The Good News and Ugly Truth of Battery Standard AS/NZS 5139

How do you respond when hit with another layer of compliance?

Do you hit the brakes or do you hit the gas?

And do you really need to wear a spacesuit when installing!?!

The dreaded AS/NZS 5139 is now published and challenges installers to shape up or ship out.

On first read it will look like a massive headache and untold complexity in an industry already loaded with compliance.

But there’s an upside and huge opportunity for those who pull the right levers….

 

Some Good News

Sales people often miss an important factor in converting a sale – as consumers, we have a strong fear of being the fool who was ripped off.

Consumers are wary of being left with the painful and embarrassing legacy of a sub-standard and possibly dangerous installation.

So when a new technology comes along, after the early adopters, there is a healthy scepticism to be overcome.

With the battery standard will come greater awareness that there are checks and balances.

In recent years, there have been many poorly trained and inexperienced installers jumping into the complexity of battery technology and the repetitional risk across the entire industry has been high.

In terms of consumer confidence in a potentially dangerous new technology, the standard represents a positive legitimacy for household batteries and this can be leveraged in the sales pitch.

Its worth reminding customers...

The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.

Benjamin Franklin 

 

But of course it’s not all good news...

Glen Morris Battery Performance coming to standards

5139 – the highlights and lowlights

So what are the big ticket items that will shake the installer world?

Location, location, location

Nobody wants to be installing a battery system in a back shed and running underground cabling to a house so some creative problem-solving may come in to assist in a compliant install location.

You've probably heard the news - not within 600mm of a window; not below any floor; if backing onto a liveable area, cement sheeting required above and along side, and on it goes.

Ground-mount products may gain an advantage with the potential to install 300mm from a wall without requiring the bunker.

Classification – what’s in a BESS
The Standard introduces a somewhat arbitrary classification of battery systems. Lithium batteries are all lumped together despite there being very different safety characteristics for different technologies. This just tells us that rather than addressing the hazard classification according to each technology in a decisive way, they took the easy way out…disadvantaging many battery manufacturers in the process.

The classification of lithium batteries, which impacts on the number of risk mitigation factors that installers have to consider for each install, goes like this:

  1. If it’s all in one preassembled box including an inverter/PCE and is either CEC approved or adheres to the Best Practice Guide (2018), we call it a BESS and this minimises the risk management factors to be addressed
  2. If it’s a battery system only, all in one preassembled box. and is either CEC approved or adheres to the Best Practice Guide (2018), we call it a ‘Preassembled battery system’ and has a number of additional risk factors to assess.
  3. If it’s an installer assembled collection or components, no matter how good the quality and how safe the components, this raises a bunch of additional risk factors that you need to address.

Installing in a spacesuit?
Arc flash incident energy was not a thing commonly known to installers before AS/NZS 5139 but suddenly business operator have to assess this risk and ensure that installers are working safety with the required PPE. The level of PPE can be extreme...aka the spacesuit install... there are solutions but this has to be assessed and documented.

The Docs, ah yes the docs
26 new content elements need to be included in the System Handover Documentation. Unless you are flush with admin staff who are twiddling their thumbs, you need some serious system to automatically build this documentation.

Battery Performance??
The Standard introduces for the first time a requirement to state the expected performance and lifetime metrics for a battery system. Few are equipped to simulate battery cycling with a realistic typical year methodology and this will expose the substandard ‘modeling’ products in the way that other clauses expose sub-standard installers.

Battery design and sizing software

Don't get caught out with a return visit to find an underperforming battery!

Come out on top despite battery standards

With this additional burden or compliance and the complexity that comes with it, how can you maintain a profitable enterprise?

The aim with SolarPlus is to make renewables more attainable to consumers and that means keeping installers' overheads down.

SolarPlus does this by featuring a complete toolkit for handling sales and compliance with minimum effort.

75% of the compliance workload is handled automatically in a modelling and installation workflow that is industry best.

SolarPlus already has AS/NZS5139 compliance features built-in:

  • Battery Performance Simulation
  • Risk Management Assessment
  • Arc Flash Assessment
  • Auto-generated Connection Diagram
  • Auto-generated Handover Documentation

SolarPlus is not sold as an off-the-shelf product. It is a perpetually evolving platform that is expanding constantly in response to industry standards, expectations and user feature requests.

SolarPlus provides any solar business with a central source of truth to make for better processes, better profit and happier customers.

You can come out winning and grinning… team up with SolarPlus.

Glen Morris and Laurie Kane at Solar Storage Conference

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