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4 Ways to Test Solar Panels: Output, Wattage & Amps. Solar energy measurement system

4 Ways to Test Solar Panels: Output, Wattage & Amps. Solar energy measurement system

    Ways to Test Solar Panels: Output, Wattage Amps

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    This tutorial contains everything you need to know about how to test solar panels.

    • How to test a solar panel with a multimeter
    • How to test solar panel amps with a clamp meter
    • How to measure solar panel output in watts

    How to Test a Solar Panel with a Multimeter

    Your multimeter is your best friend when testing solar panels.

    What You Need

    • Multimeter — I recommend getting one that is auto-ranging. Also, a simple voltmeter won’t work here. You need a multimeter that can measure both volts and amps.

    Video Walkthrough

    Here’s a short video I made of testing solar panels with a multimeter. Check it out and consider subscribing to my YouTube channel for more DIY solar tutorials!

    Prep your multimeter to measure DC volts. To do so, plug the black probe into the COM terminal on your multimeter. Plug the red probe into the voltage terminal.

    Set your multimeter to the DC voltage setting (and the correct voltage range if yours isn’t auto-ranging). It is indicated by a solid line above a dotted line next to the letter V.

    Take your solar panel outside and place it in direct sunlight. For best results, angle it toward the sun.

    Locate the positive and negative solar panel cables. The positive cable is typically the one with the male MC4 connector, which has a red Band around it.

    Touch the red probe of your multimeter to the metal pin inside the positive MC4 connector. Touch the black probe to the metal pin inside the negative MC4 connector.

    Read the voltage on your multimeter and compare it to the open circuit voltage (Voc) listed on the back of your panel. (If your voltage reading is negative, reverse the probes and measure again.)

    I measured a Voc of 19.85V on my panel. The claimed Voc for this panel is 19.83V, so we’re spot on.

    The voltage you measure with your multimeter should be close to the open circuit voltage listed on the back of the panel. It doesn’t have to be identical, though.

    If they’re similar, so far your panel seems to be in good condition. You can move on to the next step — measuring short circuit current.

    If the voltage you measure is significantly less than the Voc, try the following then remeasure:

    • Make sure it’s a sunny day, the panel is in direct sunlight and it’s angled toward the sun
    • Make sure no part of the solar panel is shaded
    • Clean the solar panel

    If your measurement is still off, your solar panel may be damaged.

    Step 2: Measure Short Circuit Current (Isc)

    Locate the short circuit current (Isc) on the specs label on the back of the panel. Remember this number for later.

    Prep your multimeter to measure amps. To do so, move the red probe to the amperage terminal. Set your multimeter to the amp setting (A), choosing the right limit if yours isn’t auto-ranging.

    Take your panel outside and put it in direct sunlight. Throw a towel over it to stop it from generating power.

    Touch the red probe of your multimeter to the metal pin inside the positive MC4 connector. Touch the black probe to the metal pin inside the negative MC4 connector.

    Remove the towel, read the current on your multimeter, and compare it to the short circuit current (Isc) listed on the back of your panel.

    The short circuit current you’re measuring should be close to the one listed on the back of the panel. It doesn’t have to be the same, though.

    For instance, I only measured 6.08A but my panel’s claimed Isc is 6.56A. There was a little haze in the sky when I tested, though, plus it was 11AM on a November morning, so I’m fine with these results. On a clear summer day at noon I’d expect it to be nearly identical to the Isc.

    If your measurement is similar to the Isc listed on the back of the panel, great! Your panel is working fine.

    For most people, measuring open circuit voltage and short circuit current are all you need to do to test that your solar panel is in good working order. You can stop testing if you want.

    However, if you want to keep at it, there are more ways to test a solar panel with and without a multimeter. Keep reading to find out how.

    If your measurement is pretty far off the claimed Isc, try the following and measure again:

    • Make sure it’s a sunny day and the panel is in direct sunlight
    • Test the solar panel as close to noon as possible
    • Angle the solar panel towards the sun
    • Make sure no part of the solar panel is shaded
    • Clean the solar panel

    Time of year also effects solar panel output. If your measurement doesn’t quite reach the Isc, it may not be your solar panel. It might just be the winter sun.

