Solar panels have proven to be a wise, future-proof investment in terms of economy and ecology. But just like any other technology, failures may occur. Thermal imaging cameras are an ideal for quick detection of those failures. Heinz Simmler, owner of Swiss photovoltaic inspection company Energie Netzwerk, is an avid supporter of this technology.
Thermal imaging can provide owners and installers of solar panels an indispensable look at the interior of solar modules and the construction of the photovoltaic system. Defective cells, junction boxes, cables, inverters or incorrectly connected modules can be localized with high-resolution thermal imaging cameras. Energie Netzwerk, based in Bachenbülach, Switzerland, is specialised in photovoltaic thermography and a certified inspector according to the construction and electrical thermography standard EN ISO 9712.
“After gathering many years of experience with the installation and construction of solar panels for a large company, I decided to start my own company with a partner in 2014,” says Heinz Simmler. “Before that, I had already worked with the company Emitec Messtechnik AG, a consultancy firm and distributor of FLIR cameras. This is how I got acquainted with the power of thermal imaging. And when it was time to buy a thermal imaging camera ourselves, there was no question about it that we needed a FLIR camera.”
Solar panel inspections
There are usually three situations in which people require thermal imaging inspections, according to Heinz Simmler: “First of all, at the time of installation, people want to be sure that everything works. A fully operational solar panel will allow the installer to provide a quality certificate. Secondly, there can be a problem with the installation, something that becomes apparent due to reduced output. Thirdly, before the warranty ends, a customer usually wants to know whether everything is still in order.”