Domestic and Commercial Solar Farms Using Photovoltaic PV Panels
Using Drone technology to inspect Solar Panels makes perfect sense and presents a safe, cost effective and quick solution to see faults both at the installation stage and in subsequent follow up years. Solar panels can suffer from various faults which deplete the efficiency of the panels to produce electricity. Everything from manufacturing failures to bird droppings and tree sap debris can affect the panel’s performance. Getting up above roof installed panels would usually require scaffolding and understanding the risk of working at height, issues that are not a consideration when using a drone.
Primary issues which are commonly found in solar PV installations are defective cells, strings, and defective converter boxes. Defective cells may be found individually or as a group/string whereas a defective converter will appear as a single ‘hot spot’ that does not fit the cell layout pattern. When a solar panel is active and working correctly the heat attracted from the sun is dissipated away as part of the electrical functioning process. When a cell or panel is defective, then this heat builds up from the irradiation and measures at a much higher temperature than the surrounding cells and panels. Using a drone with a thermal infrared camera this temperature delta can be seen and measured very accurately, something that cannot be seen with the human eye.
If these faults are not discovered and put right, then the resulting heat build-up can present a problem to the surrounding roof substructure or with dry grass in a field at a commercial solar farm installation. In addition, further damage such as melted solder connections, cracking of the protective glass cover and degradation of the adjacent cells can all occur increasing the maintenance corrective cost.