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More and more Australian homes are having solar panels installed as prices become more affordable, home owners taking advantage of government solar rebate programs and solar power technology advances.
But do you know what regulations and other considerations are relevant when having solar panels installed or considering having solar panels installed?
The relevant Australian Standard for the installation of solar panels or photovoltaic (PV) panels or modules is AS/NZS 5033.
The Standard sets out the general installation and safety requirements for PV panels including D.C array wiring, electrical protection devices, and switching and earthing up.
The Standard does not cover energy storage devices (battery storage) or loads. AS/NZS 5139:2019, Electrical installations – Safety of battery systems for use with power conversion equipment, provides guidance on installation of battery storage systems.
AS/NZS 5033 requires that:
The Clean Energy Council is the peak body for the clean energy industry in Australia.
They are a not-for-profit, membership-based organisation and represent and work with Australia's leading renewable energy and energy storage businesses, as well as rooftop solar installers, to further the development of clean energy in Australia.
The Clean Energy Council maintains a list of approved modules, inverters and batteries that meet Australian Standards for use in the design and installation of solar and battery storage systems so it is important that accredited persons and retailers should always refer to the lists before performing an installation.
The lists are dynamic and products can be de-listed at any given time if found in breach of the Clean Energy Council's Product Listing Terms and Conditions or voluntarily removed at the request of the manufacturer for products that are not actively imported.
Only systems with products from the approved lists are eligible to receive small-scale technology certificates (STCs) under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) which creates a financial incentive for individuals and small businesses to install eligible small-scale renewable energy systems such as solar panel systems.
The Clean Energy Council's listing of compliant PV modules shows the certificate holder, model number, power rating and certifier for each approved module which must correspond directly with the module label.
The modules must be advertised and sold under the certificate name and model numbers which are used on the Clean Energy Council list. Brand names may only be used in association with the certificate holder name and must be owned by the certificate holder.
The module label must show the correct TUV Certifier Mark (logo) corresponding to the Clean Energy Council listing. Installers or inspectors can send a photo of the label to email@example.com to check against the Clean Energy Council’s file copy.
It may be the case that planning and or building approval is required for the installation of PV panels.
For example a planning permit may be required to erect solar panels attached to a building if your site is covered by a Heritage Overlay and the panels and supporting equipment are visible from a street.
It is best to contact the relevant local council planning department to check if planning approval is triggered.
Building approval may also be required if the roof structure needs to be altered to facilitate installation of PV panels; your State or Territory building authority should be able to clarify what the requirements are when carrying out alterations.
All panels should be positioned to avoid the overshadowing from nearby buildings, trees and power lines/poles.
The ideal placement of PV panels is an unshaded roof facing due north, however, an east-west arrangement can also be effective.
It is almost impossible to predict future nearby development that may restrict solar access to panels but if there is a property under development it would be beneficial to access the designs to determine if the building will have an adverse effect on solar access to your panels and what can be done to minimise this before installation.
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