Installing solar panels
There are a number of requirements that traders must be aware of before advertising, contracting, and/or installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems (solar panels).
Only the holder of a building or electrical class of licence can contract in NSW to install solar panels on the roof of a residential property or other premises.
A building contractor may enter into a contract to install solar panels and an electrical licence holder must be engaged as part of the contract to carry out the necessary electrical wiring work.
Electrical wiring of all solar panels, regardless of the cost of the work and regardless of whether the work is on a residential, commercial or industrial site, must be undertaken by someone holding an electrical contractor licence or a qualified supervisor certificate (QSC).
Section 14 of the Home Building Act 1989 makes it illegal to do unqualified electrical wiring work.
Connecting to the electricity distribution network
When a solar installation is to be connected from a home, business or other premises to the electricity distribution network, a suitably qualified person authorised under the Accredited Service Provider (ASP) Scheme must undertake the work.
The Electricity Supply Act 1995 gives electricity customers the right to choose who carries out this work.
A list of ASP's and their contact details is available on the Industry & Investment NSW website www.industry.nsw.gov.au.
In order for the work of installing solar panels to attract the State or Federal Government rebates the installer must be accredited by the Clean Energy Council of Australia. Information about becoming accredited, the costs involved and other details is available on their website www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au.
To qualify for the NSW Government's Solar Bonus Scheme, installations must be properly connected to the network by an ASP.
The NSW Government's Solar Bonus Scheme was closed to new applications on 28 April 2011. For further information, go to the Department of Trade & Investment, Regional Infrastructure & Services website.
Home warranty insurance
Home warranty insurance cover is required for residential building work when the value of the work including labour and materials exceeds $20,000.
Any rebate the consumer may claim for the installation of solar panels must not be deducted from the cost of the work for the purpose of avoiding the $20,000 threshold for home warranty insurance.
It is illegal to ask for payment under the contract (when the value of the work exceeds $20,000) unless Home Warranty Insurance has been taken out.
Contractors must provide a written contract for all residential building work over $1,000.
Before asking for any money for the supply and installation of solar panels, or commencing any installation work the consumer must be provided with:
- a written contract
- a copy of the Fair Trading publication Consumer building guide if the work is worth more than $5,000.
- a certificate of home warranty insurance where the contract price is over $20,000 or, if the contract price is not known, the reasonable market cost of the labour and materials involved is over $20,000.
For more information about what is required in a contract, go to the Home building contracts page on the Fair Trading website.
The Home Building Act 1989 places limits on deposits that can be required under contracts. The provisions state that:
- if the contract price is $20,000 or less, the maximum amount of deposit a customer can be asked to pay is 10% of the contract price
- if the contract price is more than $20,000 the maximum amount of deposit a customer can be asked to pay is 5% of the contract price.
All residential building work must be done in a workman like manner and comply with the requirements of the relevant legislation, codes and standards. The statutory warranty provisions of the Home Building Act 1989 apply to the installation of solar panels and are in effect for 6 years for structural defects and 2 years for non-structural defects, commencing from the date when the work was completed.
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