back to article Sueball claims Tesla solar panels are so effective, they started fires at Walmart stores

American supermarket chain Walmart is suing Tesla over claims that solar panels supplied by Elon Musk's company keep setting its shops on fire. The panels, which were installed and maintained by Tesla, caused fires in no fewer than seven Walmart stores across the US, according to a lawsuit (PDF) filed in a New York state court …

  1. Forum McForumface

    When they talked about Tesla and ‘burning issues’, this was not what I expected.

  2. Jay Lenovo
    Facepalm

    Solar Panel game of Jarts

    Mostly safe, just keep a green fire extinguisher ready.

  3. ivan5

    Not the first time fires like this has happened and I doubt it will be the last.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      $deities have a sense of humor

      Nope, not the first time.. This one amused me given it's location-

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-32382795

      A large fire at Hove Town Hall is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault in solar panels on the roof, the city council has said.

      But looking on the bright side, it's a way to combine virtue signalling and smoke signalling. I've read a few reports about this and it often seems to be a combination of bad installations causing roof & cabling damage, then arcing and ignition. Which is one of those things DC power systems are prone to do. So fire services have had to adapt and figure out ways to cover or safely de-energise panels & cabling. Or just make sure nobody is in the building, contain it, and let nature take it's course.

      Downside is insurers will be looking closely & might decide solar installations are high risk and hike premiums.. And despite the claims of the double glazing.. I mean 'renewables' lobby, increased costs make domestic solar even less economic.

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: $deities have a sense of humor

        >Downside is insurers will be looking closely & might decide solar installations are high risk and hike premiums.

        This is the first I've heard of any solar installation causing a fire. In the US the codes demand that the wiring be enclosed in metal conduits, its the equivalent of using pyro cabling in the UK and so should be fireproof. That said, the amount of power you can generate from a commercial installation is huge, the amount of power you get builds up rapidly and so long as the sun is shining it just doesn't go away. (A typical installation above a parking lot can generate 40Kva or more per rank of cars.)

        For domestic setups I prefer our arrangement that uses micro inverters on each panel rather than hooking all the panels in series and sending them to a single inverter. Now for the 'virtue signalling' bit -- we don't have a large installation, its justt 16 panels, but it provides most of our power needs and it also shades the roof. The same logic is used with commercial installations -- we want to air condition our stores, they have flat roofs so its logical to put solar arrays up on them. From the local setups, though, I just can't see how you could set a store on fire using solar panels if the installation was to code.....but then there are still plenty of people who can't get their heads around this sort of thing, it'll never work and so on.....

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: $deities have a sense of humor

          I guess the key there is "if the installation was to code" - requires both adequate training of fitters, plus adequate inspection by trained inspectors. Is this the case?

          Not saying Elon and his solar company are taking shortcuts, but I can quite easily envisage a large demand for his trendy products resulting in under-capacity of fitters, potentially resulting in speedy recruitment and not necessarily the best capability fitters. Combine that with a lazy inspector, and you may well get this. But then equally you'd have thought Walmart being a large customer, they might put a good team on that job to ensure it's done right and the customer expands their network.

          Or it's just Big Oil (TM) fuzzing Elon to put him out of business and keep the dinosaurs burning

        2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: $deities have a sense of humor

          I just can't see how you could set a store on fire using solar panels if the installation was to code.....but then there are still plenty of people who can't get their heads around this sort of thing, it'll never work and so on.....

          It's a mix of practical and political. Practical is as you say, if installed and maintained properly, the risk is minimised. But that increases costs, and encourages cowboys. So on a domestic installation, how many owners are going to do a 'safe working at heights' course, rent scaffolding and inspect their installation. Or just assume it's fine until smoke detectors go off on a nice, sunny day. That risk is largely down to DC, ie if there's a fault, then there's a tendency to arc, creating a good ignition source.

          The poiltical side is arguably worse, ie the billions wasted on 'renewables'. The 'renewables' lobby obviously think that's great, and want more money. So there are odd situations. Like if renewables are so cheap & wonderful, why does the lobby scream when subsidies are cut/removed? And again there are more practical issues, like solar being rather useless when it's dark. No problem, just build more windmills! Expect when it's dark, and calm.. what then? No problem, just build huge battery arrays!

