Author Topic: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!  (Read 4066 times)

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Offline EEVblog

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eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« on: August 21, 2019, 07:01:03 am »
3% of Tesla Solar Panels on Walmart stores are CATCHING ON FIRE!  :o

 
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Offline G7PSK

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2019, 08:10:58 am »
It says in the text Dave was going through that Walmart says there was another fire after Tesla turned the systems off.
 

Offline orion242

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2019, 09:52:22 am »
The panels match their cars.

Maybe they should bundle in a fire extinguisher with any Tesla purchase.

They also claimed they where not grounded properly, serviced by clueless techs and high number visible defects where ignored.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/20/walmart-sues-tesla-over-solar-panel-fires-at-seven-stores.html

Rental solar or rental house fire??
« Last Edit: August 21, 2019, 09:57:15 am by orion242 »
 

Online nctnico

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2019, 12:02:14 pm »
It says in the text Dave was going through that Walmart says there was another fire after Tesla turned the systems off.
Well... how do you turn a solar panel off? With a large array of solar panels there is a lot of power involved so obviously there is a risk of fire. If the wiring is flaky and causes a short (not saying that this is the case) then you have a problem on your hands.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Online SilverSolder

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2019, 12:20:43 pm »

"Nothing's so good it's not bad for something" ...    as the saying goes.

As the industry matures,  the safety will no doubt improve.  It might never get better than current mains electrical systems, though...   which can and do cause fires every day!

Quote
Highlights from a US National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report:

Electrical failures or malfunctions were the second leading cause of U.S. home fires in 2012-2016 (behind fires caused by unattended equipment), accounting for 13% of home structure fires.

Fires involving electrical failures or malfunctions accounted for the highest share of civilian deaths (18%) and direct property damage (20%).
Nearly two of five fires (39%) involving electrical failure or malfunction occurred in the cold weather months from November through February.
Arcing was the heat source in approximately three of five home fires involving an electrical failure or malfunction.
Electrical distribution and lighting equipment was the third leading form of equipment involved in fires in U.S. homes in 2012-2016, accounting for 10% of fires (behind cooking equipment and heating equipment).

Non-confined home fires involving electrical distribution and lighting equipment most often originated in a bedroom (17% of total), attic or ceiling (12%), or a wall assembly or concealed space (9%).
Approximately one-quarter (24%) of these fires occurred between midnight and 8 a.m., but these fires accounted for 60% of deaths.
 

Offline orion242

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2019, 12:48:39 pm »
Well... how do you turn a solar panel off?

Didn't they tarp over the solar roadway in Germany that caught fire?
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2019, 12:51:27 pm »
It says in the text Dave was going through that Walmart says there was another fire after Tesla turned the systems off.

Yeah, missed that. Definite internal panel fault, also confirmed in another article
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2019, 12:52:10 pm »
Well... how do you turn a solar panel off?

Didn't they tarp over the solar roadway in Germany that caught fire?

I tarped over mine when it failed until I could get it fixed.
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2019, 03:22:43 pm »
Makro here in South Africa have put solar panels on all the parking, to provide shade and power. Because of the heat the inverters also have by them a pair of big 45cm diameter industrial fans, running 24/7, to provide extra cooling for the inverters. Inverters are in a corner, with a roof and a fence to keep them safe, and the fans are bolted to the tar of the parking bay this originally was. Have not seen any fail so far, and they have been there for nearly 2 years now, probably already paid off the cost of the panels in power savings as well.

Panels themselves are a Chinese made one, installed and maintained by a South African company, who specialise in turnkey solar installations, and also who do rent to own solar arrays, as there currently is no legislation allowing you to have grid tied panels and feed power back into the grid (thank you for the state owned failopoly of ESKOM, currently billions of dollars in the red due to reasons, and who the rest of the taxpayers have to bail out again and again) legally, though there are plenty of smaller systems around doing peak shaving.

Like Martin Lorton, having battery backed solar to provide lower cost power and a more reliable grid. There are some municipalities that do allow grid tie, at a ridiculously low rate, equal to the cost they pay off peak, but with a rather high fixed charge per month, along with limits on power allowed to be fed back as well.

For those looking for DIY solar panels, and DC arcing with even a low (60VDC) panel array, look at Kreosan with his home made panels here. Ukranian, but if you can understand Dave you can understand him in English.





« Last Edit: August 21, 2019, 03:34:37 pm by SeanB »
 

Offline Alex26641

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2019, 05:31:57 pm »
McFly1   VERY good one!  Regards, Alex
 

Offline edavid

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2019, 05:40:44 pm »
3% of Tesla Solar Panels on Walmart stores are CATCHING ON FIRE!  :o

That should be "Tesla solar panels on 3% of Walmart stores where they were installed ...".  Big difference.
 

Offline bdunham7

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2019, 05:44:05 pm »
It says in the text Dave was going through that Walmart says there was another fire after Tesla turned the systems off.

