If you want to upgrade or repair your solar system, for example, add panels, or replace a faulty inverter, then there are some rules that you have to adhere to depending on whether the work is officially deemed as a 'repair' or an 'alteration/addition'
If the work is classed as an alteration/addition then the installer must:
- Bring the system up to the latest installation standards. Any added hardware has to be on the 'currently approved CEC list'. (Note for installers: there are some caveats you need to be across - see the CEC document linked to at the end of this article)
If the work is classed as a repair, then the burden on the installer is much less:
- They can simply make the repair/replacement using hardware with a suitable specification, without worrying about the rest of the system.
(Note for installers: there are some caveats you need to be across re: the - see the CEC document linked to at the end of this article)
If your work is deemed an alteration/addition, the installer must generally bring the whole system up to standard, and that can be expensive. That can mean it is sometimes cheaper to scrap the old systems and get a brand new system to replace it. Or - if there is room on your roof - add a second system instead of upgrading the existing one That really upsets a lot of people - binning perfectly good hardware. But that's the rules and we have to comply.
Here is a summary of the type of work being done and whether it is classed as a 'repair' or an 'alteration/addition'.
|Scope of work||Repair or Alteration?|
|Adding solar panels to an existing string for more kW||alteration/addition|
|Adding solar panels and re-configuring how they are all wired up||alteration/addition|
|Adding a parallel string of solar panels||alteration/addition|
|New string of solar panels to a single input (MPPT) on the inverter||alteration/addition|
|New string of solar panels to a new MPPT||alteration/addition|
|Replacing a failed/broken solar panel||repair|
|Removing solar panels and re-instating in the same location||repair (except VIC)|
|removing solar panels and relocating in a different location on the same building||alteration|
|Replacing failed inverter with an inverter of the same topology. (e.g. transformerless or transformer inverter)||repair (must be exact model replacement in VIC)|
|Replacing failed inverter – same topology but higher power rating||repair|
|Replacing failed inverter with an inverter of a different topology or electrical spec.||alteration|
|Inverter is removed and put back in the same location||repair|
|Inverter is removed and put back in different location||alteration|
The CEC has a fantastic, detailed guide for installers who are doing repairs, upgrades, additions or alterations to solar power systems. I've attached it to this post.