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May 19, 2017
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Walmart is suing Tesla after solar panels at seven stores allegedly caught fire, according to a court filing.

Walmart also claims Tesla “routinely deployed individuals to inspect the solar systems who lacked basic solar training and knowledge.”

“Tesla’s personnel did not know, for example, how to conduct inspections or how to use simple tools, such as temperature-measuring ‘guns’ used to detect hotspots, and a Tesla employee failed to identify multiple hotspots that Walmart’s consultants observed,” the suit said.

[WPURI="https://teslamotorsclub.com/blog/2019/08/20/walmart-sues-tesla-after-seven-solar-rooftop-fires/"]READ FULL ARTICLE[/WPURI]
 

SSonnentag

Rocket Scientist
Apr 11, 2017
1,723
2,175
Arizona
Sounds like shoddy wiring to me. Solar City folks seem to be told to do things they aren't qualified to do, such as working with HVAC systems while doing Powerwall installations. That mistake cost Tesla $2,500 at my house when they miswired my heat pump and fried the compressor. The guys that did my installation were watching YouTube videos in an effort to figure out what they did wrong and even admitted to me that they had no business touching HVAC systems.
 

nwdiver

Well-Known Member
Feb 17, 2013
7,755
9,983
United States
Sounds like shoddy wiring to me.

Yep; Frustrating. This makes the entire industry look bad.

“Many of the problems stemmed from a rushed, negligent approach to the systems’ installation,” Walmart said. “Tesla’s predecessor-in-interest -- SolarCity -- had adopted an ill-considered business model that required it to install solar panel systems haphazardly and as quickly as possible in order to turn a profit.”
I've seen 3 failures in PV systems. All 3 were due to a loose wire. Newer inverters use spring terminals so there's no way to improperly torque a terminal. Better engineering like that should make a lot of these issues less likely.
 
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woferry

Member
Mar 4, 2019
402
472
San Jose, CA
Not that anyone suggested it was, but it's certainly not an issue limited to Tesla. A co-worker had solar installed by Vivint, where the install seemingly went fine, but after PTO when he flipped the switch it basically fried everything in his house. Didn't start any fires luckily, but just about everything electronic was dead (AC, appliances, TVs, an expensive embroidery machine from the business the wife runs at the house, etc). Took a while for them to agree that it was a fault in their wiring (I never heard just what was wrong) and to pay for replacement of all of the items. The family basically moved out of the house for a while since it was summer with no AC, etc. I was definitely thinking of his misfortune when I turned my system on the first time. :p
 

nwdiver

Well-Known Member
Feb 17, 2013
7,755
9,983
United States
Not that anyone suggested it was, but it's certainly not an issue limited to Tesla. A co-worker had solar installed by Vivint, where the install seemingly went fine, but after PTO when he flipped the switch it basically fried everything in his house. Didn't start any fires luckily, but just about everything electronic was dead (AC, appliances, TVs, an expensive embroidery machine from the business the wife runs at the house, etc). Took a while for them to agree that it was a fault in their wiring (I never heard just what was wrong) and to pay for replacement of all of the items. The family basically moved out of the house for a while since it was summer with no AC, etc. I was definitely thinking of his misfortune when I turned my system on the first time. :p

..... I don't see how that's even possible... the breaker should have tripped; Do you know what happened?
 
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qdeathstar

Active Member
May 17, 2019
2,478
2,065
VB
..... I don't see how that's even possible... the breaker should have tripped; Do you know what happened?


the breaker only sees over current, eg heat.... over voltage will destroy electronics faster than anything.... also i’m not too familiar with PV systems but it seems like the inverter matches the output frequency to the building mains... if something was screwing with that i imagine there would be a bang....
 
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Odiemac

Member
Apr 19, 2016
110
190
Hayward
I read through the complaint. It’s good to see all the illustrations and descriptions of the issues with the systems. Seems like it mainly comes down to:
  • Improperly sealed inverters that likely let in water (main cause of most of the fires)
  • Exposed wiring on roofs running across sharp metal joints and abraiding.
  • “Hotspots” on panels caused by failed bypass diodes
This is likely due to the lack of SolarCity having manpower or experience with large installations like this. But I plan to go up and regularly inspect my array for some of these issues, including checking for hotspots with a FLIR accessory on my phone.
 

nwdiver

Well-Known Member
Feb 17, 2013
7,755
9,983
United States
the breaker only sees over current, eg heat.... over voltage will destroy electronics faster than anything.... also i’m not too familiar with PV systems but it seems like the inverter matches the output frequency to the building mains... if something was screwing with that i imagine there would be a bang....

