Building Standards; Getting It Right!
Jul 17, 2017 10:22 pm
We are building a Duplex in Queensland. Builder included solar HWS in the pricing. Due to the limited roof space on the north facing roof and where the bathrooms are located within the building the system for one unit is installed facing north but the second unit was installed facing west (or just slightly north of west I think).
Plumbing inspector is refusing to approve the installation as he says the collector should face north even though there is no space for it.
Under Queensland law (as far as I can see) there is no requirement to have an energy efficient hot water system so we could install a plain old electric system and it would be approved but because we have gone solar the inspector says no (even though Rheem states that the system will still generate 90% of the hot water that it would if installed as per the recommended orientation).
Has anyone else come across this and is there any way around it short of pulling the efficient solar system off the roof and putting a crappy electric one in instead??? Bureaucracy gone mad?
Re: Solar HWS not approved due to direction in Queensland2
Jul 18, 2017 11:03 pm
Yes it is bureaucracy gone mad. Rules is rules, and practicality and common sense is never built into legislation.
How could there be no space for the collector? Surely a frame or something could be set up? Pics please?
Re: Solar HWS not approved due to direction in Queensland3
Jul 19, 2017 4:58 pm
Hi qebtel - the problem (as I understand it) is most of the north facing roof is over Unit 1 and there is a full height firewall between the 2 units that they cannot go through so if they put the panels for unit 2 on that bit of roof they would have to take the pipes over the top of the roof as they cannot go through the roof until past the firewall. Will look very ugly! Yes they could potentially mount in on a frame over unit 2 but that adds a lot more to the cost than what you will ever get back from the slight improvement in efficiency (and also look ugly plus be a hazard in the event of a cyclone as the panels can then get blown of the roof much more easily)
At the moment the current solution is for the plumber to remove the panels from the roof and store them in the garage, convert the system to electric only (luckily the system we have will allow for this), get the final inspection and then put the panels back on the roof and switch it back to solar. Complete waste of time and money but the inspector can't fail it if the panels are not on the roof. Total f****n madness.
Re: Solar HWS not approved due to direction in Queensland4
Jul 23, 2017 5:09 pm
Wow, I didn't know this was the case. Crazy bureaucracy! I understand why they don't want them pointing south, but within 45 degrees of north seems a bit tough.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/sudden-bizar ... try-13565/
Re: Solar HWS not approved due to direction in Queensland5
Jul 23, 2017 5:25 pm
Yep totally stupid. We got the house passed by disconnecting the solar collector so that the system now operates as an electric system only and that is apparently OK but have been warned by the inspector that if we reconnect the collector we could be fined!! So the tenant moving in (who is an aged pensioner) now has to pay probably 20 times as much for their hot water because of this stupid rule and we have a solar collector on the roof that has been paid for by the builder but is illegal to connect. Can't quite see who this rule is helping! Now looking for a plumber who is willing to reconnect the system to save the pensioner tenant some money.
Re: Solar HWS not approved due to direction in Queensland6
Jul 23, 2017 5:52 pm
. Will look very ugly! Yes they could potentially mount in on a frame over unit 2 but that adds a lot more to the cost than what you will ever get back from the slight improvement in efficiency
I think its more than a slight efficiency over using grid electricity only. A mate has one and swears by the amount of money it saves him. Of course if you have solar panels then perhaps the efficiency may not be so much greater by virute of rebates you might be making feeding back to the grid.
"Rheem states that the system will still generate 90% of the hot water that it would if installed as per the recommended orientation)"
Lol they'll say anything to sell you something. That is just plain garbage for Qld. People wouldnt be paying $6000+ to install them just to save a piddly 10%.
Re: Solar HWS not approved due to direction in Queensland7
Jul 23, 2017 6:07 pm
No I was saying that in Queensland a solar HWS installed facing due west will be around 90% of the efficiency of one facing NE or NW (as allowed by the guidelines) BUT most systems in QLD will produce more hot water than what is used for most of the time so it is only of benefit to have it facing north for those marginal days. The system on our own home is installed outside the new guidelines and we have to turn the boost on maybe 10 days per year. If we had put a frame on it to get it to the correct orientation it would have cost an extra $1000 (roughly) and maybe saved us 2-3 days of boosting. As plumber said at the time you would never save the extra $1000 to pay for the frame.
Same with the duplex - the cost of adding the frame is a lot of money and is totally unnecessary except for this stupid law. The west facing system would be fine for the purpose and would save a lot of money over NOT having a solar system at all which is what the law is causing. Also a system on a frame in a cyclone area (which we are borderline on) is much more likely to come off the roof in a cyclone so again for a small increase in efficiency they are potentially creating a safety issue.
Essentially if we were allowed to connect it then it would probably save the tenant at least 95% off the hot water cost even with the west facing panel. Really just cannot understand why this has to be a rule with no exceptions instead of just a guideline that can be ignored if it makes sense to do so.
Re: Solar HWS not approved due to direction in Queensland8
Jul 24, 2017 1:26 am
Didn’t AS/NZS 4234:2008 previously require solar collectors to face within a range that was close to 45 degrees east and west of magnetic north anyway?
