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How concerned should solar businesses have to be about battery fires like Tesla’s?

The risk of building fires caused by battery and energy storage systems (ESS) is also real. However it is rare, and as usage expands, safety will become more of a worry.

With a struggle between nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) providers like the Tesla Powerwall and lithium-ion battery companies, there are more solar and ESS fire hazards around lithium-ion technologies.

Batteries that should be in cold temperatures should not be installed in high-temperature environments. Solar off-grid winter cabin systems, on the other hand, may benefit from lead-acid batteries rather than the newest lithium technology.i

Factors that cause Battery fires

Thermal runaway, occurs when a battery’s temperature rises to the point that it short-circuits. This is one of the leading causes of battery fires.

A variety of factors can cause thermal runaway

1. Mechanical – this component indicates that the unit can be physically damaged. This is due to the production of gases or a rise in the temperature of a battery cell.

2. Thermal – this refers to solar air cooling that is not reaching the cells due to high temperatures. This can cause the building to overheat, resulting in thermal runaway.

3. Electrical abuse – this happens when the system overcharges, undercharges, or shorts the inverter.

Tesla’s dead battery issue

A Tesla Model S’s battery pack is an excellent model, with several cylindrical cells containing components obtained from all over the world converting lithium and electrons into energy. The Tesla automobile was able to go hundreds of kilometers without emitting any engine pollutants because of this. However, the battery’s long-term function diminishes with time, and its cells can leak harmful poisons, such as heavy metals. Therefore, recycling the battery might result in dangerous scenarios. Furthermore, cutting too deeply into a Tesla cell in the incorrect area might cause it to short-circuit, fire, and emit poisonous gases.

With the advancement of contemporary technology, it is becoming easier to discover answers to this problem.

A fire at one of the world’s largest Tesla battery installations has re-emphasized the dangers of batteries used to store renewable energy for power networks. Moreover, according to a researcher at Newcastle University, there have been 38 significant lithium-ion battery fires since 2018.

Read about the updates on Tesla’s quarterly report: https://engineerinc.io/tesla-energys-2021-quarterly-report-is-full-of-surprises/

How can you make sure you install batteries without fire risk?

The chances of a fire beginning are nearly negligible if battery installers follow the manufacturer’s handbook and follow the locality’s fire safety-related standards.

According to Brian O’Connor, a fire prevention engineer with the National Fire Protection Association, following best practices and applying a little common sense may go a long way. 

While the chances of a fire in a domestic setting are smaller, installers should however be prepared in case of an accident. Furthermore, you must keep batteries out of areas like the living room to improve your chances of survival in the event of a fire.

In terms of operational activities, a well-designed battery management system (BMS), can assist in balancing charging and discharging rates. These battery systems often include with lithium-ion battery systems.

It will also check battery voltage and temperature to guarantee that the system does not experience any issues. However, just because the BMS is monitoring the battery’s condition doesn’t mean you shouldn’t double-check that the system is safe.

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