Electronics > Power & Renewable Energy

Solar Panel IV Curve Tester Recommendations

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AJ3G:
All:

This topic is a bit new to me. I need to measure and graph hundreds of solar panel IV curves. As I have done some research it appears there are a couple of test instruments that do just this, but I wanted to see if I could solicit some real world feedback from those who have used them before making a selection. This is an area of Test and Measurement I have virtually no experience in, and what I have kluged together thus far, is too cumbersome to not only setup but use considering the quantity of panels I must characterize.

Thus far I have viewed the Seaward and HT Instrument offerings. Looking for some real world feedback, and recommendations.

Thanks

Rich

NiHaoMike:
Easy way to make one is to have an electronic load in "constant voltage" mode and sweep it while monitoring current. It would also be useful to have a small solar panel beside the one you're testing and monitor the short circuit current of that panel as a measure of the light level.

AJ3G:
That is basically what I am doing now. I am then exporting the data for plotting in excel. Unfortunately, it takes too much time when attempting to do hundreds in a year. 

Someone:
SMU is the fully automated instrument for this:
https://download.tek.com/document/Photovoltaic%202450%202460%20AppNote%20(3).pdf
The Keithely units are more programmable and able to do things like presenting a single numeric result in manufacturing, alongside collecting/logging/displaying the full data. You can quickly get the forward and reverse characteristics, other competitors are Keysight, Yokogawa or Rohde & Schwarz. R&S have some cheaper options that are only 2 quadrant such as the NGL200, just as fast as the SMUs but not advertised as one.

If you don't need reverse characteristics or high speed or integration in a single box, then a programmable DC load connected to a computer has been the usual solution for solar cell IV sweeps.

AJ3G:
That is great information. I will take a look at the SMU. I did some searches for application notes, but this one did not avail itself to me.

The panels we are working with are all well below 100W. We have to characterize them after construction and deliver reports. I am using a DC Load at the moment, but each test is taking around 30 minutes to complete, and we need to go much faster.

Rich

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