Australia’s consumer watchdog has slammed LG’s attempt to track down dangerous solar batteries, piling the pressure on the electronics giant to ramp up its recall efforts.
At the urging of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones yesterday issued a proposed recall notice (PRN), warning that LG solar batteries had so far caused 11 fires at Australian properties and risked causing significant property damage, serious injury and even death.
Mr Jones said in the PRN that LG’s efforts since August 2020 to find the faulty batteries and remediate consumers who bought them so far had had “alarmingly low and unsatisfactory” results.
The ACCC, which recommended that the Assistance Treasury issue the notice, explained that a proposed recall notice was a formal step toward a compulsory recall.
ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe said: “[This] highlights the serious risk posed by around 5,000 affected LG solar storage batteries that have not yet been located.
“We are urging everyone that has a solar energy storage system to check whether they have an affected battery and, if they do and it has not been remediated, to switch it off and contact LG immediately.”
Consumers are urged to check their solar energy storage systems for unsafe solar batteries after the Assistant Treasurer issued a proposed compulsory recall notice for specified LG solar storage batteries which can overheat and catch fire without warning. https://t.co/xKJ2IgO2gl pic.twitter.com/xOdhRHyKsk
— ACCC (@acccgovau) February 5, 2024
Assistant Treasurer calls LG’s response “unsatisfactory”
The Assistant Treasurer’s proposed recall notice requires LG Energy Solution Australia to take action to recall all affected batteries and communicate the fault to consumers. LG must also replace or refund the cost of affected batteries, or install diagnostic software that will shut down batteries at risk of overheating, within 12 months of the date of the notice.
Although LG had started making direct contact with customers and using digital and social media advertising — and more recently, television, radio and print advertising — to alert customers to the issue, the Assistant Treasurer found that these steps didn’t reflect the urgency of the recall.
“The Assistant Treasurer acted on the ACCC’s advice to issue a proposed mandatory recall as he considered there has not been enough progress by LG to ensure they locate all batteries and remediate them,” a spokesperson for the Assistant Treasurer told Canstar Blue.
“The Assistant Treasurer can only issue a mandatory recall notice if he considers that the relevant suppliers (in this case, LG), has not taken satisfactory action to prevent the goods from causing injury.”
An LG spokesperson told Canstar Blue that the company would work with the ACCC to find the remaining faulty batteries.
“LG Energy Solution acknowledges the proposed recall notice published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in relation to home energy storage batteries which are currently subject to voluntary recalls. LG Energy Solution and LG Energy Solution Australia are carefully considering the PRN and next steps with respect to the recalls,” the spokesperson said.
“LG Energy Solution is committed to providing a comprehensive explanation to the ACCC through a dedicated conference in the next stage of the PRN process. LG Energy Solution remains committed to engaging with the ACCC about progressing the recalls and engaging in this process with utmost sincerity.”
After this conference, which will include representatives from suppliers who sold the LG batteries to consumers, the ACCC will make a recommendation to Mr Jones on whether a compulsory recall is required.
How do I check if my solar battery is affected?
Affected LG-branded batteries may have been used in LG, SolaX or Opal home energy storage systems, as well as some Redback, RedEarth, Equana and VARGA models. If you own one of these storage systems, you need to cross-check your battery’s serial number against the numbers flagged by LG. A full list of impacted models is available via the LG Home Battery website, or from LG Energy Solution Australia on 1300 677 273 or email@example.com.
If your system uses a recalled battery, LG advises that you should switch it off immediately. You should refer to the shut-off instructions outlined in the product recall link or those provided by your system’s manufacturer or installer. You can also contact LG via the number and email above for further assistance.
Once your system has been safely switched off, you can contact LG or SolaX to arrange a free replacement, repair or software update for your battery. LG will also financially compensate customers for higher electricity bills incurred by the reliance on grid power during the remediation process.
For more information on affected LG-branded batteries in LG, Redback, RedEarth, Eguana or VARTA branded solar systems, customers should contact LG Energy through the channels above. Customers with affected LG-branded batteries in SolaX or Opal systems can contact SolaX on 1300 476 529 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.