PVEL starts crowdsourced inverter testing that does not require manufacturer participation

Independent test lab PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) has started a crowdsourced version of its inverter testing program. PVEL will now work directly with investors, developers and asset owners to test commercially purchased inverters through its Crowd Power Product Qualification Program (PQP) which do not require the participation of the manufacturer.

A PVEL lab technician notes power measurements from a solar power inverter

“From financial losses to unsafe system operation, the consequences of inverter failure range from frustrating to dangerous – but third-party inverter data is notoriously difficult to obtain from manufacturers,” said CJ Colavito, VP Engineering at commercial solar developer Standard Zonne. “PVEL’s Crowd Power PQP enables quality-driven companies like ours to pool resources for inverter data-driven due diligence that reduces the risk associated with adopting inverters with limited deployment in the field.”

The tests in the Inverter Crowd Power PQP are similar to the tests in PVEL’s traditional Inverter PQP, which PVEL first introduced in 2014. Both programs include field-representative safety, reliability and performance tests under varying environmental and connection conditions to support datasheet validation for more accurate performance and revenue models, reliability assessments for improved O&M costs and replacement rate prediction accuracy, and safety assessments for reliable arc and ground fault detection in field systems.

“PVEL’s crowdsourced testing gives inverter buyers the opportunity to leverage empirical data over the claims of product marketing materials. Initial feedback from our downstream partners has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Tara Doyle, PVEL’s Chief Commercial Officer. from the manufacturer, we will ensure that PVEL’s technical insights for deploying high-performance equipment are available to the solar energy market.”

The Inverter Crowd Power PQP complements and complements PVEL’s traditional PQP testing, which continues to be available to manufacturers. Ginlong Solis and Chint Power Systems recently submitted next-generation 250 kWh inverters for testing to PVEL. However, the vast majority of inverter suppliers typically do not engage in independent testing that exceeds certification standards to support comprehensive benchmarking of product quality and bankability.

In contrast, more than 50 PV module manufacturers have tested their products at PVEL and 25 suppliers conduct frequent, periodic testing. Since PVEL’s PV module PQP was introduced in 2012, the reliability of the PV module has generally improved significantly, despite ongoing challenges. For example, the average degradation rates in PVEL’s thermal cycling test have improved by almost 70% since 2012.

“The most effective tool for improving product quality is validated data that objectively measures performance and reliability,” said Jack Bennett, CEO of NovaSource Power Services. “Inverters are the essential interface between solar energy systems, batteries and the grid. If these products are not reliable, we will not be able to rely on solar PV infrastructure to generate clean power for decades to come.”

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