Warning issued on dangerous solar isolating switches

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EnergySafety has issued a public warning about dangerous switches used in some solar systems installed since January 1, 2012.

Director of Energy Safety Ken Bowron said today the switches formed part of all solar photo-voltaic installations.

“They are used to disconnect the current produced by solar panels so electricians can work safely on the electrical installation of a home or business,” Mr Bowron said.

“The switches listed below are faulty, and have caused fires in homes and businesses in Queensland and New South Wales.

“I have issued a ‘stop sale’ order, preventing further sale of the switches in Western Australia, they are subject to recall notices in Queensland and New South Wales and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has been informed.”

The defective brands and models include:

  • Avanco branded dc isolators (model numbers AV/DC4P25A, AV/DC2P25A, AV/DC4P25AUB, AV/DC2P625AU, AV/DC2P25AU, AV/DC2/2P25AU, AV/DC2/2P125AU, AV/DC4P25AU, AV/DC4P25AUS, and AV/DC4P25AUT).
  • PVPower branded dc isolator model number XPDCISO1000V32A.
  • GEN3 and SPM branded rotary type DC isolators model numbers: GEN3DC-25, GEN3DC-32, SPMDCISO-25A and SPMDCISO-32A.

“The defective switches were sold in Western Australia after January 1, 2012,” Mr Bowron said. “It is important that anyone who had a solar system installed after this date checks if any of the defective switches have been fitted to the installation.”

What do they look like?

The switches are a rotary type, and have a red switch with a yellow background around the switch.

PVPower brand switches have the brand on the front top right hand corner (photos available on request).

Avanco brand switches have the brand on the front.

Some solar installations will have two of these switches: one on the roof near the solar panels and another mounted close to the inverter which converts the solar direct current into the normal 240 Volt alternating current used in premises. This second switch and inverter are usually wall-mounted near the building’s main switchboard.

In some cases, the switches may be installed in a lockable enclosure with a flip opaque or clear lid. Under the lid is a black switch and there is external labelling of the AVANCO brand on the front.

The switches may be inside an external enclosure with brand name Avanco and the following model numbers:

  • Clear Lid: AV/ENC4P25AC
  • Opaque Lid: AV/ENC4P25AO.

If you have these switches installed, you should shut down the solar system immediately by following the shut-down procedure appearing on a label in the main switchboard or mounted near the inverter.

If you are unsure or cannot identify the types of isolators you have, check your operating manual or invoice. If you are still unsure, contact the company that sold the solar system for further advice.

You do not need an electrician to shut the system down. However, you should seek assistance from the solar company if you are unsure of how to carry out the shut-down procedure safely. The system will only be electrically safe once it is shut down.

“Above all, do not attempt to get up on your roof to check the switch there,” Mr Bowron cautioned. “There is no need to do this.

“If you purchased your solar panels after January 1, 2012, look for the switch near the inverter. If it is one of those listed here, you need to call the solar company involved and request them to supply and install safe replacements.”

For more information on consumer rights, contact Consumer Protection on 1300 304054.

EnergySafety (6251 1900) can assist with any technical queries related to electrical safety.

Media contact: Catherine Gildersleeve 9422 5208 or 0411 258 721 (media enquiries only).  catherine.gildersleeve@commerce.wa.gov.au

Note: a correction to this media release was issued the same day, though this page has been amended to take account of the correction.

EnergySafety
Media release
21 May 2014

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