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pse-pv-testStress-Testing of PV Modules under real-world Conditions

14 June 2012 - The CFV Solar Test Laboratory in Albuquerque, USA has begun using a mechanical load test stand supplied by the Freiburg company PSE AG. With this new test stand the capacity of PV modules to resist mechanical stresses can be accurately simulated and measured. The test stand enables the testing of loads not only at room-temperatures but also at temperatures from -40̊C to +80̊C. This means that engineers can evaluate the performance, reliability and durability of PV modules for use in different climatic regions.

Martin Plass, General Manager of the CFV Solar Testing Laboratory in Albuquerque, NM, is very happy with the new equipment: “This new load-test stand enables us to determine whether modules can actually provide what they promise at both low and high temperatures. This is particularly vital in order to test new materials used in PV-modules.”

A special feature of the test-stand is the adjustment mechanisms of the cylinders and the 96 vacuum suction cups. The PSE arrangement allows rapid set-up of the machine for different size modules with equal distances between suction cups for a uniform load distribution. The high upper load limit of 10,000 Pa makes it possible to perform tests well in excess of normal demands and evaluate the modules safety margins. Another advantage is the ability to dynamically load-test modules with rapid switching-cycles of up to 4Hz, which can simulate stresses from wind-gusts or transportation and handling operations.

Frank Luginsland, head of the PSE AG Technology Department is also happy: “With our new test stand the mechanical reliability of PV modules can be evaluated under very realistic conditions. We are also pleased with the short set-up times and the high ease of use we were able to achieve with this new design, both of which help reduce testing costs and times.”

The mechanical load test stand applies both pull-and-push stresses to PV modules at different angles, thereby simulating the effect of wind and snow loads on the module in real-world mounting conditions. Present standards only require the stress tests to be carried out at room temperature, whereas in reality much higher and lower temperatures are encountered that significantly change the capability of modules to accept these stresses. With the new PSE test stand it is possible for the test engineers at CFV to develop new test programs for the industry that might also be integrated into future certification standards.

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