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Posted By Topic: Solar inspection and connection Waikato

Nov 06 2013 10:38

Work mate started putting in a 2.5 KW system 4-5 months ago. Most of this time was hand balling between his power company and lines company not knowing what the other wanted. This got sorted when he was sent a customer satisfaction survey, and after he told them what he thought it he was contacted and was sorted most efficiently and quickly.
Did most of the work himself then asked an inspector to check and connect.
Inspector came around a few times, last time with a comprehensive check list then informed the work mate that he (inspector) shouldn\'t connect it as it would be a conflict of interest and he should get a sparky to connect the P&N to the inverter.
Now I was happy to do this for him but got a bit confused on the COC.
All the installation was checked by the inspector.
So other than making sure polarity and earthing of what I was connecting was correct and safe the test results I guess would be up to the Inspector.

Hope I\'ve made this clear and included everything

Nov 06 2013 11:33

was this standby, or mains parallel, or mains work?
What is the open-circuit voltage of the PV array?
Exactly what \"work\" did this workmate do?

An inspector is required for all homeowner work, to test, certify, and connect it. But PEW associated with PV arrays and inverters is outside the scope of ESR 57, so only non-PEW could be done by a homeowner.

from your description, we can assume it\'s permanently connected to an installation so that connecton from inverter to LV cabling will be PEW regardless.

For the inspector to have a conflict of interest, it would have to be High Risk PEW where the inspector is barred from doing any actual PEW, but must perform additional checks and tests.
But is it High Risk because of being mains parallel, or because of being a PV system? Or maybe both? or maybe mains work if standby change-over switch affects mains.

You reference to hassles with linesco and retailer indicates probably mains parallel.

For any PEW, the responsibility to have the work tested and certified lies with the person doing the work.
For High risk PEW, including mains parallel, that person cannot leave testing up to the inspector. Testing by the inspector must be in addition to the normal testing.
for non High Risk, other than for homeowner work, there is no need for an inspector and so there can be no conflict of interest.

If this was a mains parallel, and the person who did the work didn\'t have a licence, the job was illegal. In which case it\'s not surprising that an Inspector would try to distance himself rom it.

He\'s done that by getting someone else to issue the CoC, so he can pretend that you did it.

By getting involved you are a party to this pretence and by issuing coC have told an official lie. You have also assumed responsibility for the electrical safety of the installation; shared with the inspector as far as High risk PEW is concerned but on your own for any other PEW.

All of which is supposed to be detailed on your CoC .
So with PV, you have to establish which parts are PEW - requiring a licenced person.
ES have just published an interpretation of what is and isn\'t PEW (though i think they\'ve got one aspect wrong). Regardless, whatever was listed on the CoC is what you have accepted liability for.

One more point; while an inspector is barred from inspecting any High Risk PEW that he has done, he can do General or Low Risk PEW on same job, and can even do design work for the High Risk PEW because design is not PEW.

None of which reduces your liability as issuer of a CoC at all. Certifying work done by anyone else is dangerous enough, but issuing a Coc for work you know was done by an unlicenced person is an offence [ESR 69] (apart from under the homeowner exemption).

Nov 08 2013 10:01

Sorry for the late reply. Been reading up on 5033 amongst other things. (like finding correct version of ESR)
The system is a grid tie inverter system.
From what he tells me so far.
He mounted panels and inverter, ran cables and changes required by the inspector.
Output in full sun was 420VDC
Short circuit 8A
The inverter output goes to internal distribution board via a MCB

Now just read on correct version of ESR that solar is High risk.
Reading through ECP51 I could not see any restriction the home owner running cables and mounting equipment as long as he don\'t connect anything. Just needs to be checked and connected by an inspector.

Now if I have this wrong let me know.
Do I pull out cables and reinstall myself then I can say I installed?
If that is done I do all the testing myself, Complete COC then get it inspected.

