Raleigh, NC

Defective solar cells can destroy an entire module. Therefore, conducting regular inspections using thermography is a great way to perform preventative maintenance on photovoltaics installations. Any noticeable differences in temperature that are encountered can be used to reliably detect electrical, mechanical, installation and processing-related defects, including short circuits, inactive cells, moisture, and poorly soldered joints. As part of scheduled maintenance operations, thermography can provide valuable information for resolving warranty claims.

Inspections are normally performed in a non-contact, nondestructive manner from a safe distance using infrared cameras. One such camera is the new miniature thermoIMAGER TIM LightWeight IR camera from Micro-Epsilon, which can be mounted on a quadrocopter, a device that’s similar to a small, remote-controlled helicopter with 4 blades. Design factors to consider when using an IR camera as part of flight operations include low weight, autonomous control and sufficiently high camera resolution to ensure high quality IR images.

The new system, which weighs just 350 grams, consists of a miniature IR camera and the NetBox mini PC. IR videos are stored on a microSD storage card in NetBox and can be launched directly through a button on the camera housing. The high resolution infrared camera offers an optical resolution of 382 × 288 pixels, with a thermal resolution of up to 40mK.

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