Last year on 18 December 2020, a new inverter product standard was released – AS/NZS 4777.2:2020 – with a 12-month transition period before the new standard became mandatory.
As a result, all inverters currently approved by the CEC to the old standard (AS/NZS 4777.2:2015) had their CEC listing expiry dates set to 18 December 2021. To have a CEC inverter listing beyond 18 December 2021, inverters were required to be re-tested and re-certified to the new standard and submit a new inverter application to the CEC.
The new inverter standard AS/NZS 4777.2:2020 includes requirements that any DC isolator installed in the inverter will need to comply with AS 60947.3. These requirements were previously listed in the installation standard AS/NZS 5033 Installation and safety requirements for photovoltaic (PV) arrays in Amendment 2 issued June 2018.
In addition, DC isolators were elevated to level 3 equipment in the Electrical Equipment Safety System (EESS) in 2018. This required DC isolators to be certified and registered on the EESS national database system by mid-2019 (after a 12-month transition period).
This included DC isolators installed in inverters. Information bulletins released by the EESS specified the requirements for certifying DC isolators to AS 60947.3, including special relaxation of rating requirements for DC isolators installed in inverters after consultation with industry.
Those information bulletins, further information bulletins and amendments to those bulletins made during 2021 were issued to assist in correct requirements being applied.
This included clarification of requirements regarding the test lab (e.g. the type of accreditation the test lab is required to have) and how testing is conducted for certification (e.g. the DC isolator can be tested to AS 60947-3 in the inverter or in an enclosure of the same size as the inverter it will be installed in, if the DC isolator is to be installed within an inverter for mounting outdoors exposed to sunlight the “Temperature rise verification with solar effects” of AS 60947.3:2018 is required with the DC isolator installed in the inverter enclosure for the test, and the DC isolator as a component of the inverter is installed in the inverter for the tests to AS/NZS 4777.2:2020, including the IP test on the inverter).
Many manufacturers had trouble fulfilling these requirements – in particular finding a suitably accredited test lab for the DC isolator related testing – which affected the number of inverter applications received and approved by the CEC.
As a result, the CEC worked with state electrical safety regulators to achieve an interim solution that allows PV inverters with integrated DC isolators to be approved by the CEC until 30 June 2022 using a manufacturer declaration of compliance to AS/NZS 4777.2:2020, while inverter manufacturers work through the DC isolator certification requirements.
To obtain CEC approval using a manufacturer declaration, manufacturers will need to submit the declaration of compliance to the CEC. The CEC has advised manufacturers of the declaration requirements and will work to approve inverters where a manufacturer declaration of compliance to AS/NZS 4777.2:2020 has been provided to the CEC.
On the CEC's list of Approved Inverters, model numbers approved to AS/NZS 4777.2:2020 will have either a (AS4777-2 2020) suffix or a (Declaration) suffix:
Manufacturers are expected to achieve full certification by 30 June 2022. To have a listing beyond 30 June 2022, manufacturers will need to submit certification to the CEC before 30 June 2022.
How can I find an inverter approved to AS/NZS 4777.2:2020?
On the CEC's list of Approved Inverters, model numbers approved to the new standard will have either a (AS4777-2 2020) suffix or a (Declaration) suffix:
The easiest way to search for these inverters, if you do not have a specific model number in mind, is to change the search to look at model numbers and include "2020" or "Declaration" in the search bar.
Do inverter-integrated DC isolators have to be registered on EESS before the inverter is installed?
If the inverter is considered in-scope electrical equipment in a state that legislates Electrical Equipment Safety System (EESS) requirements, then the inverter-integrated DC isolators will need to be registered on EESS.
However, as per the statement released from the Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council (ERAC) and the Standing Committee of Officials (SCO) of the EESS, and agreed to by the CEC, electrical safety regulators will not request verification of DC isolator certification until 30 June 2022. Electrical safety regulators will work with the CEC, test facilities, certifiers and industry to ensure this certification can be obtained.
The CEC will work with manufacturers to update their listings as compliance certifications become available.
The statement from ERAC and SCO on “Certification requirements for DC isolators in solar PV inverters” can be viewed on the EESS website.
The EESS is a framework that regulates the supply chain of in-scope electrical equipment (low voltage equipment for household, personal or similar use). Visit the EESS website for more details about in-scope equipment.
EESS is legislated in Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania. Other states call up EESS in other ways, so it is best to check with your local regulator if EESS registration of DC isolators is necessary.