15th Jan 2019
Quarter of solar rooftop panels pose high risk: audit
Author: Janelle Ward
solar panels

Solar panels are being installed on rooftops across Australia at an increasingly rapid rate, with more than two million in operation at December last year, as the cost of electricity continues to bite and panels become more affordable.

However, a national audit has found that up to one-quarter of all rooftop units inspected posed a severe or high risk due to faulty wiring and unsecured panels, The Australian reports.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AMEO) is considering retrofitting rooftop panels to ensure they meet compliance standards after Energy Minister Angus Taylor said last month that lives could be at risk from unsafe or substandard solar panel installations.

Pressure for such a move intensified after the AEMO admitted that installation quality issues may have been responsible for some units failing to adequately respond to a major outage last year. That led to power issues in two states – NSW and Victoria – after a lightning strike caused Queensland and South Australian interconnectors to trip last August.

A subsequent investigation found thousands of rooftop solar units did not comply with Australian standards.

“A range of supply sources, including solar, wind and coal generators, either crashed or were unable to assist in boosting supply to either of the two states, renewing concerns over the challenges of integrating a surge of cheap but intermittent renewable energy supply within the national grid to complement existing base-load generation,” The Australian reports.

“Changes to compliance and accreditation processes may be needed, according to AEMO, as it investigates why the solar inverters – which convert electricity from rooftop panels into power that can be fed to the grid – failed to respond as expected. This could even involve retrofitting some solar devices to ensure they meet standards, a move that could come at a high price.”

AEMO’s executive general manager for operations, Damien Sanford, told The Australian that Australia was a world leader in the volume of residential solar.

“We don’t want to slow that development down, but we want to make sure that what’s going on is supportive of the grid’s needs,” he said.

State and territory governments are responsible for monitoring installation procedures.

Meanwhile, The Age reports that a waste management plan needs to be developed for the tens of thousands of ageing rooftop solar panels that are nearing their use-by dates.

The main materials used in photovoltaic panels are glass, polymer and aluminium, but some also contain potentially hazardous materials such as lead, copper and zinc.

Total Environment Centre director Jeff Angel said: “We’ve had a solar panel industry for years which is an important environmental initiative, and it should have been incumbent on government to act in concert with the growth of the industry so we have an environmentally responsible end-of-life strategy.”

The Australian Council of Recycling told The Age that a national program to recycle computers and televisions had been successful and solar panels and batteries should be subject to similar schemes.

Fifty per cent of 855 respondents to a YourLifeChoices Friday Flash Poll on energy said they had solar panels and another six per cent said they intended to buy panels.

Do you have solar panels and do you have them checked periodically? Do you have a plan for when they need to be replaced?

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    COMMENTS

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    On the Ball
    15th Jan 2019
    10:38am
    This article has all the hallmarks of a LNP/Coal lobby scare campaign.
    It jumps from a "pink bats" style of the panels on YOUR roof could kill you! To the industrial level major solar farm not triggering and supporting the grid when needed (I thought these renewables weren't "needed"?).
    Must be an election looming...
    MICK
    15th Jan 2019
    11:51am
    Precisely. Thought the same thing when I read that the report came from the government and reported by a Murdoch rag. I wonder if there's an election coming????
    Old Geezer
    15th Jan 2019
    2:47pm
    Unfortunately there are a large number of badly installed solar systems and I have heard from other sources about 25% have been shown to be faulty.
    TREBOR
    15th Jan 2019
    6:49pm
    'badly installed'..... there's your answer.... the panels are safe... it's the turkeys who fit them...
    MICK
    15th Jan 2019
    9:51pm
    Sounds like one of your pink batts comments OG. You could at least be original when you are lying.
    Theo1943
    16th Jan 2019
    12:09am
    What a lot of crap. The grid is there to support my panels, not the other way round
    GeorgeM
    17th Jan 2019
    1:15pm
    There you (many of you) go again - Libs vs. Labor. The real issue is that nothing has been learned from the pink batts issue with BOTH Liberal and Labor Govts overseeing these installations with 25% faulty installations! No installations must be done except by qualified persons with liability being clearly defined - how hard is that?

    And why is the article expecting these faulty cases to be rectified at public, or taxpayer, expense? Whoever did these installations (private installers) must be asked to fix it at their expense.

    Also, disposal of waste - if special arrangements are needed, the cost should be included in the original price! Then the Councils can use those funds.
    Buggsie
    15th Jan 2019
    10:53am
    Couldn't agree more, ON The Ball! I have a 4.65 Kw system about 3 years old - top quality panels, inverter and installation. Not a problem. Recently had 100km winds across the roof - no issues, except of course the badly maintained grid went down in the storm. This report must be encouraging to the coal industry which is slowly dying. Solar installations are like everything else - cheap substandard installers are around, so stick to quality and no problems. Buggsie
    Rae
    15th Jan 2019
    11:46am
    Why do they plant gum trees under powerlines. Stupidity or to make future work for tree loppers and line maintenance crews?
    MICK
    15th Jan 2019
    11:57am
    MeToo Buggsie.
    We have an original Rudd system. Fantastic....although regulations regarding isolators on roof etc. have been updated as one would expect.
    We have also added a new system and we do live in a high wind area as well. Not a problem!

    Of course those who take up the $4000 quotes may be caught out as there are some dodgY Chinese panels out there. Blame the CURRENT government for not regulating this. IT IS ITS JOB. Nothing to do with Labor, Shorten or unions.....as the trolls would have readers believe.
    I love my panels. This is where any responsible government should be heading and we'll likely have one of those shortly.
    Old Geezer
    15th Jan 2019
    2:49pm
    Mick they are all dodgy Chinese panels.
    Retired Knowall
    15th Jan 2019
    7:54pm
    Fact Check for you OG
    Germany has long been at the forefront of solar power and produced a total of 38.2 gigawatts (GW) out of 177 GW produced globally...
    China. As the nation with the largest population and carbon footprint, China's clear commitment to renewable energy is encouraging followed by Japan, Italy and the US
    Solar Panels used in Aust.
    Suniva 2% U.S
    SunPower 17% U.S
    Suntech 2% China
    Trina Solar 17% China
    MICK
    15th Jan 2019
    9:52pm
    OG - you have no idea what you are talking about. China produces close to the best panels as well as some of the worst. The difference is normally price.
    Do your homework!
    Old Geezer
    17th Jan 2019
    10:40am
    Price is no indication of quality any more at all.
    Lookfar
    20th Jan 2019
    4:51pm
    GeorgeM, no 25% failure has been considered, let alone proved, by any Govt dept, or private owners, - Warranties cover all that, - the statement can be dismissed as a lie.

