and here's a follow-up:
And another follow-up. The old panels get removed and the roof gets new shingles. But no new solar panels yet.
That animal must have been sitting on its eggs, and carelessly smoking a cigar I guess!
No... The cause will have been overheating of the 'optimizer' (MPPT tracker which outputs a fixed voltage) when it failed to a high impedance state, probably due to water incursion. The fire will have happened on a sunny day, because it's the energy from the other panels which starts the fire.
Tesla really should have made more parts of the system non-flammable. Then the story would simply be that this guy's system stopped working (or even 1 panel out of 16 stopped working, so output was slightly reduced)
So, maintenance seems like a must. Especially on rooftops or structures that will naturally “settle” over time. If I had to guess, these tolerances weren’t properly maintained or the buildings/roofs themselves weren’t solid enough to begin with.
If anyone can shed more light on this (pun intended)…
As for Walmart, it's a lot to unpack.
> dozens showing hazardous problems such as loose wiring and “hot spots” on panels, according to court papers filed in New York State Supreme Court.
Loose wiring? A lot of setups are mostly plug and go. If they had to splice one wire, it's only a minute process to do and if they used their eyes for a few seconds (I'm describing the literal process of splicing a panel wire. I'm not demeaning the work. It's minutes. 3 max, if you brought the parts on the roof.) As for the other connections a solar installation may need, the time it takes it one minute for all connections on the roof. For the 244 panel setup of Walmart, 30 minutes tops (20.3 minutes to be closer to realistic because there might be 21 j-boxes, each connecting 12 panels to the main array).
Hot Spots? I have no idea about that one. It's too vague.
At a different location, this is what Walmart said:
>One of the fires happened months after the system was de-energized, Walmart said.
I don't understand this one at all. Tesla/SolarCity must be using very cheap electronics because this shouldn't happen. Each panel's optimizer should be equipped for the situation when they aren't producing usable power.
Source: I worked in residential solar for about 6 months and as an electrician for two years. I'm not a bona fide source but I'm better than most because I've paid attention to everything that was taught to me. Plus I'm looking into starting my own Solar company.
The circuit relies 100% on the microcontroller outputting the right signals, otherwise a mosfet gets stuck on (causing overcurrent, and burning out). Little boxes like that are hard to waterproof and make resistant to repeated temperature fluctuations. My guess is some water went in and shorted some control signals, or repeated temperature changes caused a solder joint to crack. That caused the MOSFETs not to get the right control input, so they got really hot and caught fire.
It's just as likely to happen on a de-energised panel too - the optimizer is still connected, and the sun is still shining.
I'm not an E.E. but does that apply for DC optimizers? Older optimizers had no AC conversions in them.
> Little boxes like that are hard to waterproof and make resistant to repeated temperature fluctuations.
Hmm. I never checked to see if the warranty for the optimizers are 20 years. The panels are but I'd be surprised to see the optimizers be less than 20. Most, non-cheap, optimizers do have insulation to prevent moisture from getting in.
> It's just as likely to happen on a de-energised panel too - the optimizer is still connected, and the sun is still shining.
Based on your description, that makes it a possibility. Why aren't the optimizers equipped with some type of regulator to prevent output in situations like this?
mlcc fire https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2rvAoO-MIA , causes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgKY5QWehME
It feels nice to see the truth come out. Cheap parts .
Reduced gaps can limit/change air circulation. No matter the efficiency, solar panels absorb/create a nontrivial amount of heat that could be trapped underneath. That heat alone could be a problem or it could accelerate wear of other systems/parts.
You could also have breakage, rubbing, pulling, or other mechanical issues that can result in shorts and by extension fires.
What is in the article suggests poor quality control or poor quality installation to my eye.
The solar city acquisition still stinks to me of one Musk company buying another Musk company using investor money and shouting 'synergy' until people refocused on the poor quality of Tesla's car production instead.
The underbelly of the panels do run warm but they aren't hot, except in extreme heat. Nor is there any thought to the air circulation when designing a system, since the panels themselves don't have holes in the sides to encourage flow between an array.
In OP's case, something electrical was almost certainly involved...
