Solar Panel Testing: The Most Important Tests Required to Get Approval for Solar PV Panels
Which solar panel testing procedures are there? Under what criteria are solar PV panels tested? What do the testing results tell us about the solar PV panels?
Solar PV panels are subjected to a variety of tests. Via the solar panel tests, safety and compliance with the minimum quality standards are checked, of which passing is a precondition to getting approval for the solar modules.
Advanced performance and quality tests help the user to choose the right solar panel type.
Solar panel test criteria and procedures
There are two types of solar panel tests, the tests, which check the minimum requirements for the approval and the advanced testing procedures, which assess the quality of solar PV panels.
The first tests check the solar PV panels in accordance with given norms and standards.
The latter examines the quality of solar PV panels and evaluates these using advanced test criteria. These quality tests enable users to compare different solar panel types on the basis of quality or test seals.
The different testing procedures are used for the assessment and appraisal of solar PV panels. They vary in terms of their test and measurement criteria and the use of measurement methods.
In this article, we will present the most relevant tests required to get approval for solar PV panels.
Test procedures for the approval of solar PV panels
Certain minimum requirements must be fulfilled to get approval for a solar module. These ensure the safe operation, the suitability of the components and the functionality of solar PV panels.
IEC certification of solar PV panels
One of the most important solar panel testing procedures is the IEC certification. It indicates that the solar PV modules comply with individual safety, quality and durability requirements.
In these tests, the solar PV panels are subject to various loads, which are defined by the so-called ICE standards. The standards were established by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in Geneva.
The IEC certificate provides the basis for the trading of solar PV panels.
The IEC certification determines the basic solidity of solar PV panels and thereby ensures the functionality and safety of solar PV systems, and so, the essential operating requirements of solar PV panels.
The test certificate IEC 61215 applies to monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film solar panels.
During the tests, solar PV panels are subject to various loads. This includes, for example, the impact of external influences, which are generated artificially on the solar panel degradation, what effect mechanical loads have as well as different climatic conditions (heat, cold, humidity, climate change or the UV solar radiation) on the solar PV panels.
A successful passing of the tests is a precondition for the approval for solar PV modules. The solar PV panels have successfully passed the tests if no serious changes occur in their behavior or no significant loss of performance at different climatic conditions is reported.
In addition, when there is no damage of PV modules by mechanical loads.
The test standard IEC 61730 is a security standard for solar PV panels, which distinguishes between three classes of applications: class A for buildings, class B for energy supplier applications and class C for low-voltage applications.
The standard IEC 61730 defines the construction and the specific material requirements with regard to the fire protection of solar PV panels.
The IEC 61730 standard compliance ensures the safe operation during the expected lifetime of the solar PV system. It is also mandatory for approval of solar panel systems in Europe.
Another security standard is the IEC 61140, which concerns the protective insulation of solar PV panels. For this, the solar PV panels are subject to strength tests, such as shock and scratch tests.
The tests are made to find out the suitability of the materials used as well as the leakage currents in the components.
Standard Test Conditions (STC) tests
Another central solar panel test procedure is the standard test conditions-tests (STC-tests), which are run for all solar PV panels.
They enable the evaluation and comparison of different solar panel types, by determining current, voltage and power of solar PV panels under comparable test conditions.
The solar PV modules are subjected to a solar radiation of 1000 W/m², a module temperature of 25°C and an air mass coefficient of 1.5. The determined power is given in Watt peak.
In addition to laboratory tests, the solar PV panels are also exposed to real conditions. In these tests, the investigations occur at the place, where the solar PV panels will be installed, either on the roof of a building or a large open area.
In addition, other criteria become relevant to the performance examination of solar PV panels and are considered in the calculations. These include a minimal solar radiation of 800 W/m², a temperature determination and its consideration by value calculations and the angle of incidence, which is determined with the aid of inclinometer.
Another solar panel test procedure is the NOCT-Test. NOCT stands for Normal Operating Cell Temperature.
With the help of NOCT-Tests, loads of the materials of the solar modules are properly evaluated, and the heat radiation to the environment is determined.
NOCT is therefore considered as a standard measure for the assessment of the PV systems components.
The NOCT average values are:
- Wind speed 1m/s (is the lower section of the wind strength 1 (3,6 km/h)
- An irradiance of 800 W/ m²
- Air Mass of 1,5
- Air Temperature of 20°C
- Electrical voltage at no load and in an open-circuit
NOCT is measured in the approval test of solar PV panels.
Carbon Footprint Verification (CFV)
A new solar panel test procedure is the Carbon Footprint Verification (CFV), which is carried out by the standards and certification organization, British Standards Institution (BSI).
The CFV procedure is based on the standards PAS 2050 and ISO 14067. It serves to assess and quantify the carbon footprint.
For this purpose, several stages of a product life cycle are checked, such as the procurement of raw materials, the production processes and the packaging of solar modules until the solar panel recycling.