New Australian Solar Panel Standards Catch Out Unwary

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All solar power systems, including those pre-approved under various government rebate schemes must now comply with revised Australian Standards on the day of installation.

The standard AS/NZS5033 is clear that from 1st June 2009 all solar panel arrays must comply with the amended Standard. That is, modules in systems operating at voltages above 50V must comply with safety standard IEC61730 and be classified as Class A modules as well as complying with either IEC61215 or IEC61646, depending on the module technology.

Solar power systems can be potentially very dangerous if sub-standard modules and/or sub-standard systems are installed.

Unfortunately, many panels not meeting this standard were dumped on the Australian market recently and consumers should check to see that any system they are considering buying meets the new standards.

Dozens of brands and models of solar panels no longer meet the revised compliance requirements. The old list of approved modules was 50 pages long, but the new list of approved solar panels is only 34 pages.

According to industry sources, some “bargain basement” providers who didn’t foresee the IEC61730 standard being enforced on systems and were previously granted pre-approval for rebates on home solar power installations are now having to explain to their customers why their rebate will not be able to be processed.

With the $8,000 government solar rebate in its final weeks (to be replaced by the Solar Credits scheme), the rush is on for consumers to secure a heavily subsidised system and for providers to scoop up increased business. This has seen fierce competition among providers, but the scenario has also unfortunately seen increasing levels of consumers fall victim to questionable advertising and sales tactics.

Australian solar power company Energy Matters recently updated its Consumer Guide to Solar Power to reflect the evolving tricks and traps; in the hope of arming potential solar buyers with information on these practices and to help create a more level playing field in Australia’s solar industry – an industry where a few rogue operators threaten to tarnish the sector’s overall good reputation for ethics and quality.