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Tesla Sending New Wall-Charger Adapters After Garage Fire

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the free-of-charge dept.

Transportation 195

JoeyRox writes "Tesla is sending its customers new home charging connectors after recent reports of chargers overheating in garages and one instance of a fire inside a wall socket that held one of the chargers. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the new charging adapter will contain a thermal fuse capable of terminating the charging process if it gets too hot. 'These are very rare events, but occasionally the wiring isn't done right. We want people to have absolute comfort, so we're going to be providing them with an upgraded adapter.' The company also issued a software update in December to address the overheating issue."

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Is Tesla making cars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921291)

... the way 20 year olds make web sites nowadays?

Re:Is Tesla making cars... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921425)

This is a 100% serious reply - Once upon a time, software developers selected beta testers, who used the software with the understanding that it was still in a beta version and bugs should be expected and documented.

Now, no such "testing" occurs in both the software and hardware realms. The developers or manufacturers simply develop something that compiles or doesn't collapse under its own weight and sells it as the release version to customers that expect all that testing to have been done already, so it works. Customers pay full price, the shit crashes or falls apart(or catches fire), they complain to the company describing what happened, and then the company documents what happened and gives the customer a "new" but equally faulty piece in exchange.

There is no more "beta" testing - the beta testers are now referred to as "early adopters."

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re: Is Tesla making cars... (4, Interesting)

imgod2u (812837) | about 7 months ago | (#45921525)

People haven't stopped beta testing. Either in hardware or software. They have been quicker to release because the vast majority of software nowadays are done inside a sandbox (mobile apps, cloud servers, etc) rather than from scratch.

It's not like software or hardware back then was any more reliable. Office, OS9, Windows (all versions) have always been plagued with problems and one can argue they have fewer obvious bugs now than they did before - When's the last time you got a BSOD?

The counterbalance is that the consumer base is far far far larger now. Some of us who were at Intel at the height of the Pentium 4 were happy to have sold 40M units in a year. Mobile phone processors at qualcomm nowadays clear 400M/quarter.

If it seems like hardware and software bugs show up faster, it is because the userbase that uses and report such bugs (easy to do now via social media) is much much much larger.

Re:Is Tesla making cars... (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about 7 months ago | (#45921569)

This is a 100% serious reply - Once upon a time, software developers selected beta testers, who used the software with the understanding that it was still in a beta version and bugs should be expected and documented.

Now, no such "testing" occurs in both the software and hardware realms. The developers or manufacturers simply develop something that compiles or doesn't collapse under its own weight and sells it as the release version to customers that expect all that testing to have been done already, so it works. Customers pay full price, the shit crashes or falls apart(or catches fire), they complain to the company describing what happened, and then the company documents what happened and gives the customer a "new" but equally faulty piece in exchange.

There is no more "beta" testing - the beta testers are now referred to as "early adopters."

-- Ethanol-fueled

That sounds like an adequate description of pretty much all software development these days, roll it out on schedule, we'll deal with bugs (or deny there are any) later on. That or just ignore customer complaints as long as the software continues to sell: Windows is the most notorious example, but they are far from alone in this practice.

Suffice to say, I get the constant feeling of denying elementary physics (let alone chemistry) whenever there's talk of selling electric cars. It takes a certain and large amount of energy to propel something as heavy as an automobile around. Discharge of batteries is not 100% efficient (though very good compared to charging), charging is less efficient (using more power from the wall than is actually stored in the battery) and some loss of battery performance and capacity happens over time.

A friend bought a Nissan Leaf and became acutely aware of how wind strength and direction; hills and use of something as simple as the ventilation fan affected the range of the car on one charge. Also how terribly slow it charges off 120. Ideally a high current 240 outlet should be available for charging.

Perhaps that outlet in the garage the contractor wired up at the time of home construction or renovation was sufficient for a chest freezer or washing machine, which didn't continue to draw a high current for hours on end, like the charger for the Tesla does.

Anyone buying one of these cars would do well to make sure their wiring is up to the load and a proper circuit breaker and smoke alarm are handy.

Re:Is Tesla making cars... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921717)

Perhaps that outlet in the garage the contractor wired up at the time of home construction or renovation was sufficient for a chest freezer or washing machine, which didn't continue to draw a high current for hours on end, like the charger for the Tesla does.

Yes, that was my first thought as well, that an electrician did a sub-par job that was good enough for most uses, but wasn't actually up to code, so could not handle a max-use case. So when a max-use case came along, it demonstrated perfectly the dangers of ignoring electrical code.

Reminds me of when some group complained that Apple created shitty CD drives because it broke their non-standard CDs. In that case, both Apple and the CD manufacturer were out of spec, so they both shared blame. But it has yet to be shown here that the blame lies anywhere else besides whoever did the wiring of that guy's house.

Re:Is Tesla making cars... (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 7 months ago | (#45921777)

Whats the incidence rate of this sort of thing again?

Can you point me to a specific hardware or software product from your "golden age" which had a 0% defect rate?

Modus Operandi (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921297)

There's nothing wrong with the car that makes it fire prone... but we'll raise the clearance just because.

There's nothing wrong with the charger that caught fire... but we'll fix it anyway.

Seriously does anybody believe one word Musk says?

Re:Modus Operandi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921361)

There's nothing wrong with the car that makes it fire prone... but we'll raise the clearance just because.

