An All-in-One Solar PV Testing Solution
Fluke, one of the most trusted electrical testing device manufacturers, is expanding its line of PV system testers with the SMFT-1000 kit with multifunction analyzer and I-V curve tracing.
As the demand for green energy solutions continues to push the energy industry, the necessary tools to support this equipment needs to be updated. Fluke, who is well-known in the electrical measurement industry, is stepping up to the plate to provide measuring instruments for the solar panel industry.
Fluke aims to provide updated measuring instruments for the solar industry. Image used courtesy of American Public Power Association
Solar Panel Testing
Solar panels and solar farms have been around for many years now, and just like with any other piece of equipment, they start to break down or degrade. It’s important to know when this equipment is not performing at its ideal efficiency. If one panel in a solar grid is not working efficiently, then the whole grid will not operate at peak performance. For this reason, it is important to do regular tests on the panels to identify the weaker panels and remove them from service. Some of the tests require multiple measuring instruments and even disconnecting electrical connections. This process can take a long time if testing large installations.
Fluke's SMFT-1000 all-in-one PV System Test Solution. Image used courtesy of Fluke
SMFT-1000 All-In-One PV System Test Solution
The SMFT-1000 kit includes three measuring instruments, multiple probes, clamps, and a backpack to carry all the equipment. The heart of the kit is the SMFT-1000 multifunction PV analyzer. This device connects to the PV grid with a series of probes and automatically performs multiple tests that are listed in the IEC 62446-1 Category 1. Tests such as protective resistance earth, the voltage on an open circuit, short circuit current, insulation resistance, and polarity are performed without operator intervention.
Along with the multifunction PV analyzer, there is also a wireless irradiance meter that measures an I-V curve. In order to capture an accurate picture of how well your PV is performing, you need to have real-time data collection in the field. The irradiance meter will connect to the analyzer wireless using Bluetooth to transmit real-time irradiance and temperature data which are used in the I-V curve calculation. Also included is a 100 A clamp meter for measuring current without removing any wires.
Fluke's TruTest Solar Software. Image used courtesy of Fluke
TruTest Solar Software
Working in the field using a laptop is not always ideal—with the SMFT-1000 analyzer, the data collected can be stored on internal memory and later downloaded using the TruTest software. Reports can then be generated from the software, or further analysis of the collected data can be performed using specific graphs and charts. Once the data is transferred to the laptop, I-V curves can be compared from previous visits to the same site. This allows technicians to detect failing panels before they are completely dead. While the software is not included with the SMFT-1000 kit, there is a 60-day demo version that allows full use of the software for 60 days.
The SMFT-1000 analyzer makes it so technicians do not need to use a laptop in the field for solar panel testing. Image used courtesy of Fluke
Solar panels and solar farms have been in use for many years now meaning the need to analyze these devices and start removing underperforming panels is now. By having accurate and reliable measuring tools, technicians can detect failed panels in the field or measure the performance of systems quickly and accurately. Fluke is trusted by many electrical technicians that work on low voltage all the up to high voltage industrial electrical equipment.