7 months ago
If you want the truth here it is. Tesla has installed millions of defective amphenol connectors all over the u.s. These connectors are catching fire and burning down homes and businesses. They are hiding it with something called project titan where they are hiring thousands of people just to replace connectors. The problem is that they are testing it with infrared cameras to see if the connector heats up and only then replacing it. These connectors are defective meaning just because it passes one day it does not mean it wont fail the next even after testing. Tesla refuses to replace all of these connectors betting on insurance to cover any fires and only looking at homes when their monitoring platform reports arc faults. This is why they are dismantling the solar division with layoffs. Right now if you have tesla installed on your roof you may have a ticking time bomb ready to kill you in your sleep. If you have it on your business same thing. Don't believe me, google walmart fires. If you have tesla stock better prepare to sell it because when this gets out it is going to crash. They need to do the right thing and shut off all systems with these connectors and replace them with mc4. They wont because it would cost them hundreds of millions to do and hundreds of thousands of dollars on lost production. Do the right thing Tesla."
"On information and belief, when Tesla purchased SolarCity to bail out the flailing company (whose executives included two of Tesla CEO Elon Musk's first cousins), Tesla failed to correct SolarCity's chaotic installation processes or to adopt adequate maintenance protocols, which would have been particularly important in light of the improper installation practices."
"On information and belief, SolarCity's business model was ultimately a bust."
First Solar's panels would also be an unusual choice for a rooftop installation even if a different installer handled the work. Rooftop solar installations typically call for high efficiency panels. First Solar makes lower efficiency, lower cost panels that maintain performance at elevated temperatures. Their panels are good for solar farms, particularly in hot climates. They don't have anything special to recommend their use in rooftop projects.
> Criticisms include charges of racial and gender discrimination, foreign product sourcing, treatment of product suppliers, environmental practices, the use of public subsidies, and the company's spying on its employees.
1) Walmart would have a procurement department. These guys probaly have no idea of the likely 1000's of investment companies the Walton family own.
2) As a listed company, Walmart procurement would contact jobs like this to the best offer, not to seperate companies that happen to be owned by shareholders.
In fact all of the top 10 shareholders of Walmart have more shares (>10M) than any of the Waltons, it appears:
The Vanguard Group, Inc.
SSgA Funds Management, Inc.
BlackRock Fund Advisors
Fidelity Management & Research Co
Geode Capital Management LLC
Northern Trust Investments, Inc.
State Farm Investment Management
Wellington Management Co. LLP
T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc.
Dimensional Fund Advisors LP
So maybe you should look at whatever the interests of the index fund providers are, and who runs them.
Are you sure about that? Do you have an authoritative source?
I get zero hits for Lukas among Wal-Mart shareholder disclosures on sec.gov. Jim Walton, by contrast, does show up.
Also, Wal-Mart is trading for about $320B, so $1.5B is more like half a percent than twenty percent.
Tesla has had a lot of growing pains and they'll be a better company when you guys stop dismissing every single criticism and actually hold the company and Musk accountable for their missteps.
Regardless, SolarCity probably did a poor installation job with cheap parts. They have a reputation among other Solar installers and it's not a good one.
Tesla installed 29 MW of solar last quarter, compared to a peak of 253 MW at Solar City before the acquisition. First Solar, which isn't an apples to apples competitor since it specializes in utility scale, is on track to produce 1375 MW per quarter of panels this year.
Tesla's solar business is dead. They might turn it around with the solar roof product, but if that succeeds it will make Tesla Energy even less of a competitor to First Solar, since it has zero relevance to utility scale solar.
Even if Walmart had evil intent, why give Solar City the PR boost of hundreds of installations in the hope that they'll fail and they can later sue?
It's easy to make a nice conspiratorial quip, but there's nothing of substance here. Jumping at every shadow just numbs you for when you really should be angry.
Generally, batteries compete with the power sources that can be turned on and off quickly with control to meet spiky demand. Solar doesn't produce power at the whims of the operators and is not in that category.
Where is foul play implied in that sentence? To me it reads like more of an aside than an allegation of wrong doing. The stakes of this particular suit feel more "business-as-usual" than malicious or strategic.