          It's subsidies and rent-seeking all the way down. As the UK discovered with it's recent power cut. Large subsidy farm tripped off due to a lightning strike, solution was to fire up gas & diesel generators.

          1. Claverhouse Silver badge

            Re: $deities have a sense of humor

            Except that, of course, lightning sent the CONVENTIONAL Gas-Fired power plant at Little Barford off before that of the 'Large Subsidy Farm' out at sea.

            But one takes your point that all the non-renewable fuels, Oil, Gas, Coal etc. etc., the Fuel of Our Fathers, is not, and never has been, subsidised.

        3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: $deities have a sense of humor

          This is the first I've heard of any solar installation causing a fire. In the US the codes demand that the wiring be enclosed in metal conduits, its the equivalent of using pyro cabling in the UK and so should be fireproof.

          Having now read the filing, that didn't happen.. So plenty of exposed wiring. Which suprised me given the risks. Now curious if that's a difference between commercial vs residential building codes.. Or something that should really be in codes. The filing is critical of the way cabling was installed, but didn't mention that it should have been in conduits per code.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: $deities have a sense of humor

            "So plenty of exposed wiring."

            There usually is exposed wiring from panel to panel with only the end points being terminated in a junction box. I can see issues if those wires are bent around cut off sections of racking with a sharp edge. The wire moves and will saw through the insulation over time.

            If these fires are prevalent enough, it might be that codes will be changed to require conduit and connection boxes to each panel.

      2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: $deities have a sense of humor

        Isn't it ironic that the use of the term "virtue signalling" is pure virtue signalling.

      3. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: $deities have a sense of humor

        The main problem with solar in the UK is only a minority of houses have roofs which face in a southerly direction. We have none. The only houses in this estate with panels are those with such roofs due to street curves. Except one with a West facing roof but those look like solar thermals.

        This is because unlike other countries lie say Australia and New Zealand houses in the UK face the road, not the sun.

        The house I grew up in in NZ was like that, it had two levels of decking at the other side from the street to enable sun worshipping/BBQing etc. As a teenager I would climb between them using the rubber tree instead of the stairs, because.

        You entered the upper story from the street and the lower was embedded in the hill. We had to tank my sister’s room beside mine due to this.

        1. 0laf Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: $deities have a sense of humor

          Not just that. The previous owner of my house put on 6 solar panels at a cost of about £8000. They generate about £20 a month on average thoughout the year (£35 on a good summer day, about £0 in January). So they'd have taken him about 33yr to pay for themselves assuming he was on 0% finance (which he wasn't, also he was 72 so he'd have had to live to 105).

          Also the inverter is now broken after 5yr. Cost to replace £500 - 1000. So on top of the £8000 plus interest you have say £500 to find every 5yr (probably).

          Realistically they'd never have lasted long enough to turn a profit.

          I'm not planning on fixing them. They basically act to shield my slates form bad weather and nothing more now.

          1. Ian Entwistle

            Re: $deities have a sense of humor

            I've got 3.6kw on my roof up in t' frozen north.. cost 5.5k. over last 5 years have averaged 550 pa in fit payments and in conjunction with log burner run on scavenged trees seasoned myself my utilities is 120 a month less than it was. Seems to work ok here...

            1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

              Re: $deities have a sense of humor

              Snap (but 4kw) - generating very nicely and as (virtue signaling I am sure :-) it charges a car during the summer as well it is a not oo bad long term investment.

            2. defiler Silver badge

              Re: $deities have a sense of humor

              3.36kW here in Scotland. I've pumped out 20MWh in the 7 years, 11 months the system has been active. Cost me about £10k. In terms of electricity generated, it's probably about 25% of the way to paying itself off. In terms of the Feed-in Tariff, it'll have paid for itself by now.

              It was off the roof for a few months whilst we had some work done.

              Yes, it only generates in daylight. Yes it can be a bit spiky when there's scattered cloud. If you put enough of these panels in across the country that smooths the spikes out, and the roof is otherwise generally dead space. Yes I considered water heating panels, but the FIT swung it for me. No that's not the most environmentally sound choice I could have made. Yes the FIT has dropped, and so has the cost. Given they're half the price now, they'd pay for themselves in electricity generated in about 16 years, on a not-entirely-south-facing roof in Scotland.

