In Response to Garage Fire, Tesla Model S Owners Will Receive Upgraded Charging Adapter

JAN 10 2014 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 17

Remember the garage fire involving a Tesla Model S?

At the time, it was believed that either the “Tesla-supplied charging system or the connection at the electricity panel on the wall of the garage of a single-family home could have caused the fire.”

Tesla has now reacted to the incident by deciding to upgrade the “wall charger adapters following reports of overheating in garages,” reports Bloomberg.

Bloomberg says that Tesla CEO Elon Musk discussed the upgrade in an interview earlier today.  Musk stated:

“These are very rare events, but occasionally the wiring isn’t done right. We want people to have absolute comfort, so we’re going to be providing them with an upgraded adapter.”

Bloomberg adds “The charger connectors, which tether Tesla-issued cables with wall outlets, will be mailed out in the next two weeks.”

So, Model S owners should expect to receive an upgraded adapter by mail by the end of January.

Here’s Tesla’s official statement:

Tesla Provides Customers with Upgraded Charging Software and Adapter
Friday, January 10, 2014

PALO ALTO, Calif. – A variety of factors such as corrosion, physical damage to receptacles, or inappropriate wiring or installation of electrical outlets can cause higher than normal electrical resistance when using the Universal Mobile Connector (“UMC”) NEMA 14-50 adapters to charge Tesla Model S vehicles. When charging, higher than normal electrical resistance connections to external energy sources may cause excessive heating of the adapter. In December 2013, Tesla released an over-the-air software update to address this issue, enabling the Model S onboard charging system to automatically reduce the charging current by 25 percent if it detects unexpected fluctuations in the input power to the vehicle. This fully addresses the issue by substantially reducing the heat generated in any high resistance connections outside the vehicle. This update increases robustness and safety considerably in the unlikely event that a home wiring system, receptacle, adapter or cord is unable to meet its rated current capacity.

Because this was an over-the-air update, customers can confirm receipt without having to bring their vehicles into a Tesla Service Center or other location by simply tapping on the 17” touchscreen and verifying that their Model S is running software version 5.8.4 or later. Any vehicle that is not within range of the wireless network or is not remotely accessible for any other reason can have the update installed through Tesla authorized Service Centers or Tesla Rangers.

Tesla believes that this software update fully addresses any potential risks. However, to provide another layer of assurance to Model S customers using the 14-50 socket, we have designed an improved wall adapter with a thermal fuse. Even if the circuit breakers on the house side and car side don’t trip, the thermal fuse will prevent current from flowing if the wall socket region heats up for any reason. Although we do not believe the improved adapter is required to address the issue, we are taking this step as part of our commitment to full customer satisfaction. We will provide this upgraded adapter to existing and new customers free of charge starting in a few weeks.

In addition, Tesla has informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of these proactive measures.

Source: Bloomberg

Categories: Charging, Tesla

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17 Comments on "In Response to Garage Fire, Tesla Model S Owners Will Receive Upgraded Charging Adapter"

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Big Solar

Boy that will cost a couple bucks as I looked at the price of their adapter the other day. they were like 65 bucks or something! They couldnt cost more than 5 or 10 bucks to make even in the US.

Anon

Retail isn’t actual CTP… Not addressing the issue could cost them more. As is, it would be more of an advertising expense. 😉

Did you know that not all US States require residential contractors (electrical, etc.) to be licensed??? Get a licensed contractor that handles commercial installs, just to be safe.

Big Solar

I only use 110 and I put a 20 amp outlet in myself. We have a model s and a imiev and never need more than 12 amps!

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

2011 Volts also had a recall on their chargers’ pigtails IIRC.

Fishhawk

As far as I know, there has never been a Volt recall. There have been customer satisfaction compaigns, and yes, the Volt’s charge cord was replaced under warranty (mine was). It’s important to note that many issues with plugging in a car are due to the poor quality of outlets, and the wiring technique (i.e. just pushing the wires into small holes instead of wrapping around the screw). These outlets work fine for light loads, but putting a heavier load on them daily can cause them to fail. That, and the tendency to daisy-chain outlets with nothing more than pushed in wires.

Bill Howland

The difference here, of course, is with a properly installed and functioning recepticle, the Volt remained luke warm, which was a priori required by the owner’s manual. While not a lawyer, this to me held GM harmless. To avoid any litigation costs, they went way overboard conservative, with very heavy cabling for a default 8 amp loading.. As I’ve stated many times, the unit being used at an authorized Tesla Service Center was much warmer. Its a key difference, since no one to date has made the comment that “Tesla service centers are improperly wired”, or xenophobic comments such as “Canadians can’t wire a 208 volt outlet”, or other such nonsense..