There's nothing wrong with the charger that caught fire... but we'll fix it anyway.

Seriously does anybody believe one word Musk says?

Musk is the God of the Hipsters. Do not question Him.

Re:Modus Operandi (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921391)

Well, not if you want to get flamed anyway

huehuehuehue

Re:Modus Operandi (0)

Traze (1167415) | about 7 months ago | (#45922147)

Only because Steve Jobs died.

Re:Modus Operandi (3, Informative)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 7 months ago | (#45921449)

Maybe nothing was really wrong. Maybe the wiring sucks, the charger draws too much RMS power due to a dirty wave (Fattened with harmonics), the excess current causes overheating, etc. So rather than putting in a current detector or whatever else to detect faults, he just ... stuck in a thermal fuse. If it gets too hot, it shuts off.

Most hardware doesn't constantly draw that much power. It's really hard to screw up a transformer--the wall charger would just be a transformer and maybe a MOSFET-based rectifier or something else that can pass that much power. Thermal fuse--even a current fuse--is really a "this will never happen, but if anything does happen that creates any kind of bad situation, this will stop it. Whatever it is."

Re: Modus Operandi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921581)

Rtfa it says house wiring, bad sloppy Slashdot editing makes it sound like the charger wiring is at fault

Re: Modus Operandi (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921749)

Ah fuck, have all the engineers left Slashdot?

Hardly any major incident is the fault of an isolated piece of equipment - it's usually one or two things going wrong and then everything else reacting badly.

Like Postel said, Conservative in what you send - liberal in what you accept.

Any equipment which draws a large amount of current for a long time should be sensitive to the sort of things that can go wrong within the device, the load, and the source.

Tesla made an engineering error here. They won't ever admit to making a mistake, because Musk has the ego of a small planet - he thinks that just because he gets some things right (which he certainly does), he gets everything right.

Re:Modus Operandi (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 7 months ago | (#45921651)

It's really hard to screw up a transformer--the wall charger would just be a transformer and maybe a MOSFET-based rectifier or something else that can pass that much power.

Well I guess that solves it. After all, all you need to do is slap in MOSFET's that are below quality, or capacitors that are filled with gunk(instead of electrolyte), instead of solid state and watch it melt and ooze all over itself. Pretty good chance of either one happening, and it's a fairly good possibility with either knock-off components or recycled components being marked as new and put back into the supply chain. This issue has been haunting PSU's for computers for years now, especially mid-range and the very cheap jobs.

Thermal fuse--even a current fuse--is really a "this will never happen, but if anything does happen that creates any kind of bad situation, this will stop it. Whatever it is."

Well that's great, until you run into the "thermal fuse really isn't a fuse" or the "current fuse" is actually a chunk of metal that's simply bridging the two points. Again see the issues with PSU's.

Re:Modus Operandi (5, Informative)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 7 months ago | (#45921747)

I was going to say, it's entirely possible the wiring in the wall was bad.

This is one possible scenario which has happened in the past. Maybe it was aluminum wiring, which has a much lower thermal expansion rate than copper. Back in the 70's it was really common for developers to use aluminum wiring in houses because it was cheaper than copper. My house had aluminum wiring. The previous owners of my house were really underhanded. They ran copper off the electrical box up in behind some insulation and connected it to the aluminum from junction hidden junction boxes, and because home inspectors don't do "destructive" inspections, meaning they don't even move insulation, we didn't find out until years after we had bought the house. We had a wall socket stop working and when I opened it up to see what was wrong I found the aluminum wire had completely detached from the terminals. Luckily my father-in-law, who doesn't live near by, is an electrician because we had to have the whole house rewired. It's still not illegal to use aluminum wiring, copper is recommended, but it's not requried. The higher temperature of the adapter could cause the aluminum wire to expand and pop off the plug terminals in the wall box, which can lead to arcing and fires.

It really wouldn't be Tesla's fault if developers were using cheap materials when building the house, but it is nice of them to do something to try and mitigate future issues after it becomes a known possibility. We can't account for every scenario that will ever occur, but we can learn as we go along.

Re:Modus Operandi (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 7 months ago | (#45922425)

Indeed.

There's another common denominator in the construction or remodeling process. Occasionally a competent electrician is used, one who understands load calcs, amp draw, and wire sizing. Many more times than you would want to know about, you get the other kind of electrician.

Apprentices training on the public, contractors who have perennial negative cash flow problems, and workers right in the middle of not giving a damn.

Re:Modus Operandi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45922043)

I approve of engineering for safety. Your device could be operating perfectly fine but you don't know about the quality of wiring at the customer's location.

Reminds me of my parent's place that had a breaker tripping regularly: a clothes dryer was drawing current well below the breaker label, but it was tripping anyway due to heat from corrosion on the copper wire at the breaker. Good.

Re:Modus Operandi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45922883)

There is likely some regulation that the solution has to meet, like a UL or ETL standard. The parts used in those solutions have to be already UL approved or have to go through exhaustive testing. Its much easier to grab an off-the-shelf solution that already meets the regulation, they could get away with just paperwork on a revision and could skip re-testing.

Re:Modus Operandi (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 7 months ago | (#45921627)

One fire? Out of how many, 30k cars?

