Our solar panel testing program works to ensure solar panels meet Australian standards and are eligible for
small-scale technology certificates (STCs).
This will strengthen Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) integrity for solar system components across the supply chain to benefit consumers.
Our panel testing program is independent of:
We engaged an independent laboratory in 2022 to determine our testing approach. This identified:
The tests were completed in accordance with International Electrical Commission (IEC) testing standards for solar panels (IEC 61215:2021), also known as module quality tests. IEC tests are designed to show defects that are not detectable by inspection alone. Panels are required to pass all tests to meet Australian standards.
The following tests form part of our testing program:
Panels and electrical connections are visually checked for any indication of faults or damage.
A failed visual inspection test may mean a loss in power output in panels that could occur immediately or over time.
Damaged panels or electrical connections can be caused by poor manufacturing standards, damage from incorrect packing, unsuitable transportation methods or incorrect handling techniques.
The power output of panels is measured in a stable environment of 25°C sea level air mass and irradiance of 1,000 watts per square metre.
Poor quality materials or manufacturing standards can lead to a failed test. A tolerance analysis is built into testing to account for laboratory measurement uncertainty.
Panels are checked via infrared photography for critical and non-critical microcracks,
finger interruptions, non-uniform cells and
shunts at a cellular level.
Incorrect packaging, unsuitable transportation methods and incorrect handling techniques can cause large cracks along cells and lead to failure.
Poor manufacturing standards can cause critical and non-critical microcracks along cell edges,
finger interruptions and non-uniform-cells, which can lower panel power output over time.
Panels are submerged in water to measure moisture resistance. Moisture penetration into a panel can be an electrical safety issue.
Panel sealants, lamination of
backsheets and pinholes in the backsheet can all cause a panel to fail wet leakage testing. This can be caused by poor manufacturing standards, damage from incorrect packing, unsuitable transportation methods and incorrect handling techniques.
Panels are subjected to temperatures of 85°C with around 85% humidity at 1,000 volts (negative) for a period of 96 hours to measure performance over a long period of time in different conditions.
Poor manufacturing quality can cause panels to fail this test. These panels may not perform to specification or may fail after several years of usage.
We may investigate panels that fail testing as part of our
compliance and enforcement approach.
We will work with individual manufacturers to resolve issues where panels are found to be below standard or could pose an electrical safety risk.
We may engage in additional testing and declare panels ineligible to participate in the SRES if they:
STCs cannot be claimed against panels declared ineligible.
We will publish the results of each testing round undertaken. Only aggregated testing data will be published, without manufacturer and model names.
The independent laboratory tested 567 panels comprising of 18 models from 14 brands. This represented approximately 71% of eligible panels installed on Australian rooftops from January to March 2022. Panels were generally found to be of good quality, meeting Australian standards and having no significant safety risks identified.
Testing identified that improvements in packaging and transportation methods would improve electroluminescence results and consumer outcomes.
Testing for potential induced degradation was not conducted but will be in future testing rounds.
Panels tested: 567
Obvious breakages from transportation and handling.
Panels tested: 564
All panels performed to standard (within acceptable testing variation due to laboratory equipment).
8% of the panels likely failed due to poor manufacturing standards (microcracks on cell edges, finger interruptions and backsheet scratches).
Transportation and handling damage likely caused the remaining 2.1% of failures.
A small number of models from different brands were responsible for the failed results.
Panels tested: 189
One panel failed due to a pinhole in the backsheet.
Pinholes are rare faults and may have occurred during the manufacture of the backsheet material or during handling and transport.
For detailed testing data please use the downloadable files:
Consumers can feel confident that eligible solar panels continue to meet Australian standards. The
solar panel validation (SPV) initiative is another way consumers can ensure the quality of their solar panels. SPV provides an easy way to confirm that solar panels:
More information on
installing solar panels is on our website.
If you have concerns about your solar panel system, please first contact the installer or retailer. If they are unable to resolve the issue, please contact the
relevant body listed on our website.
For information about consumer protection and solar panel purchase agreements when
purchasing a solar system, go to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) website.
Finger interruptions can be caused by use of a dirty or defective screen in the screen-printing step. Finger interruptions that affect more than 2% of the cells in a single block will impact performance.
The backsheet is the outer layer of a solar panel which protects the solar cells from moisture over the lifetime of the panel.
Shunts are areas of low resistance within a solar panel. They are often caused by poor manufacturing processes and lead to inefficiencies in the panel. Small and/or isolated shunts are generally considered to be acceptable and aren't a cause for concern. Medium to larger shunts may cause hotspots.
Hotspots occur when solar panels dissipate energy while generating it. Hotspots are generally unstable and intensify over time until the overall performance of the panel is significantly impacted. In rare cases, this may cause cells to overheat and potentially melt.
Non-critical microcracks aren't visible to the naked eye. A crack is determined to be non-critical if it's small or if there are only one or 2 per cell and cannot grow to result in more than 8% of the cell being electrically isolated.
Also known as microfractures, critical microcracks are when a cell has 2 or more large cracks. They represent a form of solar cell degradation and can affect both energy output and the lifetime of a solar system.
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