Adelaide homeowner trapped in 18-month Tesla nightmare


Not all batteries are equal, a homeowner is at his wits end dealing with Tesla after he complained about problems with a $220,000 solar energy installation in 2020.

Chris Firgaira, 33, said the Powerwall system turned off up to 100 times in a day and the company owned by billionaire Elon Musk has failed to fix it. 

The saga has so far cost him at least $20,000 in lost time trying to get Tesla to fix the system over the past 18 months and at this point he just wants a refund.

Mr Firgaira bought a property in early 2020 that had two buildings on it, one that could be used for business and one for he and his family to live in. 


Chris Firgaira (pictured second left with his family) is ‘sick’ of the problems he has had with a Tesla Powerwall installation© Provided by Daily Mail

But he soon realised the power supply was not going to meet his needs and it would cost up to $50,000 to get the rewiring done, so he looked into other options. 

He told Daily Mail Australia he opted to get 10 Powerwalls because ‘it’s more green, eco-friendly and (a hedge against) electrical costs that we expect to keep rising’


Using solar panels and storage batteries was supposed to get Mr Firgaira off the grid, but instead only six of the batteries ever worked and there are constant outages.

‘If you’re off-grid there’s no street connection to provide you stability. You have to have your batteries up 100 per cent of the time or you will have a power outage,’ he said.

Mr Firgaira, an IT expert who also owns outdoor sports adventure business Archery Attack, believes a major part of the problem comes from Tesla using a standard install that does not work for those who wish to be off-grid.  

‘The power in the system used to work, according to Tesla, it used to be very reliable,’ he said. 

‘But because we’re on the same product as the majority of the world is, as they’ve been developing firmware for their standard installs, which might be connected to the street or grid, they pushed out changes for the general population.

‘But they didn’t realise those changes would have negative impacts on us off-grid customers.’

Though he was satisfied with Tesla’s engineering team, he was far from happy with Tesla overall. 



Only six of the Tesla Powerwall batteries have ever worked and there are constant outages© Provided by Daily Mail

‘I’ve had to be involved way too long trying to get it fixed. Also, we didn’t have a customer service team involved, so it was very difficult for me to try to get past engineering about wearing some of the costs with us,’ he said.

Mr Firgaira said that every hour Tesla spent trying to fix his system benefits the company in improving its product. 


‘But then me as a customer, I was wearing the damages of (outages). We’ve actually only had six of these Powerwalls working for the last year because we couldn’t get any more working,’ he said.

‘Tesla (said it) will reimburse us, but its methodology is to fix the problem first and then reevaluate and talk about reimbursement in the end.’

However, he has no idea when the problem will actually be fixed and he can get any kind of compensation – or a working power system.

‘From my side it’s just frustration that we’d prefer a refund and have (the Powerwall’s) removed now if you’re not confident when you can solve it,’ he said.

‘Or let’s talk about a reimbursement sooner, let’s talk about a staged reimbursement. Let’s not wait for you to fix it.’



The solar panels and Powerwall batteries were supposed to proved off-grid power supply, but it didn’t work out like that© Provided by Daily Mail

A faulty Powerwall has over the past few days had a new issue crop up and Mr Firgaira now needs to wait for a replacement. 

‘So (we’re wondering) when will we ever get to the point where Tesla wants to talk about helping with the financial costs, that’s my biggest grievance,’ he said.

Due to their unreliability, some of the most sensitive devices had to be connected back to the grid as he couldn’t risk losing power to them. 

With four Powerwall’s not working ‘we’ve essentially paid for $50,000 worth of product that isn’t turned on’, he said, which is ‘hemorrhaging from our original plan’.

Mr Firgaira said the main thing that costing him money is that he was only paid by the hour, and every hour he spent dealing with it was lost wages.

‘So if I have a customer and they’re paying me hourly, or I have a product that I’m delivering, I need to work on that product and deliver it to get the money,’ he said.

But dealing with outages, communicating with Tesla, going through upgrades, and trying to analyse problems over the last 18 months cost him ‘up to $20,000 in hardware and my time’.

Several of Mr Firgaira’s computers became corrupted due to the outages and he had to work on fixing them himself. 



Chris Firgaira has been so plagued with Tesla Powerwall problems that he even sent a direct tweet to Tesla owner Elon Musk (pictured)© Provided by Daily Mail

The Powerwall’s even caused huge difficulties with access to his home and business as Mr Firgaira’s electric security gate stopped working and he had to jam a clamp into it so it could be manually opened. 

‘Until I remove this motorised component, I’m having to wedge the clamp in to keep it in an unlocked state, because otherwise it’s always locked and it’s completely dead right now,’ he said.

‘It only happened last week, the day that we had a firmware upgrade. I’ve told Tesla that I’ve got video footage proof that this was working every day before.

‘We just want to pass this endeavour in our life, we want to not have another thing that can add to what can already be a complicated life for everyone.’

Mr Firgaira posted videos on YouTube and TikTok about his problems, asked for advice on the Tesla Reddit forum, and even sent a direct Tweet to Elon Musk, which got no reply.

‘Tesla please oh please refund our 10 Powerwall set up, I’m sick of this!’ he captioned one TikTok video which showed his home during yet another outage.