Re:Modus Operandi (3, Interesting)

mythosaz (572040) | about 7 months ago | (#45921809)

The math has been done in every previous thread. The fire rate for Teslas is something like 5x lower than normal cars -- but we'll see if that changes once they age.

Re:Modus Operandi (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921831)

Story says "about a half dozen". And these are not all fires. Smoldering, smoking chargers and wires; people getting burned when then touch molten insulation, etc.

If you're going to charge giant car batteries from your house wiring the house wiring needs to be 100%. Builder grade work is often not perfect. So buying a Tesla and plugging it in without getting a grown-up electrician to rework the wiring a Bad Idea, as some of these Tesla owners are discovering.

Next step; posh neighborhoods with multiple Teslas discover that neighborhood transformers do not have infinite capacity.

Re:Modus Operandi (5, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | about 7 months ago | (#45921741)

Alternatively... it could be exactly as he said, the car was not fire prone (as borne out by the stats showing it had lower fire rates than other cars, and better outcomes when they did happen), and that the fire department agree that it was not caused by the charger.

Instead, it could simply be that even though they're working fine, there's way to mitigate the risk of other faulty things causing problems, and it's nice to do something towards that.

Honestly, I hate this aspect of the modern world –no one is allowed to improve something without implying that something was broken before hand, or that it was their fault that something else was broken.

this is why small airplanes suck (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45922215)

Plane manufacturer makes a small change to improve the reliability or performance. Some one with a 30 year old plane crashes and dies, and because small plane owners as a general class have a significant percentage of high income individuals (doctors and lawyers, etc.) their heirs and assigns lawyer up and go after the mfr and say "you KNEW that it was defective or substandard because you changed it 24 years later".. "pay us the value of our beloved spouse/father/patriarchs future earnings".

Eventually, the plane manufacturers say "screw this, we're not going to make planes any more". Or if they do stay in business, they don't change anything. There's a reason Lycoming and Continental are still making the same overgrown VW engines for 70 years, and it's not because they need bolt pattern compatibility for replacements.

Bravo, Tesla (5, Insightful)

fnj (64210) | about 7 months ago | (#45921389)

I'll get in before the nutjob Tesla detractors.

This is a very responsible move by Tesla which takes guts. They are changing the charger design to ameliorate a problem that has nothing to do with the car and nothing to do with the charger and everything to do with the house wiring. Obviously the nutjobs will point their skinny little fingers and accuse Tesla of papering over their own flaw, which is a lie.

Re:Bravo, Tesla (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921709)

This move is the result of lawyers at tesla. It's in stark contrast to musk shooting his mouth off that everything is completely fine and it's not teslas fault at all because tesla is perfect and there's nothing wrong anywhere with it.

Elon needs to start talking to the legal department and marketing people BEFORE he opens his mouth. This will help tesla greatly.

Re:Bravo, Tesla (4, Interesting)

lgw (121541) | about 7 months ago | (#45921729)

This is the upside of new technologies being marketed first to the wealthy. Low-end products don't do fixes or recalls unless the lawsuits are expected to exceed the cost of the fix, which makes progress slow. High-end products must care more about reputation than that, so things get improved even when the company's not at fault, because sales are so tied to "good overall experience". That makes progress fast.

If Tesla does start selling a 30-40k car, it will benefit from all these "lessons learned", which might well have been ignored for years if they had started with a low-end product.

Re:Bravo, Tesla (0)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 7 months ago | (#45921757)

Obviously the nutjobs will point their skinny little fingers and accuse Tesla of papering over their own flaw, which is a lie.

Elon? Is that you?

Re:Bravo, Tesla (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921763)

I have a friend who's an electrician and from the stories he tells many/most places he visits have something wrong with them. Even calls he gets to go out and install something new and there's no reported issues seem to have at least 1 thing he can point to that doesn't meet "code". If Tesla's design doesn't account for this then personally I'd count that as a flaw, but go ahead, keep thinking it's not Tesla's problem to fix...

Re:Bravo, Tesla (2)

Shatrat (855151) | about 7 months ago | (#45921813)

If Tesla's design doesn't account for this then personally I'd count that as a flaw, but go ahead, keep thinking it's not Tesla's problem to fix... If Tesla's design doesn't account for this then personally I'd count that as a flaw, but go ahead, keep thinking it's not Tesla's problem to fix...

So the price of every new Tesla should include a certified electrician auditing and correcting the wiring in the owners house?
Maybe all car companies should also bundle mandatory driving lessons. A large number of drivers are morons, and the designs should account for that.

Re:Bravo, Tesla (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 7 months ago | (#45922169)

A large number of drivers are morons, and the designs should account for that.

Would you say the same thing about computers and operating systems?

I'm not challenging you, I'm just asking because I wonder if there's a place in the market for products that are for early adopters who are not morons.

I don't mind products that expect me to learn a little something, and I doubt I'm really that exceptional. I wonder if "It has to be made idiot-proof" is just an excuse to keep certain products and tools out of the hands of consumers.

Re:Bravo, Tesla (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45922379)

"So the price of every new Tesla should include..."

Thread prize for least well disguised straw man.

The price of every new Tesla should include equipment which takes account of real-world wiring rather than ideal.

Tesla wanted to make a business out of a car which could be supplied energy from far less well-controlled sources than traditional gas cars. It wouldn't have taken five minutes to realise that this means they can't just assume everything is up to modern spec.

