Solar Awareness for Tradespeople

This guide and associated short course have been developed by GSES to inform other tradespeople how to work safely near existing solar systems.

It can be downloaded for free here.

Currently there are over 2 million houses in Australia with a grid connected solar (photovoltaic) system on their roof and interconnected to the grid. There are approximately 6,000 electricians accredited by the Clean Energy Council to install these systems. These “solar electricians” have been trained in the safe installation and operation of these systems.

Over the last 20 years standards have been developed to allow for the safe installation of these systems,however these standards have been updated regularly to reflect changes required due to the rapid changesand growth of the industry. The result is that a system installed in 2000, that is still operating, will have been installed differently to what is being installed today. Some of the differences will be the type of cable that has been installed between the solar array and the inverter (the inverter converts the solar power to a.c. power that feeds into the building and onto the grid), the number and type of switch disconnectors (isolators), the signage and whether the solar array has been bonded to earth.

This guide details the variations in solar system installations a tradesperson might encounter when working near a solar system, distribution boards and switchboards. The variations often relate to signage, cabling requirements and isolation/protection requirements. For all tradespeople it will be important to be aware of where the solar array is installed, where the inverter is installed, the associated cabling between the array and inverter and the associated switches/isolators. Electricians who have not undertaken solar training need to appreciate that a grid connected solar system is a separate generation system in parallel with the exiting grid and that cables associated with the system must not to be used for any other electrical connection and only be used for the interconnection of the grid connected PV system.

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