              Solar panels are not a panacea, but they're a useful tool for creating extra generation from dead space. And the economics (even without FIT) work out, at least in a domestic setting. The Feed-in Tariff does distort the economics a lot, but (for those who aren't aware), you earn three ways. Once for not paying for electricity that you'd otherwise import from the grid. Once for exporting half of your generated electricity to the grid (at wholesale rates), and once for the Feed-in Tariff, which the electricity company pays to fulfil their Renewables Obligation quota.

              Oh, and the first thing the installer showed me was how to perform a safe shutdown, stopping the AC side first to cut the power flow before stopping the DC side, thereby preventing arcing.

            3. Bogbody

              Re: $deities have a sense of humor

              Alas dry (proper) firewood down in this posh part of the Fens costs more than gold.

              Due to the new HEATAS regs a replacement for my condemed log fire + installation is quoted at £3000 (flue liner required).

              Without acces to "free" dry wood its far too expensive to run, even buying in bulk is not viable. :-(

          2. BigSLitleP

            Re: $deities have a sense of humor

            UK here - We own solar panels. Fit payments + much lower household bills mean our solar panels will pay for themselves in 9 years. All of the panels and the inverters are insured and warrantied for 10 years. We have twice that number of solar panels and paid less.

            Maybe the previous house owner was an idiot? They would also have added to the cost of the house, so if you knew they were faulty and still bought the house.....

            1. 0laf Silver badge

              Re: $deities have a sense of humor

              They worked for a year then the inverter packed in about a month out of warranty. But the manufacturer and fitter had all gone out of business anyway. He tried to sell the panels as a 'income revenue" when I bought the house but at £30 a month on a good month I didn't care. Offered to let him remove them if he still wanted them, they added nothing to the house to me. If they were cheaper to remove than to fix I'd consider it.

          3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: $deities have a sense of humor

            I'm not planning on fixing them. They basically act to shield my slates form bad weather and nothing more now.

            I saw a comment on another forum where someone was asking for a roofer that could fix a leak.. Which they were finding hard because roof had solar panels, so harder/riskier to get at the roof to fix, or replace a damaged slate. Plus if the installation was done badly, the risk that'll damage roofs & create leaks that might take time to become apparent.

            Also curious about risks of not maintaining panels. There's a house near me where the panels have deteriorated badly, so look pretty grotty, and presumably could become something the owner's expected to remediate, give or take local ordinances.

          4. defiler Silver badge

            Re: $deities have a sense of humor

            @0laf

            Sounds like some of the salesmen I spoke to when I was sizing up panels. One of them wanted £25k for a fairly basic installation (I think it was 10 panels). I was shocked and observed that "they'd better be gold-plated for that price!"

            He replied that "absolutely - they're the best on the market."

            I corrected myself "no, I mean literally plated with gold that I can scrape off with my keys to get back the difference in cost."

            That's the point that he walked out.

            Some of those fuckers were reptiles, preying on the elderly with a bit of cash put aside. As I said above, I paid about £10k in the end, and got 14 panels. Looks like the poor old fella in your home got conned.

            Whilst I feel a little sad that the company I dealt with went under when the gold-rush ended (they were really professional at a good price), I'm glad that the thieving bastards also got hit. Sadly the thieving bastards will move on to another con.

          5. EarthCitizen

            Re: $deities have a sense of humor

            You've focussed on the finance, what about the energy, do they not reduce your dependence on fossil fuels, even slightly? Surely it must be worth it from that point of view? Perhaps your predecessor was selfless and farsighted.

          6. Bogbody

            Re: $deities have a sense of humor

            And thats precisly why I havn't installed solar panels, despite having a perfect south facing roof.

            Without a grant/FIT they dont even cover their costs, let alone the costs of finance.

          7. Adrian Midgley 1

            Re: $deities have a sense of humor

            Your figures are surprising.

            You can put the panels through an immersion heater if you prefer, no need for inverter.

