Who can sell or install solar panels

Many home owners are making choices to cut down their energy use and reduce their energy bills. As solar panels have increased in popularity businesses have sought to tap into this growing market.  Consumer and Business Services (CBS) is reminding suppliers that if you install solar panel systems, or you sell systems that include installation, you must be licensed. The electrical work must always be performed by a registered electrician.

If the installation includes structural building work (e.g. modifying/reinforcing roof framing or integrating the solar panel system with a pre-existing structure) then you must hold a building work contractor’s licence and the work must be supervised by a registered building supervisor.

If the installation does not include structural building work you can hold either:

  • an electrical contractors licence, or
  • a suitable building work contractor’s licence – such as a builders licence endorsed for ‘PV Solar Panel installation’, or a more general category of building work as long as the solar panel installation fits within your endorsed category.

In 2016 a company was fined $46,575 after it failed to inform customers of their cooling off rights for unsolicited sales, failed to attend compulsory conciliation conferences with CBS, and contracted for electrical work while unlicensed in South Australia. This serves as a reminder to anyone who installs or sells solar panels including installation to comply with licensing and consumer law requirements.

By law, a business that contracts for the installation must provide warranties to cover:

  • quality of materials and workmanship
  • compliance with plans, specifications and legal requirements
  • completing the work within a specified time or a reasonable time
  • meeting the end result that was requested.

Claims against a statutory warranty can be made up to 5 years after the work was completed. However you may be liable for defective building work under the Development Act 1993 for 10 years.

Consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law also apply.  If the panels are not of acceptable quality, not fit for purpose, do not match the description given by the supplier, or were not installed with an acceptable level of care and skill and within a reasonable period of time, the consumer is entitled to a remedy (e.g. refund, repair, or having the panels replaced).

CBS has developed a guide for solar installers which outlines responsibilities in relation to licensing requirements, quotes, contracts, payments and when building indemnity insurance is required. CBS also has a guide for consumers to help them make an informed choice before purchasing a solar panel system.

For more information see the ‘Guide for solar panel installers’ or contact CBS on 131 882.