- Why Is Solar Panel Testing andCertification so Important?
- Are the Agencies Responsible for SettingStandards for Solar Panel Certification and for Testing and Certification the same?
- What Are Some Common Solar PanelCertifications?
- What Are the Leading Testing andCertification Agencies for the Solar Panel Industry in Europe?
- Future Trends in Solar PanelCertification
Why Is Solar Panel Testing and Certification so Important?
The examination and accreditation of solar panels is paramount for multiple pivotal reasons:
Ensurance of Quality and Safety: It's vital to have solar panels examined and accredited to ascertain they fulfill rigorous quality and safety benchmarks. This cultivates trust among consumers and enterprises concerning the dependability and safety of their venture. Given that solar panels produce electricity and endure various environmental adversities, safety is supremely significant to mitigate electrical and fire peril risks.
Validation of Performance and Ecological Repercussions: The testing of solar panels verifies performance attributes like efficiency, energy yield, and robustness, which are indispensable for reliable and effective solar energy systems. Certifications also affirm compliance with industry, national, and global norms and standards, easing market approval and eligibility for incentives. They provide consumers assurance regarding the prolonged operational life of solar panels, expected to function for beyond 25 years. Moreover, certifications foster industry investigation, propelling technological progress and efficiency, whilst also steering consumers towards environmentally considerate options by evaluating environmental sustainability.
In essence, the testing and certification of solar panels ascertain safety, quality, and functionality, engendering confidence in clean energy alternatives, and aiding the expansion of the solar energy sector.
Are the Agencies Responsible for Setting Standards for Solar Panel Certification and for Testing and Certification the Same?
The entities involved in the standard setting and certification of solar panels are typically distinct, each playing a unique role in the certification trajectory.
PV Industry Certification Standard-Setting Agencies: These consist of non-profit or governmental bodies, including the likes of IEC, ISO, UL, and NREL, tasked with crafting performance, safety, and quality benchmarks for solar panels. They delineate requisite criteria for products to cater to both global and domestic markets. Their purview is centered around standard formulation rather than testing. Besides, CE and MCS emerge as prevalent certification standards within the PV arena. The CE (Conformité Européenne) marking is a self-proclamation by manufacturers showcasing their products' adherence to European Union (EU) standards and regulations. On the other hand, MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) is a UK-centric certification initiative aimed at assuring the quality and efficacy of microgeneration and renewable energy technologies.
Testing and Certification Entities: These independent laboratories or bodies, such as TÜV SÜD, TÜV NORD, TÜV Rheinland, ECM, and Intertek, are empowered to evaluate and affirm solar panels' conformity with designated standards and regulations. They undertake performance, safety, and quality examinations.
What Are Some Common Solar Panel Certifications?
Common types of solar panel standards and certifications found in Europe include: IEC, CE, UL, ISO, MCS and UL
1.IEC: International Electrotechnical Commission
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) operates as a non-profit entity, formulating global standards for electronic apparatus, encompassing photovoltaic (PV) panels. It's crucial to acknowledge that the IEC does not engage in the actual testing or certification of panels; instead, they delineate the standards which are adhered to by other testing establishments.
(1) IEC 61215: Standards for Crystalline Silicon Terrestrial PV Modules
IEC 61215 serves as a core testing standard for residential solar panels. Adherence to IEC 61215 standards indicates that a solar panel module has effectively endured diverse stress tests, showcasing high-quality, performance, and safety.
IEC 61215 standards are relevant to both monocrystalline and polycrystalline PV modules, which are the most common types of solar panels. For varied solar electric technologies, like thin-film solar products, the IEC has set forth separate testing standards (e.g., IEC 61646).
Solar panels meeting IEC 61215 standards undergo comprehensive testing, including but not limited to:
1.Evaluation of electrical characteristics (wet leakage current, insulation resistance)
Mechanical load testing (wind and snow)
2.Climate tests (hot spots, UV exposure, humidity-freeze, damp heat, hail impact, outdoor exposure)
3.Furthermore, IEC 61215 tests aid in determining a panel’s performance metrics under standard test conditions (STC), which include temperature coefficient, open-circuit voltage, and maximum power output.
What Are Standard Test Conditions (STC)?
Solar panel performance assessments take place under controlled laboratory settings referred to as Standard Test Conditions (STC). STC has a standard condition: standard test conditions air temperature 25 degrees, atmospheric mass AM1.5 , 1000W/m2. Since these conditions remain uniform throughout the industry, it enables the comparison of performance metrics, including power rating, module efficiency, optimal voltage, and more, among various solar panels.
(2) IEC 61730: Standard for PV Module Safety
Similar to other electronic devices, solar panels pose a risk of electrical shock if not crafted correctly. IEC 61730 tackles the safety facets of solar panels, covering an evaluation of module construction and testing prerequisites to assess electrical, mechanical, thermal, and fire safety. PV modules that effectively clear IEC 61730 tests demonstrate a low risk associated with these kinds of hazards.
