Electronics giant LG has agreed to bolster its attempts to protect consumers from faulty solar storage batteries which can overheat and catch fire, under an agreement with Australia’s consumer law regulator.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) accepted a court-enforceable undertaking from LG Energy Solution and LG Energy Solution Australia, following a government proposal for a compulsory recall of the faulty products.

LG has voluntarily recalled around 18,000 affected batteries since 2020, but around 4,400 are yet to be located, according to the ACCC.

The batteries have cells produced between 21 January 2016 and 30 June 2019, and some may be in other unbranded and branded systems such as SolaX, Opal Redback, Red Earth, Eguana or VARTA, the regulator says.

As part of the undertaking, LG says it will carry out an advertising campaign to alert consumers about the safety risks of the products, and will do its best to fix or remove all the remaining affected batteries within 12 months.

There have been 15 incidents of property damage in Australia caused by the batteries, including a house in Victoria which was completely destroyed, the ACCC says.

The regulator says an “extremely concerning” fire also occurred in Townsville, Queensland in March, involving a battery which had already received a software update from LG which was designed to prevent overheating caused by battery defects.

Investigations into that blaze are ongoing, and the ACCC says consumers with batteries which have received software updates should switch them off to be safe.

ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe says consumers should check if their batteries are affected.

“LG has committed to increase its efforts to alert consumers to the safety risk posed by the affected LG batteries and will take steps to remediate or replace the batteries,” she says.

“LG will also provide compensation to consumers for higher energy bills during the period their battery is switched off.”

LG Energy Solution says it will complete the recall of affected batteries. Photo: ACCC / Supplied

Lowe said LG had agreed to give refunds or replace affected batteries if investigations found a software update would not fix the issue.

In a statement to Information Age, LG Energy Solution said it remained “committed to completing the recall process”.

The company said there had been "a limited number" of cases in which it had provided financial support to Australian home owners whose property had been damaged by battery fires.

LG Electronics Australia said its products were not part of the recall and “while both companies are part of the larger LG group, there is no local affiliation between them”.

Government action stirs LG response

The ACCC said LG’s offer to make additional commitments via a court-enforceable undertaking came after Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones issued a proposed recall notice — a formal step towards a compulsory recall — in February after receiving advice from the ACCC.

The proposal was issued due to concerns that LG “had not taken satisfactory action to prevent the affected batteries causing injury to any person”, the ACCC said.

The organisation said it had also been concerned LG’s advertising about the situation was “inadequate”.

Following the proposed recall notice, LG met with the ACCC and agreed to an undertaking which “places comprehensive and court-enforceable obligations on LG to alert consumers and fix their batteries", according to Lowe.

The ACCC says the assistant treasurer has now accepted its recommendation that a compulsory recall is not currently necessary.

However, the ACCC says it can seek orders from the Federal Court to enforce the undertaking if LG “fails to comply” with its commitments.

The ACCC says consumers with solar batteries should check if their model is affected by visiting the LG Energy Solution website and following the instructions, or by ringing the company on 1300 677 273.