Clean Energy Council Announces Solar Inverter Delistings

Solar inverter de-listing - Australia

The Clean Energy Council has announced de-listing of two inverter brands from its Approved Products List – Shenzhen Sofarsolar (Mass Energy) and Shenzhen JingFuYuan Tech (JFY).

Shenzhen Sofarsolar (Mass Energy) Inverters

A Shenzhen Sofarsolar Co Ltd inverter model, Sofar 3000TL, failed CEC testing  for compliance with AS 4777-2, a standard that specifies requirements and tests for low voltage inverters for the export of electricity to the grid.

Due this model failing the Passive Anti-islanding test, the Active Anti-islanding test and other issues, and it being impractical for the CEC to test all Sofarsolar inverter models, the CEC has taken the results as representative of other models until demonstrated otherwise. Consequently, all inverters from Shenzhen Sofarsolar were de-listed last Wednesday, 21 February 2018.

The CEC says the issues with the Sofar 3000TL pose a potential safety threat as the inverter may not shut down under some grid failure conditions.

Concerned owners of Shenzhen Sofarsolar inverters should contact their installer/supplier for advice and further information.

Shenzhen JingFuYuan Tech (JFY) Inverters

A Shenzhen JingFuYuan Tech Co Ltd inverter model (Sunleaf 3000TL) has also failed testing against AS 4777-2 (Passive Anti-islanding test and other issues) and all inverters from JFY will be de-listed from March 2 (this Friday).

As with the case of Shenzhen Sofarsolar, it isn’t practical for the CEC to test all JFY inverters, so the Sunleaf 3000TL’s failure is being considered indicative of other Shenzhen JingFuYuan Tech models until proven otherwise.

The CEC advises the issues identified could lead to the inverter not shutting down under some conditions where grid failure has occurred. Installers with stock on hand should not install the inverters and those that have are advised to contact their supplier and await advice from JFY or electrical safety authorities on actions to be taken.

De-listing And Australia’s Solar Subsidy

In order to be eligible for Australia’s “solar rebate“, solar panels and inverters used in an installation must be approved by the Clean Energy Council, which is the peak body for the nation’s clean energy industry. Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), on which the subsidy is based, can only be created once a system is installed.

Australians with upcoming solar power system installations should check documentation to ensure neither of these solar inverter brands will be part of their installation.

As part of due diligence prior to buying a solar power system, it’s always wise to check solar panels and inverters on a quote are listed as being approved – the CEC Approved Products Lists can be found here (solar panels) and here (solar inverters).

Tightening Of Quality And Compliance Standards

Standards for solar equipment used in Australia have been continually evolving – and the pace has accelerated in the last couple of years.

In other recent compliance related news from the CEC, earlier this month the Council stated  the total number of CEC-listed PV modules has been reduced by more than 85 per cent since March 2016. There were 88 listed solar panel suppliers with a listed product range of just under three thousand makes, models and power ratings as at February 5.

Related: How To Choose A Good Solar Inverter

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.

Comments

  1. Okay – so we have two domestic rooftop photovoltaic systems, one of which was installed in October 2013, and one that was installed in February 2014. Only one of the two systems (the first one installed) is still working.

    They both have Rewatt single phase grid inverters, and one system has Hanwha panels, and the other has Linuo panels.

    Both the Rewatt inverters, and, the Linuo panels, are no longer CEC approved, from searchimng using the tools linked from the above article.

    Does that mean that the two systems are required to be taken down, or otherwise disabled?

  2. Michael – the installer supplier/retailer was liquidated about June 2017, and the inverter company, Rewatt, does not have a presence in Australia, and the Chinese headquaters of Rewatt do not acknowledge, let alone respond to, communications, rendering the warranties on the systems, worthless, apart from trying to find information about the products and their safety or absence of safety.

    I am aware that Hanwha is still a functional and (apparently) reputable company, especially with its Q-cell panels, which I believe to have a reasonably good reputation, and it is the system with the Hanwha panels, that is still functioning.

  3. I’m a little confused about how the listing system works. Did these inverter models pass an earlier safety test to allow them to be listed and installed in the first place? Do the CEC then periodically re-test already certified models?

