Solar Homes Program audits are making sure solar installations are safe. Audits drive continuous improvement in the solar industry and make sure installation problems are dealt with promptly.
Solar retailers or installers who are found to be doing the wrong thing may be excluded from the Solar Homes Program.
Purpose of the audit program
The purpose of the audit program is to identify areas across the solar industry that need improvement. It also ensures everyone in the industry understands their obligations.
Auditors will look at the quality of the work and whether there are issues that need to be followed up with the solar retailer.
Audits provide a valuable picture of the standard of work being delivered under the Solar Homes Program, with feedback provided to the solar 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 Solar Homes installations. This may happen three to six months after installation. We sometimes also conduct audits more rapidly. This can happen as soon as a few weeks after installation.
We are committed to auditing a range of installations across the state. In selecting an audit site, we will may consider a retailer’s performance, industry experience, compliance history and system price.
Step two: Conducting the audit
If selected, a representative from TechSafe contacts the homeowner to arrange a suitable time for the inspection.
Our Solar Homes Program auditors look at a range of matters including:
- Electrical safety: Check of conduit placement, ingress protection, fuses, location and quality of DC isolators.
- Equipment: Ensure PV modules and inverters are on and are installed to ensure manufacturer’s warranties are intact.
- System design and functionality: Making sure solar systems have been designed appropriately, for example, with correct sizing, aspect and shading tolerances, and are operating as expected.
- Documentation and credentials: Check of installers’ accreditations and licences and required installation documentation sighted.
Auditors for the Solar Homes Program use a checklist when they conduct audits.
This document includes all questions auditors base their inspection of PV installations on, using the current PV audit checklist.
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 retailer and installer (within 14 days). The homeowner will also be informed and advised of any next steps if required by the solar retailer (or appointed installer).
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 retailer and installer for the audited installation.
Step five: Rectifications needed
At this step Solar Victoria sends a rectification notice to the retailer via the Solar Victoria Portal. 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 retailer 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 retailer must contact the customer within seven days to arrange a time to complete any rectification works.
We will continue to monitor the installation until the issue has been rectified.
Step six: Rectifications completed
At this step the retailer advises Solar Victoria that all rectification work is complete (within 30 days) and uploads evidence of satisfactory rectification works to the Solar Victoria Portal.
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 retailer.
Step seven: Performance reporting
At this step Solar Victoria aggregates audit data and advises the retailer 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 Solar Homes Program.
Some issues will be considered by an audit safety committee. The committee includes members from Solar Victoria, WorkSafe Victoria, Energy Safe Victoria, the Victorian Building Authority, Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Clean Energy Council.
This group will consider any action already taken by individual agencies and determine whether the matter needs to be referred to the Clean Energy Council or Solar Victoria for further action.
Others notified of unsafe installations
Other checks on solar installations
In addition to the Solar Homes Program audits, other safety checks include:
- Electrical inspection - every system is required to be checked by a licensed electrical inspector and a issued prior to the system being connected to the distribution network.
- Safety visits - as part of the solar rebates process, we have asked householders to register for safety visits by during installation. These safety visits will focus on worker safety during installation, such as working at heights.
- Clean Energy Regulator audits - as part of a national program of inspections, the also performs selected audits 12 to 18 months after installation.
How to provide feedback on audits
We welcome your feedback. Solar industry retailers and installers whose installations have undergone an audit should first provide feedback or raise any concerns with the auditor through TechSafe Australia at
- 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.
Reviewed 03 March 2021