Queensland regulators want battery storage out of homes, garages

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Queensland regulators suggest all battery storage devices be put inside separate enclosures, and not inside homes or garages. Installation costs could soar.

share
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Two Queensland workplace regulators are recommending that all battery storage units not be placed in either the home or the garage, and should instead be installed in a free standing, weatherproof enclosures.

storage guidelinesThe Electrical Safety Office, part of the Office of Industrial Relations, and WorkCover Queensland have issued the advice ahead of – and apparently anticipated – strict new  guidelines that are due to be released by Standards Australia in April.

The recommendations to not install battery storage in garages or sheds, and instead put them in a separate enclosure, have caused controversy in the industry, which fears that the cost of installation could rise by thousands of dollars, and are “over-reach” in the case of quality equipment.

They point out that battery storage has been installed in tens of thousands of homes in Germany, mostly in garages, and there are thousands of installations already in Australia, including in the Sydney harbourside property of prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The industry has accused authorities of being too conservative, although they recognise the risk of low cost, low quality technology with poor installation standards.

Still, they fear that the industry could be stopped in its tracks if their are effective bans or restrictions, just as the battery storage industry is tipped to take off in response to high electricity prices, the high installation of solar, and the falling costs of storage.

Network companies in Australia and retailers such as AGL Energy have announced plans to install thousands of battery storage devices in trials designed to create “virtual power plants” and save on network upgrades.

Some ask whether the ruling would effectively stop electric vehicles, laden with even bigger arrays of battery storage, from being parked in garages. Others point to the risk of liquid fuels, and wonder if stand-alone enclosures would subject battery storage to even more heat.

Revelations last week by RenewEconomy that Standards Australia was to introduce regulations that would effectively ban lithium-ion battery storage from inside homes and garages caused such a blow-back that the release date was delayed by nearly two months and the public consultation period extended to 9 weeks from 6 weeks.

The Queensland guidelines, issued last week, appear to affect all battery storage technologies, not just lithium ion.

“A BESS (battery energy storage system) should be installed outdoors in weatherproof enclosures away from any living areas, laundries and garages. The enclosure should restrict access by untrained people, children, pets or vermin,” the Electrical Safety Office writes on its website.

The guidelines say that a range of battery technologies is available in Australia – the most common being lead-acid, lithium technologies, nickel-based, flow technologies and hybrid-ion technology. “Hazards can result from overheating, over-charging and emissions from hazardous chemicals,” it says.

WorkCover Queensland, in an update from February 16, also identifies the range of battery technologies, including lead-acid (advanced, flooded-cell and sealed); lithium (ion and polymer); nickel-based (metal hydrides and cadmium); flow (zinc bromine and vanadium redox); and hybrid ion.

“We recommend that no battery parts of a BESS should be installed inside a home or building attached to a home. Instead, they should be installed in a suitable fire and weatherproof enclosure or other purpose built structure.”

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

34 Comments
  1. Sunbuntu Ltd 3 years ago

    Just another exampled of the various Governments ensuring that the status quo is maintained.

  2. solarguy 3 years ago

    Absolut bloody nonsense! Who are these morons?

    • Kevan Daly 3 years ago

      These are the nanny-staters who stick their heads up at least once a week.

    • Miles Harding 3 years ago

      They’re not morons, but bastards, intent on maintaining the status quo for their masters!!
      This is one place we should assume malice before incompetence.

  3. Jeff Wehl 3 years ago

    I can see a future of cheap enclosures and failing IP ratings on cheap inverters. The garage is an ideal location and will provide the overall safest outcome in terms of lowest rate of incidents.

  4. Brian Bartlett 3 years ago

    All part of the process to defer, delay, distract and deny moves to sensible power solutions.

  5. john 3 years ago

    Following these guidelines every laptop must be left outside the building while being charged as well as every battery charged household item like that hand held drill or the vacuum cleaner.
    That mobile phone also must be charged outside the house it has a battery in it and no way can you charge it inside the house.
    Just as a note what electrical appliance has burnt down most houses?
    I would venture to say a bar heater.
    Simple put them outside the house that will fix that up.

    • Brian Bartlett 3 years ago

      A bit dated but this 2013 report lists the most common causes of house fires.

      Did you know that fires started in the bedroom or lounge make up 73% of all house fire fatalities?¹

      https://www.realinsurance.com.au/news-views/the-most-common-causes-of-house-fires

      • john 3 years ago

        Oh yes the heat extractor fan over the cooking area I had a battle to convince the roofers to put the pipe up though the roof from the hood to vent the fats to outside the house. The usual practice is to vent the fats into the roof cavity which will ignite when heated.
        The bed room beside smokers heaters come into the picture as in the lounge room.
        Relating this back to the subject of the discussion all batteries that are charged are potential fire hazards.
        In fact the bed side radio can fail and burn down the house perhaps we should cut the power when we go to sleep where does this end?

  6. wmh 3 years ago

    The energy stored in one Powerwall is 14kWh. This is the same energy as stored in 1.5L of petrol (9.25 kWh/L). Should we not ban petrol vehicles (30L petrol tank) from garages or at least insist that the petrol tank be almost empty?

