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Transportation Power

Tesla Says Garage Fire Not Charger's Fault; Firemen Less Sure 253

Posted by timothy
from the was-it-plugged-into-8-extension-cords-at-once? dept.
cartechboy writes "It looks like Elon Musk and Tesla Motors find themselves in another PR war over the cause of a fire involving a Tesla Model S. Authorities in Irvine, CA are currently investigating the reason for a fire in a garage that, yes, contained a Tesla Model S. While the actual cause of the fire remains unknown, Tesla Motors and the Orange County Fire Authority are already publicly disputing possible causes, thought to center around the Tesla charging system. Tesla says the fire was not caused by any part of the car nor its charging system, reports Reuters. For what its worth — we've seen a version of this movie before. In 2011, investigators determined that a garage fire that destroyed a Chevrolet Volt had started away from the car, later spreading to engulf and destroy the car."
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Tesla Says Garage Fire Not Charger's Fault; Firemen Less Sure

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  • Re:Oily rags (Score:4, Informative)

    by weilawei (897823) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @05:12PM (#45740173) Homepage
    Not a bad guess (still, I'll wait for the official report) in a garage, since most people don't seem to realize that an oily rag will if left for a few hours. You can try it yourself. [youtube.com]
  • Re:Oily rags (Score:5, Informative)

    by weilawei (897823) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @05:13PM (#45740195) Homepage
    Whoops, butchered that comment. Meant to say an oily rag will spontaneously ignite [youtube.com] if left for a few hours. You can try it yourself.
  • clickbait headline (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chalex (71702) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @05:15PM (#45740211) Homepage

    "garage fire started by improperly installed electrical outlet" just doesn't get you as many clicks.

    The garage fire was Nov 15, the Tesla S did not sustain any damage. The damage was all on the wall socket side.

  • Re:Musk's Hubris... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @05:41PM (#45740529)

    The fire authority didn't blame the car. Here's the quote from the article:

    The Fire Authority, however, released a report stating that the fire occurred "as a result of an electrical failure in the charging system for an electric vehicle".

    Fire broke out in the garage on the campus of the University of California-Irvine on November 15. The blaze was noted by the car's owner just before 3 am, and it was promptly extinguished by fire crews.

    The incident caused up to $25,000 of damage, though the Model S itself sustained only light smoke damage. Nobody in the house was injured.

    While the Fire Authority's report stated the most likely cause was a "high resistance connection at the wall socket or the Universal Mobile Connector from the Tesla charging system", Tesla says its own data shows the car was charging normally, with no fluctuations in the temperature and no malfunctions capable of causing a fire.

    Tesla also notes that the car's charging cable was fine where it was connected to the car, and was damaged only on the wall side. This could suggest issues with the building's electrical supply, rather than with the vehicle.

    This doesn't completely rule out the charging system. The fire was started between the wall socket and the charger.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 19, 2013 @06:48PM (#45741251)

    NEC requires derating circuits with continuous loads to 80% of their breaker value, so a 15A circuit can only provide 12A on a continuous basis (which by NEC definition is more than 3 hours).

    If Tesla takes more than 12A for more than 3 hours, then by law it cannot be charged from a standard home wall socket, which is a 14AWG branch circuit rated for 15A at the breaker.

    If Tesla overlooked this requirement and put a 15A plug on their charging cable, then they are liable for any damage caused by their improper cable plug selection and lack of warnings.

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