    Step 3: Measure Operating Current (aka PV Current)

    Note: You can also measure PV current by connecting the solar panel to a charge controller, which I discuss below in method #2.

    That’s right — you can use a multimeter to measure how much current your solar panel is outputting. You’ll need some extra equipment, though:

    Connect the solar charge controller to the battery.

    Connect adapter cables to the charge controller.

    Connect the negative solar cable to the negative adapter cable. DON’T connect the positive solar cable.

    Prep the multimeter to measure amps, like you did in step 2. Throw a towel over the solar panel or place it face down on the ground so that it’s not generating any power.

    Touch the red multimeter probe to the metal pin on the male MC4 connector (the one connected to the solar panel). Touch the black multimeter probe to the metal pin on the female MC4 connector (the one connected to the charge controller), thereby completing the connection.

    Remove the towel from your solar panel (or flip it face up) and read the amperage on your multimeter to see how much current your solar panel is producing. My panel output 4.46A.

    You can experiment with the panel’s tilt angle and direction to see how these factors affect output.

    You can compare this number to the current at max power (Imp) on the back of the panel to see how close to maximum output your solar panel currently is. For instance, my panel’s Imp is 6.26A, and I measured a current of 4.46A.

    While this may seem far off, it’s actually not that bad. Solar panels typically produce 70-80% of their rated power output, only reaching close to 100% in the industry-standard set of test conditions. (Not to mention the haze in the sky at the time of testing, and it being later in the year.)

    4.46A is 71% of 6.26A, so this measurement is in line with expectations.

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    You’ve learned how to test solar panels with a multimeter.

    Now it’s time to talk about how to test solar panel amps with a clamp meter. That’s right — you’ll learn how to check how much current your solar panel is producing.

    How to Test Solar Panel Amps with a Clamp Meter

    A clamp meter, sometimes called an ammeter, can measure the level of current flowing through a wire. You can use one to check whether or not your solar panels are outputting their expected number of amps.

    A clamp meter makes solar panel testing incredibly quick and convenient because you don’t have to disconnect your panels in order to check them.

    What You Need

    • Clamp meter — Get one that can measure AC and DC current; many can only measure AC current.
    • A working solar panel system — This testing method assumes your solar panel is already connected to your system and producing power. (If yours isn’t, first set it up.)

    Step 1: Prep Your Clamp Meter to Measure DC Amps

    Turn the clamp meter’s dial to the correct amps setting. For most people, that will be the lowest amperage setting. For instance, the solar panel I’m testing this time around — the Renogy 100W 12V solar panel — outputs only around 5-6 amps at max power, so I turned mine to the 60A setting.

    Some clamp meters default to measuring AC current, so switch to the DC current mode if needed. You also might need to zero out the reading before measuring DC current.

    Now your clamp meter is good to go.

    Step 2: Measure the Solar Panel’s Current

    Open the jaws of the clamp meter, place one of the solar panel’s wires inside, and close the jaws. The solar panel’s current reading will show on the display. Remember this number. I got 5.24 amps when I checked mine.

    Sometimes, depending on which way the meter is oriented, you may get a negative current reading. That’s completely normal, just clamp the other wire or point the meter in the opposite direction and then re-clamp the wire.

    Tip: When checking solar panel amps with a clamp meter, never clamp more than one wire at a time. If you do, because the current is flowing in opposite directions, it will cancel itself out and you’ll get a reading of zero amps.

    Step 3: Compare Your Current Reading to the Panel’s Max Power Current

    Look at the label on the back of your solar panel. Find the panel’s current at max power, abbreviated Imp. It may also be called the maximum operating current or something similar. In this example, my panel’s listed Imp is 4.91 amps.

    Compare the panel’s Imp to your current reading. Your current reading should be in the ballpark of the panel’s current at max power, but by no means does it have to be identical. The current I measured was 5.24 amps and my panel’s Imp is 4.91 amps, so I know my panel is working properly!

