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Think I dodged an electrical fire

Discussion in 'Charging Standards and Infrastructure' started by BeardedBro, Jul 9, 2018.

  1. BeardedBro

    BeardedBro Member

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    Hi friends, my new construction home was fitted with a NEMA 14-50 Outlet by a certified electrician about four months ago. Around the same time, I had purchased a charging cable from the Tesla website.


    Fast forward to last night, when I walked in my garage and noticed a distinct burning smell, but I did not see any smoke. I immediately turned my attention to the charging cable connected to our model X, and saw that the smell was strongest there, and I also saw some grey discoloration on the outlet receptacle itself. I immediately killed the power in my breaker box, after which I disconnected the cable from the model X. Have a look at the photos. Any thoughts? I of course have an electrician coming out sometime to today.

    ABA9858D-396B-4CBD-8090-7E8BED2E215B.jpeg 6E7754C4-F597-494D-9FAD-E3966A0BE525.jpeg
     
  2. mspohr

    mspohr Active Member

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    Unfortunately, there are appear to be a lot of cheap 14-50 sockets (even those installed by qualified electricians).
    Looks like you have a defective socket. The electrician should replace it and make sure he uses a good quality socket.
    The plug may be damaged also. It might be able to be cleaned up but it might need to be replaced.
     
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  3. electracity

    electracity Active Member

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    Tell the electrician you want a Hubbell part # HBL9450A or Cooper part #5754N as recommended by Tesla. Also contact Tesla because you can't be sure its the outlet or in-wall wiring.
     
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  4. jdw

    jdw Supporting Member

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  5. ai4px

    ai4px Member

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    I can't help but notice the same pin (right hand pin) is the one damaged in OP's photo and in the PSA linked article. Hmmm...
     
  6. electracity

    electracity Active Member

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    The $50 plugs speced by Tesla shouldn't normally need to be replaced. The Tesla spec deliberately doesn't mention the common $10 Leviton "Industrial Grade" 14-50 sold at home depot. If a Tesla EE takes the time a spec for an plug use that plug.
     
  7. Joe F

    Joe F FUD Buster

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    I second the Hubbell HBL9450A recommendation. About $100.00 on-line including tax and S&H.

    19 months old and no signs of overheating, charging at 40A. Note though I never unplug the UMC except for serious lightning storms.
     
  8. Saghost

    Saghost Well-Known Member

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    Only two pins get loaded when a Tesla is charging from a 14-50, the two hot lines, which I believe are the left and right side pins, so you had a 50% chance...
     
  9. bro1999

    bro1999 Active Member

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    So I read that whole thread. Seems to me that crappy installation of a 14-50 outlet was the culprit, and not repeated plugging-unplugging? Though repeated plugging/unplugging may have sped up the failure out the outlet due to crappy installation.

    Assuming a 14-50 is properly installed, there shouldn't be an issue in the long term unplugging/plugging several times a year?
    If repeated plugging/unplugging is not recommended, would buying an extra 14-50 adapter and leaving it plugged it at all times be the "best" way to preserve outlet integrity?
     
  10. BeardedBro

    BeardedBro Member

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    Morning all, I really appreciate the input, many thanks!
     
  11. Lloyd

    Lloyd Well-Known Member

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    You may find that one of the lugs was not properly torqued.
     
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  12. bpjod

    bpjod Member

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    On a somewhat related note, the NEMA 5-15 outlet that our Volt has been plugged into was starting to look like that after a little more than a year of charging our Volt. When the electrician came to install our HPWC we had him look at the outlet for the Volt and he decided to put in a dedicated circuit with a commercial grade NEMA 5-20 outlet for our Volt. It seems to me there might be a number of low quality receptacles out there that aren't up to the demands of high current for a long period of time such as what plug-in cars require. Maybe it's time for the regulators to revisit the standards before there are fires.
     
  13. posity

    posity Member

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    #13 posity, Jul 9, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
    I have been designing high current machinery for years. Some up to 4000A. I suspect EV owners are going to be reporting a LOT of these types of failures. And from pictures like this, we'll be seeing fires reported by EV owners. Electricians will slowly learn which products have high failure rates - very similar to the whole Federal Pacific (FPE) panels debacle. For example, there are still professional electricians out there that will see an FPE panel and fail to advise their prospective customers of the incredible fire hazard, presumably because they just don't have the experience. Even after 30+ years of thousands of reported FPE fires and a breaker failure rate upwards of 30%.

    So it is up to us EV owners to insist our electricians use the brands of devices that work reliably for the application. Since EVs are new to most electricians, you are going to find a lot of electricians giving advice based on little to no experience, which equals bad advice in this case. EV's are a case where the brand of receptacle really does matter IMHO. If wiring your range, not so much.

    14-50 receptacles have been designed for very low insertion cycle counts (50 is the typical specification) for use on ranges - which are a purely resistive load at the high currents. With EVs, we now have complex impedance loads and so the quality of the receptacle gets to be much more important to avoid failures. An EV receptacle is just a significantly different application than a range - due to the insertion counts and complex impedance load.

    Bottom line is I completely agree with Tesla's suggestion that people wire their EV receptacles using Hubbel brand. This is another example of Tesla's engineers knowing what they are talking about, and getting the details right. I have multiple customers that have gone to specifying ONLY Hubbel brand connectors on their equipment due to the frequent failures of using other brands. Hubbell is expensive, but this is a case where you are getting what you pay for. You won't go wrong with Hubbell, other than the initial dent in your pocketbook.

    One last thing: BE SURE to replace both the plug and receptacle since the Tesla plug was damaged by the failed receptacle. Do NOT try to clean up and re-use the plug: I have personally seen high current plugs re-used in plants many times, with close to zero success rate. Buy both a new Hubbell receptacle and new Tesla 14-50 Mobile Connector adapter cord.
     
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  14. BeardedBro

    BeardedBro Member

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    Hi, thanks much for taking time to reply- much appreciated.
     
  15. bro1999

    bro1999 Active Member

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    So took these temps 30 minutes after plugging my Bolt in. Ambient temperature in the garage was 90F. Considering that, do these temps look fine?
    IMG_20180710_210848403_LL.jpg IMG_20180710_210854604_LL.jpg IMG_20180710_210904828_LL.jpg IMG_20180710_210917662_LL.jpg IMG_20180710_210939182_LL.jpg Screenshot_20180710-212211~2.png
     
  16. Saghost

    Saghost Well-Known Member

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