DC isolator issue

AGL has recently become aware of a technical issue with a particular third-party component installed in some solar systems between 25 August 2016 and 1 November 2017. In a small number of cases, this particular componentry – the DC isolator – has been found to fail, meaning excessive heat has caused the unit to burn out.

The cause of the failure has not yet been determined. Despite the low number of incidents, AGL is taking this safety risk very seriously as these failures could present a fire risk under certain conditions.

We will be sending out an AGL representative as soon as possible to inspect and replace your current DC isolators with a different brand and model. Please note that we will not charge you for this replacement, and it is very unlikely that we will need to turn off the power to your house during this time.

For customers WITH a solar battery energy storage system.

If you have a solar battery energy storage system installed, please contact AGL solar customer service on 1300 019 667 immediately. Please do not touch or turn off any switches on your main switchboard or inverter.

For customers WITHOUT a solar battery energy storage system.

If you do not have a solar battery energy storage system installed, we need you to turn off your solar system immediately (see instructions below) to reduce any risks.

Photograph of the front a solar DC isolator.

How to turn off your solar system

Instructions on how to correctly shut down your solar system are as follows.

Step 1

Go to your main switchboard.

Step 2

Turn off the solar supply main switch/circuit breaker in your main switchboard. This should be labelled as ‘Solar Supply Main Switch’ or ‘Main Switch (Inverter Supply)’. This will effectively shut down your solar system.

Note: This will de-energise your inverter but not the solar panels on the roof, which will still be energised. Please do not attempt to climb on your roof to inspect or clean the solar panels.

Photograph of a switchboard indicating the solar main supply switch.

Important

Please do not touch or turn off any other switches on your main switchboard or inverter. Please contact AGL solar customer service on 1300 019 667 if you are unsure about following these instructions.

State by sate compensation figures offered to customers for each day their solar system is turned off.

Compensation

Once your DC isolators have been replaced and your solar system is operational, we will be able to provide an individual compensation calculation based on your site. This will be estimated based on interval data or, where available, Solar Command data.

In the meantime, you can use these tables as a guide to help you understand what you can expect in terms of compensation (per day your solar system is turned off). The estimated compensation figures have been calculated by combining self-consumption savings and feed-in tariff values, and are based on summer production.

The estimated compensation ranges set out in these tables are calculated by analysing interval meter consumption data from November – March for a large number of residential customers, based on solar system size and average gross load. Approximately 80% of customers are expected to be within the ranges provided.



What happens next?

Safety is very important to us, and we are committed to resolving this issue as quickly as possible.

AGL has now secured 8,300 new DC isolators, which will start arriving in Australia in December and early January. These new isolators meet the current Australian standards, and have been assessed by an independent engineering company to ensure they are suitable for customer solar installations.

We are currently in the processes of developing a deployment system that will enable our partner installers to plan when they will be in your local area to replace the DC isolators in your solar system. This is a complex task, with over 1,500 systems needing to be remediated.

Once your solar system has been remediated and is operational again, your compensation will be calculated.

We apologise for any inconvenience and disruption this may cause. If you have any further questions, please call AGL solar customer service on 1300 019 667.

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FAQs

Where do I find my main switchboard?

Generally, this is either down the side of your house or if an older style home it may be near the front door.

Where do I find the solar main supply switch?

This should be located in your main switchboard and should be labelled as ‘Solar Supply Main Switch’ or ‘Main Switch (Inverter Supply)’.

What is a DC isolator?

One of the components in a solar system is a DC isolator. This allows for the direct current (DC) circuits from the solar panels to be disconnected from the inverter that converts that power into AC and connects that power to the premises. There are typically 2 to 4 DC isolators used in each installation.

Do I need to do anything with my inverter?

No. Please do not touch or turn off any switches on your inverter. The shut down instructions provided will effectively turn off your solar system, making it safe.

Do I need to do anything to my solar panels?

No. Please do not attempt to inspect or clean the solar panels.

What is the issue with the DC isolator?

AGL has recently become aware of a technical issue with Salzer DC LB232 (a.k.a. IPV40E & IPV40ES) isolators, a third-party component installed in some solar systems.

AGL has not yet established the underlying cause of this issue, however it appears that it may be due to heat as a result of a high resistance connection within the DC isolators, or a fault or damage to the DC isolators causing excessive heat dissipating from connectors.

The cause of these conditions has not yet been determined, but AGL considers that there may either be an underlying fault with these DC isolators, or a fault caused at the time of installation due to particular issues associated with the isolators.

What is the risk here?

In a small number of cases the Salzer DC LB232 isolators have been found to fail, meaning excessive heat has caused the unit to burn out. Despite the low number of incidents, AGL is taking this risk very seriously as these failures could present a fire risk under certain conditions.

When will my solar system be fixed?

Remediation work will start from early December and we expect to have the majority of this program of work completed within 90 days. We will advise you of your intended remediation window, which will be subject to weather and property access, via email.

Do I need to be home during this remediation work?

No. We are likely to be able to complete the required remediation work without you being home, provided we can have safe access to your property and main switchboard in your absence. If you normally lock your gate, could you please leave this unlocked during your remediation window and could you also notify us of any reasons why we might not be able to access to your property safely, such as a dog.

How long will I need to keep my solar system turned off?

We are working through impacted customers as quickly as possible, and aim to remediate the majority of affected solar systems within 90 days.

How will I be compensated?

You will be compensated based on the number of days your solar system is not operational. You will either receive a credit on your AGL electricity bill or a one-off cash payment, once your system has been remediated.

What happens if I refuse to turn off my solar system to be turned off by an AGL representative?

AGL’s current understanding is that the risk results from a high resistance connection within some of the DC isolators. When the solar system is switched on it can cause excessive heat inside the switch. In a small number of the DC isolators the excessive heat has caused the unit to burn out. If this occurs there is a risk of a fire. Switching the system off removes the risk of heat being generated in the DC isolators.

Where you refuse to turn off you solar system or refuse to allow your system to be turned off by an AGL representative, this risk will remain until the DC isolators have been replaced.

AGL does not want to expose you to this risk.