    If your current reading is significantly less than the panel’s Imp, try the following and recheck:

    • Check that the the clamp meter is set to the DC current setting and the right amperage range. Also, make sure that, before measuring, you zero out the DC current reading, if needed.
    • Make sure you’re only clamping one wire with your meter
    • Make sure the solar panel is in direct sunlight with no clouds blocking the sun and no shade on the panel
    • Check that the solar panel is angled towards the sun
    • Clean the solar panel
    • Make sure your battery isn’t full charged. If a battery is mostly or full charged, the charge controller will reduce the solar panel’s output. If it is, discharge the battery a bit and then retry.

    If you’ve tried the above and your solar panel is still outputting much less current than expected, it may be damaged.

    You can repeat these steps for all the solar panels in your system. If you find a panel that is outputting significantly less current than the listed Imp, it’s worth disconnecting and diagnosing that specific panel further.

    How to Test Solar Panel Output with a Solar Charge Controller

    You can also test solar panels by connecting them to a solar charge controller.

    Once connected, you can measure:

    Some charge controllers make this easier to do than others.

    For instance, some have LCD displays that show system specs such as PV current and PV voltage, which you can use to calculate wattage. Others can be connected via Bluetooth to your phone where you can monitor your system and measure its output.

    And some have neither feature — they can’t tell you how much power your solar panel is generating. Avoid these ones.

    What You Need

    • Solar charge controller — Get one that either displays PV voltage and PV current (e.g. Renogy Wanderer 10A), or has Bluetooth (e.g. Victron SmartSolar MPPT or Renogy Wanderer 30A with Renogy BT-1 Bluetooth Module)
    • Battery — e.g. this 12V 33Ah lead acid battery
    • Battery to charge controller cables
    • Solar panel to charge controller cables
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    Step 1: Connect the Battery to the Charge Controller

    Connect your battery and charge controller.

    For my setup, I used the Renogy Wanderer 10A, this 12V 33Ah lead acid battery, and some connector cables.

    Step 2: Connect the Solar Panel to the Charge Controller

    Next, connect your solar panel to the charge controller.

    Step 3: Calculate Power Output

    Cycle through the display screens until you find PV voltage. Mine was 15.2V.

    Next, find the PV current. Mine was 4.5A.

    To calculate the solar panel wattage, simply multiply volts times amps to get watts:

    15.2 volts 4.5 amps = 68.4 watts

    My solar panel was outputting 68.4 watts. Not bad for a 100 watt solar panel on a hazy November day.

    If you have a charge controller with Bluetooth, you can also use the brand’s app to measure solar panel output from your phone.

    For example, let’s say you’re using the Renogy Wanderer 30A. As you can see, it doesn’t have an LCD display, so there’s no way of calculating the solar panel output by looking at it.

    To find out, we need to use Bluetooth. Some charge controllers, like the Victron SmartSolar MPPT, have Bluetooth built-in.

    The Wanderer 30A, on the other hand, has a compatible Bluetooth module you can buy, called the Renogy BT-1. I plugged the BT-1 into my Wanderer 30A and connected the charge controller to my phone using the Renogy DC Home app.

    Then I opened up the app and was able to see a slew of system specs, including wattage. The clouds rolled in as I was setting up this system, so my 100 watt solar panel was outputting just 28 watts. (That’s typical for a 100 watt solar panel on cloudy days.)

    Using the charge controller’s app is my favorite way of measuring solar panel output. It’s just so convenient. Bluetooth is definitely a worthwhile upgrade in my opinion.

    Plus, apps like these automatically track solar energy production over time. Now we’re talking!

    If you can’t measure solar panel power output with your charge controller, don’t fret.

    How to Measure Solar Panel Output with a Watt Meter

    This is a watt meter (aka power meter):

    You can find them for cheap on Amazon. Connect one inline between your solar panel and charge controller and it’ll measure voltage, current, wattage, and more.

    What You Need

    • Solar charge controller — e.g. Renogy Wanderer 30A
    • Battery — e.g. this 12V 33Ah lead acid battery
    • Watt meter — Get one with MC4 connectors attached to it or be prepared to crimp them on yourself
    • Battery to charge controller cables
    • Solar panel to charge controller cables

    Step 1: Connect Battery to Solar Charge Controller

    Connect the battery and charge controller.

