Tesla Upgrades Charger Adapters, But Home Wiring Still A Concern

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Tesla Upgrades Charger Adapters, But Home Wiring Still A Concern
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Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has gotten a lot of flak for the few Model S fires late last year. The November garage fire was of particular interest, especially because of the photos of melted Tesla charging cables which several drivers have posted on the Tesla Motors Club forum.

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Tesla continues proactive stance

As it turns out, Bloomberg reports today that Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is sending out upgraded chargers for its Model S sedans. This comes in the wake of a software update the automaker sent out previously, which is designed to reduce the risk of fire from faulty home wiring. Clearly, Tesla continues to be proactive with these problems, providing solutions when there is any question whatsoever about whether its cars or equipment is causing problems.

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Faulty wiring could still cause problems for Tesla cars

But will the new charging connecters eliminate the fire risk completely? The short answer is, the number of variables involved in any fire or melted cable situation is immense. In other words, owners of Tesla’s cars or any other electric vehicles would do well to make sure the wiring in their home or garage is in good shape.

An automotive technician with expertise in green cars believes that the majority of issues which could cause a fire or melted cables told ValueWalk that faulty home or garage wiring is most often the problem.

What could go wrong when charging a Tesla

Jordan Perch of DMV.com assessed the photos from the forum and provided us with a list of all the things which could go wrong that don’t have anything to do with Tesla’s charging adapters.

“One of the potential issues that could cause the NEMA 14-50 adapter to catch fire and melt is failing to lock the adapter into the universal mobile connector, since leaving even a small gap there could heat up the adapter, and eventually melt it. Another possible reason is having too many amps going through. It this occurs, the circuit breaker should trip, meaning that the power is turned off, so that the circuit doesn’t overheat. A circuit breaker trip can occur as a result of an overloaded circuit, a ground fault, or a short circuit. This means that the adapter could have melted because of faulty circuit breaker, that didn’t trip when too much electricity started running through the same circuit.”

“There could have been a wire somewhere in the wall socket touching a metal screw or some other metal part, a situation which is highly likely to cause a fire. Also, an overloaded circuit can be the reason, as well. If your home has old wiring that is in bad shape, or it doesn’t has the capacity to withstand the electrical loads from multiple appliances being plugged in at the same time, chances are that a fire can
occur at some point, especially if you install an additional outlet and use it to charge your electric car. In addition, short circuits, caused by poorly insulated wires can cause fires, too.”

We have reached out to Tesla for a statement on this story and will provide one when a response is provided.

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Michelle Jones is editor-in-chief for ValueWalk.com and has been with the site since 2012. Previously, she was a television news producer for eight years. She produced the morning news programs for the NBC affiliates in Evansville, Indiana and Huntsville, Alabama and spent a short time at the CBS affiliate in Huntsville. She has experience as a writer and public relations expert for a wide variety of businesses. Email her at Mjones@valuewalk.com.
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15 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with the approach to this discussion that Chuck is taking; too many unknowns to posit definitive blame. But Jim you are still taking an approach of
    blaming the device (Model S) without accounting for other possibilities. If I spill gas while smoking and catch on fire can I blame my 2013 Honda Accord? I am open to considering that the supplied cord/plug can improve. One of the approaches Tesla is taking with the software update is that no matter where the fault lies the charging software is now smart enough to discontinue drawing current (charging) and send you an email. To me that is an innovative approach.

    Jim . . yes the force behind electricity is voltage (EMF); look it up. Current is a variable derived after a known voltage is applied to a known resistance. In any system where the resistance and voltage are fixed there is no physics mechanism to change current.

  2. FYI, the chicken coop comment was my initial post, not specifically directed at you, personally, but to “you” as in whomever may have been interested in the subject. That was my first-time ever commenting on-line on any forum, whatsoever, and was an attempt to casually invite comments, without becoming or sounding too technical. After all, the legalities and liabilities of the issues are as important as the grasp of the technology and physics involved. My intended point was that a product manufacturer cannot possibly know how a consumer is going to use (or misuse) their product, and can only make sure the warning labels and instructions, cautions, etc. for the use of all the component items produced by others, are not removed or changed in re-packaging the units within another system. I’m thinking UL listed devices, and other more stringent specs. This can happen when complex systems are developed from COTS products. Also, EMF has some interesting definitions.
    I am sorry you took offense when none was intended.

  3. You were the first to offend. The chicken coop comment ring a bell? Just to clarify here, you lost the debate. You tried to hurl insults then acted like you understood the issue with the cords. Obviously you don’t know jack about electricity since you think the “force” behind it is voltage.(hint) its amperage Chuck.

  4. I don’t have to, I know what I said. And equating it to plumbing is absurd. Electrical devices draw the current from the source it isn’t shoved at it.
    Just read about the software update, the computer reduces the “draw” by 25% when it senses an increase in resistance or senses other problems to reduce the thermal load.

