Design and Installation

Infrared Imaging as a PV Characterization Tool - Self Study

Dr. James Rand • Last updated 02/2021

4.7/5 (view ratings)
129 students
1 module
57 minutes
6 assignments

Course description

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.

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Learning Objectives

Participants in this course will upon completion of this course, be able to:

  • 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.

Continuing Education Units

Approved for: NABCEP Advanced Credit Hours, NABCEP JTA, NABCEP RE Elective, NABCEP PV Associate Renewal.

Approved NABCEP CEU Hours
NABCEP Credential Advanced Hours for Exam Recertification CEU Hours NEC JTA RE Elective Building or Fire Code
1 1 0 1 1 0
0 1 0 0 0 0
1 1 0 1 1 0
1 1 0 1 1 0
1 1 0 1 1 0
1 1 0 1 1 0
NABCEP Registered Provider

This course counts towards the training requirements for taking NABCEP professional certification exams and CEUs for renewing all certifications.

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Full course outline

Module 1 - Infrared Imaging as a PV Characterization Tool

This lecture reviews the IR imaging technique as it applies to PV modules and discusses equipment, weather conditions, and array operating conditions. Approximately half of the lecture is devoted to real-world examples of IR images of defective modules. Participants will receive guidance on how to interpret IR images in order to determine what requires immediate attention versus what may be normal and expected for a functioning solar array.

  • Infrared Imaging as a PV Characterization Tool (57:05 minutes)
  • Inspecting Roof Mounted Solar Panels with Thermal Imaging - FLIR (.pdf)


Dr. James Rand

Core Energy Works

Dr. James Rand has over 30 years of experience in the manufacturing, research, and development of solar energy products. His work spans the entire value chain, from raw materials to system level performance. His recent technical projects focused on testing and evaluation of solar modules for performance and long-term reliability. This work led to the formation of Core... Learn more


91 reviews

129 students have taken this course

by Matt W 10/25/2023

by Ted Monhollon 01/20/2023


by Shannon James, Installer, Native Renewables 05/09/2022

Great presentation! you are an awesome speaker and I felt fully engaged throughout the course.

by Jack Ailey, Co-president, Ailey Solar Electric 05/16/2020

Useful if you are going to be doing O and M work.

by Thomas Shippee, owner, shippee solar and construction llc 02/25/2020

very well put together and informative.

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Frequently asked questions

How does this course work?

You can begin this online course instantly upon enrollment. This 1 module course is delivered entirely online. The lecture video and other materials are available any time. After successfully completing the course, you will be able to generate a certificate of completion.

How long do I have access to the materials?

Students get unlimited access to the course materials as soon as they enroll and for one year (365 days) after enrollment. Rewatch videos and review assignments as many times as you want. View updates the instructor makes to the course as the industry advances. Return to your course anytime with online access from anywhere in the world. After the one year of access expires, access can be extended by joining as a HeatSpring member. A single membership extends access to course materials for all past enrollments.

Is there a certificate of completion?

Yes, when you complete this course you are eligible for a certificate of completion from HeatSpring. You can download your certificate as soon as you have completed all of the course requirements. Students can easily share their verified certificates on their LinkedIn profiles using our LinkedIn integration.

Can I register multiple people?

Yes please visit our HeatSpring for Teams page to get a group discount.

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