    Step 2: Connect the Watt Meter to the Adapter Cables

    Connect the watt meter inline to the charge controller adapter cables. You can see I crimped the MC4 connectors to one end and a length of wire to the other.

    Tip: You can buy this watt meter with MC4 connectors if you don’t want to fuss with crimping wire connectors.

    Connect the adapter cables (with watt meter) to the charge controller.

    Step 3: Connect the Solar Panel

    Connect the solar panel to the charge controller adapter cables.

    Step 4: Measure Power Output

    Place the solar panel outside in direct sunlight. Once you do, the watt meter will automatically turn on and start measuring your solar panel’s power output.

    At this point in the day, the clouds were here to stay, so my watt meter measured an output of 24.4 watts from my 100 watt solar panel.

    As you can in the photo, you can also use a power meter to measure solar panel amps (1.86A) and voltage (13.14V). The meter also measures total watt hours, a useful metric for seeing how much energy your solar panel generates in a day.

    Note: A watt meter placed in this location automatically turns off when the solar panel stops generating power. When it turns back on, the totals will all be reset to zero. If you want to record your solar panel’s energy production over time, I recommend getting a charge controller with Bluetooth such as the Victron SmartSolar MPPT.

    Key Solar Energy Measurement Terms: Irradiance, Insolation, TSRF, and

    If you work in the solar industry, you know that the amount of solar energy available at a proposed project site is one of the most fundamental factors for determining whether installing solar makes sense for a customer. Obviously, the amount of solar energy—also referred to as irradiance or insolation—where the array will be sited will determine how much energy it can potentially produce.

    There are a number of different metrics for expressing the amount of solar energy at a given location, however. Whether you’re new to the industry or are just looking for a refresher on some of the key terms and metrics for expressing how much sunlight will reach your solar array, today’s article has you covered.

    Aurora’s solar design and sales application generates beautiful irradiance maps, like this one above, which visually communicate how much solar energy is available at each point on a roof. (Brighter colors indicate greater irradiance.)

    Available Solar Energy – Irradiance and Insolation

    Irradiance and insolation are perhaps two of the most important terms to know for describing the available solar energy at a project site. The two terms are often used interchangeably in practice within the solar industry, as both quantify the amount of solar radiation a surface receives. However, they measure that value in different ways.

    Solar Irradiance

    Irradiance is a measure of solar power whereas insolation is a measure of solar energy. Because power refers to the rate of energy transfer over time (not the total amount of energy delivered), another way of thinking of irradiance is that it quantifies the amount of solar energy that arrives in a particular area in a given moment [Watt/m 2 ].

    Solar Insolation

    As previously shared, solar insolation is the mesaure of solar energy. When that [Watt/m2] value is converted to express the total amount of energy that area receives over a certain interval of time, say one hour, it is communicated in Watt hours (Wh) or, depending on quantity, kilowatt hours (kWh) per unit of area [(k)Wh/m 2 ]. This is a measure of insolation.

    In Aurora, we use the term irradiance interchangeably with insolation and communicate the value in kWh/M 2 /yr. This provides a helpful way of conceiving of the amount of solar energy that will be available to your solar installation over the course of the year, given any shade that is present as well as the local weather patterns.

    [Note: Aurora uses what’s known as the Perez model for calculating irradiance based on location and weather data; for more detail, see our interview with Dr. Richard Perez. the researcher who developed this methodology that is now the solar industry standard.]

    Solar Access

    Solar access is another term used to quantify how much sunlight is available for a solar array at a particular site. It is also referred to as Solar Access Percentage or Solar Access Value. This metric expresses the available solar energy as a percentage of what would be available in perfect (i.e. shade-free) conditions.

    Solar access is calculated by dividing the actual solar energy present given shading at the site by the amount of solar energy if there were no shade:

    This is a handy metric as it provides an easy way of understanding how significantly shade is reducing the available sunlight.

    Because even a small amount of shade can disproportionately reduce the power output of a solar array, determining the extent of shading is an important first step in understanding whether a customer’s property—or a particular area of that property—is a feasible location for a solar PV system.

