The combined simulator will allow us not only to save time and set-up costs but also to attain maximum reproducibility of the measured results. This is impressively confirmed by the first measurements, commented Ulrich Fritzsche, Specialist Coordinator for Solar Thermal Collectors at TÜV Rheinland.
Under laboratory conditions, a sun simulator provides photovoltaic modules or solar collectors with light from a sun-like spectrum. This means that measurements can be performed and reproduced under precisely defined conditions which are independent of climate. The measured results help us to find answers to the question of whether solar modules and sun collectors actually deliver on their
promises and meet the service guarantees made by manufacturers.
For the new TÜV Rheinland test bench, the Freiburg-based company PSE AG constructed the lamp holder, the lamp area with artificial sky and the mobile collector platform. Another supplier built the module test table, while Atlas MTT GmbH provided the high-performance lamps.
In addition to combined utilisation for solar thermal and photovoltaic modules, another special feature of the modern test bench is the automatic shade facility. Thisfacility means that TÜV Rheinland’s experts can expose the photovoltaic modules to radiation for a specific period of time and determine the time constants of thermal collectors. Frank Luginsland, Head of Technology at PSE, is more than satisfied: “The shutter, without which it would not be possible to combine the two test benches,
darkens the test surface within only a few seconds. This is something we are especially proud of”.
The 12 MHG lamps provided by Atlas MTT GmbH have a controllable radiation power of up to 1,200 watts/sqm. An artificial sky simulates natural long-wave radiation exchange so that the heat of the lamps does not affect the measured results.
The high-performance radiation devices are integrated in a lamp holder, with an automatic positioning in height and angle. In conjunction with the mobile test table, this allows the TÜV Rheinland inspectors to implement various test designs using angles between 0° and 45°. As the photovoltaic module and thermal collector test surfaces require different alignments for the measurements, two independent test tables are needed. The test surface for the collectors is 2,500 mm x 2,500 mm, while photovoltaic modules can be measured on a horizontal surface of 3,500 mm x 2,500 mm. This means it was possible to implement the lamp area and test table requirements resulting from the different standards for collectors and modules in a single test bench.