disassembled, cleaned and adjusted and reassembled, but not without tiny springs and other internal switch parts flying around and several hours of fussing and cussing with surgical tweezers: not for the faint of heart; soldering in a new switch would've taken a fraction of the time. It's working again, but it feels like a Pyrrhic victory. Despite being well designed this toaster oven (like many other things) turned out to be only as good as its weakest link, which in this case turned out to be its low quality pushbutton power switch.

NOTE TO Panasonic (and other manufacturers):
1) have component-level parts available (or provide information on and access to component providers)
2) Use a durable, high quality power switch (after all, that's the switch that's going to be used the most) OR design future devices so the switch is easily serviceable (or even unnecessary.)