Or, as a more general engineering rule, everything should fail gracefully rather than blame something else. Hence the replacements, which are recalls to reflect a deficiency in the original design. Yeah, I've never built a successful electric car, but as an EE who has to take home wiring into consideration for certain products, this kind of thing would have been early in the requirements list.

Re:Bravo, Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45922569)

Thread prize for least well disguised straw man.

You're the one who complained about home wiring being Tesla's problem to fix.

There's no way for them to guarantee a fix without a professional certification.

The price of every new Tesla should include equipment which takes account of real-world wiring rather than ideal.

Do you have any evidence that their equipment follows this "ideal" rather than the real-world?

Tesla wanted to make a business out of a car which could be supplied energy from far less well-controlled sources than traditional gas cars.

That's cute. You think gasoline is a controlled source? Race car drivers have problems with getting clean gas, and you think that commercial gas stations are any better?

It wouldn't have taken five minutes to realise that this means they can't just assume everything is up to modern spec.

Or, as a more general engineering rule, everything should fail gracefully rather than blame something else.

So therefore, the home wiring which is failing, should???

Oh wait, you're not holding *them* to any standard, just hyperfocusing on Tesla.

Hence the replacements, which are recalls to reflect a deficiency in the original design. Yeah, I've never built a successful electric car, but as an EE who has to take home wiring into consideration for certain products, this kind of thing would have been early in the requirements list.

It's not a deficiency in the design. It's a concern in the real world, and more from hysteria than reality.

People who are worried about their house wiring not being up to performing for an electric car...should fucking get that fixed before something causes their house to burn down, not look for a bandaid.

Re:Bravo, Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45922785)

You're the one who complained about home wiring being Tesla's problem to fix.

No: I'm new to this thread, and nobody said that home wiring should be fixed by Tesla.

Do you have any evidence that their equipment follows this "ideal" rather than the real-world?

Yes: the burning, the discovery of lack of thermal fuse, and the subsequent replacement of chargers.

That's cute. You think gasoline is a controlled source?

I think that commercial gas and most gas stations are better maintained than the average residential home, yes.

Race car drivers have problems with getting clean gas, and you think that commercial gas stations are any better?

We're not discussing race car requirements. Another straw man.

So therefore, the home wiring which is failing, should???

Oh wait, you're not holding *them* to any standard, just hyperfocusing on Tesla.

The fault lies on both ends.

Welcome to the profession of engineering. Everyone's responsible for their own shit and making sure it fails gracefully. Nobody gets to say, "But mom HE started it!"

It's not a deficiency in the design. It's a concern in the real world, and more from hysteria than reality.

What are you blathering on about? The design has been established as deficient, and replacements issued. This followed several cases of smouldering and at least one fire was discovered. There is no hysterical behaviour: a fault was found and a fix was issued. The only remaining problem is Musk refusing to admit to the design deficiency.

People who are worried about their house wiring not being up to performing for an electric car...should fucking get that fixed before something causes their house to burn down, not look for a bandaid.

Yes, they should. This isn't mutually exclusive with Tesla's deficient engineering. It's like an army of straw men.

Re:Bravo, Tesla (1)

iceperson (582205) | about 7 months ago | (#45922903)

Perhaps the cost of owning a Tesla should include lost wages from quitting your job to go to school to get an EE degree, tearing down your existing home, and rebuilding a new one and doing all the wiring yourself so you can sleep at night not worrying about the charger for your new car starting a fire and burning you and your family alive.

Re:Bravo, Tesla (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about 7 months ago | (#45921891)

I have a friend who's an electrician and from the stories he tells many/most places he visits have something wrong with them. Even calls he gets to go out and install something new and there's no reported issues seem to have at least 1 thing he can point to that doesn't meet "code". If Tesla's design doesn't account for this then personally I'd count that as a flaw, but go ahead, keep thinking it's not Tesla's problem to fix...

Tesla could just modify their charger so that if the wiring isn't done right, your garage won't burn down due to your electrician's negligence. Which is what they've done. So...?

Re:Bravo, Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45922275)

Oh Dear Lord! The things I have seen. "At least 1 thing" is true. Usually a lot more. This year, so far, in 3 houses:

  • #20 telephone wire used in place of #14 NM (non-metallic) for a light fixture.
  • A circuit breaker that was not pushed in all the way, causing the blade in the panel to melt.
  • NM cable run under the carpet.
  • Flexible conduit spliced together with electrical tape - outdoors.
  • A house with only one outside receptacle, in the soffit, with the box being not properly attached to anything.
  • A house where someone had removed a light fixture and left the live wires exposed.
  • Someone used a copper ferrule (a hollow cylinder that you put both wires through, then crimp shut, commonly used for connecting grounds together) to connect a copper wire to an aluminum wire. The corrosion was as bad as you would expect.
  • Electrical tape used in place of wire nuts. It was loose and falling off.
  • And a whole bunch of less dangerous things, such as wire nuts in the panel, loose wires in the panel, multiple wires under one terminal, plastic boxes modified for surface mount use, exposed NM, miswired 3-ways, etc.

And to remain on topic, if the fire started inside the wall socket, the problem was not with the charger.