It seems whatever generated the story was looking for some segue into how the price is down.
The stock price was affected by the market's new knowledge. They both contain words for fire but are otherwise independent and distant events in Tesla's history.
A more likely scenario is these liabilities that Tesla acquired a couple of years ago had otherwise gone unnoticed. They have now been noticed and the market will risk the outcome of Walmart and all of these other Solar City contracts.
The potential risk of these contracts is what is weighing on Telsa's stock price, not a handful of vehicle fires.
The surviving entity was Tesla, so Walmart sued Tesla.
(SolarCity's debts actually represent the majority part of Tesla's debt load and is part of why Tesla has been struggling financially despite 19%+ margin on each car sold.)
So it might very well be the result of the same company and processes.
But their founders are cousins.
This amount is immaterial for each party involved.
Walmart's real objective with a very public suit like this is to make sure that customers and employees see Tesla/Solar City as the villain. Not America's biggest retailer.
Even tight-fisted businesses get righteous about this kind of stuff. It's a great way to win the "we care" posturing game, at least for one day.
Yes, I think Tesla should be more diligent here.
The fanboyism is ridiculous for grown adults.
I just can see explanations coming from fanboys that Walmart sells engine oil and is therefore part of the ICE mafia out to get Tesla. And they short the stock, too! /s
As is probably obvious to those with any legal knowledge, IANAL
What amount sounds like nonsense? I'd sue someone if they stole $100 from me, or sold me $100 of bad goods and wont do anything about it, even if I make 200K!
And what part of "fires at stores" (regardless of amount) sounds comforting, legal, and acceptable?
So we just accept violations of the law because of some arbitrary scale you made up? Can you cite any laws that grant amnesty for thefts _under_ a certain dollar amount?
The most likely issue is incorrect design or installation due to the complications of DC power. This article goes into details https://iffmag.mdmpublishing.com/solar-panels-and-the-dc-dan...
Simply put DC power with enough current to power a home is much more dangerous than AC. And solar power isn't converted to AC until it gets to the inverter.
Meaning all the wiring and everything in the solar system has a ton of current going through it on a sunny day. If the system was designed incorrectly or installed incorrectly then there isn't going to be enough copper for that current to go through at some point and it's going to heat up and start a fire.
You can also have components fail and all that. But given they are blaming Solar City I'd bet on it being improper installation or inadequate design of the system for the load.
Most fire hazard comes from connectors burning out from what I’ve seen.
You could install the cable in a way the the heating and cooling of the cable, over time, causes it to move or shift (kind of like a snake, generally in the direction of gravity where its on a slant or hanging down) and then cause tension on connectors that wasn't there before, if you didn't properly secure the cables or design with that in mind. This one was an actual issue I know about having happened on some wind turbines.
If you have a really incompetent contractor, maybe they used the aluminum conductors instead of the copper conductors in some places (the former is far cheaper, but has less bending radius and carries less current).
There is a lot to get wrong, most of which I had no idea about until I had to think about it and know the problems in that domain of engineering. Even then, I only did that for a short time so I'm sure there is plenty I don't know.
Most of the issues I heard about though weren't engineering issues, it was poorly trained contractors who had no idea what they were doing. They used contractors especially in the Wind Industry, because of the cyclical nature of the building of power plants. Wind had a tax credit that use to not be a partisan issue, then it became one and congress couldn't get its act together which caused the sudden stop of ordering of wind turbines several times. Then there is the lack of unions in many parts of the country, and unions generally keep their workers sharp by keeping them employed even in down turns by evenly spreading out mandatory furloughs. They also go through rigorous apprenticeships and trainings.
Most solar installations now use micro-inverters at the panel. It's possible these installations predate micro-inverters.
My house is wired up this way, with individual DC/DC maximum power-point trackers at the panel, and a central inverter.
A (nearly) irrelevant comparison; WMT, a profitable enterprise, is down 1.53% at mkt close today, didn't experience any negative news today, and a core aspect of their business model doesn't explode into flames.
To be fair, I admire and hope one day to afford a Tesla. But the risks are clear. High capacity Li-ion batteries have high risks and incident rates of explosion.