    Statements from the likes of OG , Price, etc, are Platitudes, - even worse than lies.
    G.

    15th Jan 2019
    11:07am
    Not enough that the taxpayer has subsidised each of these households to the tune of tens of thousands . Now we have to pay for helping these bludgers dispose of their eyesores . Burt the old panels in your own backyards at your own cost yer bludgers . And charge for the environmental hazards they have created by their own stupidity and greed. Labor and Greens have a lot to answer for
    maelcolium
    15th Jan 2019
    11:17am
    sigh!
    Poppysmum
    15th Jan 2019
    11:20am
    Please explain???
    Koj
    15th Jan 2019
    11:47am
    what a crock of sh*t! There is a market for used solar panels.... going back to around 20 year old kanekas! Understand that? People PAY for them...not pay to get rid of them.
    The education system has a lot to answer for if bludgers can't read something without applying a bit of thought to what is printed. The bit about unsafe installations becoming couldn't help out the coal stations that failed is another example of failure to spot bollocks in propaganda. This is the sort of stupidity that creates an industry from flat earth society writers, no man ever got to the moon bloggers, 40 virgins is the reward for violence, to the slightly more accepted alan jones rants for "selected" topics. (ever notice how quickly the flavour of telstra changed on a radio program?) Not saying all liberal voters are deficient.... but this sounds like a puppet or a parrot!
    MICK
    15th Jan 2019
    11:53am
    Ha ha ha. The YLC troll is at it again. As Rudd once said he "started WW3".
    You have to laugh at the clown!
    Anonymous
    15th Jan 2019
    12:00pm
    I laugh at the joke of a government we had during the Dudd/Juliar/Dudd years
    Sometimes I cry at the damage they did to the economy,burning a pristine balance sheet and leading us to financial ruin
    LNP reverses the rot and now we are back to surplus and nil debt by 2030
    Old Geezer
    15th Jan 2019
    2:50pm
    Yes the only thing renewable about solar panels is they wear out and have to be renewed at great cost to the environment.
    Knows-a-lot
    15th Jan 2019
    3:42pm
    The Lieberal trolls are out in force today.
    MICK
    15th Jan 2019
    9:54pm
    Labor Labor Labor. Unions unions unions.........gah gah gah.
    Prize clown Lothario. I don't know why they employ you.
    ex PS
    16th Jan 2019
    8:37am
    The average Solar Power System costs about $5,000.00, yet tens of thousands are wasted on each household? Lothario, check your pants I think they may be on fire.
    If you are going to indulge in manufacturing Fake News for your Liberal buddies at least make it believable, start by buying a calculator.
    Like the Pink Batts, the responsibility for installation of such products rests with the installer not the government and not the supplier, the only time we have problems is when governments reduce Red Tape at the expense of safety. As with recent building regulations, self inspection and reporting cost us money in the long run.
    Hoohoo
    17th Jan 2019
    3:49pm
    Lothario doesn't have the brain capacity to even acknowledge that Rudd very deftly avoided a recession in Australia, while all the other western economies fell into recession with their austerity measures failing. The Liberals were crying out for Rudd to use austerity measures. Malcolm Turnbull even risked our country's economy by saying our stock market would crumble by encouraging a lack of confidence from the business community.

    John Howard failed us by not investing in infrastructure while we were flush during the mining boom. He was like a child with a credit card "Look mummy, look at all this money we have." Farmers know that when you have a good season, you put money aside for when the inevitable bad season arrives. Or they invest the surplus in drought-proofing their farms as best as they can.

    I cannot understand why dodgy installers (of anything in the building industry, like insulation batts or solar panels), don't lose their license or aren't even charged with negligence in a civil court. If they were legitimate builders in NSW (where I knew the law regarding building during the GFC), their insurers would refuse to continue with them & they'd automatically lose their building license because they had no insurance.

    Unfortunately, the Liberal's lack of an energy policy & investment in renewables (due to the coal-lovers calling ALL the shots), many of the early installers of solar have gone out of business altogether. You can't hold a dodgy installer to account if there's no longer a legal Entity to sue.
    Adrianus
    18th Jan 2019
    8:55am
    "Rudd very deftly avoided a recession in Australia, while all the other western economies fell into recession with their austerity measures failing."

    HA HA HA!!! I always have a good laugh when I hear people express that opinion.

    Rudd was out of his depth. He took advice from treasury while believing he was the real 007 saving the world. The Rudd/Gillard/Rudd government was incompetent on many levels and got pushed around by The World Bank, the UN and the USA. If Rudd was so good why was his party in such a hurry to get rid of him. Not fitting for someone who saved Australia from a recession. Not that that should count for anything. We could have had another recession we had to have under Labor, rather than emptying our bank balance, borrowing heavily and setting up for continuous budget deficits for the next decade with uncontrollable waste of taxpayers money.
    P$cript
    18th Jan 2019
    10:33pm
    Adriana,
    If you are capable of doing a little research you would find out that all Labor Governments in the last 50 years have out preformed the LNP governments in all economic measures, that's why the LNP have to keep saying they are the better economic managers, only the stupid repeat this as to lazy to find out for themselves.

    One thing to check, which governments has the lowest percentage taxation to GDP.!!!!!!!!

    Hint: it isn't the LNP governments, consistently higher taxation.
    Hoohoo
    19th Jan 2019
    12:38pm
    Ha ha ha Adrianus - laugh all you like, but as PScript shows, it's the hollow laughter of a rusted on Liberal who can't explain why the Libs have tripled Labor's debt, but continue to whinge about debt as if they have nothing to do with it.

