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UL Warns of Fraudulently Labeled PV Modules

04/16/13

  09:07:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 509 words  
Categories: Solar News, Safety

UL Warns of Fraudulently Labeled PV Modules

Yesterday we wrote about how the FTC was clamping down on misleading “green” claims.  Today we have a report that Underwriters Laboratory is warning that certain solar panels were fraudulently labeled as having been UL tested.  Buyer beware, indeed!

ASP LogoAccording to the Public Notice issued yesterday by UL, three models of solar panels from ASP - Advanced Solar Photonics - bear counterfeit UL marks.

The models in question are:

  • AP-240PK
  • AP-245MK and
  • ASP-390M

All three of these products are on the CSI Approved Modules list under the name of ASP’s parent company, Bluechip Energy.  (Curiously, the website for Bluechip Energy is a mess, with many linked pages going nowhere and the home page full of “Invalid Image” messages.)

The UL Notice points out that “The photovoltaic (solar) panels have not been evaluated by UL to the appropriate Standards for Safety and it is unknown if these photovoltaic panels comply with UL’s safety requirements for the United States or Canada."  UL reports that these products are “known to be solar by SunWorks Solar” and possibly other distributors.

Searching the ASP website (clicking the link for the “Products” page goes nowhere) we discovered an intriguing and apparently related Recall Notice for these same products, but dated two months ago, on February 1.  According to the ASP Recall Notice:

Advanced Solar Photonics (ASP) today announced a product recall of approximately 1000 photovoltaic (PV) modules for reasons of code compliance.

Certain photovoltaic products were mislabeled during the manufacturing process and according to Underwriters Laboratory, may contain components with unknown compliance to UL 1703 standards.  Such components have not been evaluated by the laboratory for compliance with the appropriate Standards for Safety. No fires or electrical incidents have been reported in connection with ASP PV products.

Customers affected by this recall will be notified via first class mail. ASP or distributors will perform inspection or product evaluation at no charge to the owner. Upon evaluation of this product, ASP will bring this product to code compliance including replacement if deemed necessary. Detailed information is available to customers at www.advancedsolarphotonics.com/inspection and the ASP Customer Service Center at 1- 407-878-5742.

Interestingly, following that last link - yep, you guessed it - goes nowhere.

The Recall Notice goes on to describe the purpose for the recall being, “Certain ASP PV Modules did not display correct labels,” which is quite the sanitized version of what UL is claiming.

Also, ASP notes that these products were sold as far back as 2011, which made us wonder how many installs of these products we would find in the CSI data.  Oddly enough, the answer appears to be zero!  We cannot find any appearance of PV modules - of any model - under either the Bluechip Energy or ASP names - which seems really strange for a product that is approved for CSI and has apparently been sold for years.

We were able to find these products available for purchase online at prices ranging from $1.29/Watt to $1.50/Watt - not exactly discount prices.  We saw no indication of the recall notice on any of the online retail sites.

We will update this post if/when we learn more.

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
In addition, Run on Sun offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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