Australia is moving towards cleaner and greener energy solutions, emphasising renewable energy and energy storage. The new standard for household battery installation, AS/NZ 5139 2019, by Standards Australia, is a significant milestone in this journey. This standard aims to ensure the secure installation of residential battery storage systems and has been in development for five years. It is expected to impact the industry and consumers alike significantly.
In this article, we will explore the details of the new standard, including its implications, potential impact, and controversies. The standard holds great importance as it will shape the industry’s future and provide a framework for safe and reliable home battery installations. We will discuss the battery installation Australian standards and critical features of the standard, including safety requirements, installation guidelines, and the responsibilities of installers and consumers.
AS/NZ 5139 2019 is the latest set of regulations introduced in Australia to ensure the safe installation of residential battery storage systems. Standards Australia has developed this standard through a comprehensive drafting process involving consultations with various stakeholders. Despite the controversies surrounding the standard, its introduction is expected to enhance clarity and safety in the rapidly growing industry of residential battery storage systems.
The introduction of AS/NZ 5139 2019 has been widely appreciated within the industry. Industry experts believe that the standard is one of Australia’s most well-timed battery standards, given the growing use of batteries in Australia and other countries. The standard is expected to offer valuable guidance and recommendations for installation practices, emphasising the importance of safety in the increasingly popular field of residential battery storage. With the release of this standard, there is hope that it will ensure safe and sustainable practices for installing and using residential battery storage systems.
The new residential battery storage system standard has introduced an extensive set of rules outlining seven hazard categories and over 110 risk management factors that need to be considered during installation. The two most significant changes that have taken the attention of the industry are as follows:
- One of the significant modifications required is the installation of battery systems that CEC has accredited. Additionally, if a habitable room is on the other side of a wall, non-combustible materials like cement sheeting must be used. This aims to reduce the fire risk and ensure the implementation of safety measures that safeguard homes.
- The guidelines now impose stringent limitations on installing pre-assembled integrated battery energy storage systems (BESS). These rules specify the BESS’s proximity to exits, windows, ventilation openings, and other non-associated appliances. If the batteries are not accredited, the regulations become even more stringent, mandating a separate fire-proof structure detached from the main house or garage. These changes are crucial in upholding household safety and reducing potential hazards related to battery storage systems.
The new Decisive Voltage Classification (DVC) standard has brought significant changes for installers, particularly electricians. As the standard replaces the previous low voltage (LV) and extra low voltage (ELV) thresholds, existing battery systems may require compliance with higher wiring rule standards. This transition unveils a new challenge for installers, requiring them to familiarise themselves with the new classification and its implications. They must adapt to these changes to ensure compliance with the new standards.
Although the standard’s safety-first focus has earned praise, major battery manufacturers, including industry leaders such as Tesla, Sonnen, and LG Chem, have voiced concerns. The criticisms center on the standard’s perceived heavy-handedness, with industry players arguing that it imposes unnecessary installation costs and complexities. Some manufacturers claim the standard assumes a universal risk, disregarding the safety measures already integrated into their products.
Battery manufacturers are concerned that the new rules may increase the cost of installation, meaning battery storage can become inaccessible to some households. The requirement for additional non-combustible materials, such as cement sheeting, is particularly controversial, with industry players suggesting that it may compromise the affordability and accessibility of battery storage for consumers.
Australia’s new standard for battery storage systems aligns with international standards, such as IEC 62619 and IEC 62933, and is expected to harmonize with emerging global standards. Aligning Australia’s battery storage industry with international best practices and standards would enhance interoperability and facilitate the exchange of information.
Adopting the new standard has sparked concerns over the potential cost increase for consumers. According to experts, the addition of cement sheeting and extra labour may result in an average surge of $1,000 in battery installation costs. Although this amount may seem insignificant, it could deter solar-powered households from investing in battery storage, thereby potentially hindering the growth of the industry. The added expenses could pose a significant challenge to the widespread acceptance of residential battery systems.
Although optional, the AS/NZ 5139 standard has been published and is now enforceable. The Wiring Rules are expected to incorporate this standard in the first half of 2020, and it will play a crucial role in its implementation. Industry stakeholders emphasise the need to comply with this new standard as it has significant legal implications in case of unwanted incidents. Therefore, taking the necessary steps to comply with the new standard is advisable, even though enforcement may take time.
The question of whether the existing home battery installations require retrofitting for safety purposes is yet to be resolved. Industry bodies such as the Smart Energy Council and the Clean Energy Council are collaborating with their members to address concerns and advocate for changes to certain aspects of the regulations. The primary aim is to strike a balance between safety standards and ensuring that unnecessary obstacles do not hinder the industry’s growth.
The introduction of AS/NZ 5139 2019, a fresh standard for battery installation or battery replacement in Australia, stands as a significant milestone for residential energy storage. The standard has sparked controversy, highlighting the difficulties of balancing safety measures with industry expansion and consumer affordability while safety remains a crucial concern. In these changing times, it is essential to encourage collaboration between regulatory bodies, industry stakeholders, and manufacturers to achieve a balance that ensures the continued growth of Australia’s renewable energy landscape while maintaining the highest safety and consumer confidence standards. At the same time, if you’re looking for a battery replacement service in Australia, Road Battery Replacement has got you covered! We have an in-depth understanding of the regulations and ensure that your installations and replacements are fully compliant with the regulations. Get in touch with us to learn more!