    Labor got rid of Rudd because of his personal style & the impact it had on his immediate staff. Rudd only slept 4 hours a night & he foolishly expected his staff could do the same. Only 4 hours of sleep goes to explaining his crankiness, I expect. But as a Prime Minister, Rudd was pretty damn good in comparison to many others. He should have doubled his staff & made them job-share (& paid the extra wages from his own pocket). Easy to say now, but if he'd done that, he may well still be PM today.

    And Australia would've avoided the embarrassing Rudd/Gillard/Rudd/Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison/??? fiasco, with polls dictating the Prime Ministership & the unworkable, toxic parliament we have today, where our government can't even enforce an energy policy; not because of the Opposition, but because of their own toxic Members!!!
    Hoohoo
    20th Jan 2019
    3:51pm
    Adrianus, can you name a single Australian government that HASN'T been " pushed around by The World Bank, the UN and the USA."?

    And can you imagine the HOWLING from the Libs, had Rudd produced a recession? Rudd saved our economy, at least, he saved the average citizen from real hardship. Face it, recessions & market busts just help the rich. Average stock market investors get bitten (& feel they have to sell their shares) while the rich scoop up the cheap shares at bottom price. It just rearranges people's money to the benefit of the rich.
    Anonymous
    20th Jan 2019
    4:37pm
    Cuckoo
    Lookfar
    20th Jan 2019
    5:29pm
    Loth, (doesn't want to do anything) ario, old solar panels are vey strong and almost indestructible. - unfortunately modern sealants, silicon, etc. don't last as long by a fraction as the panels themselves, which when ruined by water penetration of their electrical connection, still make excellent coffee tables, wall sections, roof tiles, etc. they will definitely outlive you, and probably in the long term be completey recyclable, - should we live so long.. -
    Due to the destruction of our planet's living sphere by the Global Warming Supporters, - of which category you are definitely one, it appears we may not live so long, and we all Curse you appropriately, and are only consoled that you wil die with the rest of us. But we will remember, you and all of your rich sick mates will not be able to pass though the eye of a needle, nor, I suspect, grow your own vegies.
    Lookfar
    15th Jan 2019
    11:37am
    Absolutely on the ball, On the BalL
    Lothario a known Liberal troll, replied with a frothing hissy fit straight out of the young liberal how to think manual.
    Interesting that these solar haters never mention the big money Queensland saves every summer not having to pay high penalty prices for electricity to run every one''s air-conditioning.- as these prices used to get up to $1.50/Watt, spot price, it used to be serious money, but not any more, Qld is now self sufficient on hot sunny days, thanks to it's solar panels.
    Herbie49
    15th Jan 2019
    11:39am
    I don’t know how many Solar Instalation companies have opened and gone bust around Perth but plenty from what I have seen.
    So how do you find a reliable company to check your system out.
    One mob I spoke to said, nah the stuff you got is not worth keeping it needs replacing.
    Yeah I bet it does, most of them are sharks, as long as I getting a bit of a rebate I know they working.
    Adrianus
    15th Jan 2019
    12:26pm
    When the government introduces high incentives for an industry all the sharks smell the blood and bring on the feeding frenzy. Many people have paid stupidly high prices for solar panels because they were told they were saving the world. In many cases sales people overcharged and pocketed the RET credits. Many electrical companies dropped their regular business in favour of the high profit for solar panels and installation. Solar panels have always been cheap but prices were inflated because of the feeding frenzy and herd mentality. Its a jungle out there Herbie49, watch your back mate.
    MICK
    15th Jan 2019
    9:57pm
    If you put in a cheap system Herbie DO YOUR RESEARCH. Both the company and the materials. Whirlpool is a good place to start but just google things.
    Good luck. Its tough but worth it if you get it right. Also quality products give you a far greater chance of success as well.
    Theo1943
    16th Jan 2019
    12:15am
    Herbie49. A friend of mine got told that and replaced his 6 panels with 12 new ones. I added his old ones to my installation. Paid 250 for his 6 x 165W panels complete with rails. :-)
    Hoohoo
    17th Jan 2019
    3:58pm
    Herbie49, why not get the original installers to ascertain whether your panels are working properly? At least they won't tell you that the workmanship & materials are rubbish, IF THEY"RE NOT.
    My installer has gone out of business, but I live in a regional area where there are limited households who can afford solar investment. The lack of Government energy policy & investment left many country businesses high & dry.
    Rae
    15th Jan 2019
    11:43am
    Why are building products increasingly substandard or unsafe? Globalisation and uncontrolled importation instead of producing our own.
    Old Geezer
    15th Jan 2019
    2:56pm
    They are made as quickly as possible with savings on labour and materials.
    TREBOR
    15th Jan 2019
    6:52pm
    Right on, Rae - we have the means.. we have the technology... what we lack is the spiritual essence of Bushido...
    MICK
    15th Jan 2019
    9:58pm
    Governments have to take some responsibility as well if they do not introduce standards. Think of the high rise cladding fiasco where most buildings were built with flammable product. That should never have happened. Same deal with solar panels.
    Hoohoo
    17th Jan 2019
    4:08pm
    So true, Rae.

    We must also take into account that the early solar panels were naturally not as efficient as the more modern panels. They keep getting better & better. Unfortunately, Australian consumers will always be paying for the new research & development done overseas, because our governments won't give investment security to research in Australia. We all know why - rich mates in the coal & gas industry don't approve.

    Wouldn't it be amazing if a political party promised to invest in Australia's future?
    mikecrook
    15th Jan 2019
    11:47am
    Who would believe a word that Angus Taylor says.
    MICK
    15th Jan 2019
    9:59pm
    Not I. He's part of a lying machine.
    Bellbird
    15th Jan 2019
    11:49am
    Keep in mind that the federal energy minister has (and was selected for) a pathological hatred of alternative energy. He despises wind energy even more than solar. Blind Freddy - but not the coalition -can see that a mix of solar, wind, batteries and pumped hydro is the way to provide cheap and sustainable power for Australia. Yes of course solar panels should be of good quality and installed safely, but that goes for every bit of electrical equipment that we use. And of course we should be looking at recycling everything that we use whether it be computers, coffee machines or solar panels. The Australian article is just a bit of hysteria from the fossil fuel sector.
    Old Geezer
    15th Jan 2019
    2:52pm
    Unfortunately wind energy costs more to install than it will save in it's lifetime.
    Theo1943
    16th Jan 2019
    12:29am
    Old Geezer
    Claim: [W]indfarms […] need three times the price at which Australian coal generators can supply electricity. Australia’s coal resources are so abundant that across the eastern states that they can profitably supply electricity at a cost of $40 a MWh. Windfarms require $120 a MWh.