Feedback appreciated thanks

So what is required

Nov 08 2013 10:09

Sorry, Meant to add.
Amongst all my reading read ESR 71 (2) which I think is referring to high risk. This is where the inspector is getting that he shouldn\'t test as he checked and would this require another inspector? or do I do as as I said above

Nov 08 2013 11:28

OK, so it\'s grid connect AND the PV array is at LV.
So that\'s two kinds of High Risk PEW as per ESR 6A, each of which requires inspection.
A person is disqualified from performing inspections of High Risk PEW, if they have done any of the HRPEW [ESR 71], or supervised the work, or certified it.

Testing does not disqualify, and in fact ESR 70(3) actually requires an inspector to do whatever testing is required to satisfy themselves that the work complies and is electrically safe. That\'s NOT relying on testing by others, it\'s doing another lot of testing for themselves.

The work that a homeowner can do under the exemption in Section 79 of the Act is limited to the work listed in ESR 57.
Yes work done by homeowners must comply with ECP, but first it must be authorised by ESR 57.
There is no mention there of installing PV arrays or inverters, in fact nothing even close to covering it.

ES have this week announced that ELV PV arrays are not PEW. I don\'t think that\'s entirely correct, but in this case the array is above 120 V DC so it\'s not an ELV array but an LV one. LV installation is ALWAYS PEW
Therefore the work must be done by a licenced person.

Having said that, anyone is allowed to do PEW under supervision - this is then recorded on the CoC. The CoC would be issued by whoever did the supervision.

If the inspector supervised the carrying out of the work, he can\'t inspect but should issue CoC. From the fact that he \"came around a few times\", and that your mate made \"changes required by the inspector\"; it sounds to me as if this inspector probably supervised PEW and should NOT inspect it. But that\'s his issue rather than yours, and it may be that all he did was assist with design which he is allowed to do.

You can start over and do the work yourself.
Or you can pretend you did it, and then test and certify it.
Or you can pretend you supervised it, then test and certify it.
Either way you accept responsibility and liability for the entire job, and I\'d be very careful before signing off work done by someone else. Especially if that person is unlicenced and you are also not very familiar with the requirements for that sort of work.
Regardless of whether you actually did the work, or just choose to certify it, you must ensure that all mandated testing has been done(by a licenced person). A certifier cannot rely on testing by an inspector, because the testing is part of the PEW and for an inspector to do it would disqualify them from doing the inspection. Then issue CoC. A CoC can cover all of, or only some of, the work, but there must be enough CoCs to cover all of it.

so not just polarity and earthing, but all testing as per AS/NZS 3000, plus any tests required to show compliance with AS/NZS 5033 (solar), and AS/NZS 3010 & AS/NZS 4777.1(grid connect).

Then - AFTER CoC has been issued - the Inspector does his own testing & inspection, and assuming all OK issues a Record of Inspection.

Only then is the work allowed to be connected to a supply.

Or you can walk away - but perhaps not yet.

The connection you did, would appear to have been the final connection that allowed electricity to flow, and if so then it is NOT allowed to be made before ALL of the PEW has been certified, and ALL of the High risk PEW has been inspected and RoI issued. And whoever makes that connection must issue an ESC.

If electricity can flow but certification is not yet complete, then the ESRs have already been broken and the only option is to get back and disconnect until the paperwork has been sorted out. Relying on the fact that a temporary connection for purposes of testing is permitted.

Probably the tidiest option would be for the inspector to admit he supervised, certify the work, and find another inspector to inspect it.
If he won\'t, then maybe ask yourself why he doesn\'t want to accept responsibility, but expects someone else to sign it off?

If you do choose to certify, read up all those Standards and be certain the work complies in every respect with all of them.
plus find out what rules the local network has for grid-connect, and comply with them as well.

And DON\'T connect to supply until all CoCs and RoIs are complete.

Nov 08 2013 11:53

Thanks for that AlekK.
Just had a chat with the workmate and suggested I talk with the inspector to see how to proceed with this.
Thanks for the above ideas.
One other Question, The final connection, Can this be as simple as leaving the MCB turned off and locked out? or is the final connection need thew wires actually connected?