    • john 3 years ago

      Perhaps put the Powerwall behind a bollard due to the incompetence of most drives should take care of that.

    • wmh 3 years ago

      But really I can’t see what the fuss is all about. A 1.52m x 0.78 zincalume shed (Australian made: Absco in QLD) costs $219 including (metropolitan) delivery. Add to this a little extra cabling. It’s not going to break the bank when a Powerwall costs $10,800.

      • john 3 years ago

        And considering that the Powerwall 2 should cost $2000 less but they allow that amount to hook up 3 connections and set the parameters for the software, we should not be paying $10,800 at all.
        In fact this is a hidden ripoff in my opinion.

      • Rod 3 years ago

        Agreed. If you are keen for storage and have the means, this won’t be a great impost. Might be a good business opportunity.
        Small slab, insulated vented enclosure and a bit of conduit. Sorted.

        • solarguy 3 years ago

          Time = money think about it!

        • Kevan Daly 3 years ago

          In Sydney you’d probably have to lodge a development application (DA) for even such a small structure. God help you then.

      • solarguy 3 years ago

        Oh mate I think the will want more than a tin lawn locker. Anyway you look at it, it’s madness!

        • Ian 3 years ago

          Just another ugly unnecessary crappy shed in the backyard.
          There is no good reason for it.

          • solarguy 3 years ago

            No there isn’t, but look and I say this to everyone on this forum, I’ll ask my mate who is on the committee as to what truth there is to what’s going on here.

          • Mark Roest 3 years ago

            Could you also ask if these regulations would apply to a saline-based electrolyte, ceramic semiconductor electrode battery which cannot catch fire or explode?

  7. Steve 3 years ago

    This story happily hyped-up by the Anti-Renewables lobbyists firmly planted in every politicians office. I can tell you clearly, the international battery manufacturers think we are idiots…wake up Australia!

    • john 3 years ago

      That Astyla place is pretty backward

  8. Michael Porter 3 years ago

    This sounds a bit like the Qld curtain fading problem revisited

  9. George Darroch 3 years ago

    This idiocy is a real threat.

  10. Ian 3 years ago

    It’s economic vandalism

  11. Jason 3 years ago

    The storage guidelines quoted above say “should”, not “shall”. In my experience with standards, anything that says “should” doesn’t usually happen on commercial projects. Would this be much the same?

  12. Ken Dyer 3 years ago

    Apart from a much publicised incident some years ago where a lithium battery was installed without adequate ventilation with predictable results (yes, it caught on fire), there is no empirical (thank you Senator Roberts for the word) evidence that installing batteries inside house or garages present any sort of risk, provided they are installed according to manufacturer’s instructions

  13. Robert Comerford 3 years ago

    In the end I think a bigger driver for separate storage might be what the insurance industry think of the risks of certain batteries attached to homes. Your next premium might be the decider as to where they are located.

  14. Lilly Luna 3 years ago

    Explain to me how it is okay to have petrol in your car alongside your car battery…in your garage…. all these years….

    This is a bullshit law designed to stifle innovation!

  15. aussiearnie 3 years ago

    By all means put standards on the batteries. This appears to be geared towards an inability to stop bad operators installing cheap rubbish that may catch on fire. A bit like those hover boards two Christmases ago…

    • Jason 3 years ago

      IIRC, there exists a list of solar panel and inverter vendors / models that are eligible for RECs; not on the list, no REC. Is that correct?

  16. Phil 3 years ago

    That 20 litres of fuel i legally store in the garage is now a concern ?

    And what about my EV , do i park that in the Driveway and not the garage?

    Also there are different chemistries for Lithium Ion batteries with some exhibiting virtually zero chance of thermal runaway

    I personally would and have installed my Off Grid wet cell traction batteries in a dedicated insulated housing that is separate from the house. This is more for protection against a direct lightning strike (high risk area) , and subsequent molten metal flying around , and/or acid spills as it’s fully bunded and vented against that.

  17. Miles Harding 3 years ago

    In Queensland, this shouldn’t be surprising after the last year’s manipulation of tariffs, designed to make solar on commercial premises uneconomic.

    It does indicate the lengths that these bastards will go to nobble competitors for their over-built grid and coal fired power stations.

    PS The workcover Qld guideline uses the word ‘should’ – non binding.

    I disagree with them because the most likely installation will be a free-standing cabinet, which will be exposed to weather and, particularly, temperature and humidity variations, shortening the battery’s life and making it more fault-prone.

  18. DJR96 3 years ago

    They’re tackling the safety issue from the wrong end entirely here.

    Shouldn’t the objective be to ensure only quality standards approved BESS be installed in the first place. If the system qualifies it is already intrinsically a safe system that does not need to have limitations imposed on it for where it can be installed.

    Any half decent BESS will have proper monitoring inbuilt such that if any of the battery parameters go outside of normal operating ranges, it will shut it all down.

Comments are closed.

Get up to 3 quotes from pre-vetted solar (and battery) installers.