Posted on July 21, 2011 by SVP.
Yesterday the array team took some of our newly encapsulated SunPower solar cells out into the sun for power testing.
How does it work? We connect the leads of our solar module up to our custom built array tester, which is plugged into a computer. The array tester is controlled by a National Instruments LabVIEW script that runs an IV trace on the cells. This current-voltage (I-V) test runs a specified range of currents through a solar module to find its maximum power point. We use a pyranometer to measure the intensity of the sun, which is later used in calculating the efficiency of our solar cells.
One purpose of power testing is to make sure our solar modules are functioning properly. Another use is to measure the effect of our encapsulation. By running IV traces on a module before and after encapsulation, we are able to observe the benefits of the 3M encapsulation process.