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  • Image Credit: Tesla Motors
  • Image Credit: Tesla Motors
  • Image Credit: Tesla Motors
  • Image Credit: Tesla Motors
  • Image Credit: Tesla Motors
Tesla Wall ChargerTesla Motors is about to mail off a lot of packages. The California-based electric vehicle manufacturer is going to send out replacement, upgraded wall charger adapters to customers with official Tesla charging units. The reason is a recent garage fire that involved a Tesla Model S and a company wall charger, even though fire investigators said that the car was not responsible and Tesla said the wall unit did not play a role in the blaze.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in an interview with Bloomberg today that replacement adapters will be mailed out in the next two weeks. Musk said fires and overheating adapters 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." The new adapter has a thermal fuse that will shut off if it gets too hot. Musk did not say why the original wall charger adapter apparently did not have a thermal fuse in the design. AutoblogGreen has asked Tesla how many adapters will be sent out and if this is a global or US-only replacement program, but as of press time, we have not received a response. We're also not sure if this will trigger a recall - the adapter is not, technically, part of the car - and hope Tesla can clarify this point soon.

Tesla's first reaction to that garage fire in November was to update its charger software to automatically reduce the charge current under certain circumstances. To date, that incident in Irvine, CA is the only garage fire involving a Tesla wall charger that has been made public, but there are multiple reports of Tesla wall chargers heating up and melting, (see here, here or here), so it appears Tesla is trying to be safe rather than sorry.

UPDATE: Tesla has issued a press release on this program, which is now available below.
Show full PR text
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.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 98 Comments
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      Moving this much power brings risks and heat. It'll take some time before the level of safeguards necessary is well known. Tesla is doing what they can other than ceasing to suggest people use existing and "found" plugs to charge. You can dump on a J1772 EVSE if you want, but at least it puts a mechanism near the wall that can shut off the power in case of trouble and it prevents people from selecting a current higher than the charging system (including wiring) was tested/certified for. Really, this thing should have had a thermal sensor in the plug head before. Not necessarily because of anything Tesla would do wrong, but they have to know that there are 3 places likely to produce heat in the system, the wall interface (plug/socket), the car interface (plug/socket) and the EVSE circuitry itself. They should have thermal protection in the wall plug, EVSE circuitry and in the car socket. I'm guessing after this last change, they now do.
        edward.stallings
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        "Moving this much power brings risks and heat. It'll take some time before the level of safeguards necessary is well known." To you maybe, but for electrical engineers this is child's play. My EE friend engineers power system installs for steel mills. He says when they start the arc to melt ore, you don't want to be in the building. In trying to optimize charging speed, Tesla may be making optimistic assumptions about the wiring integrity in a typical house. A qualified engineer should check out your wiring system before you start charging your tesla at home. Could be an overload charging your tesla, running the electric dryer, cooking on the electric stove and running the AC while watching your 72 inch TV. Maybe they should include marshmallows with every car.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @edward.stallings
          Maybe I should have used a word other than "necessary". This isn't an engineering problem. The problem is steel mills can afford to have a power engineer come in and design a system. 100M EVSEs in homes can't be done the same way due to financial constraints. It'll take time to figure out a more minimal set of safeguards than a steel mill has, but yet still enough to keep the number of fires down to a tolerable level.
        JakeY
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        Like I said in the article about the fire, the Roadster one had a thermal sensor, but it led to too many false positives. The new software update that ramps down current seems to have caused a few too (although it's not always clear if it's a false positive or a "real" positive). I guess given the garage fire, Tesla feels having false positives is better than the risk (either to customer safety or to Tesla's reputation). As a side point, it is not necessarily them admitting "fault" (as some have said and the stock market had reacted), but it will reduce the changes of such a fire happening (no matter if it's EVSE's fault or the wiring/socket's fault on the wall side).