    It is true that black coal can supply electricity to the wholesale market at A$40 per megawatt hour (MWh). However, new wind farms require much less than A$120 per MWh to be financed. Recent experience shows that new wind farms require A$80-90 per MWh.

    But this is comparing apples with oranges. The coal cost refers to what is essentially the cost of fuel. The wind cost is the cost over the lifetime of the project, including capital and return on investment.

    If we compare apples with apples, the long-run cost of coal is A$85-$100 per MWh (without a carbon price), versus A$90 per MWh for wind. The short-run cost of wind is zero: flowing air costs nothing.

    Claim: [B]ecause wind generated supply is intrinsically unreliable it needs back-up in the form of fast start generators […] Wind/solar generation in Australia currently has a 7% share of supply. That level requires 6 per cent in additional back-up, according to the estimates by the Australian Energy Market Operator.

    This statement implies that additional capacity has had to be installed because of wind. This is demonstrably not true. The Australian Energy Market Operator has stated that there is no new capacity required in the next 10 years, despite the increase in wind and solar.

    South Australia is a good example. More than 1,200 megawatts of wind power capacity has been installed, but virtually no new gas plants have been built as “backup”. In the chart below you can see that on the afternoon and evening of Sunday June 7, wind and gas met all electricity demand in South Australia.
    Daryl
    15th Jan 2019
    12:00pm
    My son is an electrician in Victoria (he is licensed and has was installed solar all over Australia) and his main work is installing solar, he recently told me that all electrical work including solar installations in Victoria is highly regulated by Energy Safe Victoria whereas other states have little or no regulation so its less likely that the problems mentioned in the article will be in Victoria.
    You get shonky operators in every industry but its difficult to get away with shonky solar installs in Vic because every installation has to be inspected and approved.
    KSS
    15th Jan 2019
    12:23pm
    Just like ALL tradies have to be qualified and registered so there are no 'shonky' tradies either, right Daryl?
    Adrianus
    15th Jan 2019
    12:29pm
    Daryl, my understanding is that his Victorian Licence is not authorised in other states?
    Daryl
    15th Jan 2019
    2:33pm
    Once you have a Vic electrical license it's pretty easy to get a license in the other states, it's just fill in the form and pay the money.
    My son is licensed in all states except WA and NT.
    Only tradies that are registered in Vic are electricians, plumbers and refrigeration.
    Of course being registered is no guarantee that their work is going to be of a high standard but at least in Vic every solar install has to be independently inspected, even then its not 100% perfect but at least it better than no regulation at all.
    Over the years Victorian solar install regulations have become a lot stricter ( I was an installer for about 6 yrs) but despite that I have never heard of a fire or a panel falling off one of our early installations where the regulations weren't as strict.
    Old Geezer
    15th Jan 2019
    2:53pm
    I agree the industry is self regulated and it takes many issues to even see there is a problem at all.
    Rosret
    15th Jan 2019
    9:17pm
    This is exactly the same issue with everyone having individual water tanks.
    The reason we built dams and electrical power stations is the ability to give a high quality product to everybody not just those lucky enough to have the funds and a reliable service person. Overall it is cheaper, safer and more reliable to look after the whole rather than the individual.
    ex PS
    16th Jan 2019
    8:59am
    In Queensland all electrical work has to be completed by a qualified electrician. The electrician certifies his own work and provides a signed certificate that guarantees his work and holds them responsible for any harm or damage caused by hi/her faulty workmanship. It is not worth it to them to provide shoddy workmanship, it could ruin their business or their lives.
    Hoohoo
    17th Jan 2019
    4:34pm
    The same in NSW, ex PS. If there's a problem, the insurance company has to pay for the damage. If a builder continually creates problems, the Insurer will very quickly refuse to supply Building Insurance & the builder can't start a new job without insurance already in place. Most builders pay tens of thousands of dollars in insurance each year. They have to so they can be licensed.

