Space Solar banned from Govt Rebate Scheme.

Solar company Space Solar have been banned from the Government Rebate Scheme for two years after an inspection conducted by Solar Victoria and Energy Safe Victoria found out that the company were employing unlicensed electrical workers, who were then “carry out works in an unsafe manner”.

Space Solar banned from Government Rebate Scheme.

Space Solar, also known as Community Energy Group, have had their director’s membership cancelled and (for the time being, their website is still up)

The company describes itself as the leading solar installer in Sydney and Melbourne with a decade of experience and a “team of professional engineers”.

According to an article in The Age, customers have been told to contact Consumer Affairs, and the government is expecting Space Solar to cover any costs. Sure that’ll work well.

The $2225 subsidy being offered to new solar installations in Victoria has attracted significant criticism for the method of its rollout and impact on solar installers (i.e. consumers ‘waiting’ to get the highly limited rebate and holding off on having solar installed)

Following on from such government-championed schemes such as the pink batts disaster, the government were quick to respond. Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio was scathing in her explanation of the situation:

“This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable. Customers deserve to know their solar installations are completed to the highest standards and that’s why we have such a strict audit regime in the country,” she said.

“The majority of solar retailers and installers do the right thing – we’re acting to protect their reputation and uphold the standards of our world-leading solar industry.”

The company was registered as a Clean Energy Council-certified solar retailer in August. You have to use Council-approved retailers to claim the government rebate.  A new company named Solar Victoria was created to roll out the program, and the former boss of the government’s Victorian Cladding Taskforce, Stan Krpan is in charge of the company. Hopefully we see some more stringent checks on installs and weed out more installers who don’t follow by the guidelines. 

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Solar Panel Fire Risk Analysis & Recommendations

The super fast advent of solar panels + storage has led to a number of ‘cowboys’ in the market – you need to ensure you’re using a trusted installer and quality parts to ensure your solar investment works in the long term and minimises any solar panel fire risk. The recent discussion over battery storage laws in Australia highlights the fact that we need to do our best to keep shoddy products and installers away from the market – but what can you do in the meantime if you want to get a solar system installed? Read on to learn more about solar panel fire risks and how to mitigate them!

Solar Panel Fire Risk – A recap

Recently in the UK solar panels caught fire at a new block of flats in east London and the blaze was contained by 80 firefighters. Another fire in Thornton Heath, south London, is also being blamed on solar panels.

Closer to home, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade in Victoria have, according to The Australian, had quite a few solar panel related fires to put out – “In the past five years, MFB has responded to more than 40 fires involving solar panels,” a spokeswoman said.

In Queensland, between September 2010 and June 2015, 201 fires related to solar PV installations were tracked. Of these, 78 were related to devices that have already been recalled, mostly DC isolators. The recalled DC isolators were created at an ‘affordable’ price point and had faulty designs, where the internal switch contacts were able to overheat. For example, the Avenco isolator was recalled after 26,000 were sold and the supplier of the brand was then placed in liquidation. As such, it’s important to take a look at who you’re buying from, the quality of their product, and remember that you can’t necessarily compare ‘oranges with oranges’ – just because products appear similar, there can be vast differences in quality, not to mention installer reliability. Ensure you choose a firm who are in it for the ‘long haul’ – and remember cheapest is very rarely the best choice when it comes to solar power systems.

Why do solar panels catch on fire?

Solar Panel Fire Risk
Solar Panel Fire Risk (source:

It’s important to note that the vast majority of these cases are due to poor install jobs or ultra-cheap components – as the old adage goes, ‘you get what you pay for’. In a market saturated with choice, it can appear that you’re comparing apples with apples if they’re both 5kW systems with 270W panels – but there’s a lot more to a solar system than just basic figures.

The biggest issues are due to faulty inverters, wiring connectors or DC isolators.

With that said, according to Neil Fraser, the director of Energy Safe Victoria, “at least” eight models of solar panel have been removed from the market over the past five years due to concerns about their safety. Choose a trusted installer and do your research before you invest in solar – check reviews, give the company a call, and research the individual components of your proposed system on the internet.

How do I choose a safe solar panel?

This comes down to a) using a safe solar installer and b) using quality parts. If you go for the cheapest option you are compromising on build quality, installation quality, and subsequent end result. As said above, we strongly recommend you research every component of any system you may be thinking about purchasing, and ask installers if you can talk to any prior customers, or have a look at some work they’ve done previously. Saving a few dollars can cost you a lot in the long run.

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