Australian Solar Standard (AS/NZS 5033) has been revised to support a fast growing solar industry.
In the past 20 years more than 3.9 million solar photovoltaics (PV) panel systems have been installed across the country.
These solar systems generate electricity by capturing energy from sunlight via three essential components: solar photovoltaics, the inverter and the direct current (DC) isolator.
Prior to 2009 and the introduction of government tariffs solar energy was costly with prices as high as $15 to $20 per watt, according to Solar Choice. Since then, prices have dropped to an average of over just $1 per watt.
To support the growing solar panel industry, Standards Australia Technical Committee EL-042, Renewable Energy Power Supply Systems and Equipment, has recently published revised standard AS/NZS 5033:2021, Installation and safety requirements for photovoltaic (PV) arrays, to ensure safeguards are in place.
“With millions of solar PV panel systems being installed across Australia, clear and relevant standards are paramount in supporting safe practice for industry professionals, homeowners and businesses,” according to Roland Terry-Lloyd, head of Standards development at Standards Australia.
He said the revision aims to provide clear and relevant guidance to support safe systems and safe practices for industry professionals and consumers.
The standard has been restructured to promote better readability, supporting users in meeting compliance requirements. AS/NZS 5033 is referenced in AS/NZS 3000, commonly known as the Wiring Rules, which is called upon in legislation. Compliance with the requirements of both standards is essential.
AS/NZS 5033:2014 will remain current for six months and then it will be superseded by AS/NZS 5033:2021.
“At the time the 2014 standard was written, solar panels were at most 250W per panel, but technology is quickly changing, and it’s not unusual for panels to be greater than 400W,” EL-042 co-chair Sandy Atkins explained.
“Therefore, AS/NZS 5033:2014 was limiting for installation professionals.”
Committee El-042 assessed different requirements around the world against Australian conditions, identified achievable safety outcomes, and determined a number of different solutions that industry can choose to best suit their installations.
“If you still want to use DC isolators then you can, but if you don’t, the standard allows for other solutions such as disconnection points,” Atkins said.
Australia previously had a limitation of 600V for panels for houses but recently aligned with international requirements of 1000V. Additionally, AS/NZS 5033:2021 also aligns with international standard IEC 62548:2016, Photovoltaic (PV) arrays — Design requirements.
“Solar is booming worldwide, so it’s important we align with international standards so that the Australian market can use international products and technologies as well,” Atkins said.
The recently published standard is AS/NZS 5033:2021, Installation and safety requirements for photovoltaic (PV) arrays.