The inverter operates in parallel to the grid. So an inverter causing damage to something parallel to the grid would be like a flea pushing a dog over. In an inverter vs grid battle the inverter dies....

This is likely due to the lack of SolarCity having manpower or experience with large installations like this. But I plan to go up and regularly inspect my array for some of these issues, including checking for hotspots with a FLIR accessory on my phone.

It is easy to spot...

Still not sure how this happened... but the FLIR image is interesting. This is what solar panels look like in IR with shorted bypass diodes. Basically each cell group is just a short circuit.....

View attachment 422496
 
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voip-ninja

Give me some sugar baby
Mar 15, 2012
4,121
4,693
Colorado
i wonder why it had to come to lawsuits... usually companies will try to work this stuff out privately..

Ummmm.... probably because Tesla have been intractable and refused to acknowledge their culpability in all of this or come up with an acceptable mitigation plan.

In my area we have several small but well established solar installation companies and then we have solar city who appears to be entirely staffed with pimply faced kids who don't look like they know DC from AC.
 

Vsasson

Member
May 24, 2016
24
14
Hackensack
Sounds like shoddy wiring to me. Solar City folks seem to be told to do things they aren't qualified to do, such as working with HVAC systems while doing Powerwall installations. That mistake cost Tesla $2,500 at my house when they miswired my heat pump and fried the compressor. The guys that did my installation were watching YouTube videos in an effort to figure out what they did wrong and even admitted to me that they had no business touching HVAC systems.
 

Vsasson

Member
May 24, 2016
24
14
Hackensack
I had Powerwalls installed at my New Jersey home, but it's not clear why your installation involved the heat pump. It was a pre-existing installation (heat pump and compressor)? I also have both, but they weren't touched, unless you're referring to rewiring of your electrical panel.
 

qdeathstar

Active Member
May 17, 2019
2,478
2,065
VB
Ummmm.... probably because Tesla have been intractable and refused to acknowledge their culpability in all of this or come up with an acceptable mitigation plan.

In my area we have several small but well established solar installation companies and then we have solar city who appears to be entirely staffed with pimply faced kids who don't look like they know DC from AC.

That’s disappointing.
 

qdeathstar

Active Member
May 17, 2019
2,478
2,065
VB

SSonnentag

Rocket Scientist
Apr 11, 2017
1,723
2,175
Arizona
I had Powerwalls installed at my New Jersey home, but it's not clear why your installation involved the heat pump. It was a pre-existing installation (heat pump and compressor)? I also have both, but they weren't touched, unless you're referring to rewiring of your electrical panel.

Existing heat pumps. They attempted to install soft-start devices on the units and got something wired wrong. This is after I instructed them, in writing, with a written confirmation, to NOT put the heat pumps on the critical load center.
 

willow_hiller

Active Member
Apr 3, 2019
3,088
14,088
Maryland
Are you disputing that
1) Walmart allowed Tesla to install solar panels
2) Tesla solar panels caught fire
3) investigators found shotty install to be the issue.

???

1. Solar City installed solar panels manufactured by a third party
2. Fires occurred on 7 of 240 installs
3. Wiring appears to have been the cause, for which Tesla already paid Walmart some sort of financial compensation. The lawsuit has occurred because instead of compensation, Walmart wants all 240 installations removed.

All we really know at this point is Walmart's side of the story, which at this point I'm taking with a grain of salt considering the lobbying the Walton's have engaged in, along with the timing of this lawsuit. The last fire occurred over 9 months ago, and yet this lawsuit gets filed within days of Tesla's re-launch of their solar website.
 

Cosmacelf

Well-Known Member
Mar 6, 2013
8,519
20,439
San Diego
1. Solar City installed solar panels manufactured by a third party
2. Fires occurred on 7 of 240 installs
3. Wiring appears to have been the cause, for which Tesla already paid Walmart some sort of financial compensation. The lawsuit has occurred because instead of compensation, Walmart wants all 240 installations removed.

All we really know at this point is Walmart's side of the story, which at this point I'm taking with a grain of salt considering the lobbying the Walton's have engaged in, along with the timing of this lawsuit. The last fire occurred over 9 months ago, and yet this lawsuit gets filed within days of Tesla's re-launch of their solar website.

I very much doubt Walmart was timing this lawsuit to anything else other than their legal team's internal schedules.

The fact that Walmart installed 240 solar roofs is proof enough that they at least wanted green street cred. Suing Tesla was no doubt a last ditch attempt to make themselves whole. Do you really want to roll the dice on 3% of your stores catching fire? That's a big fat NO. They had no choice but to either extensively overhaul the systems or tear them and start over. Given a roof caught fire even after it was turned off, they are forced to remove. Hence the lawsuit. Don't over complicate things.
 

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