The following series breaks down the three most common levels of aerial thermography inspections used by Raptor Maps to identify defects, faults, and anomalies affecting PV system performance. The inspections; Overview, Standard, and Comprehensive, differ in flight altitude, data capture time, level of analysis, and the level of detail in the final deliverables. While aerial thermography is often the most efficient method to inspect a solar PV system for performance issues, understanding the level of inspection you need will enable you to maximize ROI. In this article, we will go over parameters, use cases, and the pros and cons of Comprehensive Aerial Inspections.
Comprehensive level aerial IR inspections are performed in compliance with IEC standards, providing infrared thermal imagery at a 3 cm/px resolution and high-definition color imagery at a 1 cm/px resolution. This level of inspection is very common in Europe and regions where European asset owners operate, including Central and South America, and Australia. The inspection is performed at a lower altitude and speed compared to Standard and Overview level inspections, but in turn, it will provide highly detailed, sub-module level granular data. These inspections require a large number of man-hours and time-on-site to complete but deliver an incomparable level of insight into the inspected PV system.
Comprehensive level aerial inspections allow teams to completely understand the performance of each module in a PV system. Providing absolute temperature accuracy enables owners and management to accurately sort module and string-level anomalies by temperature to identify warrantable issues and prioritize remediation. This inspection type is IEC compliant and embraced by owners and banks. A set of strict requirements created by the International Electrotechnical Commission, an organization that creates standardization for electrical technology. Comprehensive level aerial inspections allow for accurate identification of anomalies as small as an overheated junction box and anomalous performing PV cells at a less than 1°C threshold. In addition, the level of detail provided supports warranty issues including delamination, cracked modules, and other anomalies that require very granular examination of modules.
As stated, these inspections comply with IEC standards, making them a viable choice for inspections of PV systems due to potential warranty claim, commissioning, diligence, and underperformance and many more use cases. They provide a highly detailed baseline that can be referenced throughout the site’s 20+ year lifetime. Aside from newly completed sites, these inspections enable teams to effectively repair operating sites that are underperforming for unknown reasons. Furthermore, they’re widely used for preventative maintenance inspections. Due to the ROI offered, asset owners and asset managers have globally utilized this inspection.
Industry Use Cases:
As stated, these inspections comply with IEC standards, making them a viable choice for warranty claim inspections. In addition, Comprehensive aerial inspections support due diligence inspections, as well as the commissioning and handover of PV systems. They provide a highly detailed baseline that can be referenced throughout the site’s lifetime. Aside from newly completed sites, these inspections enable teams to effectively repair operating sites that are underperforming for unknown reasons. Furthermore, they’re widely used for preventative maintenance inspections. Due to the ROI offered, asset owners and asset managers have globally utilized this inspection.
Overall, Comprehensive level aerial inspections have enabled asset owners worldwide to adopt aerial thermography inspection within their asset management and O&M annual scope of work. Engineering firms have also adopted the Comprehensive level of aerial thermography for use in their various projects. This level of aerial inspection will continue to be utilized in the commissioning and handoff process, creating referenceable benchmarks for teams as well as proven to be a great support to warranty claims.
If you would like to learn more about how using drones and software can support solar inspections for solar PV systems please contact us HERE or email us directly through firstname.lastname@example.org. We can also help you learn more about our software that converts your inspection imagery into final reports that are accurate and easy to use for asset management and maintenance.