While it's true that Tesla has had a relatively small number of vehicle fires with the Model S and X. To date there has not been a single fire with a Model 3. Even with the Model S and X fires they were far rarer than ICE vehicle fires. It's just that nobody bothers reporting on ICE vehicle fires because they happen all the time. The relative rarity of the Tesla fires is what made them news not a high incident rate.
Based on anecdotal evidence, Teslas seem more prone both to spontaneous combustion and fires from minor accidents than comparable luxury cars of similar age (that is, relatively new). The latter is why the NHSTA made them retrofit a titanium shield to the underbody early in the Model S lifecycle.
The risks are clear: high-capacity gasoline fuel tanks have high risks and incident rates of explosion.
Except... the fire and explosion risks of an ICE fuel tank are seemingly far greater than a Li-ion battery pack.
Though in this case, i wonder how much is walmart and how much is tesla. knowing both telsa over-promised and walmart probably refused to pay for maintenance.
Tesla seems to be the operator and maintainer. I would expect a contract has maintenance as a flat fee per year if it is anything like other contracts of this type.
Failure due to rushed, shoddy work is definitely Tesla's M.O., but Walmart is also not exactly the most credible source, given their history.
The standard for Tesla getting damages for accusations which don’t ultimately pan out... that’s pretty high.
At won't point will you hear something that makes you doubt this company? Anything?
The "influencers" are, and if you don't think so you aren't paying attention. Look what they say on Twitter. I posted a link in another comment, but miraculously it disappeared.
It happened with Theranos too. People of "high reputation" on this very site claimed everything was "FUD", that if you were against the company it was because you didn't want to see a young woman succeed in Silicon Valley. Then it turned out to be a fraud. And yet these people are still reputable here, after ridiculous commentary. It says a lot about the community, unfortunately.
100s of thousand of damage, that's pocket change for Walmart and Tesla.
Model X and S burst into flame !!! Tesla stock is down 1%, Be Afraid !
Don't buy Tesla !!!
Tesla spend zero on advertising, their main source of revenue.
They are also disrupting big oil and the auto industry, plenty of enemies to go around.
Compared to the fema estimate of 171,500 highway car fires per year.
Tesla has contributed 14 total since 2013. I know of at least 2 other cases by others have been reported
Common sense tells me that a big,unstable ion lithium battery at high speeds is not a good idea, gasoline is much less reactive than people think.
No, I think it's per-year - "Each year, from 2014 to 2016, an estimated 171,500 highway vehicle fires occurred in the United States"
"From 2012 – 2018, there has been approximately one Tesla vehicle fire for every 170 million miles traveled. By comparison, data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation shows that in the United States there is a vehicle fire for every 19 million miles traveled."
(No indication whether the NFPA/DOT numbers include the Tesla fires, though, or how many of those are arson - in the UK, arson accounts for about 65% of vehicle fires which you can't really blame on the ICE. If the US is the same, that'd increase the 19M miles to ~54M miles per fire - still looks good for Tesla tho', especially when you consider that the ICE has 100 years of safety development compared to, what, 10 for the Teslas?)
Are other automakers suffering the same investigations?
> Each year, from 2014 to 2016, an estimated 171,500 highway vehicle fires occurred in the United States, resulting in an annual average of 345 deaths
> Approximately one in eight fires responded to by fire departments across the nation is a highway vehicle fire.
Car fires are nothing new. The media coverage for EVs is not proportional.
Do we have EV car fire frequencies for comparison with ICE engines? Without denominators saying “all cats burn” is overly reductive.
Fine. And yet, is Reuters reporting those? In fact, why is Reuters even talking about cars?
Tesla fires feature very prominently in the news whenever they happen. When was the last time anyone here saw news of ICE fires? I only ever see those in local news, and only if they caused other incidents (like fatalities or traffic jams).
My mother had to drag me out of an ICE car when I was three because it caught fire in our driveway, so I'm not sure you're comparing equivalent things.
What you'd need to do is compare the number of Tesla fires (per 1000 cars) versus other new IC cars (per 1000).
When you make outlandish statements like that you have to expect increased scrutiny.