Thanks again

Nov 08 2013 13:15

Your last question is easy enough...
ESR73A(5) says connection is the final PEW that allows electricity to flow. Removing an MCB lockout isn\'t PEW so doesn\'t qualify as the final PEW. Connecting the wires would be the final PEW regardless of whether the MCB is locked off.

Nov 08 2013 16:31

Some of the standards information above is incorrect, the correct position is:-

AS/NZS 3000 does some limited amount of coverage in section 7.3; and 3000 also applies to the general wiring of the electrical installation as it does for any normal electrical installation.

The ESR 2010 + amendments 1 and 2 in schedule 2 cites as/nzs 5033:2005 and amendment 1 for the PV array wiring. It is thought that when amendment 3 of the ESER 2010 is published shortly (expected to be Dec 2013) the standard cited will become AS/NZS 5033:2012 + amendments 1 and 2.

The ESR 2010 + amendments 1 and 2 in schedule 2 cites AS 4777.1:2005 for the wiring of the Grid connect inverter. there is a as/nzs 4777.1 under preparation and is NOT expected to be released until mid 2014.

Note AS/NZS 3010 does NOT have any connection to PV installation unless a generating set is being installed to the common electrical installation.

Nov 08 2013 17:33

Thanks for the extra info Pluto,
Just looked at 4777 and the ref in ESR. I think this has to do with smart grid, Not grid tie, more similar sounding jargon\'s to confuse us all.
Thankfully most (if not all)documents are available on pdf downloads Makes easier to search them.

I\'m starting to think I need to employ a lawyer to understand and interpret all the rules and regs. (Sigh pulls hair out).

Nov 09 2013 07:38

ppaw1965 Nov 08 2013 17:33
Your comment 1
Thanks for the extra info Pluto, Just looked at 4777 and the ref in ESR. I think this has to do with smart grid,

Not grid tie, more similar sounding jargon\'s to confuse us all.

My comment 1
the installation of PV power systems is NOT \"smart grids\".

Your comment 2
Thankfully most (if not all)documents are available on pdf downloads Makes easier to search them.

I\'m starting to think I need to employ a lawyer to understand and interpret all the rules and regs. (Sigh pulls hair out).

My comments 2
If you don\'t understand what is being said in as/nzs 5033, 4777.1 and 3000, you urgently need to get some help and assistance in your project, PV systems require some advanced skills and knowledge which this website is NOT the correct forum to get that information.

Your comment 3

My comment 3
This reference will confuse, rather than help, if your PV installation knowledge is limited, if only covers the administration of future amendments to AS or AS/NZS standards.

Nov 09 2013 08:50

@ Pluto
So apart from not citing the publication dates, what was incorrect?
I didn\'t suggest 3010 was for PV, but for grid connected generation (along with 4777.1)
Those are the Standards listed in ESR 60.
Plus 5033 for the PV.
ESR 60 has to be the starting point for someone getting into this sort of work.

You can get most of the cited Standards by logging onto Standards NZ via EWRB website using your \"Realme\" login. That\'s covered by your practising Licence fee.

AS 4777.1 is not a \"joint\" (AS/NZS) Standard, so you\'ll have to get it from Standards Australia (SAI Global).
Click on the \"search & Buy a standard\" tab of the SA website


Nov 09 2013 09:26

I had another look to links on 4777 on the Aussie standards found the correct link so I apologize.
I am aware of the standards we can access and view and that is what I often do try and keep up to date. This is a vast improvement to when I was in Australia when you look at $170 odd every few years for a current book without amendments stuck everywhere and the hours spent sticking them in.
The comment of the pdf search-ability is because with the exception of 3000 I notice a lot of the other standards have a contents and no index including the ESR.

I have had a fair amount of experience with Solar Systems in the past mostly 12v - 110v supplying batteries but not grid tie systems.
Yes this is a learning curve that I would rather not have to worry my old brain cells with but hey it\'s not rocket science (yet!!).
I\'ve spoken with the workmate and let him know the options so hopefully will get this sorted