        2. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: $deities have a sense of humor

          > only a minority of houses have roofs which face in a southerly direction

          Citation needed? Roads run east to west in probable equal numbers to ones that run north to south - the last 4 houses I lived in all had south facing roofs. From a statistical perspective I'd expect a moderately even split (ignoring that the UK doesn't lay things out on a grid very much)

          Equally, there's arguments for east-west roofs being better for solar as it leads to smoother power generation over the course of the day (perhaps not as much total generation per sq m of panel) - not sure how good those arguments are, tho.

          1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

            Re: $deities have a sense of humor

            Given the costs of the fitting, we put them South, East and West - looking at differential generation levels they also appear to be a decent if longish term investment (in Southern Scotland).

          2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: $deities have a sense of humor

            Citation needed? Roads run east to west in probable equal numbers to ones that run north to south - the last 4 houses I lived in all had south facing roofs. From a statistical perspective I'd expect a moderately even split (ignoring that the UK doesn't lay things out on a grid very much)

            I think it's an architectural thing, ie aligning the house to maximise light through windows into living spaces. Then property developers, being what they are, seek to maximise land value by cramming as many units into the space as possible. So UK has a lot of terraced/row housing as affordable worker housing. Which means smaller roof areas, and if they've also been converted into flats, the freeholder benefits. Owners/tenants don't, and the extra challenge of no off-street parking for charging EV(s).

            Which is also an issue with new-builds, where cheap terraced houses become luxury townhouses because developers can increase living space by going vertical.. But still limits roof area. And EV charging, especially when UK planning laws place restrictions on available car parking space.

            But such is politics. The economics may work better if your population's living in bungalows on large plots, with off-road parking space.. But not in densely populated areas like the UK.. Which is a problem for current government policy to simultaneously boost 'renewables' and massively increase electricity demand by banning non-EVs, and gas heating/cooking to meet CO2 targets.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: $deities have a sense of humor

              "I think it's an architectural thing, ie aligning the house to maximise light through windows into living spaces."

              That could be very true depending on the age of the home. If the neighborhood is older, the lots and streets may have been laid out to bring in as much daylight as possible. Electric and even gas lighting is newer than many housing estates.

        3. Trollslayer Silver badge

          Re: $deities have a sense of humor

          I looked at solar panels but would need twice the efficiency it make it worthwhile (southern England BTW).

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: $deities have a sense of humor

            "I looked at solar panels but would need twice the efficiency it make it worthwhile (southern England BTW)."

            If your useable roof space is small, facing in the wrong direction and you don't use much power to start with, you could be right. What if you could find some used panels for 1/4 of the price? What if your lifestyle changes/more people in the the household? Can you use all of the installed energy yourself?

            The industry is very clever with diverters that take excess power and dump it in the water heater, thermal batteries and electrical batteries when you aren't using it up. Feed In Tariffs can go away with the stroke of a pen so it's a bad idea to rely on them. Take advantage while you can, of course. Buy an EV so you have a useful place to put power or even install a charge point with a meter and sell the power to a neighbor with an EV.

      4. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: $deities have a sense of humor

        And despite the claims of the double glazing.. I mean 'renewables' lobby, increased costs make domestic solar even less economic

        Never heard Double Glazing is a 'Renewable'.

  4. Jim Mitchell

    "with one fire allegedly happening after the solar panel system was "de-energised"." Solar panels are never "de-energised" unless they are covered in paint. You can disconnect them from the inverter/grid, etc, but that is not where the energy is coming from. I'm told that firefighters don't like solar panels on roofs because just the ambient light from fighting a fire means the roof is an electrically dangerous location. Cutting a hole in the roof is normally done for ventilation during a structure fire, so roof access is required.

    1. TheVogon

      Indeed. Other articles on this mention visible defects on panels, loose wires and improper grounding. I guess the colonies don't have the same legal requirements for inspection, testing and sign off by a certified electrician that we do in the UK.

      1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Tape on the panels marking weak cells

        The linked PDF shows enough problems that the permit inspectors have lots of explaining to do.

      2. Denarius Silver badge
        Unhappy

        @Vogon

        Oh so true. Issues sounded like Oz gov mass push of solar panels. Lots of cost, fires and a death. Many installations remain dodgy. Emergency Service volunteers dislike them because it's another thing to kill someone doing storm repairs to a damaged roof.

