Battery manufacturer LG Chem has launched a recall of some of its Resu 10H household battery products in the interests of fire protection.
The recall affects certain battery systems that contain cells from specific batches manufactured in 2017 and 2018. This emerges from a letter from Peter Gibson, who heads LG Chem’s North American energy storage business. The letter dated November 29 states that these cells are at risk of overheating, which can lead to fires and dangerous smoke.
“LG Chem has received five reports of thermal incidents in the US causing limited property damage,” the letter said. “No violations have been reported. LG Chem is making this voluntary action as part of its ongoing commitment to product safety and to providing the highest quality and service to its customers.”
Customers with any of the affected units will receive a free replacement with state-of-the-art cells manufactured in 2020. LG Chem did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.
The Resu is a major player in the small but growing market for energy storage for private households, which has just achieved its sixth quarterly installation record. It was a central part of the expansion of Solar-Plus storage by the solar installer Sunrun, which reached 13,000 households in November. The Resu was also available through distributors such as CED Greentech and BayWa re
The recall affects approximately 5 percent of Sunrun’s BrightBox battery systems, spokesman Wyatt Semanek stated in an email.
“We have already started proactively replacing the recalled batteries and are crediting customers for the short downtime,” he said. “Solar solar and battery systems that are properly designed, installed and maintained have a long track record of system security.”
Batteries come with risks, but the recall shows the importance of choosing a supplier that can meet its warranty, said Barry Cinnamon, whose company Cinnamon Energy Systems has been installing LG Chem batteries with SolarEdge inverters since 2017. Some of these units are on the recall list, but “we haven’t had any problems” with them, he said.
“I find it interesting and relieved that a company like LG Chem comes on the table and says, ‘There’s a potential problem, we’re going to address this problem and we’re not going to run away or hide.’ “Cinnamon said Greentech Media.
This approach is in contrast to less reputable vendors in the solar or inverter business who closed their stores when their devices were struggling, he added.
Handling lithium-ion batteries Risk of fire
This isn’t the first time LG Chem has been in the news for recalling its battery cells.
In the past few weeks automakers GM and Hyundai have each recalled approximately 70,000 electric vehicles containing LG Chem batteries after several of those cars caught fire. The exact cause of these fires is being investigated.
LG Chem also supplied the supply-scale McMicken battery in Arizona, which went into thermal escape and exploded in April 2019, injuring four firefighters. An investigation by project owner Arizona Public Service found that cell failure started the chain of events that led to the explosion. Inadequate fire fighting and insufficient ventilation of explosive gases in the battery case exacerbated the incident.
LG Chem published its own root cause investigation that challenged the conclusion of cell failure, suggesting that external causes triggered the thermal outlier.
The storage industry has been improving security protocols since the McMicken era. LG Chem then won the trust of the developer LS Power to supply the largest grid battery in the world, the gateway project in San Diego County.
Many technologists believe that more could be done to improve battery safety ahead of the expected influx of electric cars and grid storage. The startup Cadenza Innovation recently installed a new lithium-ion super cell technology in New York that is supposed to prevent fires in the event of cell failure.