Battery energy storage systems

Residential Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) are increasingly being used in conjunction with solar panel systems. This technology commonly contains lithium-ion batteries and come with associated risks and hazards (including fire and explosion, radiation, heat, chemical and electrical).

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Minimise risk

Fire and Rescue NSW is currently conducting research on how best to mitigate incidents involving these technologies and how best to respond to incidents when they occur. While we work on the research, there are some measures that we urge users to be aware of to minimise their exposure to hazards.

  • Make sure that your system is installed by an authorised and accredited technician. Information on BESS and approved installers can be found on the Clean Energy Council’s website [external link].
  • It is important to have the system regularly checked and maintained by an authorised technician.
  • Please keep the contact details of the installer and the system manufacturer somewhere safe and easily accessible in case of an emergency. These should also be indicated in your meter box along with labelling and signage to inform emergency responders in accordance with the Australian Standard AS/NZS 5139 Electrical installations - Safety of battery systems for use with power conversion equipment.
  • Keep the area where the system is installed clear of all materials (especially those that are combustible) and other equipment. We recommend that BESS are installed in cool, dry areas with good ventilation (preferably outside the home), and where they are not likely to be struck, for example by reversing vehicles or opening vehicle doors, or when other tools and equipment are being accessed.
  • FRNSW recommends that a smoke alarm or a heat alarm is installed in garages or utility rooms where a BESS is installed. We recommend having a licenced electrician install and interconnect mains-powered devices where possible. Check with the manufacturer or distributor to ensure device models are compatible for interconnection.

If any incident occurs

  • Keep clear of the area where the BESS is installed and evacuate the building.
  • Call Triple Zero (000) and inform the operator that a BESS is involved.
  • Make sure no one goes back inside the building for any reason.
  • Wait in a safe location for firefighters to arrive.

If anyone has been exposed to spilled electrolyte, flying debris, smoke or vapours, or flames, seek urgent medical assistance. Burns should be immediately treated with cool running water for 20 minutes. Burns larger than a 20-cent piece require emergency care. Treat with cool running water immediately, call Triple Zero (000), and follow the advice of the operator.

Damaged residential systems

A residential BESS that has been damaged by impact, fire, or water ingress must not be put back into operation, even if it appears to be operational.

Always assume that the equipment is energised.

If it is safe to do so:

  • Follow any shutdown procedures displayed. This may be on or near the switchboard or adjacent to the BESS.
  • If the shutdown procedure cannot be found, identify the main power switch for the BESS and switch to OFF.

Contact the manufacturer and/or an authorised technician to inspect, disconnect and remove the equipment if it has been compromised.

Damaged BESS should be moved to an outside, well-ventilated area. Store at least 3 metres from any structures and/or combustible materials. Seek the manufacturer’s advice on disposal.