    Is this what you are calling self regulation, Old Geezer?
    Lookfar
    15th Jan 2019
    12:39pm
    Adrianus, if the installer is not properly and currently Accredited, the customer will not get paid for selling their Carbon Credits.
    it is a crime to sign off without the Accreditation and they would lose their Electrician's licence and a court would award the customer the sale money to be paid by the installer to the customer, - all pretty tight.
    Old Geezer
    15th Jan 2019
    2:55pm
    The installer pays the customer for the carbon credits and many just keep them hoping to make money when the price goes up much further.
    Andy
    15th Jan 2019
    2:52pm
    today's problem news headline lies reporters are allowed to tell whatever lies they like to sell a story, the minute you start reading you see the story is not the same like this one solar panels kill, no bad installation of solar panels kills and yes the government allowed faulty Chinese panels into Australia at a cost, sort of like major power poles the list goes on, one truth there is an election coming on.
    Old Geezer
    15th Jan 2019
    2:55pm
    Unfortunately about 25% of solar installations have been proved to be faulty.
    Retired Knowall
    15th Jan 2019
    7:39pm
    Whats your reference OG, or is just another of your Wank Sessions.
    Theo1943
    16th Jan 2019
    12:33am
    Retired Knowall, the second.
    ex PS
    16th Jan 2019
    8:46am
    Proved by who OG? Have all installations been checked, or have only the ones that are playing up been checked?
    If you check all the cars in a workshop awaiting repairs you will probably find 25% went out of the factory with faults.
    Fake News perpetuated by those who just want to believe the story is true for their own reasons.
    Charlie
    15th Jan 2019
    3:41pm
    Just like the insulation batts. A lot of work around and installers will take short cuts to get more contracts.
    Lookfar
    15th Jan 2019
    4:05pm
    Perhaps occasionally Charlie but with the example of the pink batt thing, the Govt. has been totally paranoid about such happening with Solar and has been very much on the super careful side.
    Main mob to watch is big companies paying their installers the minimum, usually piece work rates, so they are very pressed for time.
    Also they have to put the fuses from the panels on the roof which is fiddly and risky, but them's the rules. Quite possibly the 1/4 deemed not OK have been installed before the fuses on the roof idea was forced through, but doesn't mean they are dangerous, - in fact they are safer as the fuses are out of the weather.
    Particularly for firemen, 600 volts DC @10 amps for a 6kW system is deadly, the strong stream of water may break the fuse container and the fireman is standing in and soaked with water, - since that rule, many brigades refuse to fight fires when there is solar on the roof except at night.
    Daryl
    15th Jan 2019
    5:44pm
    Panels on roofs haven't had "fuses" for many years, they were replaced with circuit breakers like most electrical circuits.
    Every installation has a circuit breaker on the roof near the panels that shuts down the DC so that work can safely be carried out on the DC wiring.
    There is also another DC and AC circuit breaker near the inverter to shut the system down if necessary.
    Lookfar is correct about the large solar companies paying low rates but quite a few big solar companies are failing because they have large overheads and with prices falling there isn't enough profit to cover overheads, one such company "Energy Matters" recently shut shop in Vic for that very reason.
    My son used to contract to these companies but most were so slow paying that his cash flow was always bad so he employed a salesman and now he only installs systems that his company has sold, with no middle man quality and customer service is much improved.
    Retired Knowall
    15th Jan 2019
    7:46pm
    Daryl, you are referring to the String installations. The micro Inverter systems don't have the same problem because the voltage on the system is AC, is more reliable, safe and efficient.
    Anyone contemplating installing Solar should check out the Enphase systems.
    Daryl
    15th Jan 2019
    8:49pm
    I have 2 systems on my house, one older 2.5kw system with an inverter and another 3kw system with micro inverters so I am familiar with Enphase.
    As well as my son being a solar installer my nephew is the State manager for a solar company that sells Enphase systems.
    Even better is the 2 systems cost me exactly $0.00 so no payback time, power bills are negligible.
    Son has 3 phase power at his place so he can have up to 15kw of solar, last time I asked his power bill was $1000.00 in credit.
    Retired Knowall
    16th Jan 2019
    9:44am
    Well done Daryl, I have a 5kw enphase system and can recommend to everyone. Today is reported to be over 40 and my A/C will run from about 9am until about 8pm, cost = $0.
    I too am in credit by over $700, but I don't think this will last as power companies will look at ways of clawing back their lost revenue.
    On the bright side, moves are afoot to permit solar power owners to sell their excess to neighbors at a more realistic FIT.
    Buggsie
    15th Jan 2019
    3:56pm
    Interesting that the report found 25% of installations are faulty. I wonder what the faults are? What % of so called faults are potentially dangerous and what % are simply things about rooftop solar that don't suit the federal government, the current federal minister (for coal!) or his mates in the privatised power companies? After all, the major "fault" of all rooftop solar systems is that they undermine the profitability of our mostly foreign owned energy generators and retailers. I will regard this report with suspicion and as political hype and bullshit until proven otherwise. Buggsie
    Sevi
    15th Jan 2019
    3:58pm
    Have had our 14 panels since 2011, in 2015 4 of them decided to slip down the roof. The Company that we bought them from charged $100.00 to put them back. Bit of a scare I must say.
    Lookfar
    15th Jan 2019
    4:17pm
    Old Geezzer, tricky tricky, slipping in that lie about wind turbines when you know from previous discussions on this site that the latest wind turbines pay their energy debt in little more than a month, that is for manufacture, transport, installation and decommission, and they are and have been for many years getting 10% cheaper per year, and are now, compared to coal, cheap as chips.
    Why would the Americans have installed so many wind farms that more than 6% 0f all their electricity is now generated by wind, - they have no subsidies, are they just throwing all that money away for the hell of it or are you forgetting that they get free fuel 24/7 ?
    TREBOR
    15th Jan 2019
    6:49pm
    Faulty wiring? Unsecured panels? WHO is doing the fitting here?
    GrayComputing
    15th Jan 2019
    7:51pm
    And so where were the independent electrical inspectors to check the installations ??

    These ex-inspectors are all living on the dole because they were a "economic cost (expense)" to many governments and were laid off.

    Short sightedness and stupidity rules supreme in government circles.
    ex PS
    16th Jan 2019
    8:49am
    There are those that call for the cutting of Government Red Tape, this is where it gets you. many people who invested in apartments that can't be lived in are not thanking the government for cutting Red Tape.
    Retired Knowall
    15th Jan 2019
    7:30pm
    I have been associated with the Solar Industry for just over 7 years and have witnessed many poor installations. just recently inspected a newly installed system by a leading company in NSW and had to threaten the company management with a report to the regulator re poor workmanship as the installation did not meet Aust. Standards. The workmen came back the next day and rectified up to 5 major faults.
    GrayComputing
    15th Jan 2019
    7:44pm
    In the name of economics all states and the federal governments have laid off most or all of our electrical inspectors and compliance bodies and weakened import safety standards.
    Free enterprise is been allowed to run around amuck unchecked by any sound technical testing group and material inspector processes.
    Now the same technical ignorant people are blaming us for installing solar power.
    The state and federal governments are guilty of killing of many TAFE electrician training schools and also weakening inspection process and now blame us for buying approved products.
    It would be laughable if it were not so serious
    Hoohoo
    17th Jan 2019
    5:13pm
    You are correct GrayComputing. It's absolutely tragic what has happened with TAFE, Trades & the lack of Inspectors in Australia. Free enterprise has no place when it comes to training & standards in the building industry. We need a strong government to set the agenda - not one that forever kowtows to pressure from big business & the Murdoch media Empire.