    Aurora provides a variety of measures of solar energy including irradiance, solar access, TOF, and TSRF. Moving your cursor over the roof face allows you to see how those values vary at different points.

    Tilt and Orientation Factor (TOF)

    Tilt and Orientation Factor, or TOF, is a metric that takes into account how the slope and direction of a given surface impact the solar energy that surface receives. The specific tilt and orientation that maximize the solar energy reaching a surface varies depending on latitude. Like solar access, TOF is a percentage that expresses actual conditions compared to optimal conditions.

    TOF is calculated by dividing the solar energy available at the actual tilt and orientation of the surface, by what would be available at the optimal tilt and orientation.

    Total Solar Resource Fraction (TSRF)

    Total Solar Resource Fraction, or TSRF. is a measure of available solar energy that takes into account the two other metrics we’ve discussed in this article—solar access and TOF. TSRF can be calculated by multiplying the solar access of the site by the TOF percentage.

    TSRF provides a more complete picture of how much solar energy will be available for the solar panels to convert into electricity. This is because it takes into account both the percentage of available solar energy at a site given shading (solar access) and how much of that energy will reach the surface where solar panels will be mounted given its tilt and orientation (TOF).

    Wrapping it Up

    These are the main solar energy terms you’ll need to understand when measuring available solar energy.

    Of course, there are other factors—like the stringing configuration and the capabilities of the components you use—that will significantly impact the amount of energy your solar design will produce given the sunlight it receives.

    The Aurora Difference

    However, accurately quantifying the solar energy that is available to the PV system is an essential first step in correctly estimating the system’s energy output.

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    These values once had to be determined based on manual measurements at the project site.

    Today, however, advanced solar software applications like Aurora can accurately calculate these values without a site visit—saving installers time and money and reducing the potential for error.

    Want to see how it works? Check out Aurora in 60-seconds.

    In a Flash

    A watt hour measures the amount of energy used over a period of time.

    kW and kWh explained

    Kilowatts (kW) and kilowatt hours (kWh) are units used to measure energy. They’re based on watts (W), which measures rates of power (the rate at which energy is produced or consumed) in a period of time.

    What is a watt?

    Let’s start with the basics! A watt (W) is a unit of power, and power is the rate at which energy is produced or consumed. A watt measures rates of power over a time period.

    You could think of watts as a measure of electrical flow. Picture an electrical device. does it need a big flow or a small flow to work? Here’s what we mean:

    • A brighter light bulb (a 100 W bulb) uses energy at a higher rate than a dimmer light bulb (a 60 W bulb).
    • This means the brighter light bulb needs a bigger electrical flow to work. that’s why it has a higher wattage.

    It’s the same with solar energy. the rate at which your solar energy system ‘flows’ the power into your school is measured in watts.

    So what’s a kilowatt?

    A kilowatt just means 1000 watts. simple!

    What is a watt-hour?

    All the electrical appliances and devices in your home. from your fridge to your TV. need energy in the form of electricity in order to work.

    A watt-hour (Wh) is a unit used to measure the amount of this electrical energy used over time.

    1 Wh = 1 W of power expended for 1 hour of time

    Compact fluorescent (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs provide just as much light as incandescent lightbulbs, and they consume less energy.

    And what’s a kilowatt hour?

    One kilowatt hour (kWh) means one kilowatt of power transferred or consumed in one hour.

    1 kWh = 1 kW of power expended for 1 hour of time

    As you may have guessed, a kilowatt hour is equal to 1000 watt-hours. You usually pay for the energy you use by the kilowatt hour.

    How is solar energy measured?

    Solar energy is measured in kilowatt hours. or with large solar energy systems, in megawatt hours (1000 kilowatt hours).

    Solar energy measurement in action:

    If your solar panels continuously output 1 kW of power for a period of 1 hour, they’ll have produced 1 kWh of energy.

    What Do You Mean?

    How much are your electrical devices are costing you?

    Power is the rate at which energy is produced or consumed.

    Watts (W) measure rates of power over a period of time.

    A kilowatt (kW) is 1000 watts.

    A watt-hour (Wh) is a unit that measures the amount of electrical energy used over a period of time.

