Stormy Weather In Solarville: Amazon Joins Walmart In Saying Its Tesla Solar Panels Spontaneously Ignited

From Zerohedge

Many people theorized that the bail out “buy out” of Solar City, advocated for and led by Elon Musk, would eventually come back to bite Tesla. And now it looks as though we may be witnessing this first hand, not only in the collapse of Tesla’s solar business, but now in repeated allegations from a second multi-hundred billion dollar retailer claiming that Tesla’s solar panels ignited on their own.

Tesla solar energy systems reportedly went up in flames at an Amazon warehouse in Redlands, California last June and now Amazon has stated that it has no further plans to buy solar energy systems from Tesla, according to CNBC.

The news comes after Tuesday, when we reported that Walmart had suit Tesla over solar panels that ignited on their own and caused fires on top of 7 stores in recent years. As of right now, more than 240 Walmart stores have Tesla solar systems installed

Walmart claimed that Tesla only inspected 29 of more than 240 sites with Tesla solar roofs on them up until the day of the lawsuit. However, on Thursday night, it looks as though Musk may have been doing damage control, as the two companies released a joint statement regarding the lawsuit:

“Walmart and Tesla look forward to addressing all issues and re-energizing Tesla solar installations at Walmart stores, once all parties are certain that all concerns have been addressed.”

“Together, we look forward to perusing our mutual goal of a sustainable energy future,” the statement continued. “Above all else, both companies want each and every system to operate reliably, efficiently, and safely.”

But now Tesla also has Amazon to appease – how many more concessions will they have to make?

And with Amazon joining the ranks of those coming forward about these obviously defective solar panels, it looks to serve as confirmation that there are likely many other defective systems installed nationwide. This is what caused short seller David Einhorn to call for Elon Musk’s resignation late in the week last week.

Read the rest of the story here.

HT/ozspeaksup

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76 thoughts on “Stormy Weather In Solarville: Amazon Joins Walmart In Saying Its Tesla Solar Panels Spontaneously Ignited

  1. Here’s the key part of the full article:

    “Project Titan” had the purpose of replacing faulty solar panel parts across the United States, according to Business Insider. The parts in question are connectors — Amphenol H4 connectors — and SolarEdge optimizers, two pieces of the panel that are responsible for regulating the flow of energy and heat.

    The main job of these parts? Making sure that as much power goes through the panel as possible without overheating, which can then lead to – you guessed it – fire.”

    So it is faulty connectors and optimizes. Not faulty panels. One must be specific. I suspect the press will just say panels, thus garbling the message.

    • They are, “two pieces of the panel,” as you quoted. Sounds like you are saying, there was nothing wrong with the car, it was the brakes that failed.

    • Here is the thing; the customer, the investors, the public, they don’t care about those technical details. And let’s face it; it was Tesla who accepted those parts and included them in their design. As the vendor, it all falls on Tesla’s plate.

      • Which brings the question of … testing? Were these panel arrays and all their component parts … tested? How vigorously? How reliably? Most high end products (Tesla’s panels, parts, and batteries are expensive, NO?) are thoroughly scrutinized before coming to market. Tesla/Solar City appear to operate … uh … differently.

        I suspect that the “green dream” of “renewable” energy is Sooooooo (politically) important … that it must happen quickly!! Oh, and all that testing (esp. when faulty parts/materials are found) is extremely expensive, and delays hurt investment and credit ratings. And Solar City was burning $$$ … now Tesla investors got saddled (without shareholder consent) with Solar City. What a house of mirrors … house of cards. Musk is no genius.

        Sorry, but solar panels are still, essentially, as “advanced” as the Jimmy Carter White House panels torn off the building by Ronald Reagan. 1970’s technology rebranded as “Solyndra” panels … or … “Tesla” panels. They STILL have the SAME limitations … called Physics and Chemistry. Physics and Chemistry don’t know or give a shit about the politics of a “rapidly” warming globe and the DESPERATION to generate “most” of our energy by “clean” ionic transfer … by MAGIC! Uggh.

        • “now Tesla investors got saddled (without shareholder consent) with Solar City.”

