• Energy Safe Victoria.
    Energy Safe Victoria.

Victorian regulators and agencies have joined forces to improve compliance of heat pump hot water systems installations across the state, in line with industry and safety standards.

This follows the rapid growth in heat pump hot water system installations across Victoria under the Solar Homes and Victorian Energy Upgrades programs, which offer incentives to install energy efficient products in Victorian homes and businesses.

In the coming months, Solar Victoria, the Essential Services Commission, the Victorian Building Authority, Energy Safe Victoria and WorkSafe Victoria will increase site inspections and audits to ensure heat pump hot water systems are being installed safely and without fault.

Common issues identified across agencies relate to inadequate installations, which can ultimately impact the effectiveness or safe functioning of the system. Compliance issues identified in audits include:

  • inadequate insulation to protect systems from freezing,
  • switchboard wiring,
  • unsafe termination points for pressure relief valves, and
  • inappropriately secured water tanks.

As part of Solar Victoria’s commitment to safety and quality, five per cent of all Solar Homes Program installations are audited every year.

While very few hot water installations audited by Solar Victoria over the last 12 months were found to be unsafe, there are still persistent issues being detected.

Solar Victoria CEO, Stan Krpan, said more than 20,000 hot water systems have been installed across Victoria the past 12 months.

He said demand for Solar Victoria’s hot water system rebates has grown by 500 per cent.

“While we are excited by the uptake and interest in hot water systems across the state, we need to ensure that every customer is receiving products that are fit-for-purpose and correctly installed,” he said.

As Victoria’s building and plumbing regulator, the Victorian Building Authority will audit completed work and use information from partner agencies and consumers to target installers who may be doing the wrong thing.

Victorian Building Authority chief operations officer, Ann King, said incorrect installation of hot water systems can have devastating consequences for consumers.

Just last month the Master Plumbers Association (MPA) of NSW raised concerns about the allocation of government grants for heat pumps.

Shockingly, both the NSW government and federal government have allowed grants to be claimed for inferior models, creating a precarious situation that echoes past pitfalls, according to MPA CEO, Nathaniel Smith.

“These inferior overseas models, heavily promoted through social media platforms at suspiciously low prices under $100, have raised red flags,” he said.

“It has come to our attention that these inferior units are sourced in bulk from overseas by organisations that may exhibit phoenix-like characteristics, stirring memories of past debacles.”

Drawing parallels with historical issues, such as the infamous pink batts scheme, Smith called for a meticulous review, particularly as the winter season looms.

“The imported heat pumps are revealed to have a critical flaw in their condensers, lacking any warranty and posing a severe risk of failure in plummeting temperatures,” he said.

“To avert this impending crisis, MPA NSW urges a decisive shift towards promoting the installation of Australian-made or established brands, despite their higher cost.”

Visit solar.vic.gov.au/hot-water-audit-checklist.