Re:Bravo, Tesla (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 7 months ago | (#45921829)

Im sort of at a loss for why theres so much media hate for Tesla. Musk is a VERY successful businessman (which appeals to people who tend to be on the right), but his business is also a huge "cause" for people who tend to be on the left; he makes a car thats environmentally friendly, but its also sporty.

Im really not clear what the angle is that makes Tesla such a problem.

Re:Bravo, Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45922341)

My guess would be jealousy, since he's way closer to building an arc reactor and becoming Iron Man than they are.

Re:Bravo, Tesla (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45922411)

Or maybe there's just legitimate criticism and your bias means you see it as "hate".

Part of the problem with Tesla is that Musk refuses to admit to faults. It is and always has been the job of good journalism to take would-be kings down a notch. This isn't hatred - it's much needed attitude readjustment. If Tesla were a nobody (in particular, if he did not successfully seek publicity), or if he were honest, then he wouldn't receive the attention he does.

Re:Bravo, Tesla (1)

Onuma (947856) | about 7 months ago | (#45921963)

Good point. Most home owners don't even know the condition of the wiring in their homes. I recently purchased and found out that the wiring in my place is all sorts of wacky...while I don't have the cash to fix it all now, I make sure to not overload any one circuit in the meanwhile.

If this thing were hooked up to my house, it'd probably be in cinders (the house, not necessarily the charger).

Re:Bravo, Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921965)

Designing your product for a nonexistent ideal world rather than the real world does mean it has a flaw. Matter how much Elon wants to say otherwise.

Re:Bravo, Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45922885)

If there wasn't a problem there would be nothing to fix.

In the real world, wiring isn't ideal. Tesla was wrong not to take that into account before. It is good that they are fixing their oversight now.

Expensive but they take care of you (4, Insightful)

steveha (103154) | about 7 months ago | (#45921395)

Tesla cars are really expensive, but they keep doing things like this. "Worried about the battery catching on fire? Okay, we will insure you against that for no additional charge. Worried about your garage charger catching on fire? Okay, we will give you an upgraded charger for free."

Anyone with a Tesla car is an early adopter, and paying a lot for the privilege. But Tesla really is doing their part to take care of the early adopter customers.

And this is why their overall strategy is brilliant. Start at the high end of the market, make money while building technology and infrastructure, and then come out with a new-gen car that costs less. Meanwhile they have fewer customers to take care of when issues like this pop up, and they have the money to just deal with it.

I can't wait until Tesla hits the Ford/Honda price level.

Re:Expensive but they take care of you (4, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | about 7 months ago | (#45921805)

Will that be anytime soon though?

My impression is that the most expensive part of the car are the batteries (probably costing more alone than a low end Honda) and from the charts I've seen, we've barely double energy density since 1990, despite all the rage portable computing and phones and other devices that have undoubtedly poured money into this market.

http://www.akbars.net/images/battery%20energy%20density.png [akbars.net]

I think a series hybrid built off of the same concepts as a diesel electric train is feasible and worthwhile, bringing to the table the ability to have a small battery and small generator ICE to overcome all the limitations of a low battery energy density, ability to fuel fast, and the need to size an ICE to maximum acceleration load rather than average load.

Re:Expensive but they take care of you (1)

steveha (103154) | about 7 months ago | (#45921985)

My impression is that the most expensive part of the car are the batteries (probably costing more alone than a low end Honda)

As I understand it, yeah, the most expensive part is the battery. Electric motors are not that expensive.

I'm pretty confident that battery costs will come down significantly. Even if no significant technology advances come along to help, battery costs should come down as demand picks up and production scales up.

http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2013/11/04/electric-car-batteries/ [cnn.com]

An electric car has a major up-front cost, but then low cost of operation (electricity is cheaper than gasoline) and low cost of maintenance (electric cars are simpler than conventional cars: no transmission, no radiator, etc.). If fracking hadn't driven the cost of gasoline down, electric cars might be in higher demand right now. Especially where I live, because we have cheap hydro electric power.

Re:Expensive but they take care of you (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 7 months ago | (#45922563)

Will that be anytime soon though?

It doesn't have to be soon. Because other companies will start offering electric cars at lower prices until they are on parity with internal combustion cars.

Already, hybrids have become barely more expensive than old-fashioned cars.

And there are some bad-ass hybrids out there, including offerings from Ferrari, McLaren, BMW (the i8...WOW!) and Porsche (918).

Whether you go low-end or high, there are hybrids and plug-in hybrids all across the spectrum. They're not doing this because people want them. These are sought-after vehicles.

Re:Expensive but they take care of you (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 7 months ago | (#45922901)

correction: "They're not doing this because people don't want them."

Re:Expensive but they take care of you (1)

guruevi (827432) | about 7 months ago | (#45922737)

Currently the highest cost of the car is the design and the people behind it. There have only been maybe 5000 of them made and the development is at what now over 5 years? Paying 10 executives and 100's of designers and engineers (these aren't minimum wage line jobs) in one of the most expensive parts of the country for 5 years. Plus they have a bunch of things that they have invested in way in the beginning that didn't work on. I can remember them licensing Honda for the batteries and Lotus for their Elise design both of which basically weren't good enough for their requirements.

Re:Expensive but they take care of you (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 7 months ago | (#45922401)

Compare and contrast with Ford and their defective cruise control switches which WERE their fault and to which design they clung to for many years despite losing many vehicles to fire.

