You may have heard about fires involving Tesla roofs and solar panels in the news and now you’re wondering: how often do these emergencies happen? Perhaps you’ve been researching Tesla solar products, hoping to go solar yourself, but you’re concerned about the fire risk. If you want to find out more about Tesla roof fire emergencies, you’ve come to the right place.
Tesla roof fires are rare but not unheard of. They are usually caused by faulty solar panel connectors and improper maintenance. In the past few years, Amazon and Walmart have both sued Tesla for solar-related roof fires. A small percentage of residential customers have reported similar emergencies.
So, as a potential Tesla solar customer, what does that mean for you? Should you reconsider your plans to go solar? Read on to find out more about Tesla roof fire emergencies, what causes them, and what you can do in the event of a roof fire on your house.
Tesla Roof Fires: How Often Do They Happen?
Solar panel fires are not a complete anomaly, though solar panel manufacturers, including Tesla, are always working to improve design and maintenance standards to reduce the risk.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Tesla claims their solar panels are “less of a household danger than a home washer or dryer.” They also claim that the risk of fire is “seven times lower” than the risk associated with traditional electrical wiring.
While this may be good news for consumers, it’s important to keep in mind that there is no official outside tracking of solar panel roof fires, so there’s no way to know for sure just how often they happen. There is also no way to verify Tesla’s comments, which could have easily been based on opinion or made up completely.
And so, the question remains: how often do Tesla roof fires happen? While it’s impossible to know for sure, the best way to understand the causes and potential frequency of Tesla fires is to look at past fire emergencies.
Tesla Solar Panel Fires at Walmart
In 2019, Walmart filed a lawsuit against Tesla over solar fires at several of its stores. According to Business Insider, solar panels had caused seven separate roof fires on their stores in the previous couple of years, causing millions of dollars worth of damage.
Some of the stores affected were closed for days after the fire, causing an even greater financial loss.
In the lawsuit, Walmart claimed negligence as a possible factor for the fires. The lawsuit stated that Tesla’s own employees were not sufficiently trained at fixing problems with the panels. Apparently, some of the panels contained cracks or other visible issues which Walmart employees had to point out to Tesla employees.
Further, Walmart claimed that Tesla couldn’t or wouldn’t provide any explanation for why the solar panels caught fire.
Tesla did agree to inspect all of the solar panels installed on Walmart stores. This inspection turned up 157 different “action items” and necessary repairs, a number which, Walmart argued, seemed on the low end.
The complaint, as reported by Business Insider, contained these scathing words: “On information and belief, the actual conditions are worse than as documented by Tesla, based on Tesla’s history of deficient and incompetent inspections, including Tesla’s reliance on untrained, unqualified, and unsupervised personnel to install and maintain the systems.”
The lawsuit also claimed Tesla documented repairs that were never made to their solar panels.
A few months later, Walmart unexpectedly agreed to drop the lawsuit, claiming in a joint statement that “Walmart and Tesla are pleased to have resolved the issues” leading to the lawsuit.
While there were few details surrounding Walmart’s apparent change of heart, one media source indicated that Walmart may have sabotaged the process by interfering with the investigations and placing unreasonable demands on Tesla.
According to “legal documents,” Walmart “repeatedly obstructed and delayed the inspection process,” whereas Tesla “worked promptly and diligently to conduct inspections.”
Tesla Solar Panel Fire at Amazon
Around the same time as Walmart was filing its complaint against Tesla, Amazon also reported a fire caused by Tesla’s solar panels.
According to Forbes, the fire was an “isolated incident” that occurred in 2018 at an Amazon warehouse in California. The warehouse in question was one of eleven throughout the U.S. that had Tesla panels installed.
It appears this event did not result in a major legal battle, as “Tesla worked collaboratively with Amazon” to make the necessary repairs and inspect the other systems. It is unclear what caused the fire on the Amazon solar panel system, as few details were included in the accusation.
Considering Amazon’s fire didn’t make the news until nearly 15 months after it occurred, it seems likely they were simply adding their voice to Walmart in claiming the Tesla solar panels are unreliable and risky.
At any rate, Amazon stated that they would not install new Tesla systems in the wake of the fire. There was, however, no word on whether they planned to get rid of the eleven systems already installed.
Tesla Fires on Residential Properties
Some residents who have installed Tesla solar panels on their homes have also experienced roof fires.
- One homeowner experienced a fire that burned so quickly it made a section of the roof collapse in on a bed before anyone knew what was happening. The fire consumed the roof and worked its way through the rest of the house.
By the time it was done, the fire had caused $300,000 worth of damage. The destruction was so extensive throughout the house that the homeowner and his wife spent more than a year in a hotel while the house was repaired.
- Another homeowner was away from home when her roof caught fire. Her neighbors spotted the flames early enough and were able to put them out before they did much damage to the house. The homeowner claimed that Tesla had contacted her only the day before to let her know about “voltage fluctuations” in her system.
After the fire, the homeowner claimed, Tesla refused to let her out of her contract and didn’t ever send her a report on what had caused the fire. She also indicated that they had not maintained the solar panels according to code in her state.
- One homeowner didn’t even realize there had been a fire until he noticed a faint smell of burnt wood in his attic. He went to investigate and discovered a connecting wire from the solar panels on the roof had melted.
Firefighters were called to the scene, and they discovered the evidence of a recent fire caused by the solar panels. From the shingles all the way to a support beam, his roof had sustained thousands of dollars worth of damage. The only thing that prevented the fire from spreading through the rest of the house was it had started to rain.
However, it’s still important to remember that these are very rare, and are often installation issues and not the product itself that is causing the fire.
What Causes Tesla Solar Roof Fires?
