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Flir thermal-imaging cameras have helped Solon, a supplier of solar systems, to ensure maximum energy yield from its solar panels by enabling the company to identify and examine defects.

Solon does not manufacture its own solar cells, the conversion efficiency of which can be heavily reduced by shunts. The company uses the Flir P-Series to identify shunts and to ensure that the quality of the cell is above a certain grade.

Flir T-Series cameras, meanwhile, are used for field inspection, to check solar power plant before handover to the customer and for post-installation monitoring and maintenance services.

As well as the inspection of individual modules, the Flir T-Series cameras are used to check the entire installation, including cables, connectors, fuse boxes and inverters. Due to its tiltable lens, the backs of units can also be checked and imaged.

Cell damage, breakage in the protective glass layer, defective bypass diodes and shadowing are other common defects that Solon seeks out using thermal imaging.

Key benefits of product application

  • The ability of the Flir P-Series to accurately identify shunts means that conversion efficiency is not affected and there are no power losses.
  • Using the T-Series cameras for field inspection methods allows the company to pinpoint the problem and see the cause. Before, each string had to be measured by hand, while the cause of the problem was a matter of guesswork. 
  • According to the company, thermal imaging is especially valuable for detecting bypass diodes that have become defective as the result of a thunderstorm, for example, which used to be very difficult to identify but shows up clearly on the thermal image.
  • When inspecting a module from the back, employing the Flir T-Series tiltable lens unit avoids the solar reflection problems that can skew measurement results when imaging the module from its highly reflective front.
  • The Instant Report feature allows Solon engineers to show their preliminary findings to the plant manager on site.

FLIR Systems specialises in technologies that enhance perception and awareness.  The company brings innovative sensing solutions into daily life through its thermal imaging and visible light imaging technology and systems for measurement, diagnosis, location and advanced threat detection.  Its products improve the way people interact with the world around them, enhance productivity, increase energy efficiency and make the workplace safer.

FLIR Systems has six operating segments – surveillance, instruments, OEM and emerging markets, maritime, security and finally, detection. Of these six, ‘instruments’ is of greatest interest to trade and industry and the second largest segment in the company’s portfolio. This division provides devices that image, measure and assess thermal energy, gases and other environmental elements for industrial, commercial and scientific applications.

These products are manufactured across five production sites, three in the USA and two in Europe; Sweden and Estonia.

A model to suit every application and budget
The options that FLIR Systems provides for measuring temperature and studying thermal performance have never been greater.  Not only does the company offer a huge range of models to suit all thermal application needs but the technology is also affordable and very easy to use.  Thermal cameras now come in various shapes, sizes and degrees of sophistication and FLIR continues to invest heavily in the development of new and complementary technologies to differentiate itself from competitors.

An important milestone in the development of thermal imaging has been the introduction of the FLIR Lepton® core, a micro longwave detector, the size of a mobile SIM.  This has allowed thermal imaging to be repackaged to meet the needs of an even wider audience and, in combination with another new technology called Infrared Guided Measurement – IGM™ – has led to the development of a range of test and measurement meters with imaging capability.

Another important growth area for FLIR thermal imaging is in continuous monitoring to assure quality and safety.  Through its introduction of discrete fixed mounted thermal cameras which are fully compliant industry standard plug-and-play protocols, FLIR Systems has provided industry with infrared machine vision which is instantly ready for quick and easy network installation.

Protecting assets and people from fire is an area for which thermal imaging is least known but, thanks to FLIR Systems’ development, it is now one of the most cost-effective methods available.  Its application flexibility and rapid return on investment present an attractive proposition for any site or safety manager.

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