        1. Wexford

          Re: @Vogon

          I think you might mean insulation batts?

    2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Don't they cut output when enveloped in a cloud of smoke ? Self-limiting.

  5. GBE

    Sadly, the Walmarts stores were saved.

    Ah, so you're saying you didn't want the Walmarts burned down?

  6. Kev99

    You sure Tesla installed them? Sounds more like Wally World's customer service.

  7. drankinatty

    Ethically and Linguistically Challenged Lawyers

    Why lawyers feel the need to include bombastic statements in pleadings engaging in Ad hominem's about the opposing party is a sad reflection of the caliber of litigators entering the field. The law governing pleadings requires no more than pleading the operative facts necessary to put the opposing party on notice of the nature of the claims being filed against them. Nowhere is the requirement of third-grade level name calling. Wal-mart's lawyers should be ashamed as should Wal-mart as the acts of its lawyers (its agents) are the acts of the corporation. The irrelevant hyperbole does nothing more than detract from the integrity of the legal profession and reflects poorly on client.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Ethically and Linguistically Challenged Lawyers

      It used to be that if you could'n't do XXX you became a teacher.

      If the USA the word Teacher has been replaced by Lawyer and specifically the ambilance chasing, give me 80% of any damages, slimball shyster mongrel type.

      The world will be a better place with less lawyers.

      1. hplasm
        Headmaster

        Re: Ethically and Linguistically Challenged Lawyers

        "The world will be a better place with less lawyers."

        Or fewer lawyers, and more teachers... :)

        1. Mike 16 Silver badge

          Less call the whole thing off.

          @hplasm

          --- Or fewer lawyers, and more teachers... :) ---

          Tell that to the authors of the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language :-)

          Or maybe don't bring it up with an actual linguist or grammarian, as it can generate the sort of donnybrook that is normally associated with politics or football. In short, this "rule" is approximately as old as the movement to disengage those ruffians in Boston from the beneficence of George III, as opposed to the use of less for countable things, dating back over 1000 years.

          As with "which" versus "that", it is typically used to signal one's superior intellect (as long as one stays away from linguists and grammarians who might have the opposite opinion).

          That said, language changes, and fighting over these rules is as likely to succeed as visibly wincing at misuses of "Begs the question" or figurative uses of "literally".

          1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

            Re: Less call the whole thing off.

            Not fewer. Less. Off with their heads !

      2. lglethal Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Ethically and Linguistically Challenged Lawyers

        The world will be a better place with less lawyers.

        But think of the Children BMW Dealers...

      3. Oliver Mayes
        Joke

        Re: Ethically and Linguistically Challenged Lawyers

        "ambilance"

        Is that an emergency vehicle that can drive on either side of the road?

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Ethically and Linguistically Challenged Lawyers

          Ambulances can do that anyway, if traffic is impeding their progress - but have an upvote anyway :)

        2. Funkymunky

          Re: Ethically and Linguistically Challenged Lawyers

          Ambilance = Very long walking stick for the vertically unchallenged

          1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

            Re: Ethically and Linguistically Challenged Lawyers

            Those at least who have to face their rivals on the road.

    2. RM Myers Silver badge

      Re: Ethically and Linguistically Challenged Lawyers

      One reason for the bombastic statements is to put pressure on the other side to settle quickly. The news media will pick up on these statements, causing great harm to Tesla's reputation - harm that may well far exceed any savings even if Tesla did win the lawsuit. Thus, putting pressure on Tesla to settle quickly and get it out of the news.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Ethically and Linguistically Challenged Lawyers

        It is a nice attempt, but they leave themselves open for retaliatory bombastic statements and those might stick better.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ethically and Linguistically Challenged Lawyers

      Putting aside that it's the Nuremberg defense*, it's unfair to label the lawyers as ethically challenged when the client is Walmart.

      Vogons are less ethically challenged than Walmart.

      *Befehl ist Befehl

  8. Crisp
    Coat

    Fools! They should have made sure their solar panels were inflammable!

    See Title

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Fools! They should have made sure their solar panels were inflammable!

