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Grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) arrays and battery systems
Grid-connected PV installations are required by the Electricity Act 1996 (the Act) to be installed in accordance with the following Australian Standards:
- AS/NZS 3000 Wiring rules
- AS 4777 (series) Grid connected inverter systems
- AS/NZS 5033 Photovoltaic array systems.
Grid-connected or stand-alone battery system installations must comply with all relevant requirement and standards referenced in AS/NZS 3000 Wiring rules. The Queensland electrical safety regulator, the Electrical Safety Office, provides helpful industry information on installing battery energy storage systems on their website.
Other standards may be applicable. The Office of the Technical Regulator (OTR) monitors and regulates the safety and technical standards for grid-connected PV installations and battery systems.
The OTR also provides advice about basic safety checks for solar PV and battery storage systems for consumers.
Complying with revised standards
Sometimes, the standards that apply to grid-connected PV systems are varied or substituted, which may result in revised or new technical installation requirements.
To give the electrical industry time to adopt changes made to standards, the Electricity (General) Regulations 2012 provide various exemptions from complying with revised standards. For example, if a standard is changed, electrical installation work can still be done according to the old standard as long as it is completed within six months of the new standard being published.
For more information on complying with standards that are varied or substituted, see Part 1.11 of the Electricity (General) Regulations 2012.
Recent history of standard changes
To assist electrical installers, some important changes to applicable standards are listed below. Installers should always ensure that they have a copy of the latest version of the relevant standard. Amendments to standards are usually detailed at the end of each standard in the Amendment control sheet, check with Standards Australia that you have the latest version.
|Standard||Published date||Amendment publishing dates||Notes|
|AS/NZS 3000:2018 Wiring Rules||26 June 2018|
|AS 4777-2005 Series (Parts 1, 2 and 3) Grid connection of energy systems via inverters||20 May 2005||This series of standards is now superseded.|
|AS/NZS 4777.2:2015 Grid connection of energy systems via inverters Part 2: Inverter requirements||9 October 2015|
|AS/NZS 4777.1:2016 Grid connection of energy systems via inverters Part 1: Installation requirements||30 September 2016|
|AS/NZS 5033:2005 Installation of photovoltaic (PV) arrays||19 May 2005||Amendment 1 - 28 January 2009||This standard is now superseded.|
|AS/NZS 5033:2012 Installation and safety requirements for photovoltaic (PV) arrays||16 July 2012||
Amendment 1 - 13 June 2013|
Amendment 2 - 11 July 2013
|This standard is now superseded by AS/NZS 5033:2014.|
|AS/NZS 5033:2014 Installation and safety requirements for photovoltaic (PV) arrays||6 November 2014|
Distribution network operator's requirements
In addition to Australian Standards, grid-connected solar installations must also be installed according to the installation rules of the distribution network operator, SA Power Networks. These requirements are detailed in SA Power Networks' service and installation rules.
Information on arranging for the connection of a solar system to SA Power Networks' network, including the technical installation requirements, can be found on SA Power Networks' embedded generation page.
Consumer and Business Services (CBS) has released a Guide for solar panel installers (PDF 123KB) that clarifies the licensing requirements for solar panel work. Electrical work involved in solar panel installations must always be performed by a registered electrician. This includes installing the PV array, inverter, wiring or any other component which controls or conveys electricity.
If structural building work is required for the solar PV installation, that work must be contracted by a licensed builder and must be supervised by a registered building supervisor.
For more information, contact CBS on 131 882.
Safety requirements for alterations, additions and repairs to existing PV systems
The OTR has released a guide for electrical contractors to clarify the technical and safety installation requirements associated with alterations, additions and repairs to existing grid-connected PV arrays. See PV array alterations, additions and repairs OTR electrical advisory note .
As an electrical contractor, you must assess installations you are working on and apply all relevant requirements of the applicable standards. If you are working on an existing PV system that has been installed incorrectly or doesn't comply with the standards, you need to correct the issues as part of your work. Any non-compliance issues should be noted on the electrical certificate of compliance.
An electrical certificate of compliance must be completed prior to energisation and issued to the owner/occupier within 30 days for all electrical work associated with the PV system.
Installing additional capacity or replacing panels, inverters and other components
If a customer is in receipt of a solar feed-in tariff, any changes to their solar PV system may affect their eligibility to the tariff.
When SA Power Networks approves permission to connect for a solar PV system, the peak capacity of the system being approved is recorded and this is the capacity the customer is eligible to receive feed-in payments for. If the capacity of a system is increased beyond the approved peak capacity this is described as an upgrade and may affect any solar feed-in tariff the customer is entitled to receive.
SA Power Networks released Industry News PV Process Update in September 2013, which provides information on the installations of small PV systems and the legal obligations surrounding the replacement of PV modules or inverters.
If you are making changes to a solar PV system and want to check if this will affect a customer's eligibility to the feed-in tariff or to find out what the approved peak capacity of a solar PV system is, check with SA Power Networks on 1300 665 913 or firstname.lastname@example.org.