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New System Performance Tool Boosts SEI's Hands-on Solar Training

Posted by: april
April 28, 2011

News from Solar Energy International's PV Lab Facility

Jeff TobeBy Jeff Tobe, PV Lab Manager & Instructor
ISPQ Certified Instructor  #01021

NABCEP Certified PV Installer  #031508-84
NABCEP Certified PV Technical Sales # PVTS012911-90

Prior to Solar Energy International's first solar training lab of the 2011 Colorado season that kicked off April 25, the PV team had a fun week on the Paonia campus with the addition of an exciting new tool for technicians in the solar industry. SEI recently received a new tool for evaluating system performance, the PV Analyzer tool from Solmetric.

The capability to measure and record system performance during the commissioning process and later during maintenance and troubleshooting operations has long been desired. Measuring performance during the commissioning process enables the installer to find problems before the system goes on line possibly avoiding issues that could become safety hazards or damage equipment if the system went live.

For example, checking individual strings before enabling the system could detect common wiring mistakes such as reverse polarity. The PV Analyzer unit is protected from reverse polarity and will not provide a reading on a series string that has this condition, thus alerting the technician there is a problem with this particular string and allowing for corrective action before the system goes live. Reverse polarity wiring issues in a system combiner box can lead to high voltages (think series wiring of two strings instead of parallel wiring) which can damage equipment and possibly start a fire as most switch gear is not rated to extinguish DC arcs above 600V.

Another benefit to checking individual strings as part of the commissioning process is to establish a baseline of performance for future reference. The ability to plot and save I- V curves gives the technician instant feedback on the array performance and allows for comparison to expected output. Underperforming modules could be detected early in the life of the system allowing corrective actions before significant production is lost. This can be especially important on larger commercial system that often have output tied to financial agreements and considerations.

Join us for a lab workshop at the Paonia PV Lab Facility and Educational Center and get first-hand experience with this new tool and other exciting solar equipment available to our students.

Are you interested in learning more about PV system performance evaluation? On May 11, Solar Energy International and Solmetric are hosting a free solar training webinar:

Register for Solmetric - New Techniques and Tools for Verifying PV System Performance webinar here >>

Check out these photos of SEI staff testing individual modules:

Solmetric PV Analyzer tool

Solmetric PV Analyzer




Solmetric PV Analyzer





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