    A kilowatt hour (kWh) is 1000 watt-hours.

    A megawatt hour (mWh) is 1000 kilowatt hours.

    Cool Facts

    If you leave your TV or computer on ‘standby’, it’s still using power. this means it’s adding a kWh cost to your energy bill!

    Cool Facts

    Watts are named after the Scottish inventor James Watt, who also invented the steam engine.

    Speedy Summary

    Solar energy, is measured in kilo-Watt-hours (kWh) or with large solar installations, mega-Watt-hours (mWh)

    A watt (W) measures the rate at which energy is produced or consumed. 1000 watts is called a kilowatt (kW). We usually pay for our electrical energy based on the amount of kilowatt hours (kWh) used. this is the equivalent to 1 kW of power expended over 1 hour of time.

    Teacher’s Toolkit

    Take this to the classroom! Curriculum ready content.

    Solar Energy Solar monitoring systems for assessment, operational met, and PV soiling

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    Visit our Services and Support web page to learn more.


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    Solar Measuring Device

    A solar measuring device is very useful for the planning and maintenance of solar parks. The solar measuring device is commonly used to search for the best location and also to check photovoltaic modules for efficiency. Due to the fact that solar energy is nowadays one of the most important alternative energys, it is interesting to invest in this sector for long term benefits. Photovoltaic installations use solar radiation heat to produce energy from solar light. A good plan is indispensible before installing a photovoltaic park. The solar measuring device allows the user to record direct sunlight over an extended period of time.

    Radiation values are stored in the internal memory of the solar meter for further analysis. To ensure optimum efficiency of photovoltaic cells we recommend a regular maintenance program of the solar measuring device.

    If you have any questions, please contact us at or 44 ( 0 ) 161 464902 0.

    The solar measuring device for solar energy is the optimal hand. testing device for solar engineers, architects and hobby solar installers. This makes it possible to make a statement about the composition and design of a photovoltaic system.

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    The solar measuring device is a useful tool to examine solar cells for their characteristics. With a DC voltage range of 0… 60 V and a DC current range of 0… 12 A, the solar measuring device covers a large number of solar modules.

    Price excl. VAT. delivery 2 year Warranty

    The solar measuring device is a useful tool to examine solar cells for their characteristics. With a DC voltage range of 0… 60 V and a DC current range of 0… 12 A, the solar measuring device covers a large number of solar modules.

    Price excl. VAT. delivery 2 year Warranty

    The solar measuring device kit is a useful tool to examine solar cells for their characteristic curves. This enables a statement to be made about the composition and design of a photovoltaic system.

    Solar measuring device PCE-PVA 100- Measuring range: 0. 12 A DC- Three different test functions- PC interface for data transfer

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    Purchase Advice on a Solar Power Meter

    Considering the effects and risks of nuclear power and the currently still common fuels such as coal, oil, gas and wood for the generation of electrical energy and heat, the use of renewable energies is becoming increasingly important. The technology for using the solar energy is now so well developed and widespread that the solar systems are often not only more environmentally friendly in production and operation than conventional energy generation in a long-term comparison, but also considerably less expensive.

    Solar systems can basically be divided into thermal solar systems and photovoltaic systems. Whereas in thermal solar systems water is heated by the sun and then used for heating or hot water, photovoltaic systems generate electricity with the help of the photoelectric effect due to the sunlight.

    To ensure that the modules of a solar system are positioned and aligned in the best possible way for the intended purpose, a special solar power meter can be used to determine the solar radiation incident at the intended location during the planning phase. In cases where the mounting position cannot be freely selected, the possible solar yield for a specific module area can be calculated with the help of the radiation intensity determined by the solar power meter. For the planners and installers of the solar systems, but also for the operators of larger systems, the solar power meter is almost always a useful investment.

    Areas of application for a solar power meter

    Measurements during the development and manufacture of the photovoltaic modules There is a constant search for ways to manufacture high-performance photovoltaic modules from easily accessible materials at low cost. A solar power meter is used on the prototypes to determine how effectively the developed models convert the incident solar energy into electrical current. There are already investigations with materials that are also able to use the UV light. Also during the quality assurance of photovoltaic modules produced in series the measurements are carried out with a suitable solar measuring device. The measurements are intended to ensure that only flawless modules leave the factory and that the defects in the manufacturing process are immediately detected and eliminated.