          The shareholders—a large portion of whom were insiders like Musk and relatives—voted to approve the merger, after a vigorous selling campaign by Musk that included a highly publicized demo by Musk of the solar shingles the combined companies would be making in a few months. A house that lacked them was shown as one that had them, and an ordinary shingle, without connectors, was presented as an early version of a working shingle. There is a Delaware lawsuit by aggrieved shareholders about this misrepresentation, coming to trial in mid-March.

        • “I suspect that the “green dream” of “renewable” energy is Sooooooo (politically) important ”

          That is why companies with big public images, like Amazon and Walmart, installed solar panels at all—virtue signalling. Here’s a WUWT comment from 6/22/18 by dash:

          “Ever fly in an airplane and look out the window before landing at all the warehouses with their huge flat roofs? Perfect spot for solar panels, just wasted space with unobstructed sun exposure and safe from tampering, vandalism and theft. But you don’t see any panels, because there’s no cold, hard financial benefit to them. ”

          That’s probably why there are no panels atop the roofs of Tesla’s warehouses, despite promises that there would be.

      • Most importantly, it’s what the law says. If my memory serves me right, the US precedent was a case in the 1920s regarding broken wooden spokes on the wheels of automobiles. Automakers sell the auto and therefore are responsible for the entire system. Elon might finally get his comeuppance.

    • This might be a satisfactory verbiage for equipment that does not endanger life. Fire on a building occupied by people is not one of those.

      So no matter how specific, technologic accidents and subsequent catastrophes are not the outcome of a single but a chain of events.

      And a chain of events spells a chain of neglects. One of which is that after the first case, no one seriously took care of business.

      My advice, if one day Tesla comes with an aircraft, any aircraft, do not board as these guys have a demonstrated carelessness approach to mishap feedback and management.

      • My advice, if one day Tesla comes with an aircraft, any aircraft, do not board as these guys have a demonstrated carelessness approach to mishap feedback and management.

        Flight Level, I believe what you are describing is called SpaceX.

        • “called SpaceX”

          Isn’t that rather a spacecraft? Which could actually be even worse but I don’t have sufficient credentials to comprehensively assess.

          I referred to AirCraft.

        • SpaceX seems to be a different animal — they seem to be on the ball. Perhaps the people managing it are of higher quality than Musk’s other ventures. Of course, space ventures obviously demand more competence/attention than light-rectangles or battery-cars.

    • connectors don’t “regulate” anything. They may have been inadequately sized for the current they were intended to carry, but that’s not Amphenol’s issue. Solar City/Tesla engineers simply spec’d the wrong connector.

      • Good point kenw. We had an engine starter problem with our largest helicopter about 40 years ago. The starter housing was breaking. The starter was a hydraulic motor. The motor met the specifications. The specifications were not adequate.

        • James, you write: “The starter was a hydraulic motor.”
          What helicopter was that? (Used to work on UH-1s and AH-1s so I’m interested in failure mechanisms).

      • As the owner of an electronic assembly service, I can assure you Amphenol will not be blamed. The connectors have pins that may be too small for the designed current and the pins have to be crimped onto the wires using an expensive crimp tool specified by Amphenol. A cost saving measure is to use a cheap Chinese-made tool that quickly wears out and does not properly crimp the pin.

        Remember the loss of a war was due to lack of a horseshoe nail.

        Paul

        • Yes, Paul. A solar panel by itself won’t “catch fire” in direct sun.
          An adequately sized piece of copper won’t “catch fire” just from carrying current, even in direct sun. We have those all over the world, joined together, and they work fine.
          But you’re right, a bad cable-joint, i.e. one with too much resistance, surrounded by something flammable, in the sunshine, definitely could catch fire. It is essentially a heater.
          A power optimizer, as you probably know, is a little DC/DC converter module to find the maximum power point (current times voltage) for the individual panel so as to draw the most from each individual panel in varying circumstances. As you imply, an under-spec one of those could also catch fire.

  2. This surely doesn’t bode well for Tesla-Solar City if two of the worlds largest companies are publicly complaining about the solar panels catching fire. Presumably, it is a much larger problem with the possibility that smaller installations, right down to the home owner roof top are also infected. The fact that Elon Musk and Tesla hasn’t been able to identify a specific problem and/or a fix for both Walmart and Amazon and they had to go public seems to indicate it still isn’t resolved and therefore is a real technical problem of some type that hasn’t been solved yet. The only question now would seem to be is how long can Tesla’s Solar City division stay afloat with a real dud on the roof catching fire, and not bankrupt the entire company?

