Installing an inverter and lithium battery inside the house

Is there any regulations prohibiting the installation of a 5kw inverter and 5 kWh battery indoors.

TLDR. Did an install for my sister in a townhouse and she got an electrician that her company uses to issue the CoC. He came over and said it’s not allowed to have the install inside a spare bedroom and wants to move it to a new enclosure outside.

Is he smoking some nice stuff or has regulations changed.

Maybe he thinks they are flooded batteries??

I have heard of similar, to do with safety and lithiums if they “light up”.

Proper enclosure and/or even outside in an enclosure.

But, it was retracted if memory serves.

@Rautenk is the best source of info.

The manuals for the inverter and battery should list ignition hazard class and flammability class. For pretty much everything on the market, it is specified as low or medium and is suitable for indoor installation.

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Ja nee, I am not getting into this debate…


  1. Engineer (that sells products and services) hammers on about it
  2. Other guys in the industry is perplexed to this requirement.

While after I have had discussions with person 1 and what he says makes sense, the overall regulatory interpretation is, let’s say, not that clear cut.

Reason: IF there is an EXTERNAL fire the lithium is self-propagating (makes its own oxygen) and it also releases toxic vapours etc. Thus, this is now classed under a specific material, using that material classification you change your Fire Protection requirements for the “occupied” spaces and thus you need additional protection installed etc. etc.

The main concern is obstructing or poisoning the evacuation route. When looking directly at this issue.

So, best would be to get a Structural Engineer, well versed in SANS10400 and safety engineering to comment.

From an electrical point of view: VERY unlikely that the battery will self combust, most casings are metal to also alleviate temperature build-up and mechanical damage.

Would I sleep next to a Lithium battery? I would as long as the damn charge lights are hidden, I do hate lights in room.

Counter point:
Would I sleep with exposed wiring carrying high currents in my room? Absolutely NOT!
Have you seen that picture doing the rounds from Arrive Alive (stating lithium fire)? Hilux got melted, batteries are still 100%… That was NOT a battery fire but a loose connection under high amperage causing the cabling and fuse assembly to start melting Hiluxes… (or Hilux bumpers, damn those bakkies are now made of plastic!)

I understand the background of why it would be like that but unless it’s in the regulations, a CoC should not be refused for that reason.

A 9kg gas cylinder indoors is also a risk and I know of a case where it caused a serious fire but it’s still allowed.

I think it may have to do with some other things I’ve read recently about how high up from the ground it must be etc. The fact that it’s in a bedroom maybe just adds some more scrutiny as well compared to a locked cupboard or inside a garage.

No answer here, sorry, but I just remember reading (on this forum I think) about how high off the ground the inverter should be or something something.

Edit: Just to add: I know a lot of electricians don’t really like signing CoC’s for work that they didn’t do themselves which might also add extra scrutiny.

To be honest though I would suggest asking him on what basis the CoC is being refused with specific reference to the relevant SANS code / section / subsection.

Yes, I had that. Sparkie refused to mount it low, must be a certain height, the inverter now. Said it is in the regs, and as an explanation for me, has to do with potentially easily accessible for little bodies and their tiny fingers.

We don’t have little kids, I said. All our friends don’t have tiny kids anymore.

A couple of years later, yeah, 2yo is running around some weekends in the house.

Thank you sparkie for being such a pain-in-the-nethers-stickler for regulations. :slight_smile:

Titibit: Someone I know has a friend in a department in a big city in SA, that supplies equipment to firehouses.

He alleges, the amount of fires he has heard of from fire departments due to lithium batteries and solar systems, is getting bad.

So yeah, it is a “thing”. But I would guess, more about the quality of the products, and more importantly, the installation thereof, the safeties. The “here hold my beer, I can cut lawns, therefor I can install solar systems too”. :slight_smile:

Well, in this case it isn’t mounted low. It’s actually high up with the battery mounted on the wall below the inverter. With separate DB close to inverter.

He asked about indicator lights in the DB… check
Separate breakers… check
Labels… check
Earth neutral bond… check
Check all cable size and breaker size… no issue.

Sister spoke to another guy that actually recommended the first and he says he doesn’t know of any regulation.

Garages alight (with possible vehicles inside)
Speculation that the inverters exploded with power surge when power came back on
PS: This happened last week in my valley. Maybe a reason to not install systems in the house??

In my garage, there’s a lot more that’s flammable than in a bedroom. With an attached garage, does it really make much of a difference? The only safe space is outside but then in SA, it gets stolen.

Got the pic this morning … posting the pic, not the link … I despise Solar companies jumping on photos like " Using a reputable and certified XXXXX installer will ensure that THIS never happens to you!".


Can happen with ALL makes. As also said, gas in the house … heaters, shorts … the risks are everywhere.

Did we do all we could to mitigate the risks by 1) using common sense and 2) regulations for mitigating risks?

Shitte will go wrong … question is, do we have a plan for when it goes wrong?
The key is, to protect life … everything else can be replaced.

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I remember this picture. The installer claimed that the short started inside a battery (of course that would be bad news for the brand in question). The trouble with that, is that it is human nature to look for the fault outside of yourself. That doesn’t mean the installer is at fault… it is just the exact response I would expect even if he was.

For myself, I see only one fuse holder (way to the right), and it looks like an NH0 holder, so 160A max. But I see many many batteries! I think it is half likely that some part of the install was lacking sufficient protection to deal with a fault in a battery (faults happen… what we do to deal with them is what matters).

But I am not prepared to “put my head on the chopping block” based on just this one photo. A lot of the equipment was already removed in this picture. It is hard to tell.

Looking around a bit… there is this video (comments conveniently turned off), showing a Victron Inverter “catching fire”.

Well, first of, it’s not an inverter letting out the smoke, it is one of the old boxy MPPTs, and secondly, I want you to look carefully down in the trunking below the MPPT while this is going on. See the bright glowing? That thing is not properly fused. If that burned down the house… guess who’d be blamed.


The building rules here are that you need a fire wall between your garage and house. That is the reason that when the garage are attached toyour house, the brick wall goes all the way to the roof surface and does not stop just above the ceiling and why that door is a heave solid wood door instead of these cheap hollow laminate doors your other inside door use.
So it should be more safe than inside the house. It gives you more time for the fire department to arrive.

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Is this the same house in the Peninsula??

Even if the cars go up in flames it’s better to have a fire in the garage I reckon…


Assuming all was done to ensure the safety of the installation, this article made me think very hard about what if a lithium bank is on fire … to put it out is not that easy!

So I sat and thought:

  1. Have a gas mask and some protective clothing … you need that to get close to douse the flames to cut the wires.
  2. Batt must be moveable, like maybe on wheels, to push it where?
  3. With a plan to:
    3.1) Throw the batt into a bath if it fits, you can pick it up/tip it.
    3.2) If you have a pool, a pathway to get it there to dump it in.

Obviously, the above musings necessitate the batt not to be fastened against a wall … so yeah, pretty much outside-the-box thinking.

Remember that Tesla cars use 3.7V LiFe cells, and not the safer LifePO4 that has a little less energy density.