Solar PV power systems — electrical licensing requirements

Monday, 12 February, 2018

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The Queensland Electrical Safety Office's (ESO) recent industry engagement and incident investigations have shown there is confusion around the licensing requirements for photovoltaic (PV) system installation and maintenance.

The electrical risk associated with making incorrect connections, including MC4 type connectors, may result in serious shock and injury, or significant property damage, said ESO in a statement.

"Installation and maintenance of PV systems (including both grid and non-grid connected systems) and associated wiring systems which operate at a voltage greater than extra low voltage (exceeding 50 V ac or 120 V ripple-free dc) is classed as electrical work.

"This means electrical equipment including PV arrays and associated wiring systems, which operate at a voltage greater than extra low voltage, may only be installed and maintained by an appropriate electrical licence holder.

"The standard PV array consists of PV panels whose individual output is at extra low voltage. However, when connected in series, the system may have an operating voltage in excess of extra low voltage. In such cases, installation of wiring systems that interconnect the panels and provide low voltage supply (eg, connecting to an inverter) is deemed as an electrical installation and must only be carried out by an appropriately licensed person.

"A person who does not hold an electrical work licence is authorised to locate, mount or fix in place electrical equipment, including PV arrays, but cannot make or terminate electrical connections to the equipment or install supply conductors that will connect the equipment to a supply of electricity.

"Even where the interconnecting wiring between PV panels may be connected by plug in connectors, the connections and wiring must still be installed by a licensed electrical mechanic. Where electrical work is performed as part of a business or undertaking, it must be performed under the authority of an electrical contractor licence."

Image credit: © Castellano

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