Good for Tesla. This response is to their credit. A 50-amp outlet is sufficient to run high-draw items such as welders, let alone a car charger, but bad shit can happen if they aren't done properly. Tesla are going over the top to protect their customers from the consequence of improper wiring by third parties.

Quality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921417)

"Occasionally the wiring isn't done right" --- ?!?!?! Seriously?

Re:Quality? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 7 months ago | (#45921465)

I bought a house. Yes, seriously. I opened the walls. There was buzzing, instability, etc. The wiring was fucking wrong, twisted the wrong way (it came loose when the screws on the fixtures were tightened, so was buzzing under load), 14ga on 20A circuits (12ga is required or it catches fire), etc. My 20A appliance loop in the kitchen has 15A receptacles because, heyyyyyyy, you're not really going to draw 20A out of these right? Those 2000 watt appliances don't go on a 20A loop that can pass 2200 watts... I use a Breville 1800W toaster oven drawing over 16A through one receptacle. One 15A receptacle on 20A wiring.

Re:Quality? (1)

YoungManKlaus (2773165) | about 7 months ago | (#45921549)

... and this is why 230V is better ;)

Re:Quality? (1)

james_shoemaker (12459) | about 7 months ago | (#45921575)

My house had 14ga on 30A circuit breakers, the guy I bought it from bragged it never popped a breaker.

Re:Quality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45922163)

Well, no shit, Sherlock. Of course it's not going to pop a breaker if the short circuit current is limited by the wiring. Ask yourself this question: Do you want to live in a house where the breaker protects the wires and the house, or the other way around?

Re:Quality? (1)

james_shoemaker (12459) | about 7 months ago | (#45922859)

The first thing I did was re-wire the place.

Re:Quality? (4, Informative)

TimTucker (982832) | about 7 months ago | (#45921603)

My 20A appliance loop in the kitchen has 15A receptacles because, heyyyyyyy, you're not really going to draw 20A out of these right? Those 2000 watt appliances don't go on a 20A loop that can pass 2200 watts... I use a Breville 1800W toaster oven drawing over 16A through one receptacle. One 15A receptacle on 20A wiring.

Most 15A receptacles are rated for 20A pass-through, so they should be perfectly fine to use on a 20A line. The only time you should need a 20A receptacle is if you have a single device with a 20A T-shape plug.

Re: Quality? (1)

mr_zorg (259994) | about 7 months ago | (#45921715)

> Most 15A receptacles are rated for 20A pass-through, so they should be perfectly fine to use on a 20A line.

Really? Then why, pray tell, are they called 15A receptacles?

Re: Quality? (2)

ckthorp (1255134) | about 7 months ago | (#45921771)

Because you can pull 15A from one of them? The requirement for using 15A outlets on a 20A breaker is that there be more than one outlet.

Re: Quality? (1)

Iniamyen (2440798) | about 7 months ago | (#45922003)

So if I have a single appliance that uses between 15A and 20A, I shouldn't plug it into my 20A circuit? Huh? How am I supposed to use my vacuum?

Re: Quality? (1)

ckthorp (1255134) | about 7 months ago | (#45922111)

It's because your vacuum lies. That giant "18A" (or whatever) printed on the side is mostly marketing fluff. Also, even if it really does draw 18A, the duty cycle plays a big roll in the safety. Heating is a function of current and time. That's (one reason) why a lot of appliances say "household use only" -- the cord isn't sized heavy enough for high duty cycle use. That's part of why a 15A hair dryer can use 18 gauge lamp cord.

Re:Quality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921737)

This is absolutely correct. Mod parent up!

you need to read your code book (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 7 months ago | (#45922321)

1) 14ga wiring is allowed on 20A heating circuits. It's artificially derated for general purpose circuits for extra safety.
2) 20A circuits can have 15A receptacles as long as there is more than one receptacle (and a duplex outlet counts for this purpose).
3) Doesn't matter which way you wrap the wire around the screw, as long as it's tight. It shouldn't be loosening, period.
4) 1800W divided by 120V gives 15A, not "over 16A".

Re:Quality? (4, Informative)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 7 months ago | (#45921499)

Older houses from the mid 20th century may have aluminum wiring, which turned out to be a really bad idea. They tried it because the cost of copper was going up and the cost of aluminum was going down, but it turns out that the properties of the two metals are different and the aluminum wires performed really poorly over time.

Re:Quality? (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 7 months ago | (#45921615)

I found some steel wire in ours. The conductors were about three times the thickness that copper ones usually are.

I was changing a switch and it took two of us, a jemmy and a car jack to bend the sodding wires to the right shape,

Re:Quality? (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 7 months ago | (#45922459)

I don't know what a jemmy is, but it sounds like a tool of last resort.

For us, a request for the force multiplier will get a hammer in your hand.

Re: Quality? (4, Insightful)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | about 7 months ago | (#45921517)

There is a man, lets call him Keith. Keith thinks that repair men and contractors are overpriced, and decides he can do it himself. He does this, and it works...for now.

Re: Quality? (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 7 months ago | (#45921659)

Hi Keith!

Re: Quality? (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about 7 months ago | (#45921915)

There is a man, lets call him Keith. Keith thinks that repair men and contractors are overpriced, and decides he can do it himself. He does this, and it works...for now.

Keith does good work. Sometimes he even has it inspected and passes. Mostly, it's not that hard.

