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Love your solar PV – tips for quality, safety and efficiency

Love your solar PV – tips for quality, safety and efficiency from the

Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA)

Despite the headlines, it’s extremely unlikely a solar panel will burst into flames – if the system is properly installed and maintained.

There are some straightforward tips and tricks to help ensure you receive quality service, stay safe and maintain the efficiency of your solar PV system.

Use the right person for advice, quotes and installation

Firstly, it’s vital that your system is quoted and installed by an accredited tradesperson. Would you invite a salesman into your home or business to advise and quote for building work? Electrical work? Any trade-related work? Would you agree to have work done on your home without having the tradesman actually carry out a site visit to best establish how the work is to be done and discuss this with you?

Designing and installing Solar PV systems is a tradespersons' work. The Clean Energy Council (CEC), the government regulatory oversight body for the solar industry, mandates that Solar PV designers and installers must be:

o A licensed electrician

o A licensed electrical contractor or licensed electrician working for a licensed electrical contractor

o Accredited with the Clean Energy Council for Solar PV design and installation; and

o For work involving on-grid battery storage, must have storage endorsement as part of their accreditation. For stand-alone systems, they must have off-grid accreditation.

It’s important for customers to recognise the difference between the advice and design competency of an unlicensed, non-accredited salesperson and someone dedicated to their work AND qualified, licensed and accredited in the industry.

SHASA’s advice to customers:

o Purchase your solar PV generator from a local electrical contractor with appropriate CEC accreditation; preferably one operating as a contractor for at least five years. This will ensure that the person selling you the system is actually installing the same system; that they have the qualifications and experience required; are across industry changes/standards; and that as a locally-registered business they are contributing to the community.

o Ensure the business has mechanisms in place to support its local customers

o Be aware of salespeople posing as tradies

The importance of annual preventative maintenance for PV solar

Solar installation preventative maintenance should be far more than just cleaning panels.

The CEC recommends regular preventative maintenance – and it helps to know what to look for.

A competent preventative maintenance regime should include the following (in a coastal environment, this regime should be annual):

o Inspection of racking, fixings and fittings and re-torqueing where necessary. Stainless steel bolts and nuts and aluminum extruded rails and clamps expand and contract at different rates – over time this can lead to fittings becoming loose.

o Conduit and cable reticulation checks – cables can become loose over time and conduit fixings and fittings are subject to UV distress, joint separation and corrosion.

o Rooftop isolators need to be checked to ensure that there has been no moisture ingress, UV distress and that they are still secure.

o Rooftop penetration points need to be checked to ensure that they are still in good condition and watertight.

o PV panels themselves need to be inspected for any evidence of PID [potential induced degradation] or LID [light induced degradation]. For example, symptoms such as hot spots, tracking, delamination, and discoloring can cause a rapid loss of panel efficiency. These symptoms can be quickly identified by an experienced practitioner.

o String inverters and micro inverters need to be inspected for secure fixings and connections, as well as any potential UV distress or corrosion, insect, or rodent detritus.

o A total system forensic performance analysis should be carried out to identify if the system is performing as anticipated.

o Regular billing analysis should take place, to assess whether the current relationship with the customers retailer is still in synergy with their pattern of usage.

o Preventative maintenance service also offers opportunity for customers to discuss modifications and upgrades to suit their current needs.

Establishing a trusted, ongoing relationship with an appropriate contractor will get you off to a great start with your solar PV – and ensure thorough preventative maintenance is undertaken.

For questions or information, contact SHASA via or

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