(3) IEC 62716: Ammonia Corrosion Testing of Photovoltaic (PV) Modules
For those living near farms or agricultural zones, IEC 62716 is crucial for evaluating a module's resistance to ammonia exposure. While the majority of users might not face high concentrations of ammonia concerning their PV modules, individuals setting up solar panel systems close to farms and livestock should be vigilant. Ammonia corrosion can hasten panel degradation, resulting in diminished electricity generation over the system's lifespan.
(4) IEC 61701: Salt Mist Corrosion Testing
For those lucky enough to set up solar panels in beachfront areas, it's recommended to verify if the panels have successfully cleared IEC 61701 tests. These tests entail subjecting panels to controlled salt sprays. Post the sprays, testers examine the modules for physical damage, like corrosion or delamination, and evaluate their electrical output and overall performance. Panels that fulfill the criteria of IEC 61701 testing are a suitable selection for beachfront solar panel systems or those near roads where salting levels are elevated during the winter.
(5) IEC 60068-2-68: Blowing Sand Resistance Testing
Certain solar panels are subjected to IEC 60068-2-68 testing to assess their durability in sandy desert conditions. Regular exposure to abrasive sand can result in physical or mechanical defects over time. Hence, if you are considering installing solar panels in an area susceptible to sand or dust storms, it's recommended to opt for panels that have successfully cleared these tests to improve the durability of your system.
Maysun Solar subjects the production process to regular inspections by external agencies such as TUV and SGS. Our production lines are automated and this is realised throughout the entire process, including component quality inspection as well as quality inspection during and after production. All glass-glass and single-glass solar panels from Maysun Solar have successfully passed Standards for Crystalline Silicon Terrestrial PV Modules Testing, Standard for PV Module Safety Testing, Salt Mist Corrosion Testing and Ammonia Corrosion Testing, and we have obtained the relevant certifications.
2.CE (Conformité Européenne)
Conformité Européenne (CE) is appended to products to denote compliance with regulations laid out by the European Union, acting as a Verification Certificate. In the current scenario, the relevant geographic area covers the European Economic Area (EEA), which not only includes the 28 European Union (EU) member states but also extends to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and Turkey. The CE mark indicates that the product has been fabricated in line with the safety, health, and environmental prerequisites of the EU.
In the solar panel sector, the CE (Conformité Européenne) certification is a requisite certification for the European market, applying to solar panels along with their associated components and accessories. This certification assures that products are in compliance with European regulations and safety norms, permitting them to be legally marketed and distributed in the European market. For the dissemination of your solar products within the European market, acquiring the CE mark is an imperative. Manufacturers need to undergo a variety of tests and evaluations, including electrical performance, mechanical performance, fire resistance, and weather resistance testing, to ascertain product performance and safety. Solar panels that have secured CE certification can bear the CE mark, signifying their compliance and easing the pathway into the European market. This certification aids in boosting the competitiveness of products and offers assurance of legality and safety for users, thereby fostering the broader adoption of solar panels in the European market. All of Maysun’s solar panels (encompassing different cell sizes like 166mm, 182mm, 210mm series) are CE compliant. Below are the CE certificates we have acquired:
3.ISO (International Organization for Standardization)
When it comes to ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certification, it's an internationally acknowledged certification standard often utilized in the photovoltaic (PV) industry. Manufacturers employ ISO certification to exhibit compliance with an array of quality and environmental standards for their solar panels. ISO standards are universally applicable and cover diverse areas, including quality management, environmental management, and food safety. This enables manufacturers to choose specific ISO standards pertinent to photovoltaic products to bolster product quality, sustainability, and environmental conscientiousness.
Generally, ISO certification is granted by independent third-party testing and certification agencies, ensuring the impartiality and trustworthiness of the certification. In the photovoltaic sector, for example, ISO 9001 zeroes in on quality management systems, and ISO 14001 pertains to environmental management systems. Securing ISO certification aids manufacturers in elevating their products’ competitiveness on the global stage, while also expressing a dedication to product quality and environmental sustainability to consumers. Hence, ISO certification is broadly embraced in the photovoltaic industry to ascertain that solar panels adhere to international standards for quality, performance, and environmental adherence.
4.MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme)
MCS is the solar panel certification program in the United Kingdom, but it extends beyond solar panels to include other microgeneration systems such as wind turbines, heat pumps, and biomass boilers. The aim of this certification program is to ensure that these renewable energy technologies meet specific quality and performance standards in the UK market. It is a part of the UK government’s support for renewable energy development, with the goal of enhancing the safety and sustainability of these technologies.
MCS certification mandates that manufacturers and installers adhere to particular standards related to performance, sustainability, electrical safety, and compatibility with the UK’s electrical grid. To obtain MCS certification, solar panels and other microgeneration systems must undergo evaluation and scrutiny by independent third-party testing and certification agencies, ensuring the independence and reliability of the certification.
The significance of this certification program lies in the fact that MCS certification is a prerequisite for these technologies to enter the UK market, providing consumers with confidence that the systems they purchase meet high-quality standards. This aids in driving the widespread adoption of renewable energy and promotes the growth of the clean energy industry in the UK.
