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Solar Panel Testing

Solar Panel testing is very important and you should check PV modules before, during and after installation. Photovoltaic systems are complicated and there are many situations in which a problem could arise. Solar PV installations should not be left to their own devices and regular solar panel testing and maintenance should be performed.

The British weather is particularly harsh and faults can occur on the system if it's not correctly installed. Often these problems go unnoticed for long periods of time. By testing solar panels regularly you can guarantee that the PV system is producing the electricity within the solar panel’s specification. solar panel testing

Many PV installers only do the bare minimum of tests and don’t check the overall PV system’s efficiency. This can seriously affect the output of the Photovoltaic system and decrease the amount of money it makes.

Regular solar panel testing and predictive maintenance can spot these problems before they even happen, ensuring that your PV system is working at its best for many years to come!

Solar test equipment recommends that you only use a fully accredited, MCS registered installer.

Solar panel performance is generally rated under standard test conditions (STC): irradiance of 1,000 W/m², solar spectrum of Air mass (AM) 1.5 and module temperature at 25°C

Electrical characteristics include nominal power (PMAX, measured in W), open circuit voltage (VOC), short circuit current (ISC, measured in amperes), maximum power voltage (VMPP), maximum power current (IMPP), peak power, kWp, and module efficiency (%).

Below are some tests that should be performed on solar panels.

Solar PV modules are tested at two voltage levels:
Open-circuit voltage (Voc)
Open circuit voltage or VOC is the maximum voltage that the panel can produce when not connected to an electrical circuit or PV system. VOC can be measured with a meter directly on an illuminated panel's terminals or on its disconnected cable
Maximum power voltage (Vmp)
Voltage at maximum power point (Vmp) is the voltage at which the module puts out the most power. All voltage measurements are made at the solar panels electrical terminals mounted on the module’s back. These measurements are usually made with a calibrated voltmeter and MC3 or MC4 test leads.

Solar PV panels are tested at two current levels:
Short-circuit current (ISC)
Short Circuit Current (Isc) is the amount of current that the solar panel outputs into a dead short.
Maximum power current (IMPP)
Current at maximum power point (Imp) is the number of Amperes delivered by the module at its maximum power point.

Other solar panel tests you may come across:
Maximum Power / Maximum power point (Pmax)
The Maximum Power Point is measured in Watts (W) and is equal to Amperes times Volts. Every solar panel has a specific point on its power curve where the product of Amps times Volts yields the greatest Wattage. This is the Maximum Power Point, and the solar panels wattage. In order to find the module’s maximum power point, the flash test takes data over the entire range of voltage and current. This way the wattage for each Current and Voltage data point can be calculated (IV curve).

Panel efficiency (%) or Fill Factor (FF)
the Fill Factor is defined as the maximum power produced (at MPP) divided by the product of Isc and Voc. One can see that the Fill Factor will always be less than 1. Due to the difficulties in measuring conversion efficiency quickly, it is common to measure the fill factor instead.

Peak Power Rating (kWp)
The peak power rating, kWp, is the maximum output according under standard test conditions (not the maximum possible output).

Solar panels must withstand heat, cold, rain and hail for many years. Many crystalline silicon module manufacturers offer a warranty that guarantees electrical production for 10 years at 90% of rated power output and 25 years at 80%