What qualifications does a solar installer need?

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In Australia, people who want to install solar panels must meet certain requirements. They need to have qualifications and accreditations from the Clean Energy Council (CEC). This is necessary to be eligible for the government's solar rebate.

The CEC is an independent organisation that oversees the rebate scheme and ensures that installers are up to date with the latest developments in the renewable energy industry through regular training and accreditation.

Rules for designing and installing off-grid solar systems with batteries exist. These rules are in addition to CEC accreditation for on-grid homes.

The Approved Solar Retailer program is a scheme by the CEC. Companies must follow a consumer-focused sales process and follow a code of conduct.

The qualifications your solar installer needs

In Australia, we have stricter requirements and qualifications for solar installers compared to other countries.

To support solar and grow its use, the Australian Government introduced a solar rebate in 2007. The only people who can achieve the solar rebate are installers with appropriate qualifications and accreditations from the Clean Energy Council (CEC). The Clean Energy Council is independent and not part of the Government.

The Government has appointed the CEC to oversee the rebate scheme. That means only an installer with the appropriate accreditation can install a solar system that attracts a rebate. No other body undertakes the CEC’s role.

This means a sole trader or business selling the solar system must have an electrical license in NSW and ACT. The company doesn’t require an electrical permit in Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, and Victoria. Therefore, they can hire someone else to handle the solar panel installation.

An electrician without CEC accreditation can not gain the solar rebate

A non-CEC-accredited, average electrician can install a solar system, but then the customer of a plan established by the non-accredited electrician will not get the refund. The rebate for the most common solar system in 2022 is at least $2000. However, the rebate amount can vary depending on the design size.

So what does this accreditation mean? It means the installer must regularly undergo CEC-approved training to earn accreditation points called CDP points.

Every year the installer has to accumulate a certain number of accreditation points to continue their CEC registration. This system keeps installers updated on the latest changes in the renewable energy industry.

Unfortunately, using an installation company with CEC accreditation alone does not guarantee a quality installation. This is because we have had cases where people with meagre qualifications installed the system, and then a qualified person falsely signed off on the job as if they undertook the work.

The one person with the appropriate accreditation and signs off has never been on the job, has never done the job, does not know the job details, and pretends they were involved.

The Clean Energy Regulator is stopping this practice by using photos with timestamps during installation and other checkpoints.

qualified solar installers
Using CEC-accredited electricians to install your solar is beneficial for your installation and after-care service

Other qualifications

For qualifications in solar – there are others, other than the on-grid residential CEC accreditation. While the CEC accreditation qualifies the solar installer to install a solar system, there is also a qualification to be a solar system designer. Designing the solar system and installing the system are two different jobs; you have to have two additional capabilities.

Then there is another accreditation, which is the one for off-grid systems also known as stand-alone solar power systems. These have no connection to the grid, and that type of solar system is entirely freestanding. But, of course, these systems have to have a battery component as well.

Off-grid installers require more technical knowledge than regular residential accreditation. This is because solar and battery installations can be more challenging than just solar installations.

Therefore, you want to get all three qualifications in solar installers as they know their stuff.

What is the Approved Solar Retailer Program?

Finally, there’s another initiative organised by the Clean Energy Council, known as the Approved Solar Retailer Program. Participants in this scheme promise to the CEC that they’ll follow a sales process that’s focused on the consumer’s best interest. This means a sales firm displaying this logo has been checked by the Clean Energy Council and found to be trustworthy. Some solar sales companies are not as honest as others, so this concept is a good idea.

Some installation companies have not joined the program. They believe that the program is a means for the Clean Energy Council to generate profit. Sometimes, companies meet the requirements to join a program but don’t follow through with all the necessary actions. In these cases, the program mistakenly approves them as excellent, even though they are doing the wrong thing.

Recommendations

So again, buyers, beware, just because they’re an approved solar retailer doesn’t necessarily mean they will do all the right things. Read our article here on what questions you should be asking your solar installer.

Remember to conduct your research. Ask someone who has used this company for their opinion. Take the time to read their Google reviews. Don’t hesitate to ask tough questions, as mentioned in our FAQs.

So, in summary – having an accredited installer doesn’t mean the solar panel system will be top quality. Instead, what you would look at is the company itself.

Are they a local company? Have they been around for a long time? Do they custom design your system, or are you getting a carbon copy job?

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