With interest in renewable energy at an all-time high, photovoltaic (PV) systems have become a common sight worldwide. Infrared inspections can be used for quality-assurance inspections of new installations or to monitor the performance of existing ones.
Photovoltaics is a method of converting solar energy into electricity. A photovoltaic system uses an array of several solar panels each of which is comprised of several solar cells. When exposed to sunlight, the solar cells produce direct current electricity. This DC power can then be converted to AC power for local use or to supply a power grid.
Defective cells or wiring within solar panels can cause hotspots that compromise the power output of the panel. Such hotspots are readily detected with a thermal imager while the panel is exposed to sunlight. Performed from either the topside or underside of panels, infrared inspections provide the most cost-effective method for detecting defects within installed panels.
When performing an infrared inspection of an installed PV system, keep the following in mind:
♦ Determine best vantage point for the IR inspection.
♦ Inspections should be performed on a sunny day when winds are calm.
♦ Qualitatively inspect panels looking for inexplicable hot or cold spots.
♦ Be sure to include the electrical conductors and distribution equipment
that connect solar panels to the electrical system.
Last, make certain to observe all safety precautions during the infrared inspection, especially when working from an aircraft or an elevated vantage point. Personnel should also take care to avoid electrical hazards when working near exposed, energized electrical conductors.TRR
Infrared inspections of photovoltaic panels is one of the many topics covered in the Level I Infraspection Institute Certified Infrared Thermographer training course. For information on thermographer training or to obtain a copy of the Standard for Infrared Inspection of Installed Photovoltaic Systems, visit www.infraspection.com, or call 609-239-4788.
This Article Is Based OnThe April 18, 2022
“Tip of the Week”From The IRINFO.org Website
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim Seffrin, CMRP, has been an Infraspection Institute Certified Infrared Thermographer since 1984. A co-founder of Jersey Infrared Consultants and a practicing thermographer with 36+ years of experience as an infrared consultant, he was appointed Director of Infraspection Institute in April 2000. For information on a wide range of topics related to infrared thermography and associated training and certification, visit IRINFO.org and/or infraspection.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: reliability, availability, maintenance, RAM, photovoltaic systems, solar panels, infrared thermography, infrared cameras, thermographic imagers, imaging radiometers, infrared inspections, infrared temperature measurement, thermographer training