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Faster and more affordable testing of solar modules

IEFE researchers have been able to optimise a portable LED flasher developed in the last year, which allows power measurements to be carried out on solar modules without the need to disassemble them. This measuring device has recently been tested in the field in collaboration with Electrosuisse.

portable LED flasher
The portable LED flasher in action

The improved version of the portable LED flasher has many merits that make it more suitable for practical application: it is lighter, easier to transport and more independent from sources of electricity. The initial weight of the light source which is placed onto the PV module during power measurement was reduced by one third to 30 kg. In addition, the measuring device is now powered only by its own rechargeable battery on site. In order to test these improvements in practice, members of the photovoltaics research group at the IEFE have carried out various field trials in collaboration with Electrosuisse and under the supervision of Prof. Franz Baumgartner.

Tests in the highest-precision PV measurement lab in Europe

The portable LED flasher was tested on various solar roofs for periods of two days each in Winterthur, Wallisellen and Schaan (Liechtenstein) within the framework of this SFOE project. “At the same time, we had the output of ten solar panels analysed in a certified lab in order to compare our results with theirs”, says Raphael Knecht, research assistant at the IEFE. The conclusion: “Our device is faster and more affordable than the lab”, he says. In August, similar tests in the highest-precision PV measurement lab in Europe at the EU JRC in Ispra showed deviations of about one per cent. This suggests that the LEDs and the measurement electronics of the Portable LED Flasher have a very good spectrum.

Identifying optimal application areas

At the end of the year, the measuring device is due to be delivered to project partner Electrosuisse, the Association for Electrical Engineering, Power and Information Technologies, for practical application. Research assistant Raphael Knecht explains: “The insights we gain from measurements in the field enable us to identify optimal application areas for the portable LED flasher and to make further, significant improvements for the customer.”