      Inflammable means flammable? What a country!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fools! They should have made sure their solar panels were inflammable!

        You didn't need the question mark.

        Inflammable and flammable are synonymous. Not just in this case but linguistically.

        But perhaps therein lies the cause of the confusion. Marketing said "the panels must be inflammable" and that's what the engineers, having a better grasp on the language, designed.

        1. defiler Silver badge

          Re: Fools! They should have made sure their solar panels were inflammable!

          Whoosh.

          Linguo is dead...

          Gotta catch up with your Simpsons, MB!

        2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

          Re: Fools! They should have made sure their solar panels were inflammable!

          The writer Paul Fussell claimed that it was widespread confusion owing to poor US teaching that led "inflammable" to be replaced by "flammable" in general US use (on trucks carrying gasoline, etc.).

          I do remember a fellow from junior high school many years ago who could not be brought to believe that "inflammable" was not the opposite of "flammable". As far as I know, he limited himself to arguing and did not test with matches--anyway, he survived to the end of our school year.

  9. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Any person can do a PV installation.

    The problem comes in when corners are getting cut to "make more profit" and "stop using too much of $thing", and that causes potentially lethal situations.

    A properly certified PV installer will know the risks and how to set the PV system up to get maximum delivery whilst minimizing the risk of overvoltage etc.

    40kva sounds good and all that until it start to arc due to poor/broken/damaged insulation somewhere along the way.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Damn, who to root for here.

    On the one hand, a company installing flammables where they don't belong, on the other hand a company which continues to sell guns ever after having a massacre actually IN the shop.

    I think I'm with Tesla on this one.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Damn, who to root for here.

      I think I'm with Tesla on this one.

      Might be worth reading the report as it's. shocking. Early in my career, I figured out anything that could send me home in an ashtray* was best left to proper power engineers. But over the years, I've picked up enough to spot some of the basic errors Walmart's highlighted in their sueball. Like trailing cables, loose or improper connectors, abrasion risks and basically lots of stuff that can quickly turn a DC power system into an improvised arc welder/plasma cutter. Plus stuff like one of Walmart's inspectors showing a Tesla person standing on a fragile panel.

      Root cause seems to have been a desire to grow at any cost, so rushing installations and maintenance activities, and not ensuring Tesla's staff or subcontractors were competent. Which leaves Tesla with an angry VIP client, and the expense of compensating Walmart, and removing all it's installations. Then in a worst-case situation, having to re-inspect and remediate all other installations to pacify other Tesla customers who are watching this case.. Which I'm guessing won't be covered by insurance given Walmart's arguing negligence.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Damn, who to root for here.

        Well, yes. On the other hand, in a fight between Walmart and Tesla, I'm rather hoping they both lose.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Damn, who to root for here.

          On the other hand, in a fight between Walmart and Tesla, I'm rather hoping they both lose.

          Also known as "A curse on both houses".

    2. DryBones

      Re: Damn, who to root for here.

      Wow dude.

      From a NY Times article about it: While Walmart has faced criticism as one of the nation’s largest gun retailers, the El Paso store where the mass shooting took place did not sell firearms, Randy Hargrove, a company spokesman, said.

      Also, https://amp.businessinsider.com/walmart-gun-buying-review-virginia-store-2019-8

      Says they account for 2% of gun sales. They're one of the biggest sellers because they have a lot of stores, vs a bunch of FFLs with 1-2 locations.

      So yeah, maybe... just maybe... The shooting was at Walmart because that's where the people are, and Walmart stopping selling guns would be pointless virtue signaling?

  11. Sudosu

    Animals?

    Squirrels chew the wires, birds catch fire?

    Its probably not the case on correctly installed small commercial setups...but it did rhyme.

  12. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Hmmm

    Were they Tesla's contractors or Walmarts?

    I've been on jobs where the customer has insisted on supplying their own fitters, then tried to screw over our people when the inevitable disaster happened. On one occasion where I had a personal interest (as I designed the kit), I kept a very detailed diary of events. It ran for two years! When it came to legal threats, I mentioned it to our solicitor. She took one look at it and quite literally danced round the room.

