Thermal imaging cameras: a fast and reliable tool for testing solar panels.
Quality assurance is of fundamental importance for solar panels. The failure-free operation of the panels is a prerequisite for efficient power generation, long life, and a high return on the investment. To ensure this failure free operation a fast, simple and reliable method to evaluate a solar panel’s performance is required, both during the production process and after the panel has been installed.
The use of thermal imaging cameras for solar panel evaluation offers several advantages. Anomalies can clearly be seen on a crisp thermal image and – unlike most other methods – thermal cameras can be used to scan installed solar panels during normal operation. Finally, thermal cameras also allow to scan large areas within a short time frame. Uncooled thermal imaging cameras are currently being used more and more for solar panel quality controls before installation and regular predictive maintenance checkups after the panel has been installed. Because these affordable cameras are handheld and lightweight, they allow a very flexible use in the field.
What can you see in the thermal image
If parts of the solar panel are hotter than others, the warm areas will show up clearly in the thermal image. Depending on the shape and location, these hot spots and areas can indicate several different faults. If an entire module is warmer than usual that might indicate interconnection problems. If individual cells or strings of cells are showing up as a hot spot or a warmer ‘patchwork pattern’, the cause can usually be found either in defective bypass diodes, in internal short-circuits, or in a cell mismatch.
Shadowing and cracks in cells show up as hot spots or polygonal patches in the thermal image. The temperature rise of a cell or of part of a cell indicates a defective cell or shadowing. Thermal images obtained under load, no-load, and short-circuit conditions should be compared. A comparison of thermal images of the front and rear faces of the module can also give valuable information. Of course, for correct identification of the failure, modules showing anomalies must also be tested electrically and inspected visually.
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Thermal cameras are excellent tools for building analysis; their specially-designed detector picks up on the heat given off by objects, allowing you to easily pinpoint issues with buildings such as moisture damage, poor insulation, repair and building defects and much more. Better still with a thermal drone, every single angle of the building can be captured and analysed from the ground to the roof, with precision capturing from whatever angle you need.
Missing, damaged, or inadequate insulation, building envelope air leaks, moisture intrusion, and substandard work are costly to residential and commercial building owners. An infrared camera can help you quickly see and find the sources of energy inefficiencies, destructive water damage, and structural issues so you can make informed decisions on needed repairs that can save energy and stay more comfortable.
Thermal Imaging cameras make it easy to perform non-destructive inspections that isolate cold and warm air infiltration/ex-filtration so necessary repairs and improvements can be made to tighten energy efficiency. Thermal Imaging can also instantly show temperature differences that verify what’s wet and what’s dry and offer fast and reliable diagnosing of a full range of building applications, from energy audits and restoration to roofing and commissioning.
Heat is an important factor in high voltage installations. When electrical current passes through a resistive element, it generates heat. An increased resistance results in an increase in heat. Over time the resistance of electrical connections will increase, due to loosening and corrosion for instance. The corresponding rise in temperature can cause components to fail, resulting in unplanned outages and even injuries. In addition, the energy spent on generating heat causes unnecessary energy losses. If left unchecked, the heat can even rise to the point where connections melt and break down; as a result, fires may break out.
Examples of failures in high-voltage installations that can be detected with thermal imaging:
- Oxidation of high voltage switches
- Overheated connections
- Incorrectly secured connections
- Insulator defects
These and other issues can be spotted at an early stage with a thermal imaging camera. A thermal imaging camera will help you to accurately locate the problem, determine the severity of the problem, and establish the time frame in which the equipment should be repaired.
When searching or rescueing injured or missing persons seconds always count. High-sensitive thermal cameras can provide the important minutes required to save lives.
Using our Zenmuse XT Radiometric 640 thermal camera fitted to a drone, we are able to offer search and rescue agencies and services a hire service to complement their existing teams and equipment.
We are able to deploy quickly and effeciently and with our Matrice M600 fitter with the XT we can stay airborne for an amazing 35-40 minutes on a set of batteries.
Thermal Imaging technology is a non-invasive, non-contact and non-destructive technique used to determine thermal properties and features of any object of interest and therefore it can be used in precision agriculture farming, where heat is generated or lost across land, crops and livestock. Potential use of thermal remote sensing in agriculture includes irrigation schedules, plant disease detection, nursery and greenhouse inspections, fruit yield estimation, evaluating maturity of fruits and bruise detection in fruits and vegetables.
Crop monitoring for nutrients, water-stress & deployment, disease, insect attack and overall plant health is a vital aspect of successful agricultural operations. Traditionally this has been carried out by visual examination of crops on the ground or sometimes from the air. However, these methods are limited by the ability of the human eye to discriminate between healthy foliage and foliage suffering various kinds of stress. Often a specific condition must be well-advanced before visual symptoms become noticeable even to experienced observers.
Modern precision agriculture relies on site-specific management tactics to maximise yield and resources while reducing environmental impacts such as over-fertilisation and the broad applications of pesticides. Pin-pointing areas requiring attention – be it water, weed or pathogen treatment, or nutrient adjustments – allows for spot application rather than whole-field treatment. The collection of key data at a sufficient level of accuracy depends on the availability of equipment that can be operated at a cost-effective level.
Underground fires at landfill sites are a continuous danger and if not dealt with in a professional way, they can spread. Using Drone Thermal Imaging Technology and the latest high resolution radiometric thermal imaging sensors, we can very quickly and competitively survey the landscape and provide data that specialist thermologists will react.
A landfill fire occurs when the land filled solid waste ignites and spreads. When the land filled solid waste are not daily covered the increase of temperature due to biological decomposition can promote the spontaneous ignition of the waste. It is important to underline that often the landfill fires are also attributed to arson.
An infrared camera detects radiation in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum and produces images of that radiation. The amount of radiation emitted by an object increases with temperature; therefore, the thermography allows to see the environment as variations in temperature of the target objects. When viewed by infrared cameras, warm objects stand out well against cooler backgrounds. We use the Zanmuse XTr Radiometric camera with our drones which offers the availability of view point at different altitudes to monitor a wide area with full geometrical resolution with geo-tagging.