Does anyone have access to the old Standard? I have forum searched for a reference on H1 and Whirlpool without luck.
Re: Solar HWS not approved due to direction in Queensland9
Jul 25, 2017 11:28 am
The plumber told me that previously it was a recommendation but they could go outside the guidelines provided they had approval from the manufacturer. For example our personal system is outside those guidelines but they just put a higher efficiency panel on to make up for that and it performs fine. This is no longer an option as it HAS to be within the rules or you just cannot install it which means that solar HWS is being excluded from builds where it would perform fine but is technically illegal and instead you end up with a less efficient and more expensive (in the long run) system just because that complies.
Re: Solar HWS not approved due to direction in Queensland10
Jul 25, 2017 1:10 pm
That is crazy because it goes totally against the doctrine of the National Construction Code (NCC) being a performance based code. The performance requirements of the NCC also have hierarchy over the referenced Australian Standards and the manufacturer's recommendation would/should be deemed to satisfy the performance requirements of the NCC.
Re: Solar HWS not approved due to direction in Queensland11
Jul 25, 2017 2:33 pm
I would start a thread on the Whirlpool Green Tech sub forum about your situation and what I have stated. There are a lot of industry persons on there and your situation should draw many knowledgeable responses. Surely someone in the industry has had a Performance Solution certified and passed before now.
Australian Standards are Deemed To Satisfy (DTS) solutions. Did the plumbing inspector make any references to Performance Solutions or did he ONLY refer to having to meet Australian Standards (DTS)?
Google: NCC 2016 A PERFORMANCE BASED CODE
Re: Solar HWS not approved due to direction in Queensland12
Jul 25, 2017 4:21 pm
Thanks for that SaveH2O. As far as I can tell the problem is coming from the council inspector who refused to give a final plumbing certificate for the house until the solar system was either moved or replaced. I spoke to him yesterday and he said he had to enforce the rules as written and unless we could get an exemption he would not pass the solar system but he could not give me any information on how to get such an exemption or who to ask. The plumber has currently disconnected the panels and the inspector is assessing it as an electric only system but warned me yesterday that he would "keep an eye on the house" and if the solar panels were reconnected without being moved the plumber that connected could be liable for a big fine (I think it was something like $30,000 but was so p***ed off at the time that I may have that wrong).
When I have more time this evening I will put a post on Whirlpool and see if someone there has any advice.
Re: Solar HWS not approved due to direction in Queensland13
Jul 25, 2017 4:35 pm
It only needs one industry 'expert' to certify a performance solution and I would be amazed if a manufacturer or installer hasn't already done this...unless they also don't understand the very basics of the NCC.
Re: Solar HWS not approved due to direction in Queensland14
Jul 26, 2017 10:10 pm
There are two easy to follow videos in this link that you should watch.
And posted separately below...
Re: Solar HWS not approved due to direction in Queensland15
Jul 27, 2017 8:50 am
Thanks for that - I will have a look and refer it to the plumber & builder. I did read somewhere though that QLD had removed the option to show a performance solution to meet the requirements but not 100% sure of whether that is true or the implications.
Re: Solar HWS not approved due to direction in Queensland16
Jul 27, 2017 10:19 am
It is an option for a State to introduce a variation into the NCC to remove or modify part of the NCC. If the option of using a Performance Solution has been removed in this instance, it will be referenced in the PCA.
The current NCC 2016 can be downloaded free of charge and you can check this. The installer should have known if this is in fact the case but removing the option to use a Performance Solution goes against the ethos of the NCC and reeks of bureaucratic arrogance and mismanagement.
Builders are using more and more Performance Solutions and I have been critical of many that have been surreptitiously introduced to save costs and favour some questionable work practices and difficulty of scrutiny but deleting the option of being able to certify a Performance Solution to allow a solution to a difficult problem while still meeting the performance requirements of the NCC goes against the ethos of the NCC.
It is a requirement of the NCC that a Performance Solution be judged on its merits by documented expert assessment, it is bureaucratic incompetence if this has been denied you. Having said that, a State can (I think) still choose not to adopt the PCA in its entirety as was the case until recently with West Australia.
I will look through the PCA later today and post what I find.
Re: Solar HWS not approved due to direction in Queensland17
Jul 27, 2017 12:58 pm
I could only see the following in the QLD Appendice on page 131 of the Part 3 (PCA) NCC. If AS/NZS 3500.4 references the 45 degree angle limitation, then it is mandatory which is not in keeping with the NCC's prime purpose to be a performance based document.
I don't have AS/NZS 3500.4 unfortunately and buying it would probably cost over $200. The inspector will have it.
Re: Solar HWS not approved due to direction in Queensland18
Aug 01, 2017 9:52 pm
The plumbing inspector should stick to what he knows (plumbing) and leave the energy calculations up to those of us who understand solar design and thermodynamics...
A solar system in Queensland only loses marginal performance by being outside ideal azimuth and orientation. And west north west is actually probably better for solar hot water because it's heating the water with the afternoon sun for the evening when you use most of your hot water...
A little bit of knowledge can be dangerous with some people.
Building Services Engineer
Renovating our 1960's modernist home in Brisbane
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