    • It probably only applies to systems above a certain size. The connector is the problem and that means it is KW-related.

      • It should be a relatively easy fix, if it is just a wiring/connector problem. At least not something in the solar panel itself that needs to be fixed or replaced. It also sounded like Tesla-Solar City doesn’t have the staff to do the inspections so maybe don’t have the staff to fix things properly either. The fact that Amazon comes out with the same news a week later must be troubling overall, since if Solar City knows what the problem is doesn’t get it fixed, then appears they have completely dropped the ball. Quite the warranty problem. It is sounding more and more that it is a management problem at Tesla but that shouldn’t be surprising.

        • At least not something in the solar panel itself that needs to be fixed or replaced

          My guess is, ….. 1/2 of those connectors are soldered onto the panel itself. The other 1/2 to a connector cable.

          • The connector right on the panel underside would be handling the lowest current, as in only that panel producing max current at noon, with that panel being low voltage DC current. The entire current from the ‘fleet’ of multiple panels are not passing through each individual panel connector. So that connector on the back of each panel should be the least suspect to cause any overload. Where that connector cable goes to and how it is wired in series or parallel where it is connected into the local DC cabling that goes to inverter would be more suspect.

            I would think that there would probably be multiple banks of panels wired together in series locally at low voltage to higher current, and then multiple banks of those panels would then be wired parallel to increase the voltage for the longer run of cable needed to get the higher DC voltage a further distance without as many losses on that longer run of cable to the inverter/transformer. I would think it makes more sense to assume that a connector with the highest amps and voltage would be suspect. But we don’t have all the details as to the specifics of wiring layout so hard to define at this point.

          • Earthling2- might want to redo you message. You’ve mixed up voltage and current.
            In each panel the individual cells are wired both in series and parallel to get something like 135volts with a current of 1-2 amps or so. This is DC, so even a single 200 watt panel is quite dangerous. More than enough power to kill someone in some mishap.

            The banks of panels would be wired to deliver the voltage needed by the inverter, which is usually designed to send 220 volts AC over 3 wires to the breaker panel, same as the incoming AC from the power company.

          • Yes Philo, my bad I see…the dyslexic in me must be bad today. Parallel keeps the voltage the same and increases the current (amps) when multiple panels are connected together. I was referring to the lower current on the back of each individual connector per panel. The entire amps from multiple panels in that circuit isn’t flowing through each panel, so shouldn’t be that connector on the panel catching fire even if the panel is also thermally hot from collecting sunlight all day as well as the inefficiency of the panel. Or at least I don’t think it would be, but more apt to be connectors that have the higher amperage from multiple panels somewhere down the line in a connector closer to the inverter.

    • I know from personal experience that a solar panel gets very warm, presumably that is where most of the missing efficiency goes … into heat. No way would I want them on my roof without a large air gap, something that appears to be missing on many installations.

      • “No way would I want them on my roof without a large air gap, ”

        Space for squirrels and pigeons to nest, and for their nests to catch fire.

    • “Presumably, it is a much larger problem with the possibility that smaller installations, right down to the home owner roof top are also infected.”

      The Business Insider article revealed the existence of a year-long, secretive “Project Titan, designed to inspect and correct bad home installations. So probably many or most of the time bombs have been corrected.

  3. Got to wonder, does HypyHypeyHipeBoy have enough money to buy his way out of all this criminal malfeasance? He is already taking it in the a**** over his cars that keep f**king up, will he be able to steal enough from the left hand to pay off the right hand while all the other body parts are dragging his a$$ into court? Stay tuned.

  4. The solution is to put a Tesla car on blocks up on the roof instead. That part of the company has more die hard investors and customers so extend its use to rooftop electric cars.

    • A shyster, or a really great marketer. I am reminded of the checkered history of Steve Jobs. Apple didn’t do well without Jobs and he basically came back and rescued the company.

      Why would a short seller recommend getting rid of Musk? The short seller makes the most money if the company totally tanks.