    Australia used to be so good regarding education & training. Now it's a rabble, with the whole industry losing its best teachers & no longer a fair go for apprentices & students.

    Yes, ex PS, what happened to those poor people in Sydney who had to move out of their apartments?
    Chooky
    15th Jan 2019
    8:37pm
    Looks like many of you see this for what it is. The coal lobby via Angus Taylor blowing smoke up the rear of the renewable sector and Australians who support and want investment in renewables. It’s s bit obvious to roll out the usual ‘terror threat’ so they have to peddle something as we move towards May.
    Couldabeen
    15th Jan 2019
    9:56pm
    it would appear that a number of people commenting here are afraid of honest reporting. There is nothing in the substance or the tone of the quoted article that would be taken as either pro-coal or anti-renewable (as specifically in solar). The AEMO relies on the potential power sources being available as ticketed when needed. This didn't happen in the event referred to. For a variety of reasons. Not all inverters are as good as their owners believe and until the limits are reached, no one knows. From shortly after day one of the mass installations, fire brigades found that roof fires caused by arcing within poorly connected arrays were extremely dangerous and almost impossible to extinguish.
    Remember for all of those who are receiving generous FITs, solar is still only a supplier for around 30% of every day and are not doing anything notable during the two peak periods at mornings and evenings. Wind also only manages a 30% of plated capacity over an extended period.
    For those critical of the energy source, coal remains a global staple of reliable and affordable electricity generation. Remember that Poland, the host of the recent COP24 conference plans to continue their coal power stations for another 200+ years and the conference actually had at least two major coal companies as sponsors of the conference.
    Hoohoo
    17th Jan 2019
    5:18pm
    Well done, Couldabeen. Your cheque is in the mail!
    Magic Touch
    15th Jan 2019
    11:40pm
    Solar Panels is like a battery, on this Panels there are many solar cell links together in series up to around 300 volts for 240 volts uses. Also connected in parallel so that it,s current were go up to around 10Ampers. But you wount get such a high power all the time, it,s depend to how strong the Sun Shine on the Panel. Therefore like 5kilowatts system you wound get 5 kilowatts at all, if you are lucky that the Sun was very bright and shine right on to the panels then you will get 5 kilowatts or a bit more. But that just happen only a short time only.
    1.5 kilowatts, 2 kilowatts this system will had inverter problem all the time. Like I said when the Sun light is weak not bright enough the inverter cannot come on because the voltage it,s too low to swtich on the inverter
    The DC electricity produce by the Solar Panels are not stable in the Voltage so it go into the Voltage Regulator in side the Inverter to be stablise before it can be convert to AC electricity to feed to the house to use.
    The electronics inside the Inverter are power up by your house AC electricity all the time day and night. It only turn on when your solar panels supply high enough DC voltage durning in the day. So a small Solar Panels System will had the Inverter all the time swtiching on/off that means the Inverter were blow up easily.
    Solar Panels Power generating System are all electronics so if it,s not meantans properly the life spend will fail easily.
    Retired Knowall
    17th Jan 2019
    10:44am
    You are wrong on most counts and refer to string systems.
    It seem to be true that a little knowledge is dangerous.
    Magic Touch
    18th Jan 2019
    11:02am
    A sparkie come to and said why the inverter happen to be cuting in and cutting out in the middle of the winter months. The first thing i told him to do was put a tong tester on the circuit breaker where the inverter put out power put back to the house and he notice there was no current going back to the house but it was in mitday. After sometime there the tong tester show current was going through so there the inverter was cutting in and out.
    That means the fault is not the sparkie who install the system it the system too small.
    Like now the summer months and you want to know it,s the house main are powering up the inverter or not. When the solar panels system are giving out very high electricity power time and too much more for your house. Go and swtich of the main swtich like power failer and see is the house are still had power up than you will know without the main your iverter were not work even you had batteris back up. So your inverter need the main 50cycles frequency to run. That is 240volts and 50c/s.
    Lookfar
    18th Jan 2019
    12:59pm
    Magic touch, you are not all wrong at all, despite knowalls telling you so, you have a correct picture, and mini AC or DC sub units on each panel with extra losses and expense mind, go to one master unit so everthing is basically as you said.
    However, the Solar inverter takes in DC, which it uses to run its internal system, and takes the AC signal from the grid, as you say, can not make 240volts AC by itself, - (that is what a stand-alone inverter does) and transforms it to a higher voltage, - just a few volts higher, so there is current flow.
    Problem can be, where a lot of solar inverters are on the same line, each pushing the voltage up a bit, the overall voltage can exceed the imposed limit of the supply authority, as most solar Inverters were factory set to 280 volts. Ergon, the monopsony where I live in FNQ, didn't want solar so used this argument to refuse applicants. their own limit was 240volts plus 10% ie 264 volts, (although they allow themselves to exceed that measurements have proven, so I, as A pioneer in the industry contacted all the Inverter companies and told them of the plot, so advised them to set their limit to 260, - then Ergon decreed the maximum was 250/255, (I can't recall exactly) which is quite easy to get to so they all had to be reset and often you will find your Solar system mysteriously is not putting in any power, because that arbitrary lower upper limit is exceeded.
    Only if enough of your neighbours turn on their air-conditioners will the voltage drop down enough for your Inverter to re-connect.
    Only if the electricity retailers were forced to build, eg pumped storage, which they could then turn on the pumps to use that extra power, and fill the lake, will that situation change, - except if you have storage with that special Inverter, so set your system to charge the batteries when the line voltage would turn your Solar inverter off, (but not your stand-alone inverter, the which will provide the grid to allow your solar inverter to continue to work) Possibly if you had access to water, - eg the ocean, and some high hills near your suburb, a group of you could get together and fund a pumped hydro storage lake, and then just one stand-alone Inverter to provide the power for all your group, - probably much cheaper than individual stand-alone Inverters and batteries.
    Perhaps in the long term, whole suburbs/towns/areas could take themselves off the state grid altogether, and put all their sewerage into a biogass storage unit, a Gasometer is pretty cheap to build, and that gas would drive a gas fired generator (hey no methane) to back-up the pumped storage. - all do-able, and all good to think of when the pollies attack renewable energy, the cheapest energy there is.
    Actually if your suburb has no big hills, you could set up a hydrogen gasometer instead of pumped storage, and if everyone started to get Electric cars, those could all be charged when the sun is strong and your Solar Inverter would normally disconnect, - just goes to show, many possibilities.
    Magic Touch
    18th Jan 2019
    1:34pm
    Lookfar you are right if the inverter can run by himself than the electricity companies can not charge you supply charge or net work maintance charge. Then you will save alout from your pocket because you sell back to them you only get 8 cents per unit, imean 1kilowatts hour.
    Retired Knowall
    21st Jan 2019
    12:13pm
    "Solar Panels is like a battery,"
    "if you are lucky that the Sun was very bright and shine right on to the panels then you will get 5 kilowatts or a bit more"
    Both comments above by magic touch and agreed by Lookfar. Both experts in their own minds.
    Solar Panels are nothing like a Battery and you will never get 5KW from a 5 KW system, Panels have an efficiency rating of 92% at best and Inverters are lucky to reach 90%.
    As I said a little knowledge can be dangerous and advertising your ignorance is at your peril.
    Magic Touch
    21st Jan 2019
    3:14pm
