Much of the current photovoltaic industry has focused on reducing the cost per installed watt, which, over the last five years, has dropped—from $10 per watt to between $5 and $6 per watt. This, coupled with incentive programs at the federal, state, and local levels, has resulted in the rapid deployment of grid-tied PV systems on homes and businesses across the country. However, it is possible that the swift ramping up in PV module production to meet this demand may be the source of some of the internal module problems discussed here. The good news is that monitoring options can alert us to problems as they arise, helping system owners maintain their systems and allowing module manufacturers to see their products’ performance over a wide range of installations.
Whether you are interested in maximizing your economic return or you simply want to generate as much renewable energy as possible, plan to periodically check your system’s output and watch for potential problems. Catching these issues early can keep you from losing precious sun-generated kWh for years to come.
Justine Sanchez is a NABCEP-certified PV installer, Home Power technical editor, and Solar Energy International instructor who is now happily watching her new PV modules kicking out the expected watts.
Special thanks to Jeff Krisa and Stuart Davis of Tigo Energy; Jim Heneghan at DMEA; Colin Mitchell and Monali Joshi at Suntech; Gary Handelin of Solar Independence; Bill Brooks of Brooks Engineering; and Jeff Tobe and Kris Sutton of SEI.
FLIR • www.flir.com • Infrared cameras
Fluke • www.fluke.com • Infrared cameras
Solmetric • www.solmetric.com • PV Analyzer
eIQ Energy • www.eiqenergy.com
Enphase Energy • www.enphaseenergy.com
Exceltech • www.exeltech.com
SolarEdge • www.solaredge.com
Tigo Energy • www.tigoenergy.com