  5. Perhaps this is the tip of the iceberg?
    Are there other systems that have been compromising individual home installations with similar safety and operational shortcomings?
    Gee…Who would have thought that high power electrical systems would require more maintenance than typical home-owner neglect?
    …we engineers and commenters, that’s who.
    These things are mere roofing shingles.

  6. And let that be a lesson to multi-billion dollar companies and the rest of you that putting solar installs on a rooftop is dumb from both a safety and cost standpoint. They have zero economies of scale compared to ground mount utility scale solar so selling them to Walmart which was built on scale advantage in logistics and buying was predicated on green peer pressure on the company to make a bad choice.

    Of course governments double down with bad incentives to make the wrong choice on a wider scale while bailing out Solyndra, a company that never even got to the market to be a failure like Tesla Solar. Remember, they (Obama Administration) didn’t pick winners only losers with connections.

    • thats whats got me waiting for the cheap chinese imports the Aus govt is pretty much funding to start to develop “issues”
      the installers here might just be as good as the pink roofing batts chaps, some died some installs were pretty shoddy some took money but didnt even install them just left goods with the owners and claimed the work done.

      I know if I was even going to use pv(unlikely) theyd be on stands at a reachable hight for cleaning and NOT on my roof, for starters, and battery units would be in isolated bunkers well away from the house
      having seen what an exploding powertool lithium battery can do…awesome explosion from a small device.

  7. Well, only a few of Musk’s Teslas have caught fire (yet), so that is a success by any renewable energy standard, isn’t it? Or do we believe that Musk should be held to the standards of the rest of the automotive industry and have no fires? So far, Renewables are not held to the normal standards of industry as they are “saving the planet” and therefore can fail regularly whereas normal companies really have to perform to succeed in the business world.
    This situation reminds me of wind farms and solar thermal facilities that can kill endangered species without fines as they are saving the endangered species from extinction by “stopping” CAGW.

    • Look at the bad name the Ford Pinto got from the “exploding gastank.” Statistical, the number of deaths were within a standard deviation of similar sized cars. Yet the media made them out as four wheel coffins.

    • Look at the bad name the Ford Pinto got from the “exploding gastank.” Statistical, the number of deaths were within a standard deviation of similar sized cars. Yet the media made them out as four wheel coffins.

  8. well la tee da,,,,la tee da

    how long are we all going to continue getting screwed in the name of saving the planet

  9. Honestly I thought this was what the previous posts were about when reading their headlines….Amazon fires. Funny to me that it really is true.

  10. On a roof, live power, fire, glass, can’t use water. The firemen should get extra pay.
    Will covering a solar panel with foam be sufficient to stop it from producing power on a sunny day? Has someone already patented a black, opaque, non-flammable, insulating foam designed for this purpose?

    • I might think white foam would be better. There are spray on intumescent (swells when heated) coatings specifically designed for fire protection. About 20 mm thick will stop 2000 °F for 45 minutes. Used by the USN.

      • As long as it does not let light through. Besides snuffing out the fire, you need to kill the power production of the cells for the safety of the firefighters.

    • Yes, shooting water at an electrical fire is not a good idea. Fire departments have class-E chemicals for electrical fires, and are already trained (and paid) to use them as required.

      If an array of solar panels burned as well as a dry forest, or a pile of styrene foam, or a wood roof covered with tar, I’d think the smoke would also do something to reduce the power coming out of the panels.

      Electrical generation fires (where the source of electrical power is on fire) tend to be self-limiting by many mechanisms, so when they happen, the danger is mainly that they will be an ignition source for something more flammable. The exception to this would be runaway lithium batteries, or maybe even fuel cells in the future, where the actual contents are highly flammable.

  11. I’ve worked a lot with pin style amphenol connectors and just a split second of inattention can lead to a faulty connection and that’s if properly trained. If not properly trained you can end up with a real nightmare, I’ve had to re-pin connectors due to shoddy work. Cut/broken wires, crimped on insulation, not properly crimped not stripped properly, pin not fully seated, etc..

    Sad part is a cheap thermal camera would of told the techs, who were not showing up to maintain the panels in the first place, where the bad connectors were located.