  5. Suggest you re-read your previous posts and realize where the concept of “drawn” and “pushed” ‘lectric juice originated.

  6. A bucket draws water from a faucet? Wow. You not only don’t understand electricity but appear to have no knowledge of plumbing either. By your analogy outlets should be spraying electricity out if them if you don’t plug something in to block it.
    The fire investigators determined the cause read their report. Maybe read up in basic electrical theory while you are at it.

  7. The photo of the damaged connector is just that – a photo, and without seeing photos of the rest of the system and knowing for fact the conditions that existed leading up to the catastrophe, it’s illogical to “blame” any component of that system for being the cause. A blown fuse indicates over-current, as that is the designed/intended function, but wouldn’t be evidence of “failure” of the fuse itself, but indicative of a problem elsewhere in the system, either upstream, downstream, or in parallel. Similarly a circuit breaker found in a tripped state is not usually construed to be an indication of a faulty circuit breaker, but could actually be the case. For example, the referenced NEMA connector is rated for 240 VAC @ 50 Amps, so any conditions in the entire supply/distribution side starting with the electrical service enclosure, the condition of its components, the code conformity of the wiring installation, both originally constructed or installed, as well as any subsequent modifications, etc. would have to be investigated in an effort to determine whether or not 50 Amps could even have been available, as current may be “drawn” by a device but not in the sense that a bucket draws water from a water faucet. The voltage, or water pressure in our plumbing analogy, which actually does provide the “push” must also be part of the equation.

    The bottom line here is that the failure in a complex system that destroyed part or all of itself can’t be analyzed or understood by one photo of a small part of the whole. The human factors to be considered could include blamelessness, neglectfulness, willfulness, carelessness, indifference, ignorance, apathy, etc. occurring over a period of years but electrical/electronic schematics wouldn’t reveal those possibly criminal actions.

  8. No I do not own any stock or have any investments in any businesses related to Tesla or any car maker. Their components and software were changed and a recall was in effect.
    My dubious conjectures and gobledy gook come from the facts and photographic evidence as well as the statements from the owners on their forums. There were issues for months and Tesla did nothing, it took the govt. To force their hand, I hardly call that proactive…

  9. Actually I grew up on a farm, I guess Thats why its easy for me to spot bullshit when I see it. The advertorial here even says they asked “a guy from a website” what could cause a fire that didn’t involve the car. The whole peice is about deflecting the blame away from the cord and charging system. Thats why I posted.

  10. The car was modified via an update as was the plug. Both are parts of the car. And the recall means that there was a problem. Sorry if you don’t agree with facts. I can explain it for you but I can’t understand it for you.

  11. Jim

    First let’s be clear about where the overheating occurred and what’s been changed. The whole discussion is about the small adapter that goes onto the very end of the charging cable so that it can fit into whatever type of outlet you have in your garage. NOTHING about the car, nor the charger (which is within the car) nor the connecting cable is implicated nor changed. The only thing that’s been changed is that a thermal fuse has been added to the small adapter that goes onto the end of the charging cable spit can fit your particular garage outlet.

    This thermal fuse will interrupt the power flow if the adapter gets hot, for ANY reason. Such as a loose or poor connection to your outlet, or the wiring behind the outlet. It’s a way to protect against old outlets or poor wiring in YOUR garage.

    This new thermal protection has NOTHING to do with the Model S car nor its charger, which have not overheated and have had no reason to be updated.

  12. Jim, I have been following this company because of the work I love to do and the potential for
    electric vehicles to change our collective public approach to transportation. Since you have posted the equivalent gobbly-gook on two sites I can’t escape the feeling that you are shorting the stock, hoping for a price collapse!? You signed off one of your posts “knowledge
    is power” yet you have demonstrated little on this topic and posit dubious conjecture about electrical devices.

    You posted in another discussion “The fact still remains the cars charging system was faulty or there would be nothing to redesign and no need for a software patch. If it isn’t broke there isn’t anything to fix.” Have you considered the idea that a company like Tesla recognizes that even if they could argue that it was not their fault that it is better to move past the arguments, offer more value than their competition, improve the customer experience, place their products in a new league, and charge accordingly or a premium (Apple products ring a bell?)? Even the owner of the house and Tesla Model S where the fire was started stated he would buy another Tesla Model S.

  13. The point of failure is where the problem lies. The weak link so to speak. If the home or garage wiring was really the cause why did they redesign their component? why not require the owners get it professionally installed? Why not require an electrician to inspect before installing?
    How does that fix a fault upstream. Electricity is drawn thru a circuit not pushed thru it. If refrigerators from one maker were showing the same problems as this would we blame the homes wiring or the fridge?

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