Solar Victoria's audits are making sure reverse-cycle air conditioners installed through the Home Heating and Cooling Upgrades (HHCU) Program are safe. Audits drive continuous improvement and mean that installation problems are dealt with promptly.
Approved suppliers or installers who were found to be doing the wrong thing, resulting in non-compliant and unsafe installations, may have been excluded from our program.
Purpose of an audit
The purpose of these audits was to identify issues that need improvement and to ensure the safety and quality of systems and installations.
Auditors would look at the quality of the work, whether there were issues that needed to be followed up with the approved supplier, and ensured installations comply with the latest standards.
Audits provided a valuable picture of the standard of work being delivered under the Home Heating and Cooling Upgrades Program, with feedback provided to the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC-R) industry for further action or improvement.
Steps in the audit process
The audit process involves the following steps.
Step one: Selecting sites to audit
At this step Solar Victoria selects the audit sites, aiming to inspect a sample of five percent of all Home Heating and Cooling Upgrades installations. This may happen in a timeframe ranging from a few weeks and up to 6 months from the time of installation.
We are committed to auditing a range of installations across the state. In selecting an audit site, we may consider a supplier’s performance, industry experience, compliance history and system price.
Step two: Conducting the audit
At this step an independent auditor inspects reverse cycle air-conditioner installations. Solar Victoria has engaged TechSafe Australia (TechSafe) as the independent auditor for the Home Heating and Cooling Upgrades Program.
If selected, a representative from TechSafe contacts the homeowner to arrange a suitable time for the inspection.
Auditors for the Home Heating and Cooling Upgrades Program look at a range of matters including:
- Mechanical installation of air-conditioning system – The system is level and stable and installed in an appropriate location.
- Electrical connections of air-conditioning system – The system has been safely installed and wiring connections between the indoor unit, outdoor unit and the installation electrical system are compliant.
- Plumbing connections – All plumbing works (both vapour and liquid) are appropriately installed, with special consideration to condensate discharge points.
- Switchboard works – All required works in relation to electrical switchboard modifications are compliant with the associated standards, with special consideration of protection devices (RCD and overload) requirements.
- Gas capping – If replacing existing gas heating systems, have gas lines been appropriately capped?
The auditors use a checklist that has been developed in collaboration with industry technical experts, regulatory bodies and Solar Victoria to audit the quality and safety of the installations. This document includes all questions auditors upon which the inspection of reverse cycle air conditioner installations are based.
Solar Victoria will regularly review and update this checklist to ensure it is accurate and supports continuous improvement in industry practice.
Step three: Reporting on the draft audit findings
At this step the independent auditor documents preliminary or draft audit findings and seeks feedback from the approved supplier and installer (within 14 days). The homeowner will also be informed and advised of any next steps if required by the approved supplier (or appointed installer).
Approved suppliers and installers whose installations have undergone an audit are welcome to provide feedback if they have any questions or concerns about the audit findings. See How to provide feedback on audits.
Step four: Reporting on the final audit findings
At this step the independent auditor confirms audit findings and sends the final report to Solar Victoria. We will then send the final report to the approved supplier and installer for the audited installation.
If improvements are identified or the installation is found to be adequate, the approved supplier and installer do not need to take any further steps. These findings mean the system is compliant and has been installed satisfactorily. We do, however, encourage approved suppliers and installers to action the information and guidance provided where improvements have been identified.
Step five: Rectifications needed
At this step Solar Victoria sends a rectification notice to the retailer. Rectifications are needed if the auditor rates the installation as “Unsafe” or “Needs rectification.” This notice provides 30 days for the retailer to rectify identified issues.
The supplier will be given information about:
- how the installation does not comply with safety and quality standards
- what is required to resolve this non-compliance
- the matter being referred to Energy Safe Victoria and the Clean Energy Council to determine if further action is needed.
The approved supplier must contact the customer within seven days to arrange a time to complete any rectification works.
We will then review the provided evidence and change the job status to rectification complete.
Step six: Rectifications completed
At this step the approved supplier advises Solar Victoria that all rectification work is complete (within 30 days) and emails evidence of satisfactory rectification works to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will then review the provided evidence and change the job status to "Rectification complete".
If we have any follow-up questions, we will change the status of the audit to “Additional information required” and will contact the approved supplier.
Step seven: Performance reporting
At this step Solar Victoria aggregates audit data and advises the approved supplier of their performance and any actions they will need to take to improve future performance.
If audit findings are unacceptable, Solar Victoria can make decisions about whether individuals or companies may continue to take part in the Home Heating and Cooling Upgrades Program.
Some issues will be considered by an audit safety committee. The committee includes members from
- Solar Victoria
- WorkSafe Victoria
- Energy Safe Victoria
- Victorian Building Authority
- Consumer Affairs Victoria
This group will consider any action already taken by individual agencies and determine whether the matter needs to be referred to Solar Victoria for further action.
Others notified of unsafe installations
If a reverse cycle air-conditioner installations is found to be unsafe, or has major non-compliance issues that require rectification, we will inform Energy Safe Victoria and the Victorian Building Authority.
Other checks on reverse-cycle air conditioners
In addition to the Home Heating and Cooling audits, a Licensed Electrical Inspector (LEI) will carry out an electrical inspection where a switchboard upgrade was done, and a Certificate of Electrical Safety (COES) issued prior to the system being connected to the distribution network.
See the Energy Safe Victoria website for:
- ESV fact sheet – Solar Victoria Home Heating and Cooling Upgrades Program.
- COES flowchart – Solar Victoria Home Heating and Cooling Upgrades Program.
Common electrical defects in installations
Energy Safe Victoria has developed industry guidance to help registered electrical contractors and licensed electricians address the top five electrical defects identified through these audits and with ESV’s Certificate of Electrical Safety data.
How to provide feedback on audits
We welcome your feedback. Approved suppliers and installers whose installations have undergone an audit should first provide feedback or raise any concerns with the auditor through TechSafe Australia at email@example.com.
Please email Solar Victoria at firstname.lastname@example.org if:
- your concerns can't be resolved with the auditor
- you would like to escalate this to our panel of technical experts to consider your feedback on an audit item.