  12. Walmart claimed that Tesla only inspected 29 of more than 240 sites with Tesla solar roofs on them up until the day of the lawsuit.
    Says it all, really.
    How does this all happen?
    1) poor training which leads to
    2) substandard installations, which leads to
    3) an inspection + repair program which
    4) is put on hold due to cost overruns.
    5) Disaster.
    This is exactly the same class of problems which have plagued the Tesla cars.
    Roll them out before everything is ready and then go way short on fixing the problems, both in production and after they have left the plant.
    @ John MacDonald
    Plan A: Blame your secondary vendors.

    • I imagine home and business insurance rates for “woke” people are about to double…lol

  13. Sounds like the International Building Code will have to reclassify any building with Tesla solar panels as an H-1 Occupancy … High Hazard. Requiring a 3-hour roof assembly, and built-in chemical foam fire suppression system.

    Oh … and that $Billion battery plant outside Reno? It will probably need to be scrapped … as just too hazardous for human occupancy. Or … it will have to be retrofitted with a 100% robot assembly line … no humans anywhere near the manufacturing of this highly eco-dangerous battery’s

  14. How much longer are we going to continue the fools errand of trying to save the planet with dangerous, inefficient, expensive, unreliable, intermittent grid poison. Can you imagine what this junk will be like 15 years from now? Combined Cycle Natural Gas now and incremental additions of small scale modular nuclear as it becomes commercially available in <10 years. End all wind and solar subsidies, mandates, and grid priority immediately.

  15. “.. we reported that Walmart had suit Tesla over solar panels that ignited”

    Sui generis?

    • … lumber liquidators’ formaldehyde-soaked flooring? sulferous drywall from China? adulterated honey, vanilla, coffee and milk?

      What’s life in the Gulled Age without some challenges?

      Never heard of solar panels going up, though… new one on me.

  16. UL (Underwriters Laboratory) needs to take another look at Tesla panels/connectors:
    PV-specific UL standards include:
    UL 1699, for Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupters
    UL 1699B, AC AFCIs
    UL 1703, for Flat-Plate Photovoltaic Modules and Panels
    UL 1741 – Inverters, Converters, Controllers and Interconnection System Equipment for Use With Distributed Energy Resources
    UL 2703 – Rack Mounting Systems and Clamping Devices for Flat-Plate Photovoltaic Modules and Panels
    UL 3703 – Trackers. Draft standard will be available soon.
    UL 8703 – Concentrator Photovoltaic Modules and Assemblies (Electric Safety for PV Concentrators).

    • Indeed. However … I believe each and every Trade Association, Testing Agency, and Regulatory Body are all “in the tank” FOR global warming, and “renewable” energy. They will bend over backward to endorse and certify each and every solar panel … regardless of its actual hazard. This is what happens when politics enters the world of (what used to be called) science and engineering. We don’t need ‘woke’ engineers and testing agency’s. We need REAL science and engineering without bias.

  17. “Perusing our mutual goal of a sustainable energy future”

    How can a goal be perused? Are they going to rethink the idea of wanting sustainable energy?

  18. Amphenol connectors are very reliable if correctly specified by the designer.
    I note that these connectors ‘H4’ are designed for PV applications with a standard, one size body but with a choice of pin size depending upon the maximum amount of current you intend to carry.

    I can see immediate potential problems:
    Was the correct pin size specified,
    Was the correct pin size fitted,
    Was the wire connected to the pin correctly, and how was it tested.
    Were the fitted pins from Amphenol, or were they a cheap substitute?

    I note the connectors are for connecting the Panel wire tails to the installation wiring and are limited in maximum temperature to 90C. Above 90C you have to derate (buy a larger pin than otherwise would be necessary).

    How hot does it get under a panel, installed in the middle of a large roof, in the mid day sun in summer?

  19. I’ve been waiting a long time to see the the MSM carry a story admitting that the Amazon fires aren’t because of Climate Change.

  20. Is it an insurance issue to live next to a SolarCity/Tesla Solar rooftop install job? Just wondered.

  21. ““Together, we look forward to perusing our mutual goal …”

    First, hire a copy editor.

  22. Can you even operate a high volume retail store with a fire hazard on top? Or is this from the blinders on flight school teaching Saudis how to take off but not to land the plane.

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