PV cell and installation safety

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PV cell and installation safety

Postby apj01 » Thu Feb 18, 2010 8:47 am


I suppose everyone heard the news last night that some PV cell installations and some PV cells are not up to standard. Does anyone has any concerns here? Do we need to have any of our installation checked?
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Re: PV cell and installation safety

Postby MichaelB » Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:45 am

Hi apj01,

Yes, we read the transcript from the report this morning. Energy Matters customers have no need for concern, but we would certainly welcome any government-led inspections on systems we've installed as we simply do not cut corners on component or installation quality. We would rather lose a sale than make compromises that may threaten system safety.

The Clean Energy Council have also released a statement pointing out that there have been no house fires reported in Australia resulting from solar panel installation in 30 years:

http://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/ce ... anels.html

Michael B.
Energy Matters Forum Team (Please note: I am not a solar tech or installer)

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Re: PV cell and installation safety

Postby Tracker » Thu Feb 18, 2010 4:56 pm

My feeling - A load of CRAP !

To make a statement that suggests that Solar-Hot-Water and Solar-PV installations, could be as troublesome as the Insulation problems is pure fantasy, and a gross misrepresentation of reality, and scare-mongering at it's worst.

Could I suggest that it's a grab by the CEC to warrant More Staff, for undertaking inspections.
Whilst there is a very small possibility of electrical danger from normal means, Hot-Water usually only has pipes and water on or in the roof space. At worst, a rough pipe-work installation could (but not likely) pinch electrical cables in the roof. BUT likely no worse that it would be if an Off-Peak tank was being installed.

The big issue with Solar-Hot-Water and Solar-PV is that they require installation by licensed technicians.
Almost ALL such installations are undertaken with the view to getting a rebate of some kind.
To get the rebate, the installation MUST be undertaken or in the least, supervised by trained people.
Finally, the entire electrical installation has to be certified SAFE by an authorised electrical inspector via a Certificate-of-Electrical-Compliance or similar.

Am I wrong?

What true - life-threatening problems have been seen in the field.
Faults that might not accompany any electrical installation like a security alarm.
"Inspector" can obviously report on faults like 'Double Neutrals' etc., but are these faults a general and occasional oversight or commonplace?
Are we identifying problems peculiar to PV installations or ones that happen with ANY electrical work ?

This summary of mine does not take into consideration , lax installation standards like using inappropriate metals etc. in the installation process, or stupid errors like installation under trees etc.
These are NOT safety issues.
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Re: PV cell and installation safety

Postby Inspector » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:11 pm

The media somehow slipped in "solar" with all the recent ceiling insulation fatalities reporting...

I've never seen any seriously dangerous installations or electrical work, but I've heard of handful of situations where: installers have fallen through ceilings, installers have damaged tiles or not suitably sealed the cable entry point in the roofing material so that massive amounts of water have come through and damaged property (ceilings) - the latter could pose a serious dangerous situation to occupants and possibly lead to a fire if the existing protection devices at the main switchboard are extremely old/unmaintained and not up to scratch (like an 8A fuse wire tripled to make 24A on an old lighting circuit).

I've recently seen installers on a roof without fall protection, but while that is a safety issue, that really falls under a different jurisdiction to my inspecting (do the Clean Energy Council courses instruct installers to comply with WorkCover and OHS Regulations, seeing as they would spend a considerable amount of time working at heights? Fall protection (eg: harness) is required where there is a risk of falling 2m or more).

The double-neutrals I believe is a common problem in the field and is often done by air conditioner installers. Whether they're licenced or not - who knows? One I rang up some time ago (after the customer provided their details) said he was licenced, but the licence number he provided was for air conditioning/refrigeration, NOT electrical.

I believe I came across my first solar job (6kw inverter, so quite a modest system) done by a non-CEC-accreditted installer today. His name was not on the CEC installers list, and neither was his "parent" company. I didn't get the return phone call I was expecting, either, and will have to wait until next week to see if there's any response to the email I sent.
"The standard you walk past is the standard you accept".
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