THERMOGRAPHY –
SOLAR INSPECTION
MAKES DEFECTS VISIBLE

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HOW DOES THERMOGRAPHY WORK?

For many years, thermography has been used to test solar modules for defects in the laboratory or during production. To regular cameras and the naked eye, these errors are hardly visible or not visible at all. In thermography, the smallest temperature differences can be measured using an infrared-sensitive camera. These temperature differences usually indicate defects or system errors, depending on their size and characteristics.

PV systems absorb part of the radiation emitted by the sun and generate electricity in this way. The non-absorbed part of the radiation is reflected.

If a module is defective, it cannot absorb any radiation and thus reflects all the radiation – the thermal imaging camera measures this anomaly and logs it. If a module is defective, it cannot absorb any radiation and thus reflects all the radiation – the thermal imaging camera measures this anomaly and records it.

WHY THERMOGRAPHY?

The market for services concerning PV systems is very diverse. There are a multitude of possibilities to secure or improve the yields of solar installations, ranging from system monitoring to cleaning and complex test procedures.

However, many plant operators/owners ask themselves: Do I need a thermographic survey? And if so, which service is right for me? Thermography allows customers to precisely determine whether their system has defects, which modules are affected, and how to deal with this.

At the end of the day, the customer can quickly and easily recognise whether the system is performing as expected. Services and measures to remedy the defect can be taken.

Even for experienced solar asset management companies and O&M operations, thermography often offers surprising results. Thermographic imaging can reveal unexpected optimisation potential for performance ratios and cash flows for solar parks that were assumed to be performing optimally. Even the supposedly small defects, which could only be affecting an area of less than 1%, can result in a yield loss of more than 7%.

THE MOST COMMON ERRORS AND DEFECTS

Troubleshooting can take various forms. String failure can be caused by completely defective modules and/or an incorrect plug connection. In such a case, the modules either have to be replaced or the plug connection simply checked. The following is a list and explanations of more types of errors.
 

Hotspots

Production or transport errors, shades, or soiling can cause individual cells to heat up, resulting in performance losses. Power loss: 2–10% of the module

FAILED SUBSTRING

One third of a module is idle and delivers no power. Usual cause: Defective bypass diode.

Power loss: 5-15% of the string

MODULE FAILURE

A single module is idle and delivers no power.
Power loss: 100% of the modul

SHADOWS

Planning errors or overgrown vegetation can lead to shades being cast on individual cells or entire modules and thus cause failure.

Power loss: Depends on the case

FAILED STRING

A complete row of modules is idle and does not deliver any power.

Power loss:
100% for all affected modules

DEFECTIVE INVERTER

All connected modules are idle due to a faulty inverter. Power loss:
100% of the inverter

PID SUSPECTED

(Potential Induced Degradation)

Fault pattern caused by potential differences at the negative pole of a module string, with considerable power losses.
Power loss:
Up to 30% of the module (depending on the case)

WHAT DO WE FLY WITH?

ucair selects pilots according to a specially created quality catalogue and takes case to use the most modern and safe technology. This applies to drones as well as to the cameras used. An excellent data foundation is the prerequisite for an excellent analysis.

THESE ARE THE BENEFITS
OF OUR DIGITAL
UCAIR REPORTS:

Your individual report creates added value:

  • Recommendations for repairs
  • Your local installer or O&M team can
    perform targeted maintenance tasks
  • Overview of all defects
  • Proof needed to assert warranty claims with manufacturers
Earnings calculator

EARNINGS CALCULATOR

Do you know how much more money you can earn if you have your solar installation checked?

Enter your system capacity and feed-in tariff and discover how much additional yield potential is hidden within your system.

System capacity:
kWp
Feed-in tariff:
Condition of the system:
normal poor   very poor

Normal: The PV system has some minor technical defects

Poor:The PV system has some significant anomalies that reduce efficiency

Very poor: The PV system has considerable defects, e.g. failed strings

Possible additional annual yield:
{{yield}}