    Solar Panels like a Battery means it only produce D. C.Electricity not A. C. Electricity. If the Solar panels could not produce 5KWatts of D.C. Electricity than is a rip off. Because all Solar Panels should had a Burn In test before it put on to the market.
    Inverters also must had a burn in test to proof it can perform that. Other wise it,s a rip off.
    Clarabelle
    16th Jan 2019
    12:28am
    Who would believe Angus Taylor? Not the CEC (Clean Energy Council). See their response in the article at https://onestepoffthegrid.com.au/cec-debunks-taylors-rooftop-solar-scare-ways-avoid-faulty-installs/
    Daryl
    16th Jan 2019
    7:22pm
    The CEC response is spot on,
    "“Obviously no industry is perfect, but the percentage of unsafe systems has declined this decade from 4.2 per cent to 2.7 per cent. This is better than the electrical industry as a whole"
    You have to wonder what the Minister's agenda is when the facts don't support his claim.
    Oma
    16th Jan 2019
    11:53am
    Lothario, Liberals may claim to have us back in the black but the money they play with is ours, the tax payers. I object to having to pay through the nose again for things that I have already paid for with my taxes. I get no benefit out of that only less while the money goes to no hopers or politicians who feel they are entitled to tax payer paid holidays or flights in private jets instead of commercial planes like the rest of us.
    Lookfar
    21st Jan 2019
    10:02am
    I agree, Oma, a bit off topic but so was Lothario,
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/20/we-are-paying-scott-morrison-527k-to-essentially-run-a-caretaker-government
    Infinityoz
    16th Jan 2019
    1:15pm
    I had mine installed by a local guy. He did a fantastic job, and that was back in 2011 just before they cut back on how much they would pay for the input to the grid. I had them inspected by the same guy in 2016, they have to be inspected every five years to make sure they do cut out when necessary. I get 47.5 cents per KwH off my electricity bill. My recommendation is to avoid the big companies that operate as FIFO to install panels ... lots of people in ACT had problems getting them certified because for no apparent reason, ACT has different coloured wires from other jurisdictions, so the local knew and the FIFO mobs didn't. I have never had any problem with mine, they work beautifully and give me about $300 off the quarterly bills. Very happy with my installer :)
    travelman
    16th Jan 2019
    1:58pm
    Here we go again, the rush to get something good for people and we have a government screwing it up as usual. I remember the 'pink bats' drama where 'shonky' overnight installation companies appeared like pink mushrooms and who flouted the regulations and caused the deaths of several workers just so they could make lots of profit. They got away with it because a Federal government introduced the regulations then promptly forgot to oversee the regulations were being obeyed. I recently had a solar system installed but have not seen an inspector to audit and certify. To the government minister either Federal or State or both, you need to get out of your office and earn your salary by overseeing your responsibility.
    Lookfar
    18th Jan 2019
    1:26pm
    Hard one, travelman, these inspectors, due to bureaucracy greed, cost an absolute bomb, - which would have to be passed on to the solar customers, so the onus is placed on the installer, who has to jump through many expensive hoops, including being a registered electrician.
    If you complain, and push a bit, that electrician will lose his expensive accreditation for solar, and get a bad name in his community, you just need to get the signature of the sign-off electrician when your system is done and the credits to be dispersed.
    Write it down, ask for a copy seeing so many complaints, put it somewhere safe and logical to find, keep all your reciepts, if the govt cancels all grants, consider talking to the consumer affairs dept. so you will be prepared if your big supplier goes out of business in your area.
    Modern solar panels have warranties of up to 30 years, the crystals should last many thousands, feel free to get some youngster to help you climb up and inspect them and put silicon on any area looking a bit suss if that 30 years is nearly expired, - at that age it is only water that will destroy the connections between the crystal cells.
    P$cript
    18th Jan 2019
    10:41pm
    The reason the government loves being up the base load argument is that it only applies to fossil fuel plants.
    It is the lowest power output that can be generated without shutting down.
    Lookfar
    21st Jan 2019
    4:13pm
    Dear Retired Knowall, you make some good comments, but you have to admit nobody knows it all, and it is a provocative name you have chosen, so you have to expect some flack, and be able to laugh at it.
    With magic touch, he said a number of things, mostly correct, and you have to take into account that I have been designing, supplying and installing or more preferably teaching the owner to install, Renewable energy systems since the mid 1980s, it is my meat and bread, very little I don't know, and a lot of info in the Solar industry comes from me or creative others like me, (very small number). I designed supplied etc the first Wind powered school, - Murtoa in Victoria, an 80kW wind turbine, the first independant from the grid school, Gawa Community school on Elcho Island, - 75kW wind turbine, the first grid connect solar system in Qld, ~ 2 kw system at Julatten in FNQ, app. 20 years ago, included wood stove for heating cooking and hot water, plus solar hot water, the first Grid connect wind turbine in Qld, at Topaz, close by here.
    I could go on, but one of my innovations, - as almost all of my Solar systems had Trackers, both MPPT and physical, was to tell my customers how to use a solar panel as a battery.
    In those days we were all idealists, main thing to get the technology out here to save the earth from Global Warming, IP I never worried about, and as the price for Solar panels fell, so trackers were not economical any more, (Trackers were to make the solar go further, - in fnq, 60%) that idea continued to be passed on. - important to understand that it was for Stand-Alone systems, and this is how it works. - in a stand-alone system you have to generate enough as an average, to supply all your electrical needs, and have enough battery storage to carry you through bad weather, - rule of thumb, 5 days but really was 4 days as you could not discharge your batteries below 80% DoD, however there was always a bit of solar coming in so I used to tell my customers to get exra solar as it extended the battery life, worked in effect like extra battery storage, particularly with my designs which were Battery Centric, ie the Inverter, (even then getting up to the mid 90%s efficiency, now upper nineties btw) supplied the load, a back-up generator was small, only supplied the energy from the lack of sun, - small, cheap, easy to put a long way away as small current, quiet, efficient as running at 3/4 load, didn't require 4 mates and a ute every time it broke down, - on and on, a breakaway from the traditional Generator Centric concept, the old time idea that was slowing solar down, just as coal foolery is slowing down big renewable generation today, so hope you understand, these ideas spread, modern installers don't design systems from base principles - as I did, - and still do, but they just pass along ideas they have heard, - at tech, or accreditation school, etc, the ideas work, so they tell the customer, but probably can't explain, so how can magic touch explain? - Hoping you understand, -each extra panel puts in something, even when overcast but more important when the sun shines so battery banks get back to full charge more quickly, and were higher than otherwise anyway.
    Well, I continue to design, - possibly you did not read my design for Australia, - but many did, and the attitude shift is nociceable, also did a design for the UK, - not so detailed, but incisive, use the incredible wind energy available at the North Sea, (replace the oil, as it is running out, with the latest huge wind turbines,) everything else for storage inc their Nuclear, and then America, more like Australia, wide, so long Solar, maybe 18 hours, great wind all over the place, - so connect them all together, as with OZ, but focus on Hydro for storage, - enormous hydro in america, look more towards run of the river ideas, -add lotsa new generators to supply peak, not generate other times, - sure some places too much water but most fine, now doing Singapore, 'The Liveability challenge," will focus on Solar cascaded air condtioning for that one, - and much Asia, and northern Australia, but that technology needs a kick up the bum.
    To be cruel, I could say that in comparison to you, I know it all, but I think I have hardly started, and whenever you think you are top of the pile, along comes a bigger fucker to knock you off.
    - so very brave of you to claim you know it all.

