SolarWorld has initiated a recall of its PV modules that feature Amphenol connectors, which it says could develop microscopic cracks. A recall notice for 97,000 modules which feature Amphenol UTX PV connectors has been posted on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website, and these modules were sold by SolarWorld via its installer network from November 2016 through December 2016.
The connectors in question were manufactured by Amphenol Industrial Solar Technologies in Shenzhen, China, and SolarWorld states that chemical contamination was the cause of the fault.
“SolarWorld has done everything that we believe any customer along the value chain would wish,” said Juergen Stein, U.S. president of SolarWorld. “Immediately upon discovering that components from a third-party manufacturer were potentially faulty, we took responsibility to make sure no module using the connectors reached the marketplace without repair.”
“To our knowledge, we are alone in taking full measures to address a problem with a significant number of out-of-specification connectors from one of the largest connector manufacturers in the world solar industry,” Stein added.
In an email to customers, SolarWorld says its use of these connectors amounted to a low single-digit percentage of the millions of connectors that Amphenol indicated could be contaminated. The company initiated a “Fast Track” recall with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and says that it has recalled 30,000 of these modules from the field, as well as contacting SolarWorld customers who received around 2,000 of these modules. The company says that it is working to replace the connectors at no cost to customers.
Amphenol says that it has already replaced many of the potentially faulty connectors which were shipped. “Since discovering in late 2016 that a vendor contaminant could potentially affect the performance of a limited batch of UTX PV connectors, Amphenol promptly and pro-actively worked with all of its customers to identify any at risk connectors, and has successfully replaced the vast majority of such product, only a small portion of which had been installed in the field,” reads a statement from Amphenol. “The potentially affected product represented a very small percentage of total solar connectors shipped in 2016.”
Update: This article was updated at 1:27 pm EST on March 29 to include comments from Juergen Stein, U.S. president of SolarWorld. This article was updated a second time at 5:10 EST on March 29 to include a statement by Amphenol.