Thinning The Herd : Solar Panels Struck From CEC Approved List

Approved solar panels in Australia

In one fell swoop, thousands of solar panel models disappeared from the Clean Energy Council’s approved solar panels list a few days ago.

For a solar power system to be eligible for Australia’s “solar rebate“,  the solar panels and inverter in the system must be on the Clean Energy Council’s Approved Products Lists at the time of installation.

In recent years, the CEC has lifted the bar on solar panel quality and safety, culling modules from the list that don’t meet particular new/revised standards, changes to CEC listing terms and conditions or those that simply fell by the wayside.

From the December 1, all panels on the list had to comply with updated versions of IEC 61215 (Terrestrial photovoltaic (PV) modules – Design qualification and type approval) and IEC 61730 (Photovoltaic (PV) module safety qualification), which were published back in 2016.

Over half didn’t or the manufacturer/importer just didn’t bother re-listing; resulting in the number of approved PV modules falling from 3,296 on November 30 to just 1,725 on December 1.

In an announcement yesterday, the CEC had an important message for solar installers about the issue:

“As some manufacturers have not re-listed their entire range of products, it is important that you check the model numbers carefully to ensure that you don’t install non-compliant modules,” it states. “Make sure to also check the model numbers when purchasing new stock – if someone is selling stock very cheaply, there’s probably a reason for it.”

Back in July, the CEC warned:

“It is critical that the modules are on the list at the date of installation or no STCs will be payable,” it stated. “Do not get caught out.”1

A Trimmed List Gets Even Leaner

The number of approved modules has dropped dramatically over the last year. Back in November 2017, there were 6,790 models listed at that point, so the approved products list has been whittled down by nearly three-quarters of what it was then.

Your Panels No Longer Listed? Don’t Panic.

If you have modules on your rooftop that are no longer on the CEC list, this doesn’t mean they will suddenly stop working or necessarily pose some sort of safety threat. As mentioned, the latest requirements are about further lifting the bar on quality and safety.

Panels are also dropped from the list for a variety of other reasons, for example if they are no longer in production or supported here in Australia by the manufacturer. If you’re concerned about an inverter or panel having ever been subject to a recall, you can check the Australian Government’s Product Safety website.

For Australians considering buying solar, it’s a good idea to check the modules/inverter you have been quoted on appear on the approved panels list – and check again just before installation. While you will have already benefited from the subsidy discount, the last thing you want is the inconvenience and headaches associated equipment needing to be removed and replaced at a later date.

Related: Tips For Avoiding Crap Solar Panels

Footnotes

  1. STCs are Small-scale Technology Certificates, and these form the basis of Australia’s major solar subsidy.
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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