Inspecting Solar Panels with Thermal Drones | FLIR Delta – Episode 11

by Jose

[ Music, ] hi Dave Lee here thanks for joining us for this episode of and , we get lots of questions about inspecting large solar fields with drones. It’s, a growing application that seems fairly straightforward at first glance, but it’s.

Actually, a lot more complex than it looks here are answers to some of the most common questions we get about inspections number one. Why use a to inspect solar installations? The most simple, straightforward reason is efficiency.

With a thermal camera on a , you can find heat anomalies in a large solar field in a fraction of the time it would take to do it with a team of technicians on the ground. This is especially true if you’re, creating thermal or thermal ax, where you can pinpoint possible faults and show technicians right where to look number two.

What are you looking for? At the most basic level, you’re looking for heat differences that can indicate a problem that needs to be corrected. These could be small cell level, defects or larger problems like entire strings that are off line string.

Defects are important to find they can significantly degrade and instillations output efficiency and are often due to something relatively easy to fix like connection or cable problems, while finding a single bad cell, probably won’t justify replacing an entire panel unless there’s a related safety issue.

It’s, still important. To note these faults, so they can be tracked over time. What looks like a cell level defect could just be bird droppings or other dirt. They’ll, be washed away with the next good rain, or it could be an actual fault that can grow into a larger problem over time, depending on what’s causing the problem.

Another thing to keep in mind is the thermal inspections aren’t just for older solar installations. The perfect time to start an aerial inspection program is right when the solar arrays being commissioned and handed over from installation to operations.

This is the time to make sure that the installation was done correctly and that everything is operating as it should it’s also the time to get baseline data against which the utility can compare later inspections number three.

How should I fly the inspection? Well, this covers two general topics: angles and altitude. As far as angles are concerned, there’s, no cut and dried answer. To get the best results you’ll need to find a balance between the look down or elevation angle of the camera, the angle of the panels and a location of the Sun.

The goal is to minimize Sun reflections on the panels and that can take some experimentation. If you get us some reflection in the image change your viewing angle, to reduce the impact of the reflection.

If you’re, not sure if what you’re, seeing is a reflection or a fault. Look at that section of panels from a different angle. If the hotspot stays in one place, it’s legitimate anomaly. If it moves it’s, a reflection.

How high to fly is another balancing act, but this time between your imaging requirements and the installation you’re flying. If you’re, capturing images that will be stitched into a Northam is a ik. You want to fly high enough to capture enough area in each image to be useful, but not so high that you can’t detect cell level.

Defects, number 4. Can you diagnose problems with just the images that you captured? Well, probably not, unless you’re already intimately familiar with how solar systems work, it can be tricky to make a definitive fault diagnosis based solely on your airborne images.

They can provide great value because they can lead technicians directly to a problem and drastically reduce inspection time, but other troubleshooting will probably be needed to determine the precise failure mechanism.

So especially if you’re, just getting started with solar inspections, concentrate on getting the best imagery you possibly can and work with the utility technicians to define the actual fault there’s a whole lot more to successful inspections of solar panels.

From a drone than you may think so check out the ITC’s at infrared training comm to find a class near you to learn more thanks for watching this episode of . Keep checking back for new episodes at , comm / Delta fly safe.

I’ll, see you next time: [ Music, ]

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