Advanced unmanned aerial vehicles for your professional applications.

How to inspect solar panels with UAV thermography

UAV inspection of solar panels

Do you have some solar panels to maintain? Are you looking for some effective and low cost way how to inspect them? And does it even pay off to invest into some regular inspection? The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that PV panels suffer a failure rate of less than 1% per year, which maybe doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up over time. So yes, it is good and cost-saving to check your solar panels form time to time. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in combination with infrared sensors are avalable and increasingly more populare way to inspect constructions, buildings, pipelines or technical equipment.Considering the relatively low cost of UAVs, we think it´s definitely worthwhile to have (or hire) UAV inspectors to perform regularly flyover of a solar farms.

Automatic aerial hotspot detection of solar farms? No problem for UAV thermography

If you need something to be done periodically, the best solution is to automate the process as much as possible. And that´s where the autonomous flight could really mean some impact. Actually, a few professionals are striving to automate the hot spot detection of solar farms and to design integrated system for this purpose. For example, a German company Stadtwerke Mainz completed initial UAS missions to automatically identify hotspots in their solar power plants. They use a hexacopter equipped with well-know Optris P1 LightWeight infrared camera and GoPro camera (for visual control). The Optris thermo camera is capable of fully radiometric measuring and is mounted to a vibration-free 2-axis brushless gimbal.  The hexacopter follows predefined flight path via GPS.

 But capturing the imagery is only one part of the process, the second is to analyse it. You don´t need to watch a full lenght video and look for problematic spots today, a special software automatically identifies them. Thanks to the GPS it is also able to automatically locate where the temperature of PV cells exceeded a pre-set level. That is possible with geotagging of each thermographic image, so you will just need to process capturing data and you will know precisely which solar panels need to repair.

Aerial perspective and infrared imaging will help you to find defective panels faster

As you might know, every photovoltaic panel emits a certain amount of heat. Important thing is that defective panels emit more heat than operational panels. Apparently, the difference is easy to recognized with precise aerial image and that is exactly what can you drones provide you in a moment. As we showed in an example above, drones with a thermal imaging camera clearly offers an effective solution for hot spots and malfunctions detection. It is so also beacause infrared cameras on UAVs are very easy to positionat the right distance and angle. Conventional inspections are strenuous, time-consuming and costly. Thermographic UAV applications are on the other hand fast, effective and you can basically do them on your own. You don´t need a large team and days of work. Moreover, infrared cameras and smart multicopters are becoming easily affordable even for small companies and individuals.

Are you interested in aerial thermography and UAV applications? Do you wish to know how can thermographic systems help you in your bussiness? We have integrated a great infrared imaging solution with thermographic system Workswell which can you enable to see more than the others.