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SolarWorld Checking 1.5M Panel Parts

Friday, August 29, 2014

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The largest solar manufacturer in the United States is checking more than 1.5 million solar systems throughout North America because of a potential fire hazard.

SolarWorld's Solar Systems installed with bare-copper grounding lugs "can corrode, which could result in a faulty ground circuit, posing an electric shock, electrocution or fire hazard," the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced.

Recalled system Replacement system
Photos: CPSC

Improper bare copper lugs are installed on the roof at left. Proper tin-coated lugs are installed at right.

No injuries have been reported as a result of the hazard.

Dates and Distributors

The recall affects about 1.3 million SolarWorld Solar Systems installed in the U.S. and about 210,000 in Canada with bare-copper grounding lugs installed after June 1, 2010.

The U.S.-made systems were sold through SolarWorld installers and distributors, or other distribution companies from June 2011 to June 2014. The systems sold for about $1,000 to $10,000, depending on system size.

Distributors include SolarWorld Americas, of Camarillo, CA, a subsidiary of SolarWorld AG, of Bonn, Germany, the CPSC said.

Lugs at Issue

At issue are installation instructions for the affected SolarWorld systems, which called for the use of GBL-4DB lugs for grounding.

Recalled lug Replacement lug
Photos: CPSC

Bare-copper lugs (left) should be replaced with tin-coated lugs (right). Inspection instructions are available here.

If the wrong grounding lug was installed and if corrosion formed between the lug and the solar panel’s aluminum frame, it could impair or eliminate the grounding circuit, according to the company. If the system then malfunctioned and energized the frame, an electrical shock, electrocution or a fire could potentially result.

The firm has received one report of corrosion related to the bare copper lugs.

SolarWorld calls the instruction a "typographical ambiguity" and has revised the instructions to explicitly call for tin-coated lugs, specifically Ilsco part number GBL-4DBT. ("T" is for tin-coated and indicated by the silver color of the lug.)

However, the company says, "there is no safety or quality issue regarding SolarWorld panels themselves."

SolarWorld manufactures the panels; the lugs are manufactured and installed by third parties, a spokeswoman said.


Users may be able to identify from the ground whether a tin-coated lug (silver) or a bare-copper lug (brown) has been used on their solar panels, the Safety Commission said. SolarWorld provides inspection instructions here.


SolarWorld is the largest producer of solar panels in the United States and distributes worldwide.

Consumers who can identify the improper lugs should contact SolarWorld for replacement. If customers cannot determine which grounding lugs were used, they should contact SolarWorld to have an authorized SolarWorld agent inspect the installation and replace the lugs with tin-coated grounding lugs or equally safe alternative remedy at no cost to consumers, the agency said.

SolarWorld is also requesting that distributors and others remove SolarWorld’s installation instructions dated before June 2014 from their websites or other commercial information sources.

More Information

SolarWorld provides more information on its Product Safety page. Consumers may also contact SolarWorld toll-free at (877) 360-1787 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT Monday through Friday.

Consumers may also file a report with the Consumer Product Safety Commission about any incident involving the systems.

This post was updated at 8:16 p.m. ET Aug. 29 to correct a headline that inaccurately described the recall and add clarification by the company.  D+D News regrets the error.


Tagged categories: Building envelope; Health and safety; Recalls; Solar; Solar energy

Comment from John Williams, (8/29/2014, 8:31 AM)

Can anyone say "Disimilar metals causes corrosion" DA!!!

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (9/2/2014, 11:21 AM)

Shocking. Alarming. As in, HMS Alarm ;)

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