Obviously, solar panels are supposed to save you money on energy costs in the long term. But if they start a roof fire, they can end up costing you thousands of dollars extra, not to mention causing potential legal hassles and headaches.
With that in mind, you’re probably wondering what causes Tesla solar fires. Is there any way to know ahead of time whether your solar panels are at a higher risk for catching fire?
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know for sure what causes Tesla panels to combust. Faulty panels may look perfectly normal, while even those that function properly may experience issues sooner or later.
That said, there are a few problems that seem to come up consistently every time a problem with Tesla solar panels is reported. We’ll take a look at these problems below.
Around the time of the Amazon and Walmart fires, Tesla launched what was meant to be a secret panel system upgrade known as “Project Titan.” The goal of this project was to replace faulty connectors which had been widely used in Tesla’s solar panels.
These connectors, manufactured by a company called Amphenol, sometimes experienced problems with regulating the temperature of the panels. This, in turn, could lead to the panels overheating.
According to Tesla, only a “small number” of these connectors caused any problems, and Project Titan was created to either repair or replace the faulty connectors as quickly as possible.
Many of the lawsuits against Tesla, including the one by Walmart, cite maintenance issues as a potential cause of fire.
For example, one of the homeowners discussed above claimed that her panels were supposed to be inspected twice a year, but that Tesla wasn’t doing that. Walmart claimed that the workers Tesla sent to inspect the panels didn’t know what they were doing, and that the company simply didn’t inspect everything they claimed to be inspecting.
Is There Any Way to Prevent Tesla Roof Fires?
As you might expect, there isn’t much you can do about preventing faulty panels from being installed, and there’s perhaps little more you can do to make sure the panels are maintained properly. But if you’re still hoping to get Tesla panels on your home, take heart. There are a few things you can do to help lower the risk of your panels causing a fire emergency.
Do Your Research
Reading this article, and others like it, is a good start. Learn all you can about the various components of a Tesla solar panel system and how they work. Find out more about the Titan Project to ensure your solar panels don’t come with faulty connectors.
Understand the issues that other consumers have faced so you won’t be caught off guard if the same problems arise with your panels.
The more you understand about Tesla’s solar panels, the more likely you’ll be to ask the pertinent questions. Don’t be afraid to ask customer service or installation professionals about the Titan Project or their maintenance standards. Let them know you’re aware of the possibility of solar panel fires and what causes them.
Know What You’re Getting Into
Keep in mind that there is nothing either you or Tesla can do to completely eliminate the fire risk. Remember that the risk is relatively low. There is no need to assume that your panels will cause a roof fire, but it’s a good idea to try and prepare yourself, financially and mentally, in case such a scenario does occur.
What to Do in the Event of a Tesla Roof Fire
Perhaps after reading this article, you still believe that the benefits of having Tesla solar panels far outweigh the risks. You plan to have your own panels installed soon, but you’re wondering what to do in the event they do cause a fire.
Or maybe you already have Tesla panels installed, and reading this article has left you feeling nervous. You didn’t realize roof fires were a concern when you had the panels installed. What should you do if your panels cause a fire?
It’s always good to think ahead and consider the possible scenarios in the case of any emergency, including a house fire. Having a fire escape plan and practicing it with your family is a good idea whether you have solar panels or not. If you make it a habit to plan for the unexpected, you’ll be more prepared if an emergency ever arises.
In the event you do experience a fire caused by your Tesla panels, there are several steps you may need to take after the fact. We’ll take a look at some of these steps in the following sections.
Contact Tesla and Your Insurance Company
This is probably obvious. Calling your insurance company to report the fire will be one of the first steps you take. If you’re not sure whether your solar panels caused the fire, your insurance company may be able to determine this after inspecting the damage.
Whether you suspect the panels caused the fire or not, you may want to contact Tesla along with your insurance company. They may need to perform their own inspection, and you may be entitled to a refund or replacement if your panels are covered under warranty.
If Possible, Find Out What Caused the Fire
You may have a general idea that the solar panels caused the roof fire, but it’s important to find out the specifics if you can. What part of the panels failed? Was it a bad connector? A failing optimizer? A damaged panel?
Knowing what exactly went wrong may save you money if you choose to have the panels repaired. It may also give you an idea of problems your other panels may have. If you know that this one specific part went bad on one panel, it may also go bad on your other panels.
Knowing what went wrong may not increase your confidence in the solar panels, but it will at least help you understand the problem better.
Hire a Lawyer
This step may or may not be necessary. If your insurance doesn’t cover the damages and Tesla doesn’t handle the situation in a professional manner, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit.
Also, if the fire was caused by faulty parts or poor maintenance, as in the cases discussed above, the responsibility will lie with Tesla. While it seems more likely that Tesla would try to resolve the issues for the consumer, they may be unwilling to pay for repairs or replace parts at no cost.
Regardless of the specifics of the fire and the hassle that comes after, it may be a good idea to have a lawyer to help you through the legal process and get the settlement you deserve.
Look for Outside Support
If you find yourself facing the aftermath of a Tesla solar panel fire, you may be at a loss for what to do and where to start. If you’re feeling distraught and overwhelmed, it might help to reach out to others who have been through similar circumstances.
Connecting with other solar panel owners through forums and social media will allow you to ask questions and get answers from others who have been where you’re at now. For example, someone who’s been through a tesla roof fire emergency might be able to give you tips and advice they learned from the experience.
No one wants to deal with a house fire, especially one caused by solar panels. Tesla solar panels are generally safe, but they have been known to cause fires on rare occasions and cannot be completely guaranteed safe.
Understanding what causes Tesla solar panels to catch fire will help you make an informed decision when it comes to choosing whether to install the panels on your house.