Yeah, missed that. Definite internal panel fault, also confirmed in another article

One of these was near me (Riverside) and I've been looking for more info, but not getting anything substantial.  I realize the panels burned, but how do they know it was a panel fault specifically?  And is there any info on which panels they were using?
 

Offline bdunham7

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2019, 05:45:58 pm »

Well... how do you turn a solar panel off?

Use microinverters.  Then they are as off as they get.
 

Offline bdunham7

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2019, 06:06:23 pm »
3% of Tesla Solar Panels on Walmart stores are CATCHING ON FIRE!  :o



Dave, you asked about HV strings in the US.  Microinverters (and the SolarEdge optimizer alternative) are common, but not required.  I think they should be required for installations on buildings, but HV installations are still used, especially in large commercial.  It's just a bit cheaper.  I believe very large installations like the burning Walmart ones actually use HV strings of 500V+ and then put those strings in parallel so they can have fewer wiring runs.  I really want to see how these things were set up, but I doubt anyone is racing to make that public.  You can imagine that if they had say 8 12-panel strings in parallel without adequate protection or blocking, that a small fault in one system could be backfed by the other seven with great incendiary effect.

My guess is that Walmart's suit has stated it correctly.  They did a piss-poor job.  Can anyone tell by looking what panels those are?
 

Online Marco

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2019, 06:37:30 pm »
Not really Tesla's panels, they just bought into the liability.

I wonder if standardizing on a HF AC distribution network with capacitive coupling wouldn't be better than micro-inverters.
 

Online maginnovision

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2019, 07:39:27 pm »
Tesla bought solar city entirely, they're Teslas panels even if the panels have changed since those were produced. Same as any producer the products change over time I highly doubt the buyout affected much of anything in terms of lifecycle.
 

Online gardner

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2019, 09:05:03 pm »
Dave mentioned the Tesla truck.  I couldn't help myself digging up some stuff I posted to the Canadian Money Forum in the Tesla thread after they announced the electric HGV....

An average loaded semi runs around 36L of diesel/100km. Diesel contains about 10 kWh/L and current diesel semis are about 50% efficient so that's 180 kWh/100km or 1,460 kWh for the 800 km range the tesla truck is meant to have. Tesla's newest batteries have a claimed capacity of 0.25 kWh/kg (though the specs on the new powerwall work out to closer to 0.1 kWh/kg) and using this optimistic figure gives us about 5,800 kg of batteries. This is not a preposterous number, but given a semi tractor is around 13,000 kg and only 1,200 kg is engine, that is a good deal of extra weight to be carrying around.

Recharging a 1,460 kWh pack by 50% in 30 minutes requires 1,500 kVA of power. A 1,500 kVA transformer is one of those jobs the size of a van generally sized to supply about 1,200 homes. A facility that could charge more than one of these semis would be a pretty big deal. Not every industrial installation would have this sort of capacity on site.

Maybe Tesla can make a go of it, but I am a bit skeptical. If I were an investor, I would want them to priorize model 3 delivery and profitability above this truck business. Daimler/Fuso/Mitsubishi is ahead of them already and trying to close ground on them would be a substantial distraction.

* Diesel trucks waste energy when they hit the brakes. Electric trucks waste very little while braking.

The fuel figure I used was a highway driving one -- there would be comparatively little other than simply cruising in that. Semi-trucks generally spend 99% of the time cruising at a constant speed. Sure regenerative braking could help, but it's going to be a 1% thing, not a factor of 4 thing.

* Vehicle batteries are not the same as the energy storage business batteries.

The 0.25 kWh/kg is what they claim for the current custom 18650 battery cells produced by Panasonic. Maybe the ones they would use will have a higher density. I can't find any specific claims from Tesla, but commercial 21700s that are available seem to run around 280 Wh/kg -- a bit better, but not a night/day thing.

* As for anyone being ahead of Tesla in the semi space

I never said semi tractor -- I said truck. The Daimler/Fuso/Mitsubishi truck is a smaller 5t panel van style truck, not a 36t semi rig. It has ~1/4 the range and ~1/8 the weight and consequently a much smaller battery requirement. They claim to have them in commercial service -- seems mostly in Germany. They are building real experience in this space and I would not want to discount it.
--- Gardner
 

Offline orion242

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2019, 09:21:27 pm »
Doesn't sound like its the panels so much as the half arsed install and maintenance by Tesla that Wally world is complaining about.

Looks like a fair bit of Wallys filing with the court is redacted or otherwise hidden from the public eye, but there is a ton of reading material that is available on the net here

http://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/iscroll/SQLData.jsp?IndexNo=654765-2019

Looks like I can't do a direct link, but just enter the captcha and search for Tesla.
 