Re: Quality? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 7 months ago | (#45922105)

And none the less what Keith did is illegal in many other countries. It was made illegal because while Keith had his wiring inspected he was only a 1 in 1000 who did so.

Wiring is not hard at all. Knowing all the codes and having the patience to do something properly without cutting corners is quite hard. If you're not electrically minded then a "she'll be right" can quickly turn into burning your house down.

"Why does the wire going to the Tesla need to be twice the size of every other wire in the house? I can run my entire house on those other wires!"

Re:Quality? (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | about 7 months ago | (#45921545)

Clearly, you have never purchased or rented a house that was rewired by a doctor.

Re:Quality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921617)

Clearly, you have never purchased or rented a house that was rewired by a doctor.

Lets see, I just put a suture here, staple that flappy thing in place, and stitch this red one to the socket. I don't see what all the fuss was about, this is just like an artery transplant.

Re:Quality? (2)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 7 months ago | (#45922779)

My Dad did the wiring in our house. He also did wiring inspection for Boeing.

I don't fly.

Re:Quality? (1)

YoungManKlaus (2773165) | about 7 months ago | (#45921683)

well, I am pretty sure they are not replicated atom-by-atom but manufactured, so there is a chance to screw up. Could be something simple like a screw not being tightened 100% in some rare cases (there could literally be a thousand reasons for causing this) -> does not show up during testing, but in bad circumstances it could happen that the connection heats up (because the contact point is small).

Actually I had a case like that, eventhough the socket was securely fixed in the wall with no wiggle room or anything and installed to the specs (I remember that I screwed everything in place extremely tightly and had it checked by a pro). Anyhow, I suddenly lost power on that one outlet. Upon investigating I discovered that the neutral wire had slipped out of the screwmount and I was like "dafuq? how could that happen?". I think the reason was that I run the outlet at high currents at times (toaster -> draw full / idle / repeat) which could have caused heat/cold cycles in turn loosening the screw (though that should only happen if the connection was bad in the first place - eg. because dirty contacts), which would also work out with the time of failure (15 minutes after using toaster).

Re:Quality? (1)

confused one (671304) | about 7 months ago | (#45921697)

When I bought my house, the home inspector found a couple of wiring issues, which were fixed by the previous owner prior to closing. Since then I have found several more that I corrected. It's not uncommon to find miswired circuits, incorrectly sized circuits or poor connections. Because of the way circuit breakers work and the way circuits are typically loaded, a wiring problem can go unnoticed for decades. Then you plug in a load on a 120V 15A circuit that draws 12 or 15 amps continuously for several hours and a bad connection makes itself known.

Re:Quality? (2)

couchslug (175151) | about 7 months ago | (#45922325)

""Occasionally the wiring isn't done right" --- ?!?!?! Seriously?"

Residential wiring doesn't have rigorous quality control checks and is frequently as fucked up as a concrete bicycle.

Browse home inspector horror stories for pics of some of the worse examples, then remember very few homes are inspected by pros after construction.

Re:Quality? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45922531)

Old house wiring can be... "interesting" is the word I'm looking for. Probably "done right" in 1930 or whenever it was installed, but not according to current standards.

And it can age badly.

For example: a house I once lived in had rubber insulated wiring. Over time, rubber goes hard and brittle and starts to crack. If it gets wet in this state - say, for example, near a bathroom fan that vents into the roof space - then it can begin to form a nice little short. So, whenever we showered for too long, a fuse would blow (literally an old fashioned black bakelite block with a fuse wire). Combine that with corroded brass (at least I think that's what it was: definitely not copper in any case) junction boxes that made the lights flicker at random times and bare-earth wiring (old Australian standard apparently) and you have a case of "wiring not done right for practical purposes".

Electric Cars (-1, Flamebait)

s122604 (1018036) | about 7 months ago | (#45921505)

Electric Cars, LOL

They'll never work

WTF (-1, Redundant)

csumpi (2258986) | about 7 months ago | (#45921559)

Two weeks ago he said that the fire was not a fault of the charger. So why would he be sending new ones out then?

Re:WTF (3, Informative)

Gryle (933382) | about 7 months ago | (#45921635)

Because he wants to put his customers' minds at ease? It's a smart move on the part of the company.

Re:WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921837)

Yes, it's a smart move. However it should have been done INSTEAD OF elon shooting his mouth off on the original news story.

Not along with.

Re:WTF (1)

zero0ne (1309517) | about 7 months ago | (#45922057)

Frankly, those chargers should have ALREADY had these changes on revision one...

Who designs a car charger that is using 230V at 30+Amps for hours on end and leaves out a temp sensor and a mechanical mechanism that would shut it off if it overheats?

The temp sensor for statistics and monitoring (since these are still early generation) and the mechanism for safety.

Re:WTF (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about 7 months ago | (#45922717)

"You have some shitty wiring in your walls. It can set stuff on fire! But don't worry about the shit wiring job. Here's a new flameproof connector."

Geez. Yeah. Now that should make the customer sleep easier. In his house with the shit wiring.

.

Re:WTF (1)

cskrat (921721) | about 7 months ago | (#45921675)

While I assert that the GMO wheat in my company's bread did not cause your child to born with 12 toes. It is worth $200,000 to us to not find out if a jury will be composed of my peers or yours.

