LG Chem recalls some home batteries in US following reports of fires

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The recall has affected around 5% of Sunrun’s Brightbox home battery installations. Image: Sunrun.

Update 14 December 2020: LG Energy Solution got in touch with PV Tech to confirm the recall: “This is a voluntary recall and free replacement of some of the batteries in residential ESS products that preemptively prioritise customer safety.”

 

LG Chem has voluntarily recalled some of its residential battery products in the US amid concerns surrounding fire safety.

The South Korean-headquartered company’s North America division is working with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission on the recall after it received reports of five fires that caused property damage, according to a notice seen by Bloomberg.

LG Chem did not respond to a request for comment, but reports suggest some of its RESU10H home battery systems have been recalled, with the company providing free replacements for customers with affected units.

The impacted systems were sold by distributors from January 2017 until March 2019. Sunrun, the residential solar installer that originally teamed up with LG Chem in 2016 to offer PV-plus-storage solutions in the US, said the recall has affected approximately 5% of its Brightbox rechargeable solar battery system installations. 

“We have already started proactively replacing batteries impacted by the recall and have credited customers for the brief downtime,” Sunrun said in a statement.

Having deployed more than 13,000 Brightbox systems to households across the US, Sunrun announced last month it would bring the product to all US states where the company operates, in a move to support homeowners that have been affected by power outages caused by wildfires and storms. The company added that home solar and battery systems that are properly designed, installed and maintained “have a long track record of system safety”.

Ryan Franks, business manager at Energy Storage Response Group (ESRG), a US provider of energy storage and fire service expertise, said the while it is not immediately clear what the problems are related to in the LG Chem units, the incident could be used as an example to improve best practices for the energy storage sector as a whole. 

“If the recall is related to non-manufacturing elements of ESS (energy storage system) safety, including the installation, operations and product design, those fields are less advanced than the field of manufacturing quality, but also more interesting because lessons learned can apply across products and feed more aptly into best practices across many different products – it’s an opportunity for industry betterment,” he said.

LG Chem supplied batteries to an energy storage facility owned by utility Arizona Public Service that exploded in April 2019 and injured four firefighters. A fire and subsequent explosion at the McMicken Battery Energy Storage System likely started with an internal cell defect that caused the “preventable” incident, an investigation found.

Details of the recall emerged days after LG Chem completed the spin-off of its batteries unit, which has been called LG Energy Solution. The business aims to accelerate the development of both solid state and lithium sulfur batteries.

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