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Publication Title | PV Performance Tests

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Photovoltaics

Bob-O Schultze did the wiring & rewiring of the PV modules, and manually rotated the rheostats.

All photos by Michael Hackleman

Above: Home Power’s “Democracy Rack”

PV Performance Tests

Richard Perez and Bob-O Schultze

©1995 Richard Perez and Bob-O Schultze

Ever wonder exactly how much power a PV module makes? Ever wonder how much power a PV

still makes after years of exposure to the sun? We have. We placed just about every make module widely available on our “Democracy Rack”, out in the sun. Then we measured their electrical output, temperature, and solar insolation. Here is what we found.

Third in a series...

This is the third time we have published current vs. voltage information and curves for PV modules during the last four years. The first “hot weather” test was published in Home Power #24, pages 26–30. The second “cold weather” test was published in Home Power #33, pages 17–20. Most of the modules we tested have seen over five years of service in the sun and weather. The youngest module (the BP Solar BP585) has only seen one year’s service, while the

Richard Perez operated the analog to digital converter and the Mac Powerbook that logged the PV performance data.

oldest module (the ARCO 16–1000) has seen over twelve years of sunshine.

The Test Jig & Procedure

The data for these tests was taken and logged on a Macintosh Powerbook 160 computer. We used a Remote Measurements Systems ADC–1 analog to digital converter to make most of the measurements. We set up the ADC–1 to sample and log the PV’s voltage, current, and the sun’s solar insolation. The analog to digital converter measured and logged each of these three parameters twice a second. The ADC–1 measured module current using a shunt (10 Amperes, 10 milliVolt, 0.1% accuracy). A Fluke 80T-150U temperature probe and Fluke 87 DMM were used to measure both module temperature and air temperature. A Li-Cor 200SB pyranometer measures insolation. This data was taken at Agate Flat, Oregon (42° 01’ 02” N. 122° 23’ 19” W.) at an altitude of 3,320 feet.

All modules are mounted in the same plane. This assures equal access to sunlight. Their tilt was 30° which is within 0.5° of perpendicular to the sun when we made these tests (20 August 1995). All modules

28 Home Power #49 • October / November 1995

Image | PV Performance Tests



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