The modules on the CEC list meet the relevant Australian and International Standards. This is a minimum requirement and there is a range of enhanced PV module tests and certifications above the minimum standards.
High quality modules are built on three foundations:
- Excellent design
- Manufacturing best practice
- Proven bill of materials
To ensure you are buying quality modules you should consider the following:
- Choose a high quality manufacturer
- Ensure you specify high quality components
- Appoint an agent to oversee the production of your modules at the factory
- Arrange third party testing of a sample of the modules in Australia
- Ensure the modules are suitable for the environment you are installing in
The following testing programs can give consumers and installers more information on the quality of the modules they are looking to install.
VDE Quality Tested
Rigorous testing and surveillance of existing standards is provided by the VDE Quality Tested program.
This certification program has been developed to provide assurance of increased reliability and durability of modules. Along with quarterly laboratory testing of a sample of production modules, it also requires production line sample testing on a daily basis, with some tests required for 100 per cent of production.
Some of the testing involves additional test cycles and higher sampling rates than required by the international standards. The associated VDE Quality Tested certificate ensures that all production modules meet the very high standards set.
The CEC Approved Products List includes a column to show whether the product meets this level of testing.
Manufacturers should submit details by email at the time of applying for approval.
IEC 62941 Guidelines for increased confidence in PV module design qualification and type approval.
This new IEC standard was released in January 2016. It is a version of IEC 9001 quality standard which provides PV module design and manufacturing certification. A certification to this standard gives a high degree of confidence that the modules will meet their claimed warranty lifetime.
The CEC plans to show those modules with this certification on the CEC Approved Products List in future.
Special environment testing
For particular environments it is necessary to ask for certification to additional standards. These include:
- Coastal environments – your modules should be certified to IEC 61701 for salt mist corrosion
- Intensive farming sheds – certified to IEC 62716 for ammonia corrosion
- Commercial systems above 600 Vdc – certified to IEC 62804 for potential induced degradation
- Cyclonic regions – we recommend module and framing assembly should be tested by the cyclone testing station at James Cook University
- Desert regions – certified to IEC 60068-2-68 wind-blown dust and sand
- Snow regions – certified for snow load of 5400 Pa or higher (per IEC 61215 enhanced test)
The important thing to note is that a manufacturer datasheet may advertise the modules are certified to an enhanced standard. However, it may be that not all the materials permitted by the IEC 61215/61730 certification may have been tested for the enhanced certification.
In other words, the enhanced certificate may only be relevant for a sub-set of the components permitted to be used in the main certificate. Unless you specifically request these enhanced features, you may not get them.
The best way to be sure you are getting what you require is to negotiate with your supplier for the actual components they will be using in your modules, and ensure these component combinations meet the enhanced standards, as well as the base 61215/61730 standards.
The CEC will show those modules which meet these standards on the CEC Approved Products List if it is demonstrated that all materials for that model number are covered by the enhanced certification.
Manufacturers should submit a request and details by email at the time of applying for approval.
Other testing and certification programs
Other enhanced testing programs include:
- DNV-GL (PVEL) Product Qualification Program
- TÜV SÜD Thresher Test
- Atlas 25+
- PV+ test and Fraunhofer
These test a series individual modules, and do not necessarily provide certification of production modules. Many programs are designed to inform the manufacturers about the durability of their materials.
Even if a model number is certified for these standards, modules with the same model number which are shipped to Australia may not contain the same materials and therefore may not pass these standards.
These will only be accepted for listing by the CEC as enhanced quality if the certification covers all products with these model numbers, and all components have been tested to the higher standards.