Product Safety

Product safety grounding lug system registration formClarification of typographical ambiguity in installation instructions

What is the issue?
In prior versions of SolarWorld’s Sunmodule Installation Manual, an ambiguous part number was specified as the recommended lug to attach grounding conductor to solar panels. The designated part comes in two variants: a bare-copper lug and a tin-coated copper ground lug. The tin coating impedes corrosion between the lug and a solar panel’s aluminum frame. The bare-copper lug should not be used.

Why is SolarWorld taking action on this issue?
SolarWorld is committed to ensuring the safety of its customers. As a result of an inspection, the company recently discovered an installation including an improper lug. Upon investigation, the company determined that the part number it had specified in its installation instructions actually comes in both the bare-copper and tin-coated copper lug variants. Even though SolarWorld trains installer only to use tin-coated lugs, which are standard in the solar industry, the company determined it must take every precaution to safeguard customers from risk, no matter how small.

Q. What action is SolarWorld taking to resolve this issue?
A: SolarWorld is seeking to identify and revise any installations that may have incorporated improper lugs. SolarWorld is also reaching out to its business partners and end consumers to ensure that the proper part was used.

Will SolarWorld cover the cost of expenses related to resolving this issue?
SolarWorld is working with its business partners to ensure that if the improper part was used, repair will be made by a SolarWorld agent at no cost to the end consumer.

Is there a safety or quality issue regarding SolarWorld panels themselves?
No, there is no safety or quality issue regarding SolarWorld panels themselves.

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

How do I know if the incorrect lug was installed?
The correct lug is silver in color. The improper lug is brown. These parts are small (about 1 inch by 1/2 inch by 1 inch) and may be difficult to see. Most customers are, however, expected to be able to determine from visual inspection whether the correct part was used.

Examples of two types of grounding lugs:

Improper grounding lug

Improper grounding lug. Note brown color of grounding lug.

Proper grounding lug

Proper grounding lug. Note silver color grounding lug.

Examples of grounding lug in use:

Improper grounding lug

Improper grounding lug. Note brown color of grounding lug.

Note brown/copper color of grounding lug

Proper grounding lug

Proper grounding lug. Note silver color grounding lug.

Note silver color grounding lug

Proper grounding lug

Proper grounding lug. Note silver color grounding lug.

Note silver color grounding lug

I think my installer used a method other than lay-in lugs for grounding my solar panels. Is that ok?

Although Ilsco lay-in lugs are specifically listed in the SolarWorld Sunmodule Installation Manual, any grounding components that are listed by appropriate certification agencies, as required by the National Electric Code, are also acceptable for installations in the U.S. and Canadian markets. Many installers use other acceptable grounding methods. So long as systems do not have the brown bare-copper lugs, system owners need not be concerned about this issue.

I cannot get in touch with my installer. What should I do?
Please go to www.solarworld-usa.com/product-safety for instructions on how to safely self-verify your installed grounding lugs or schedule field verification with a SolarWorld agent.

If I discover the improper grounding lugs, can I correct the issue myself?
Due to the risk of electric shock, electrocution or simply falling from a roof or ladder, SolarWorld does not recommend that homeowners perform any corrective action. Corrective action should be completed only by a qualified agent of SolarWorld, and the company will arrange the repair at no cost to the consumer.

Do you think this issue will affect many SolarWorld installations?
SolarWorld anticipates that a minimal number of installations will be affected by this issue. The industry standard practice employs tin-coated copper lugs, and local permitting authorities typically inspect systems to make sure tin-coated copper lugs were used. Additionally, many installers prefer alternative grounding methods to lay-in lugs, such as grounding washers (commonly called WEEBs) or racking with integrated grounding systems.

Have there been any injuries or incidents related to this issue?
SolarWorld is unaware of any injuries resulting from this condition. SolarWorld has discovered and reported one installation using the improper, bare-copper grounding lug to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This discovery resulted from an inspection, and it was determined that the grounding circuit was degraded as a result of corrosion caused by the use of bare-copper grounding lugs.

» Read the CPSC news release
» Download the instruction manual