    I’m wondering how it’s possible that inverters previously approved for installation could later have that approval withdrawn.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi Scott

      The when a company applies for an inverter to be approved they don’t have to supply an inverter to the CEC for testing, but they do have to show it has been tested to Australian standards by an accredited testing laboratory. The steps and the $5,500 dollar fee to get on the list of approved inverters are outlined here:

      https://www.solaraccreditation.com.au/products/inverters/how-to-submit-an-inverter-for-approval.html

      • So what happens now
        – In an ideal world the “accredited” lab should be de-registered for having passed this deficient product
        – In an ideal world the other products that have been passed by the lab should be de-registered pending re-testing by HEC

        Or does it not work like that ? We end up with products that have been passed by what may be a shonky lab being used, and no-one outside HEC knowing what they are.

        I can’t see HEC voluntarily giving out a list of those products, or even telling us what they intend to do with the lab. Maybe I’m just a cynic.

        • Ronald Brakels says

          I suspect it is more likely the manufacturer supplied the lab with a functioning inverter and later cut corners with ones supplied to the market.

      • Thanks Ronald,

        I looked through that reference and it does explain how the initial CEC accreditation is granted, but I don’t quite follow the sequence of events that must have occurred in this situation (if I followed the story correctly):

        1) Seller gets products independently tested
        2) Seller applies for CEC approval, providing documentation including test reports
        3) CEC approves inverter
        4) Inverters get supplied / installed in people’s houses
        5) …**GREY AREA**…
        6) CEC de-lists inverter
        7) Concerned owners contact supplier/installer

        What – gnomes aside – happened in step 5? Or was there a problem in steps 1-3 that wasn’t noticed until at least step 4?

        • Ronald Brakels says

          I presume that in step 5 people say, “Hey, there’s a problem with this inverter!” and that’s how some are identified and delisted while sometimes companies simply don’t reapply for listing and abandon the Australian market and other times the paperwork is simply screwed up.

  4. Finn – thank you for the aricle about delistings.

    Interesting –


    If your system was properly installed at the time, then you don’t have to do anything. Australian Standards are generally not retroactive.
    If your solar system gets modified, then the whole thing will have to brought up to the current standard.
    If your solar system needs to be repaired, then as long as it is a simple component replacement and the component replaced (inverter or panel etc.) is replaced with the same model, then the whole system does not need to be brought up to standard.

    As both the panels and the inverter of the system that has failed, are not now CEC approved, and thence, are apparently no longer stocked or sold in Australia, the system is apparently not allowed to be repaired, and so either must be replaced, or, left to decompose naturally on the roof, like leaving a dead body laying on the ground, to decompose.

    From what I understand, the cost of replacing both systems, is not much more than replacing the failed system (2kW of panels, 1.5kW (nominal) inverter capacity).

    One perceived error in the article wriiten and published by Finn, (and, I am willing to be corrected, if I am wrong in my perception) –


    My understanding is that if you want to add batteries via AC coupling , then you are not modifying the original system in any way. AC coupling simply connects into the switchboard, there is no need to touch the solar system, except to put a Current Transformer on the solar feed. So you should not need to upgrade your solar system if you add batteries via AC Coupling.

    – my understanding is that AC coupling involves using batteries like the Tesla Powerwall 2, that have their own inbuilt inverters (in the case of the Powerwall 2, a 5kW inverter), which interferes with the status of the approval of the PV system(s) for single phase grid connection, so that, in a case like ours, where, on a single phase grid connection, our two systems, with a total rated inverters capacity of 5kW, prohibits the addition of an AC coupled battery storage system, such as a Tesla Powerwall 2.

    Perhaps, Finn, you may want to clarify this?

    • RE: REPAIRS
      My understanding is that if you are replacing like for like, you can repair an old solar system with the same inverter or panel model, despite it being ‘non-approved’ now. Of course you need to find such an inverter (or panel) in stock somewhere! (Note: this is not the case if the hardware has been de-listed for safety reasons like the ones in this blog post.)

      RE: AC COUPLED BATTERIES
      If you AC couple a battery into an existing grid connected solar system, although the solar system does not need any modification, your battery installer needs permission from your DNSP to add a second inverter to your home. Most DNSPs will allow a 5kW solar inverter and a 5kW battery inverter on the same phase these days (overriding AS4777.2 which only allows 5kVa of inverters per phase unless DNSP give permission).

      But your local battery installer will be all over the local DNSP rules.

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