Safety recall issued for Ecoult UltraFlex lead-acid batteries in Australia

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a product recall notice for the UltraFlex home batteries of Sydney-based company Ecoult, citing risk of fire and electrocution.

Ecoult’s UltraFlex is a 48-volt, 20kW battery that uses lead-acid technology that can be integrated with other electrical equipment and energy sources such as rooftop solar to create an energy storage system. The products being recalled include the 48-4, 48-3 and 48-2.

The Australian electrical safety recall, issued by the ACCC late last week and reinforced by the Clean Energy Council, urges consumers to “immediately contact Ecoult to arrange for the decommissioning and removal of the UltraFlex units by a licensed electrician.”

It follows an earlier recall of the same battery systems in New Zealand, which was flagged by Nigel Morris on the most recent episode of the Solar Insiders podcast.

According to the ACCC, the root of the problem is that the UltraFlex battery is not designed to independently protect itself or the user against excessive voltage, overheating, or excessive gassing when combined with particular other equipment in a system.

This creates an unacceptable risk of fire and electrocution, the ACCC says, “which may lead to serious injury or death.”

As One Step Off The Grid reported here, Ecoult arrived on Australia’s commercial and residential battery storage scene in late 2015, with the belief that its CSIRO-developed lead-acid battery could fight off competition from lithium-ion rivals.

The company’s larger-scale UltraBattery had at that stage been successfully deployed on King Island, where Hydro Tasmania had used it in combination with wind and solar to dramatically reduce the island’s diesel fuel consumption.

At the time, Ecoult CEO John Wood described lead-acid chemistry as “the giant in plain sight in the search for energy storage resources to support the integration of higher proportions of renewables.”

And he said the company’s then-new UltraFlex product would suit industrial, agricultural, off-grid and business customers, helping them to integrate renewables and increase the reliability of grid systems, as well as the efficiency of diesel generators in off-grid situations.

As at the time of publication, Ecoult does not appear to have issued its own statement or advice on the recall. One Step Off The Grid has sought comment.

According to the recall announcement, consumers seeking further information should contact Ecoult by phone on 02 9241 3001, via email at info@ecoult.com or going to https://www.ecoult.com/contact.

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