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JakeY
          There are reports where I am of people upset of the new software update that ramps down. People are plugging into NEMA 15-50s and the car is ramping down to 30A. It's silly to get hung up on fault. The garage fire was due to the entire charging system. That includes charger in the car, the EVSE and all the wiring both in the house and the stuff from Tesla. The fire department didn't lay the finger on Tesla, they blamed the charging system. The entire charging system will have to be looked at, as more and more homes get them, the rates of fires will go up. It will require a lot of attention and effort to manage the risk and ensure EV charging fires don't become a problem.
        waitwhut
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        What's the average rating of an american home? 16Amp @ 110v? Given the American habit of building with wood&clapboard, I would have thought that the system (house-wiring as well as Tesla charger) would have been built as "idiotensicher"(idiot-proof) as possible. I mean towards high-amp draw which generates lots of heat) I gather the big tesla-charger runs on 380v 3-phase? Or is it limited to 220/230v?
      Mike
      • 1 Year Ago
      The Tesla charging unit shown above is the High Power Wall Connector, which must be hard-wired. The unit actually involved in this story is the Mobile Connector, which has adapters for different kinds of wall plugs. The adapter to NEMA 14-50 is the thing that is actually being replaced by Tesla. I hope they will eventually make a new NEMA 6-50 adapter that has the thermal fuse also. I don't know of another EVSE that has the ability to plug into different wall outlets and adjust the charging current according to the outlet type.
        jeff
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mike
        Exactly....
        ElectricAvenue
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mike
        That image of a High Power Wall Connector and the text "send out replacement, upgraded wall charger adapters" is completely misleading. Ah, but this site doesn't have the integrity to actually make the text and image fit reality.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hmm. Our wall adapter had NOTHING to do with the fire. Nothing! Oh . . . and here is a new wall adapter. That's a tough line to take.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        Well, so far, one person has had a fire because of their wiring. 99.9% of everyone else has had no problem, but yes, let's blame Tesla for this one. You trying to get in on the stocks, Spec? :)
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        It is a tough line. But damned if you do, damned if you don't If one more fire happens due to the customers poor wiring job... It won't matter... TSLA stock will fall hard. They would rather look guilty to a few people (who are hunting for any gesture of weakness anyway)... Than look guilty to a LOT more people watching the media blow another round of fires out of proportion.
        Doug
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        The issue appears to be the outlets the adapters are plugged into overheating. So while it's not Tesla's fault that the wall outlet or wiring isn't up to spec, there are certainly things Tesla can do to mitigate the risk of overheating and fire. Even though this is rare, the increasing numbers of EVs out there means these types of occurrences may become more common.
        JakeY
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        Tesla had gone above and beyond in a lot of cases and no matter what's the cause, having more safety is never a bad thing.
        purrpullberra
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        Boo. Hiss. So rude and negative.
      RetrogradE
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just one more reason to question your god Elan Musk, AB. Tesla is all hype. Quit talking about it.
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      All chargers do not require certified installation. Tesla's and others (the Leviton I have for example) are just plugged in. A certified installer is supposed to install the outlet, but the charger then just plugs in, and the certified installer doesn't certify the charger install in any way. I am personally not a fan of the Tesla idea of marketing the idea that you just plug into any port you find. Having a good, tested outlet (or hard wire) is much safer. Given you usually charge while you aren't in the garage to monitor the situation, the expense of putting in a new outlet is a good use of your money.
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      JakeY: The trucks had 3 fires in customer vehicles. I am comparing customer fires to customer fires. The reason for this is Tesla hasn't reported their in-house fire/charging problems so I cannot compare total including in-house fires apples-to-apples. And again I'm not counting melting and smoke comes from fire. So yes, I'm counting smoke as fire.
      Jake
      • 1 Year Ago
      You can't just use the micro-USB like your phone does?