Because all aspects of this settlement may also be found "interesting" by local and national news organizations, we will also make a lot of noise about researching the health risks of all ingredients that will result in 2 point font warnings on our product labels.

Re:WTF (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 7 months ago | (#45921823)

Because the new ones protect against faults in house wiring, as well as working correctly like the old ones did, and because that gives him great publicity, and return customers?

Re:WTF (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about 7 months ago | (#45921989)

You obviosly didn't RTFA. And if you think the chargers are plugged into existing house wires, not a specially installed new circuit, now then you are just plain silly.

Re:WTF (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 7 months ago | (#45922427)

No, I did RTFA, unlike you, who RTFS. The issue being pointed out here is with the house's wiring. The wiring that is custom installed for the car, but is not installed by Tesla. The charger is merely protecting against potential faults in that wiring.

Re:WTF (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about 7 months ago | (#45922651)

Nah, I RTFA.

So please. Do tell. What in house wiring issue makes the connector, not the in-house wires, overheat?

Re:WTF (1)

Jakeula (1427201) | about 7 months ago | (#45921851)

Its a crazy concept of doing right by your customers. I know this is insane to even consider, but shockingly some companies do this. If you RTFA you would see that Musk talks about home wiring not always being done properly, so in order to avoid leaving that variable up to chance, Tesla has sent out chargers that shut themselves off at a certain temperature. Its almost like he cares if his customers are happy and hes willing to do what it takes to alleviate as many issues as possible while using his product, even when not caused by his own product.

Re:WTF (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | about 7 months ago | (#45922523)

If you RTFA you would see that Musk talks about home wiring not always being done properly, so in order to avoid leaving that variable up to chance, Tesla has sent out chargers that shut themselves off at a certain temperature. Its almost like he cares if his customers are happy and hes willing to do what it takes to alleviate as many issues as possible while using his product, even when not caused by his own product.

As opposed to designing the charger to handle this not-particularly-outlandish possibility to begin with?

Re:WTF (2)

csumpi (2258986) | about 7 months ago | (#45922615)

"The charger connectors, which tether Tesla-issued cables to wall outlets, will be mailed out in the next two weeks, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said in an interview today. The replacements will be treated as a recall, though owners won’t be required to travel to service centers."

So it's a recall on the charger connectors. Not on the in house wiring.

The house wiring was not smoking or catching fire, it was the connectors.

So it was obviously a fault of the household wiring. But can be fixed by replacing the connectors.

Really?

You know what taking care of the customers is? Being honest. Like we are looking into it. And we found a possible issue, so we are sending a new connector. Not blaming it on the ghost in somebody else's work.

If there was a problem with in-house wiring, they would and should be fixing the issue there.

.

Re:WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921885)

A charger built by my company overheats and catches fire. The house burns down with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of chargers in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

Re:WTF (2)

jxander (2605655) | about 7 months ago | (#45922501)

Simple : It's not the fault of the charger, but the new charger protects against deficiencies in other areas... like shoddy house wiring.

defective wiring is a very common cause of fire (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921619)

there was at one time a cafe here in Portland, that had lots of power sockets, with lots of people plugging their laptops in.

Most of their cover plates were missing.

Power sockets are contained in boxes that are fastened to wall studs. Most of the boxes their sockets were in had come loose, so they would pull out of the wall when one attempted to pull out one's plug.

they had a stage for live music. All the electronic instruments and loudspeakers were plugged into a single power strip that was connected via a long extension cord to the wall.

I repeatedly pointed out to the baristas that an electrical fire was bound to happen, and begged them to convince the cafe owner to have an electrician replace all the sockets, but no he never did.

I was quite shocked when they told me that the Portland fire inspector visited once a month, but only to ensure that they had adequate escape routes. The inspector never bothered with the sockets.

Re:defective wiring is a very common cause of fire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921727)

I was quite shocked when they told me that the Portland fire inspector visited once a month, but only to ensure that they had adequate escape routes. The inspector never bothered with the sockets.

Possibly because it did not fall under his domain, but that of a building inspector?

PRAISES BE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921665)

Oh man, the beta site did not-auto load this time for me. Thank goodness! Just had to express my joy.

PTC Fuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45921941)

They're less than a dollar in bulk. Every charger & power supply should have one.

sex With a Dick (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45922081)

the 7ruitlees sling, return it to

Tsk, tsk... (1)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | about 7 months ago | (#45922349)

the real Tesla would have charged cars from remote [wikipedia.org] , without sending the customer a mains charger!

House Wiring.....Now we're reaching. (1)

Dbraw (3494013) | about 7 months ago | (#45922815)

House wiring is probable given the case....however, unlikely. As stated above, no one that actually enjoys their Tesla uses the house wiring to night charge. Might as well connect it to a USB charger.

Connectors? (1)

PPH (736903) | about 7 months ago | (#45922865)

The charger itself resides in the car. The connector is simply a 240V, high current (30 Amp or more) special purpose plug.

Plugs overheat due to bad (high resistance) connections. And when they do so, they tend to draw less current, not more (like a short circuit would). A standard fuse is not what you want. A thermal sensor that would drop the charger load would seem to be more appropriate here. Possibly with arc fault sensing as well. If the fault was in the wall receptacle, it sounds like the electrician f*cked up installing it.

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