  13. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Obligatory lawyer joke

    In an ironic twist of fate, an ambulance chaser's Tesla autopilot smashes him into an actual ambulance. It's a pretty horrific crash but the lawyer survives.

    Lying on the stretcher he moans, "My Tesla! My Tesla!". The medical tech says, "Sir, unfortunately that's the least of your problems. Your left arm has been severed and we..." Lawyer interrupts him with an anguished cry, "My Rolex! My Rolex!"

  14. eurotrash

    Personal nuclear - overrated?

    My pebble-bed reactor is well on the way to paying for the entire house, thanks to FIT. The turbine is a bit loud, but 20MW is 20MW. Also, since it's in the cellar, the washing virtually dries itself. Maintenance is just like for a data centre during an argon extinguisher event, but only every few years, touch wood.

    Apparently it's completely safe as long as you don't post its location on social media.

    1. Alistair
      Windows

      Re: Personal nuclear - overrated?

      Seriousy considering this option given some of the idiots that live hereabouts. I'd be happy to give them a tour.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Personal nuclear - overrated?

        I'd be happy to give them a tour.

        I notice the lack of the word "guided", so I have to assume you wouldn't be stupid enough to promise them an exit from the tour ;)

  15. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

    In one of our server farm installs, we were NOT ABLE to get BC Hydro (we are in Northern Canada) to run some 400 KV lines out to the farm since it is over 200 km away from a major city in a remote wilderness location where solar is also not practical to install, so we went with an all-Propane fuel cell setup! In this case, we are running hundreds of thousands of VERY LOW POWER DSP (Digital Signal Processing) chips with onboard ram caches that work ONLY on EPP (Embarrassingly Parallel Problems) compute code usually used within image processing and numeric trend-oriented pattern matching (i.e. financial markets processing). The propane lasts much much longer on the low-power DSPs than if we ran custom ASICs, GPUs or AMD EPYC/INTEL XEON CPU chips.

    By buying BULK propane (millions of litres at a time) and hooking it to no-noise fuel cells, we can create all the electricity we need for years at a time completely OFF-GRID. If you can get your calculated total costs to under 12 cents U.S. per kilowatt hour equivalent, that means there are only three jurisdictions in North America that can match those electrical rates (Quebec Hydro, British Columbia Hydro and Bonneville Power in Washington State and Oregon) and only another 5 locations around the world that have the capacity to meet that type of power production system usually used for large server farms at those electrical cost rates! Fuel cells convert the hydrogen component of Natural Gas (mostly CH4), Propane or Hydrogen using thin membrane-based proton exchange to create electrical power. The ONLY discharge is warm water and in the case of propane and natural gas, a precipitate which can be condensed and packed into boxes and then sold to recyclers. Unlike diesel generators, there is almost NO NOISE -- only a mild electrical hum which is mitigated/stopped by using a surrounding baffling!

    Basically, you calculate your number of chips (750,000 DSPs in this case) drawing maximum of 5 watts so you're needing 3,750,000 watts to be available which is about 90,000 kilowatt/hours per day. Since your target price is 12 cents kWh equivalent worth of propane, you need to haggle with your supplier to buy enough propane (in litres) in bulk to last for TWO YEARS fully off-grid (in this case about 2.5 million litres) At that amount, you can get it for around 45 cents US per litre during a summer-time bulk price contract! So about $1.2 Million US to run your data centre for two years on propane for 5 watt DSPs! If you're running 750,000 of the 200 Watt AMD Ryzen-9 3950's and 128 gigabytes of RAM per CPU at full-use 24/7/365 (i.e. 1.03 TeraFLOPS 64-bit per CPU), you're looking at about $48 Million for TWO years fully off-grid using propane. Not too shabby for a server farm system that has 772 PetaFLOPS of 64-bit number crunching ability!

    So Solar Power is NOT really the panacea it is made out to be when it comes to doing the financial math! Because of weather patterns in most Northern hemisphere countries, it makes more financial and environmental sense to use propane hooked up to no-noise fuel cells for completely off-grid server farm installations and direct natural gas-to-fuel cell hookups for your in-town server farms!

  16. Elephantpm
    Thumb Up

    Actually CO2 is emitted

    Thank you for a very informative post about fuel cell use.

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