Offline orion242

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #18 on: August 21, 2019, 09:37:41 pm »
Exhibit 252

"The Letter's assertion that Walmart has continued de-energization of 244 systems "based on events that occurred at four" (id.) is incorrect: Walmart has inspected numerous sites (beyond the four that experienced fires in 2018), and the results of its examinations—coupled with the conclusions of Tesla's own inspectors—confirmed that conditions creating a risk of fire were present at site after site. Tesla's inspection reports, far from reassuring Walmart that the sites are safe, have increased Walmart's concerns by further documenting patterns of negligence by Tesla. Tesla's cavalier dismissal of those findings—and its suggestion that Walmart should re-energize sites that Tesla's own inspectors found to pose safety risks—reflects either an inability to appreciate its inspectors' findings or indifference towards the safety of Walmart's personnel and customers"

Gonna have to grab a cold drink and popcorn and take a read though all this...
 

Offline floobydust

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2019, 09:44:53 pm »
I'm wondering if the solar panels and wiring have significant inductance.  Enough to sustain a DC arc that etches across the solar cells? Or is it a ground fault.
There seems to be nothing that can interrupt the arc- a thermal fuse or AFCI for the purpose.

(I posted this question in Solar and Renewable thread not realizing discussion is here)

The pic is from the court filing.
 

Offline orion242

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2019, 09:58:19 pm »
"Walmart has no right, contractual or otherwise, to de-energize 244 systems based on events that occurred at four.  Likewise, Walmart does not have the right to keep any of those systems de-energized indefinitely while it makes extra-contractual demands and refuses to even look at the systems that Tesla has inspected.The only basis that Walmart has offered for doing so is its assertion that each and every one of the 248 sites poses an imminent risk to safety or property.  In fact, there is no factual basis for claiming that there is an imminent risk to safety or property, and Walmart cannot make that claim in good faith while it steadfastly refuses to actually look at the systems that sit idle on the rooftops of Walmart’s own stores"

You don't have the right to turn them off over a few fires...  Telsa's lawyer goes on to say...

"Walmart demanded, which you describe as “reasonable,”would have made Tesla liable for thermal events even if they were not caused by the Tesla system; an especially untenable demand given that there are reported fires at Walmart stores on a nearly weekly basis that have nothing to do with solar systems.)"

Your stores are burning all the time, big deal...
 

Offline orion242

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #21 on: August 21, 2019, 10:26:17 pm »
Well... how do you turn a solar panel off?

Didn't they tarp over the solar roadway in Germany that caught fire?

I tarped over mine when it failed until I could get it fixed.

And from the sounds of exhibit 245 exactly what wally world wanted

"Tesla shall de-energize all solar panels so that no AC or DC power is generated and suspend solar operations at all of the Affected Sites immediately, but in no event later than June 30, 2018"
« Last Edit: August 21, 2019, 10:35:10 pm by orion242 »
 

Offline floobydust

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2019, 10:32:58 pm »
"...Walmart attorneys allege SolarCity raced to install solar panels as quickly as possible with haphazard precautions and inadequate safety practices before its acquisition. When Tesla took over, Walmart says the company was ill-equipped to manage and install solar panels and correct mistakes of its subsidiary. Among the allegations: Tesla failed to properly “ground” the systems to decrease the risk of fire. Inspections revealed numerous deficiencies, including exposed, hanging and frayed wires susceptible to arcing, where electricity deviates from its intended path, creating a fire risk."

Tesla energy division revenue $368 million Q2 2019. They must be getting money from the Walmart rooftop systems which is why they don't want them turned off.
 

Offline orion242

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2019, 10:40:07 pm »
Exhibit 248

Beaver creek Ohio Fire(March7.2018):

"For example, Walmart understands that improperly sealed housing during installation permitted water intrusion into the Fronius inverter, which likely contributed to the fire's ignition.  Moreover, brass/metal bolts were used in the inverter fusebox(rather than fuses as required by both the Fronius manual and the National Electric Code)"

Bolts for fuses!  :palm:  WTF!?!

Also blames the same inverter in another case and piss poor install maintenance on a third site.

Same exhibit

At Yuba City, CA, Walmart claims the system was de-energized by Telsa and showed signs of a fire after this with wires arcing at the time of discovery by Walmart.  Tesla who is apparently monitoring these installs, got ground fault alerts between June 5 & September 11 2018 and failed to act or alert Walmart of the condition.   :palm: :palm:  On the bright side, at least it was grounded in some fashion!!

248 also contains observations by Wallyworld's own consultant inspecting these systems.  So far the best read.

249 has some interesting bits.

-Almost all the sites are 2016 and older, when Musk's cuz was installing these under solar city.
-Tesla also claims loss of power generation has cost them at least $13.7M and $37.4K per day.
-A list of recent non-solar store fires Tesla points out.  $hit happens, man....
-Seems to state most of Tesla's issues with Wallyworld

« Last Edit: August 21, 2019, 11:26:31 pm by orion242 »
 

Offline themadhippy

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Re: eevBLAB #64 - Tesla Solar Panels Are CATCHING ON FIRE!
« Reply #24 on: August 21, 2019, 10:58:09 pm »
Quote
Bolts for fuses!  :palm:  WTF!?!


 


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