There are a limited number of steps involved in caring for a solar power system, but you’d be surprised how often one of them gets passed over: Properly testing the panels themselves. Not only is confirming their expected output before installation vital, but continuously monitoring the actual output compared to the expectation is very important.
At TerraSol Energies, all of our commercial solar power systems come with a metering system to help you test it for basic output. You can test for both voltage and amperage – let’s look at what you need to do in each case.
Testing for Voltage
To test your commercial or residential solar panel for voltage output, place it in direct sunlight and set the meter to the “volts” setting. From here, touch the meter’s red (positive) lead to the solar panel’s positive wire, then touch the meter’s black (negative) lead to the solar panel’s negative wire.
At this point, the voltage reading on your meter should be right about, or just slightly under, 60 volts. If the reading is different, this is a signal that there’s an issue with your solar panel output. Check all connections of solar cells and all stringers, and also check for the possibility of cracks within the solar cells themselves.
Testing for Amperage
To test for amperage output, again place the solar panel in direct sunlight, and change the meter to the “amps” setting. From here, take the same steps as above – touch the positive lead to the panel’s positive wire, and the negative lead to the panel’s negative wire.
The amp reading should not be close to, or just under, 3.5 amps. If it’s closer to 3, this is no problem – the panel may not be getting maximum sunlight. If the amperage is significantly lower than 3, however, this could be an issue, and you need to perform the same checks as above.
As an added aside: If you ever need to calculate the wattage of your panel, simply multiply the voltage and the amperage to find your figure. So for an 18-volt, 3.5-amp panel, the wattage would be 63.
To learn more about testing panel output, or any of the other solar power company services we offer, speak to the prost at TerraSol Energies today.