Stick to electrical work when installing solar PV

Thursday, 11 May, 2017

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Electrical contractors installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels should only carry out work they are qualified to do, warns Queensland’s electrical safety regulator, Electrical Safety Office.

Electrical contractors are licensed to perform a wide range of the electrical work which is often intimately part of the building. This often becomes an issue when installing PV panels. Electrical workers can often be asked to undertake plumbing work as part of a PV panel installation — this is illegal and should not attempted. For example, an electrical contractor may find parts of a plumbing installation need to be relocated before a solar installation can be started. If so, a licensed plumber must carry out the plumbing work, unless the electrical contractor also holds the requisite plumbing licence.

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) allows electrical contractors to install PV systems without a QBCC licence. However, any trade work other than electrical work must be conducted by an appropriately licensed person.

The AS/NZS5033:2014 ‘Installation and safety requirements for PV arrays’ sets out general installation and safety requirements for PV arrays, including DC array wiring, electrical protection devices, switching and earthing, up to, but not including, energy storage devices, power conversion equipment or loads.

Electrical contractors must discuss any issues they foresee with other contractors and home owners before beginning the installation. Regulated plumbing work must only be performed by a licensed plumber under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002. Electrical workers must not work on any plumbing (such as vents) on the roof unless they hold a suitable plumbing licence. This is fined at $1178 per offence.

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