Active Standard ASTM E2481 | Developed by Subcommittee: E44.09
Book of Standards Volume: 12.02
Historical (view previous versions of standard)
Significance and Use
4.1 The design of a photovoltaic module or system intended to provide safe conversion of the sun's radiant energy into useful electricity must take into consideration the possibility of partial shadowing of the module(s) during operation. This test method describes a procedure for verifying that the design and construction of the module provides adequate protection against the potential harmful effects of hot spots during normal installation and use.
4.3 Hot-spot heating occurs in a module when its operating current exceeds the reduced short-circuit current (Isc) of a shadowed or faulty cell or group of cells. When such a condition occurs, the affected cell or group of cells is forced into reverse bias and must dissipate power, which can cause overheating.
4.4 Fig. 1 illustrates the hot-spot effect in a module of a series string of cells, one of which, cell Y, is partially shadowed. The amount of electrical power dissipated in Y is equal to the product of the module current and the reverse voltage developed across Y. For any irradiance level, when the reverse voltage across Y is equal to the voltage generated by the remaining ( s-1) cells in the module, power dissipation is at a maximum when the module is short-circuited. This is shown in Fig. 1 by the shaded rectangle constructed at the intersection of the reverse I-V characteristic of Y with the image of the forward I-V characteristic of the (s-1) cells.
4.5 By-pass diodes, if present, as shown in Fig. 2, begin conducting when a series-connected string in a module is in reverse bias, thereby limiting the power dissipation in the reduced-output cell.
4.6 The reverse characteristics of solar cells can vary considerably. Cells can have either high shunt resistance where the reverse performance is voltage-limited or have low shunt resistance where the reverse performance is current-limited. Each of these types of cells can suffer hot spot problems, but in different ways.
18.104.22.168 Often low shunt resistance cells are this way because of localized shunts. In this case hot spot heating occurs because a large amount of current flows in a small area. Because this is a localized phenomenon, there is a great deal of scatter in performance of this type of cell. Cells with the lowest shunt resistance have a high likelihood of operating at excessively high temperatures when reverse biased.
4.7 The major technical issue is how to identify the highest and lowest shunt resistance cells and then how to determine the worst case shadowing for those cells. If the bypass diodes are removable, cells with localized shunts can be identified by reverse biasing the cell string and using an IR camera to observe hot spots. If the module circuit is accessible the current flow through the shadowed cell can be monitored directly. However, many PV modules do not have removable diodes or accessible electric circuits. Therefore a non-intrusive method is needed that can be utilized on those modules.
4.8 The selected approach is based on taking a set of I-V curves for a module with each cell shadowed in turn. Fig. 3 shows the resultant set of I-V curves for a sample module. The curve with the highest leakage current at the point where the diode turns on was taken when the cell with the lowest shunt resistance was shadowed. The curve with the lowest leakage current at the point where the diode turns on was taken when the cell with the highest shunt resistance was shadowed.
4.10 This test method may be specified as part of a series of qualification tests including performance measurements and demonstration of functional requirements. It is the responsibility of the user of this test method to specify the minimum acceptance criteria for physical or electrical degradation.
1.1 This test method provides a procedure to determine the ability of a photovoltaic (PV) module to endure the long-term effects of periodic “hot spot” heating associated with common fault conditions such as severely cracked or mismatched cells, single-point open circuit failures (for example, interconnect failures), partial (or non-uniform) shadowing or soiling. Such effects typically include solder melting or deterioration of the encapsulation, but in severe cases could progress to combustion of the PV module and surrounding materials.
1.2 There are two ways that cells can cause a hot spot problem; either by having a high resistance so that there is a large resistance in the circuit, or by having a low resistance area (shunt) such that there is a high-current flow in a localized region. This test method selects cells of both types to be stressed.
2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.
E772 Terminology of Solar Energy Conversion
E927 Specification for Solar Simulation for Photovoltaic Testing
E1036 Test Methods for Electrical Performance of Nonconcentrator Terrestrial Photovoltaic Modules and Arrays Using Reference Cells
E1799 Practice for Visual Inspections of Photovoltaic Modules
E1802 Test Methods for Wet Insulation Integrity Testing of Photovoltaic Modules
ICS Number Code 27.160 (Solar energy engineering)
UNSPSC Code 32111701(Photovoltaic cells)