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jake
        Hmm.. you could.. if you had a micro-usb connector rated for a few kilowatts..
          waitwhut
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Mêh. Deatails. I prefer the old 4.5v charge plug from my Walkman, fixed to that new-fangled Tesla with some isolation tape and paperclips by my uncle, who is quite handy with them electric thingies... 100 amp? pfft.. no probl... ooohh.. the plug is nice 'n glowy red. Must mean it's charging darned good.. *crackle..fwoooosh*! Oh. I think I'm gonna sue Tesla now. how dáre they put so many electrics through my plug. There was nó warning-sticker on the car about "not using walkman plugs".
        purrpullberra
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jake
        Damn, I'm on my phone and accidentally hit -1 instead of +1
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is just a pro-active voluntary manufacturer recall, only they're not calling it that. But when a car company sends you a free replacement part and suggests you install it, that's what it is. Good to see Tesla looking after the safety of their customers.
        ElectricAvenue
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        It's a free replacement part for something that is not part of the car, though. I'm not sure how that can be called a recall of the car. Some fairly large percentage (majority?) of owners don't charge using a 14-50 outlet and are completely unaffected by this.
      • 1 Year Ago
      In Ten years time the TESLA ELECTRIC CAR promotion will be dead and buried .......... I`m surprised it has survived so long ......... The LAWS of physics that deal with the reasons resistance increases by the `SQUARE ` of the increase in speed ........ and the LAWS of Chemistry applying to energy production via `batteries ...... add an severe ÈNERCY ON BOARD limitation to TESLA CARS that cannot be overcome ... In gas or diesel half the chemicals used - OXYGEN - is picked out of the atmosphere and the resultant CARBON DIOXIDE is discharged back into the atmosphere WITH NO WEIGHT OR STORAGE PENALTY ... If diesel and gas cars had to start out carrying liquid Oxygen and carrying all the produced Carbon Dioxide until refuelling they would be just as limited in range as an electric car ..
        Nick Kordich
        • 1 Month Ago
        @ALASTAIR BERRY...: "If diesel and gas cars had to start out carrying liquid Oxygen and carrying all the produced Carbon Dioxide until refuelling they would be just as limited in range as an electric car .." At a rough estimate, yes, since you'd need a very large liquid O2 tank. One gallon of gasoline (about 6.3lbs) results in about 20lbs of emissions. A 10 gallon gas tank would need over a hundred pounds of liquid O2 to react with its gasoline, and you'd need to re-compress the exhaust to store it. CO2 from 10 gallons of gasoline could be reduced to a block of smog-permeated dry ice of about two cubic feet, not factoring in the additional CO2 required for compression/refrigeration. Then what would you do with it? You've actually done a good job highlighting how impractical waste containment can be, which demonstrates the need for non-polluting sources, or sources where the end user doesn't have to perform the sequestration. I didn't realize until I got to the end you were so pro-EV. It's like the boater's dilemma. If you have a boat with a head, you have two options: store it or dump it. Storing it and pumping out your sewage tank is easily the right approach, especially on a lake, where your waste can go back into the system you'd be using on land for processing. If you simply dump it, then you literally shat where you ate if you were out fishing. Marina sizes are limited for this reason, because some people are going to dump their waste - human and motor - and everyone suffers the more people do it. Different 'lakes of air' have taken different approaches: In the Los Angeles Basin, there are pollutions controls and EV incentives. In Beijing, there are limits on how many cars are being licensed. In Mexico City, they let it get to the point where it was rated the most dangerous city to raise a child specifically due to its air pollution. In the 90s, they started to turn it around with no-drive days and relocating closing polluting businesses and today their air quality's improved by 70-75% over what it was in the early 90s. Salt Lake City is relying on prayer - note the photo in the article below was on December 30th, or about a week after snowfall had helped clear the air: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/opinion/57344144-82/mexico-pollution-lake-moench.html.csp
          Grendal
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Nick Kordich
          Nick. Thank you for the in depth response to Alistair-troll with excellent details and facts.