    Cheers,
    Geoff, (Lookfar)

    PS, the modern 5kw Solar grid connect or storage, is usually 6,5kW, the Inverter is 5kW, that is the maximum your local electrical monopsony allows you to export, but as Solar panels are just a bit over 20% efficient, there is a lot of slack there so at least then there is 'always' 5kW available to push ino the grid and a lot of the time extra for your house, - even when no batteries, extra panels can work like a battery :)
    Magic Touch
    21st Jan 2019
    5:42pm
    LOOKFAR don,t get heated up, RETIRED KNOWALL had not look far enough so this thing happen. Just a laugh is O K or you were loose a friend.
    Retired Knowall
    21st Jan 2019
    5:53pm
    Ive worked in the design, installation and maintenance of Solar for over 10 years and have never come across claims that solar panels work like a battery or that you can get more than 5 KW from a 5 KW Inverter.
    Magic Touch
    22nd Jan 2019
    8:46am
    Come on my friend Retired Knowall, I don,t thing you know what is a BURN IN TEST. Go to the manufacture and ask them to show you the data come out of the P. L. D.M. when they do the Burn In Test you were know all the answer. Because I cant proof to you as I am not the manufacture.
    Retired Knowall
    22nd Jan 2019
    1:26pm
    Magic Touch you need to stop posting on things you obviously know little about. the more you post the sillier you look.
    Burn in tests have little to do with performance except to confirm performance to spec.
    Both of you are referring to string systems that are 2005 technology. To say that solar Panels are like a Battery is plain wrong, and to say installing 6.8 KW panels to get 5 KW is Ludicrous. I can see why people have string systems installed, they are cheaper but are Less Efficient, More Dangerous and suffer if there are any shading issues.
    Having said that, if you want to believe the rubbish you have read, good luck to you.
    Lookfar
    22nd Jan 2019
    2:22pm
    Dear Retired knowall, I had decided to take Magic touch's advice and not strain the friendship, by arguing further, however I observe you continuing to demand a reply, and even getting quite waspish with your insults, which is a bad example to such as Lothario, who can only insult.
    So you think your ten years trumps my 32 years, but you never put in a submission to the Finkel report? and neither did you read all my article either, as Magic Touch pointed out or you would have understood how you can use Solar panels instead of quite so much batteries, I will leave you to read it properly, surely it not too late to teach an old human new tricks.?
    Perhaps though, you need more explanation as to other reasons why you can put 6.5kW of panels on a 5kW Inverter, (ignoring that most inverters are more like 5.5kW these days, as 5% is acceptable) it is that Solar panels do not put out their full output all day., - sometimes a bit more, but mostly less, so you array might be putting out 80% average of it's rated capacity, - if you have a five kw Inverter, it is only putting out 80% of 5 kW, but if you add 23% more panels, - and solar panels are so bloody cheap, - these days, your 5kW inverter is putting out 5kW, in fact, most of the full sun time between 9AM and 3 PM. see, wasn't that easy peasy,? - whatever, that is what Solar installers in Qld are doing big time right now.
    Admittedly 10 years ago or whenever you retired, the price of panels wasn't down to 36 cents a watt, but maybe you cam learn now that calling something ludicrous just because you have not heard of it yourself is not correct, it is just ignorant.
    Fine, we all have our blind spots, but that is why after 32 years I say I am still learning but because you have classified yourself as knowing all, you have frozen yourself in just one moment of time even though the world has continued to change and move on.


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