Electrical fires impact nearly 50,000 homes each year. These fires cause approximately $1.3B in property losses each year and result in thousands of injuries and deaths annually.

As of March 2022, our home electrical monitoring service – Ting – was active in 100,000 homes, having accumulated nearly 65,000 home years of data, providing a statistically significant foundation for performance analysis data for preventing electrical fires. Given the value of the data to all fire safety stakeholders, we authored a comprehensive view of Ting’s Electrical Fire Prevention Efficiency (EFPE) and summarized key metadata associated with more than 1,000 cases where electrical fire hazards in customer homes were identified, localized, identified, confirmed, and mitigated. These data are new and unique to the fire safety community. Some of our conclusions based on that analysis follow:

New Fire Prevention Data. The data relative to hazard discovery, isolation, and remediation promises to better inform approaches to electrical fire prevention and analysis – both inside the home and with utility providers. Currently, none of the existing databases for residential fire data have all of the characteristics desired for residential electrical fire data; however, we are quickly changing that. Ting offers a new data set that can help inform how fire data might be further analyzed and understood. Importantly, the data resulting from each system hazard case is well-suited to inform better design, standards, and practices relative to safety and resiliency across several fronts.

Impact on the Grid and its Operators. Utility fire hazards and their remediation data improve the grid one home at a time – and in groups of homes or communities – relative to how ‘last-mile distribution’ is configured in a given area. The precision of data from these hazards demonstrates that real-time actionable data at this segment of the grid is valuable to both homeowners and utilities. The benefits extend beyond homeowner and community safety, including fewer utility truck rolls, higher ‘problem found’ rates, and increased situational awareness.

Beyond Fire Prevention. The electrical fire hazards identified by Ting often include home systems or appliances whose reliable operation is essential for safe conditions in the home. In many cases, they appeared to operate normally to a casual observer. In others, they were failing, not working all the time, or not operating at all while showing no external signs of an inherent electrical fire hazard. In these situations, Ting’s identification of these fire hazards also enabled the homeowner to repair or replace the system or appliance before failure and before the escalation of unsafe conditions in the home. Examples include radon pumps, sump pumps, water heaters, well pumps, HVAC units, and portable heaters. Similarly, Ting has also documented failing sump pumps, water heaters, and arcing due to water from indoor plumbing leaks.

More to Come. While the data used to present these findings is statistically significant, it is in its infancy relative to the total number of homes in the U.S. and the potential for expanded analysis. As distribution continues to more homes and additional monitoring years are accumulated, more insights will be gained, allowing expansion upon the initial paper. Further research or reporting may include:

  • Comparison of system hazard location data with National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) residential ignition location data
  • Expansion of hazard analysis with other home metadata
  • Hazard frequency analysis relative to home age distribution across all system-protected homes
  • Deeper analysis of device/appliance hazard data by device type, manufacturer, and age
  • Analysis of community grid resilience by geographic region
  • Comparison of network sensor hazard data with broader power industry studies, i.e., grid fault metrics

See the full whitepaper here.