PV Module Standards
Information taken directly from Clean Energy Council website!

The modules on the CEC-approved list meet the relevant Australian Standards. This is a minimum requirement.

There is a range of independent PV module rating systems that set quality and performance standards above the minimum standards. These can give consumers and installers more information on the modules they are looking to install.

There are also some well-regarded testing facilities that provide data on in-situ operation of modules, which can give an indication of the longer-term performance of modules.

Here’s what you can look for to help determine the quality of your modules.

1. PV+ Test
This independent test not only assesses products based on performance criteria, but also in terms of durability, electrical safety, workmanship, the quality of documentation provided, warranty terms and ease of installation.

If a module manufacturer wishes to PVtest_Logobe listed on the PV+ list, they must have their modules tested by an accredited TÜV Rheinland test lab (at significant cost). Once the results are released, the manufacturer can decide if they want their brand name listed beside their score i.e. if their modules did not perform well they wouldn’t list their name – the scores would be listed as ‘anonymous’. By default, the PV+ Test list is a ‘best of’ list.

A critical difference in this test, compared with Australian Standard tests for example, is that PV+ purchase the modules for testing from the marketplace. The manufacturer cannot control what modules are tested.

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The analysis conducted by PV+ Test reveal what they think makes up a good module. A crucial aspect is whether the product lives up to the manufacturer’s claims. A module receives top marks if it performs the way the experts would like it to in a particular property – in other words, the way the latest technology should work today. The total number of points and the total score are given at the end. A module is expected to get at least half of the possible assessment points, otherwise it fails the test.

2. VDE Quality Tested
A ‘VDE Quality Tested’ certificate also indicates a module exceeds existing standards. The VDE test procedure has been developed to prove increased reliability and durability as well as to validate lower degradation rates in modules. Along with the laboratory testing of the modules to a range of requirements, it also requires manufacturing in-line quality tests controlled and audited by the VDE. Some of the defined in-line tests are required for 100 per cent of the modules produced.

The novel VDE test approach goes well beyond existing standards. It requires regular laboratory controls of modules with increased test time and sample rates that exceed international test standards.

3. TÜV Thresher Tested
The TÜV Sud Thresher Test certification provides information on the long-term safety and power-output performance of PV modules. Panels are independently tested by TÜV Sud for extended durability and performance, exceeding the requirements of existing standards.

The TÜV Sud Thresher Test extends standard IEC testing by two times to four times the accelerated test durations and helps identify those modules with truly differentiated long-term reliability and performance. In the tests, environmental stresses are simulated and repeated sequentially. The Thresher Test gathers and reports degradation through the course of the test sequences, and the module passes if this degradation remains within a prescribed window of the initial power rating data. Power drop, leakage current and visual observations are important factors in the final result.

The TÜV Sud Thresher Test was developed by a group of leading manufacturers along with the US DOE and NREL to establish a test that measured long term performance beyond the requirements of the minimum standards.

4. Atlas 25+® certification
Atlas 25+ is a certification that also focuses on the long-term performance of panels. It consists of a series of tests that are designed to subject photovoltaic modules to the environmental degradation stresses which can be expected over long-term service.

Like the above schemes, the Atlas 25+® mark serves as a product differentiator providing customers with the proof of independent third-party testing that exceeds the current standards.

There are two versions of the program – a six-month streamlined ‘basic’ program and an expanded 12-month ‘premium’ offering that includes additional climate factors and performance measurements.

5. Fraunhofer PVDI testing
The PV Durability Initiative (PVDI) is a program of Fraunhofer Institute for Sustainable Energy Systems in Germany.

Modules are subjected to accelerated stress testing such as damp heat and thermal cycling, beyond that required by the international standards, as well as Potential-Induced Degradation (PID) testing, and dynamic mechanical load testing to see susceptibility to transport damage. Modules are rated on a scale of 0 to 5.

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