Solar systems and photovoltaic systems are becoming increasingly important due to the current energy revolution taking place. In order for the systems to generate electricity and heat reliably for companies and private households, they must always be in perfect condition. Performance and yields depend heavily on the condition of the systems. Currently, there is a way to check this condition effectively and cost-effectively: Drones. Solar system operators should work regularly with these new tools.

Regular maintenance of PV and solar systems

Photovoltaic and solar systems must be checked, cleaned, and maintained regularly, as the systems are exposed to weather. In the long run, this leads to wear and tear. Correct maintenance is therefore mandatory and an essential part of the operation. This is the only way to achieve optimum yields and performance. As a rule, companies should maintain their systems at least once a year. Experience has shown that private households should thoroughly inspect their systems at least once every 2 years.

Solar system inspection using drones

The output of a solar or photovoltaic system can be recorded and documented with a monitoring device (e.g. SolarLog, SMA). For this purpose, the device is attached to the inverter and the daily yield values can be read out and compared. Sudden power losses or drops can be detected at an early stage. These monitoring tools thus help to permanently monitor the yields.

In addition, however, one should not do without a thorough inspection. Even if yield losses are detected, it is not immediately comprehensible how they came about.

For this purpose, the inspection of the complete plant with a drone is recommended. In this case, the drone is used for thermography. The drone is equipped with a high-resolution thermal imaging camera and makes a flight over the whole plant. This is done very quickly with the specially adapted deployment and flying procedures. The thermal imaging camera generates reliable and comprehensive data of the plant. This data is then evaluated by special software. The plant operator then receives a comprehensive status report.

Advantages of drones in solar system inspection

Although you can get more detailed results while working with a handheld camera from the ground, the use of a drone is highly time-saving. The larger the plant, the more time can be saved compared to a conventional inspection. In addition, the drones can adopt a greater shooting angle so that reflections in the images are avoided. This, in turn, increases the accuracy of the data. The use of drones makes it possible to inspect entire systems on a regular basis, whereas previously with the conventional method only random samples were carried out due to the time required.

The greatest advantage of using a drone is the level of detail with which the drone can detect conspicuous features, damage or defects through thermography. This information is fully documented in the condition report and can be forwarded directly to the contractor or installer for maintenance purposes. Inspection and evaluation are also much more cost-effective than conventional methods. The inspection costs are usually based on the size of the system and are therefore also suitable for private households.

By flying over a solar or photovoltaic system, conspicuous features and defects can be quickly identified and located precisely for individual modules. This quickly reveals why performance drops occur or why the system does not provide optimum performance. All modules can be checked very quickly and the results can be used very accurately. This enables conclusions to be drawn in a targeted manner and maintenance to be carried out in a targeted and selective manner as well. Thus, a distinction can then be made between whether a module is damaged and may have to be replaced, whether there is a fault in the inverter or whether there is contamination and the system needs to be cleaned. Of course, this not only saves costs but also leads to higher yields, which in turn pay off the investment in the plant.

In summary, we can state that the individual error patterns for the modules used can be quickly generated by inspecting the solar system with a drone. The inspection flight leads to the fact that derivations and conclusions on the causes of performance losses and abnormalities can be made by the thermography procedure. The detailed status reports allow the systems to be effectively maintained and checked, and yields to be increased in a targeted manner.

The FlyNex Team


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