        j
        • 1 Month Ago
        "In Ten years time the TESLA ELECTRIC CAR promotion will be dead and buried..," Tesla is now ten years old, will it last another ten? "If diesel and gas cars had to start out carrying liquid Oxygen and carrying all the produced Carbon Dioxide until refuelling they would be just as limited in range as an electric car .." Interesting conclusion, not sure how it is relevant since physics dictates that lithium has the potential to store 10 times as much energy as today's batteries. And today's Li Ion batteries hold five times as much energy as the Li Ion batteries of 20 years ago. Which is the only reason we are having this conversation right now. If you think Tesla must store over 2650 miles range per charge, then your assertions are entirely valid. Conversely, I do not believe that kind of range is necessary.
        waitwhut
        • 1 Month Ago
        *blink*, *blink* ooohkay buddy, whatever You say.. *backs away slowly, grabbing for a cattle-tranquilizer gun*
        Grendal
        • 1 Month Ago
        Look who's back - it's Thor Petersen/Peter Nixon/alastair something and now alastair berry! Ready to go at it again Alastair Troll?
        Nick Kordich
        • 1 Month Ago
        Did you know ellipses, those little dots you're using, indicate omitted text? I can help fill them in for you: [...] add an severe ÈNERCY ON BOARD limitation to TESLA CARS that cannot be overcome [except at a continued rate of improvement at about 10% a year. We've seen that improvement occur over the last 20 years, and the designs already functioning in a lab environment for improvements of several hundred percent in the coming years. It affects not only cost and energy density - weight and volume - but also results in improvements in their longevity and the reduced use of resources in manufacturing. Battery breakthroughs may get headlines, but the way they have been incorporated into the industry charts a course years in advance.] In gas or diesel half the chemicals used - OXYGEN - is picked out of the atmosphere and the resultant CARBON DIOXIDE is discharged back into the atmosphere WITH NO WEIGHT OR STORAGE PENALTY [at the cost of emitting CO2, CO, NOx, particulates and hydrocarbons. Ignoring any concern you may have over CO2 and the future, the cost associated with air pollution today is into the billions. Much of this comes from tens of thousands of emergency room visits and hospitalizations a year, but there's also a loss of productivity cutting across the economy, affecting everything from office workers to agricultural yields to tourism.]
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Month Ago
        You seem to know nothing of either the Laws of Physics, or Chemistry. The weight of the reactants are not a concern. Lithium by weight accounts for only 2% of the battery. Just like the weight of the fuel (gasoline or diesel) is not much of a concern. The weight of the cathode and anode material is the big problem, just as the weight of block of an Internal Combustion Engine and transmission, are WAY heavier than fuel. Both are supporting the fuel conversion, but are not actually part of the fuel itself. Batteries have not yet caught up to the energy density of gasoline... but even current lithium ion batteries are not limited by "laws of physics or chemistry" to always be heavier than a Gasoline engine. Also, Lithium Air batteries will someday arrive on the market and be way lighter than Engine/gasoline combinations.
        waitwhut
        • 1 Month Ago
        Yopu shOukld buY a NeW KEYboArd. YouR Caps-Lock seems to be stuck.
        yonomo200
        • 1 Month Ago
        Please shut up, Thor Peterson.
        m_2012
        • 1 Month Ago
        That was in the top 10 most ignorant posts ever written here.
      Tre
      • 1 Year Ago
      How about sending out a replacement for the fire-prone ugly Tesla cars they have made thus far?
        Grendal
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Tre
        Tre Troll. Tre Droll. Stop driving your fire prone gas car immediately since it seems important to you.
      Joeviocoe
      • 1 Year Ago
      It seems "stretching interpretations" is the only way to make car fire statistics work in your favor.
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      JakeY: Tesla doesn't use dealerships, so for the purpose of comparison, those were in-house. If the same thing had happened to Tesla, it would have been while Tesla owned them and they would not have mentioned it to anyone. Don't bother quoting to me what Tesla said about the cause of the fire. Tesla has an obvious agenda and they have not had any qualms about altering the truth before. Don't believe anyone who is selling you something. Okay, maybe there aren't 6 Tesla charging fires on the forums, but again, there is not just one. I count a burned hand as a fire (even if it isn't actually a fire) and smoking also. That's two serious incidents minimum.
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