Battery Install Guidelines and AS/NZS 5139 Draft

Public consultation on the draft of AS/NZS 5139 has now closed. Over 3,000 comments were received. This is a huge number and will take some time for the standards committee to work through, and then decide what to do with the draft standard. We don’t expect this will be a quick process. Reviewing the comments, there are none supporting the draft’s approach of requiring Lithium based batteries to be installed outside.

There is general support for moving the onus for safety from the installer to the manufacturer, and using international safety standards for the batteries.

This is no surprise to the standards committee, and a lot of discussions and meetings have been held to try to resolve the situation and reduce the onerous requirements for Lithium batteries in the draft (we have been involved in some of these meetings). It is fair to say the only group pushing the requirement are some of the energy safety regulators in Australia. They now accept that the pre-assembled and certified systems from reputable manufacturers are safe and may be installed in a residential building. But they want to avoid the situation of importers sourcing various cheap components, assembling them into a system for sale that is not necessarily safe. It has happened with hoverboards, and lately with TPS cable. So the issue that is currently being worked through is – ‘what standards are acceptable’? – the regulators currently seem to think that IEC 62619 is not strong enough. A group of regulators and manufacturers are working over the next four months to produce an “industry guide” that they will use as a de facto product safety standard (probably incorporating IEC 62619 plus a few tests from UL 1973 etc), which will somehow be referenced in AS/NZS 5139 and regulations, and that will allow this class of product to be installed inside a residence.

Standards Australia has also publicly said they think the technical committee is not the appropriate forum to resolve what they term “ the public policy tensions related to public safety, clean energy and minimum construction requirements”. They see it as an “industry, government and community interest issue”, and will try to facilitate and mediate. This may be a good thing – the politicians want energy storage installed.

So this will result in changes to the draft standard. Do not use the draft as a de facto standard. Do not think that all Lithium based batteries should be installed externally.

We are also hoping that there are other structural changes to the draft – like making it a lot simpler to read and use – for the majority of the installations. So maybe this time next year we might be commenting on the 2nd public draft…

Battery Install Guidelines

As the AS/NZS 5139 will not be published for many months (maybe late next year – if we are lucky), installers need some guidelines on how to safely install battery systems. The Clean Energy Council in Australia (CEC) have just published their guidelines for their accredited installers. We have reviewed these and believe they represent the “Industry Best Practice”, and strongly recommend that all our members follow these guidelines (with the additional requirement to follow NZS 4219 for seismic restraint). They have kindly given SEANZ members permission to download and use these guidelines. The guidelines stop short of making safety standards mandatory for pre-assembled Lithium Battery systems, as they are waiting for the outcome from the “industry guide” referenced above. Our strong recommendation is that pre-assembled lithium battery systems be certified to either IEC 62619 or UL 1973. Verify any certification if it is not from one of the main manufacturers.

Download the install guidelines from the CEC website ensuring you get the latest version. 

These guidelines will be mandatory for CEC accredited installers in Australia – although they are not mandatory for New Zealand, SEANZ strongly recommends them to our members.

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