Along with the increasing popularity of solar PV systems comes the need for high-quality operations and maintenance (O&M). This is an area that is often overlooked but has been gaining attention in recent years. In this lecture, Dr. James Rand introduces infrared imaging (IR) technology and explains how it can be used to greatly improve solar PV O&M.
The use of infrared images is a well-known technique for building inspections and electrical trouble shooting. It is also very useful in diagnosing the health of PV modules working in the field.
Other than monitoring the overall array energy generation, IR imaging is one of the few techniques available to get detailed information on the health of PV modules after they are installed. This information can be critical in identifying both performance and safety issues. Many potential problems can be found and rectified before they significantly impact performance or generate an unsafe condition. A broad range of defects, including those related to manufacturing and workmanship details can be identified, if you know what to look for.
IR imaging is a powerful tool to access the health of modules while that operate in the array. It should be a routine part of all PV quality acceptance programs, as well as annual operations and maintenance programs.
- Introduce the infrared (IR) imaging technique.
- Describe why IR imaging is a useful tool in the operation and maintenance of PV solar arrays.
- Describe the array and weather conditions needed for IR imaging.
- Understand typical PV failure modes and the signature IR image they generate.
- Give general guidance on the severity of defects identified in the IR images.