LG urges homeowners with faulty solar batteries to come forward

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Technology giant LG will launch an urgent year-long advertising campaign after it emerged more than 4000 Australian homes were still using solar batteries that could overheat and catch fire unexpectedly.

However, the company’s battery recall could affect thousands more households in the future, after it emerged one battery that had been “remedied” with a software update had also caught fire.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission released details of LG’s latest recall commitments on Monday.

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The consumer watchdog revealed the company had signed a court-enforceable undertaking to increase the reach and number of its warnings.

LG Energy Solution has recalled 18,000 solar storage batteries sold in Australia, with voluntary recall notices starting in August 2020.

The faulty batteries, sold by LG and SolaX, were produced between January 2016 and June 2019 and have the potential to overheat, go into thermal runaway, and catch fire.

Fifteen incidents of property damage have been attributed to the faulty batteries so far, including a house fire in Victoria that destroyed the residence.

About 4400 faulty batteries have yet to be located by the company.

LG’s latest recall commitment includes an ad campaign to alert consumers to the fire risk, stressing the urgency of the recall, using simple language, and highlighting words including “fire” and “death”.

The company has also committed to paying consumers for the cost of their batteries and installation, and paying compensation for higher energy bills incurred while the solar batteries are switched off.

ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe said the moves were necessary to ensure all dangerous batteries could be recalled within 12 months.

“We are warning consumers who have a solar energy storage system to check if their battery is affected by these recalls,” she said.

“If you have an affected battery, including one that has already received a software update, switch it off and contact LG urgently.”

Lowe said the commission was also investigating whether software installed to address the problem in some batteries was an adequate solution.

Questions about the remedy were raised after an LG solar battery that had the diagnostic software installed caught fire in a Townsville home in March.

“The ACCC is extremely concerned by this development and we are keeping a close watch,” Lowe said.

“We urge all consumers who previously had a software update installed to immediately switch off their battery, pending the outcome of these investigations.”

LG’s new undertakings come three months after federal Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones issued a proposed recall notice to the company over its faulty batteries.

The ACCC has now recommended against a compulsory recall.

Solar battery owners can check if their products are affected by the recall by visiting the LG website or phoning 1300 677 273.

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