Its also noteworthy that for all the people who have complained “I have no proof”, or, “my advice is not needed” or other disparaging comments, it is very interesting that Tesla, while at the same time not admitting culpability, has come around to my way of thinking, and not the other way around.

JakeY

Just some googling, shows GM had plenty overheating problems with their EVSE, so I don’t buy the claim that somehow GM’s situation is different:
http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?8090-110V-Charge-Cord-Fault&s=982cff873cbf36ef962ded2bd11531d0
http://gm-volt.com/forum/group.php?do=discuss&gmid=37
http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?63993-Charge-Outlet-Over-Heated-Cord-Issues/page2
http://gm-volt.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-6581.html

Just because Tesla is doing something doesn’t mean they are at fault. This change (as well as the voltage drop detection) would be helpful even if the fault was at the wall socket or wiring.

Bill Howland
Well Jakey there are 2 issues with the volt…. Version 2 (which is the first version apparently anyone got with the exception of Bob Lutz) had both a 16 gauge attachment plug and a 16 gauge long cordset to the car. The one mistake GM may have made is not advising to fully unroll the long cord, otherwise it will overheat, similar to the problem you would have with any heavily loaded cord that you failed to fully unravel. My current version 3 (as stated, I had zero problems with v2 since I fully unrolled the cord at each use) has a 14 gauge black attachment plug but the same 16 gauge long cord which I always fully unravel. Reading between the lines on your blogpost links seem to indicate people either 1). Plug the unit into a questionable recepticle, and / or 2). Fail to fully unravel the cord off the storage mounting each and every time they are using the charge cord. This situation will crop up even with the replacement cord since it is still only #16AWG. Doing either will shorten the life of the unit, and greatly increase the operating temperature.. If GM is at fault,… Read more »
miimura

Why is everybody (Inside EVs and Autoblog Green so far) running pictures with this story showing a High Power Wall Connector when the Mobile Connector is the part that is involved. Apparently, Tesla is only issuing new NEMA 14-50 adapters with a new thermal “fuse”, not NEMA 6-50 adapters. I wonder how many 6-50 adapters are being used.

Bill Howland

Probably not a super huge amount, since unless the Nema 6-50 outlet is currently shared with another appliance (Lincoln 225 amp arc welder, for instance), its cheaper to change the outlet to a 14-50 than buy Tesla’s additional adapter.

Not to add fuel to the fire, but for those people who think I’m unnecessarily giving Tesla a hard time should check out “SMITH” on PluginCars.com. He goes far in excess of anything I’ve ever said (as I’ve stated, I’m usually pretty lenient to this sort of thing and am only concerned when undue heating happens), and is causing a rather lively discussion over there.

He is much harder on Tesla than I’d ever think of being, although I don’t necessarily disagree with his conclusions.

sven

Eric, you left out an important detail from the source Bloomberg article. You didn’t say what Tesla did to their adapter design to upgrade it. Per the Bloomberg article: “The redesigned adapter will include a thermal fuse designed to shut off charging if overheating is detected, Musk said.”

Including a thermal fuse in the upgraded adapter is a welcome safety feature that Tesla should have been included in the original adapter design. But hindsight is twenty-twenty.

David

Tesla should have included it from the beginning. Nissan already does that with theirs, Telsa could have/should have known that. This may indicate a pattern of skimping on safety details. 4x higher risk of a fire from collision with road debris is significant. Seems that they’re likely raising the car to reduce the risk until NHTSA rules, then they’ll allow it to be lowered again with the heightened risk.

JakeY

AFAIK the Leaf EVSE (either the 110V one or the Aerovironment unit) does not have a thermal fuse, nor does most EVSEs.

AFAIK, only the Roadster EVSE had one.

Big Solar

Yeah, I cant lower my car unless I drive under 3 mph. I was not happy about that at all!

RDOCA

The Volt wall unit had poor internal connections and the cord I had before replacement measured 177deg. The new one with black plug lead barely got warm.

Priusmaniac

Another problem that should get fixed is the tendency of building wooden houses, which is in itself asking for fires.
If you build in concrete or in bricks you don’t get a fire that easily and if you get one it generaly remain restrained to a certain area.
Appart fom that sutch a house is also way more resistant to tornados or cyclones. It takes some more time to build but we are not in a time rush anymore.

Bill Howland

This whole issue is what an “Underwriter’s Laboratory” listing was historically supposed to prevent.

After Sept 11, 2011, too many UL people got fired for talking about building construction, and what is physically posible and what isn’t.

Then that (ON THE ) Blink thing actually was UL listed. That single action was the beginning of the end of UL as far as I’m concerned,

When UL was fully functioning properly, you didn’t have to have concern about what products you purchased. You simply looked for the UL circle.

That was when the circle meant something.