    Measurements in the planning phase of solar systems In most cases, both thermal solar systems and photovoltaic systems are to be installed on the available sites in such a way that the modules receive as much solar radiation as possible overall or at certain time points. Not only the compass direction and the inclination of the modules play a role, but also the shading by the surroundings. Since there are several choices for the position of a system, the solar yields of the different options can be determined with the solar power meter. The area size of the system can be well adapted to the desired yield by the measurements if additional influences such as the changing position of the sun during the course of the day and season and the usual weather-related failures are taken into account.

    Measurements during the installation and maintenance of the photovoltaic systems The installation, modification, operation and testing of the photovoltaic systems are subject to certain regulations. These do not exclusively serve to protect persons and property and to ensure the functionality and performance of the electrical systems. The photovoltaic systems that feed the generated electricity into the network of the regional energy supplier must not endanger its grid security.

    The mandatory rules to be observed include the following VDE standards:

      – VDE-AR-N 4105. Connection and parallel operation of PV systems. VDE 0126-23-1 or DIN EN 62446. Commissioning and repeat tests. VDE 0126-24 or DIN EN 61829. Measuring current and voltage characteristics at the installation site

    With the solar power meter for power measurement, not only the power values of a photovoltaic module can be determined during the check at the installation site. From the measured values shown in the graph, it is also quickly recognisable whether and in which area the cells of the tested module are defective.

    Selection criteria for a solar power meter

    The requirements for the solar measuring device are largely determined already by the measuring purpose and the demands of the user. During the development and production of photovoltaic modules, many measurements are carried out in the same place and under constant ambient conditions in temperature-controlled indoor rooms. Under these measuring conditions, the results can usually be sent directly to a computer and conveniently evaluated and processed on its screen.

    The solar power meter for outdoor measurements, on the other hand, is exposed to different weather conditions and must be designed in such a way that it can be easily operated and read when used at changing locations. Prior to the installation of the solar systems, during the on-site measurements it primarily goes about the potential solar yield. During and after the construction, various measurements are also necessary to determine the safety and performance of the photovoltaic systems. Often, several device models with different specifications are used for this purpose.

    Important features of the solar power meter for measuring solar irradiation This type of the solar power meter measures the light intensity of the solar radiation hitting the sensor. The measurement results serve either as a basis for deciding on the location, orientation and area size of a solar system or as a starting value for specific power measurements on photovoltaic modules. When selecting a device model, the following should be considered:

      – Operability and functionality. Measuring range for the light spectrum. Arrangement of the internal or external sensor. Type and size of the measured value memory. Long-term measurements with choice of the memory interval. Interfaces for the data transmission. Evaluation software for the measurement data. Calibration or adjustment option. Additional measured values, e.g. determination of transmittance values for transparent coverings

    Important features of the solar power meter for testing PV systems and individual photovoltaic modules The installers of the photovoltaic systems can use the device models for the prescribed checks for commissioning that simplify the correct measurement and documentation. This type of the solar power meter can, of course, also be used for regular repeat inspections. Some of the models are also equipped with special functions for carrying out and evaluating power measurements on the photovoltaic modules.

    When deciding on a device model, it is essential to check whether it makes more sense to purchase a single solar power meter with which both the safety tests and the power measurements can be carried out or to use several different devices that can also be used independently of each other. Attention should be paid to the following features when comparing the devices:

      – Size of the display. Recognisability of writing and graphics. Arrangement and labelling of the control panel. Measuring ranges for current and voltage. Voltage values for the insulation resistance measurement. Low-impedance measurement / continuity test. Short-circuit current measurement. Open-circuit voltage measurement. Stored test options for solar modules. Calculation of fill factor and efficiency for solar modules. Data storage options. Interfaces for data transmission. Evaluation software. Possibility of adjustment. Possibility of temperature measurement with external sensor. Available measuring accessories such as cables and adapters

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