AS/NZS 5139 Consultation

The long awaited standard for battery installations is out for consultation.
The long awaited standard for battery installations is out for consultation. This standard is about installation standards and is not a technology or technical standard. It has been written for system designers and installers, and is likely to be referenced in the wiring regulations.
Key points are:
"The objective of this Standard is to provide manufacturers, system integrators, designers and installers of battery energy storage systems with the requirements for the safety and installation of battery systems connected to power conversion equipment for the supply of a.c. and/or d.c. power"
AS/NZS 5139 is a brand new standard, drafted from scratch. This is the first draft released for public comment. We expect vigorous debate on the comments, and potentially negative balloting from some members of the committee
We expect the standard will be published early in 2018. The standard may come into effect 3 months after it is published
It has been developed because of a perceived lack of appropriate standards for the developing grid-connected energy storage market that incorporated the new battery technologies (eg Lithium). The previous standard tended to be for standalone systems and/or lead acid and NiCad battery technologies. It was recognized that Lithium based systems present new hazards, and some are potentially dangerous and life threatening
In considering the fire hazards associated with some battery technologies, the draft contains provisions that exclude certain battery systems (eg Lithium based batteries) from being installed inside domestic homes. They may be installed externally and adjoining to domestic homes provided certain fire related safety measures are met
The controversial parts within the standards are Clauses 4.5.3 and table 3.1 of the draft.
There is intense pressure from Australian State Governments to get the standard drafted and released, as they are very concerned at the potential hazardous systems being installed currently given the volume of installations
To add some context to why certain requirements are in the standard, there are some product safety regulators that are absolutely paranoid about lithium batteries in homes, and the dangers they represent. There have been examples of fires caused by lithium batteries – house fires caused by hover-boards (in Australia and worldwide), hobby batteries causing house fires (RC cars and planes), the Boeing 787 battery fire, the Samsung phone fires, Tesla car battery fires (in the early days) and a GroWatt battery storage system that caught fire (we think it had been configured as a lead acid - but it received lots of press). There have been other fire incidents that have contributed;
Samsung washing machines catching fire and setting fire to houses
PV rooftop (and wall) DC isolators catching fire and causing house fires (both from poor quality switches and from shoddy installation practices)
All of the above have made regulators extremely cautious of the potential impacts with Lithium based batteries.
The regulators are very wary of international battery standards if they are not ratified by the local standards committee. They are reluctant to trust lithium battery safety standards - too new, and "I bet the Samsung battery was certified to a safety standard and it failed". But they do appear to accept that electric cars are safe as "they have their own set of standards that have been proven".
Your comments
SEANZ encourages, asks and needs you as a responsible member, to make comment on the standards that you believe our industry in NZ will benefit from.
Access a copy of the standards here on the SEANZ members site – you will need your SEANZ login
Your comments can be made direct via the Standards Australia site. Register and add your comments here
Alternatively you can send your comments to SEANZ, to either Rebecca George or Steve Dawson
All comments made to Standards Australia will be considered by the committee, but they must be constructive, and be supported by sound technical evidence and or valid reasons. 100 people saying the same thing doesn’t work - which is why SEANZ will not give you a template with “please send these comments”.
SEANZ has 4 representatives from the NZ industry on this committee. SEANZ has taken a super active part in the drafting of the standard to help our cause in NZ. The building of this draft standard has not been without controversy. The committee is not in unanimous agreement on the standard for obvious reasons, but it is important that the draft goes out for public comment.
The SEANZ representation on the committee also want to gain a sense of SEANZ members thinking to define how SEANZ will vote when the standard comes up for ballot. The SEANZ tech team will circulate the overall SEANZ view once we have feedback, over the forthcoming weeks.
Any questions please let us know.

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