5.UL: Underwriters Laboratories
UL, standing for Underwriters Laboratories, is an international safety certification entity, with its headquarters situated in the United States. They extend testing and certification services across a variety of products, encompassing electrical appliances, industrial machinery, and plastic materials. UL certifications, like UL 1703 and UL 61730, enjoy widespread international acceptance, Europe included, and are employed to authenticate the electrical and safety performance of solar panels.
(1) UL 1703: Safety and Performance Standard
UL 1703 is an industry-standard certification that ensures the safety and performance of solar panels. Panels with UL 1703 certification undergo climatic, aging, and safety tests to meet requirements for mechanical loads, fire resistance, and electrical hazards. It is often found alongside IEC 61730 on solar panel spec sheets, with UL 1703 required for North American markets and IEC 61730 recognized globally.
(2) UL 61730: Comprehensive Safety Qualification
UL 61730 combines UL 1703 and IEC 61730 standards, offering a comprehensive approach to international safety and performance certification for solar panel modules. This certification is becoming more prevalent and cost-effective for manufacturers, streamlining the testing process, reducing the number of panel samples required, and cutting testing time and costs for those planning to sell in both North America and international markets.
What Are the Leading European Testing and Certification Agencies in the PV Industry?
In Europe, the main testing and certification agencies for solar panels are TÜV SÜD, TÜV NORD, TÜV Rheinland, SGS, ECM, and Intertek, and the following is a detailed introduction to TÜV and SGS:
TÜV (Technical Inspection Association)
TÜV (German: Technischer Überwachungsverein, English: Technical Inspection Association), translated as the German Technical Inspection Association, is a non-official entity in Germany dedicated to the examination of product safety and environmental safety. Its range of activities encompasses inspections of factories, motor vehicles, energy facilities, amusement facilities, equipment, and products. Numerous independent branch organizations under it are also engaged in conceptual research in the realms of energy and transportation, resolving environmental issues, and standard certification.
The forerunner of TÜV was inaugurated in 1866, initially centering on the safety of public spaces and workplaces, especially the safety of equipment, steam engines, and boilers. By 1870, 43 regional TÜVs had already emerged, and names like TÜV SÜD, TÜV NORD, TÜV Rheinland, and TÜV Thüringen evolved from different regions.
Following a series of mergers over the years, there presently exist five TÜVs in Germany: TÜV SÜD, TÜV NORD, TÜV Rheinland, TÜV Thüringen, and TÜV Saarland / SGS TÜV, along with an Austrian TÜV. While sharing the same trademark, these organizations operate independently as competitors. They have constituted the “TÜV Markenverbund” (TÜV Trademark Association) to preserve the esteem of the trademark. The most substantial among them is the TÜV SÜD Group, boasting over 24,000 employees across more than 1000 locations globally. The only commercially available certification body rivaling this is SGS, with a workforce of more than 80,000.
TÜV ensures the quality, reliability, and performance of PV systems through a range of services, including:
Testing and Certification of Solar Panels: This encompasses stress tests for solar panels, quality assurance measures, and value-added services like energy yield tests and quality-controlled PV modules.
Energy Rating and Yield Measurements for Solar Panels: These assessments determine the energy production of solar panels and consider factors such as temperature, angle, and irradiance that impact module performance.
Testing and Certification of Photovoltaic Module Components:
This process verifies whether solar panel components like inverters, junction boxes, and connectors meet safety and quality standards.
CSI (Certificazione Sicurezza Italiana)
Italy’s CSI (Certificazione Sicurezza Italiana) operates as a safety certification service that examines and certifies products to ensure compliance with specified safety and quality standards. CSI encompasses a broad spectrum of sectors, including building materials, electronics, machinery and equipment.
In the realm of fire certification, CSI undertakes the task of testing products for fire resistance to ascertain adherence to both Italian and European fire safety standards. This may encompass an evaluation of the material’s flammability, flame retardancy, and performance under fire conditions.
Products awarded the CSI fire certification reflect that they have undergone stringent testing and align with regulatory stipulations, which is pivotal for marketing products in Italy and other exacting markets. Additionally, CSI certification augments consumer and business partner trust in the safety of products.
The image below displays the CSI certificate procured by Maysun Solar’s solar panels:
SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance
SGS is a global conglomerate specializing in testing, inspection, and certification services, with its headquarters situated in Geneva, Switzerland. Catering to a wide range of modern products through its standards, it boasts a varied clientele and, as per its 2021 financial report, engages over 96,000 individuals across more than 2,600 specialized laboratories and branches worldwide.
SGS offers the following certification services:
Photovoltaic Module Certification: SGS provides certification services for solar photovoltaic modules. This includes testing and verification of the performance, quality, and reliability of photovoltaic modules. The goal of certification is to ensure that these modules comply with international and industry standards to ensure their safety and performance.
Electrical Safety Certification: SGS Group also conducts electrical safety certification to ensure that the electrical components of photovoltaic systems meet relevant safety standards. This includes testing and certification of electrical components such as inverters, electrical connectors, and junction boxes.
System Certification: In addition to module certification, SGS also offers certification services for entire photovoltaic systems. This ensures the performance and reliability of the entire solar power system.
Performance Testing: SGS conducts performance testing of photovoltaic modules to determine their actual energy output and efficiency. These tests typically include electrical performance testing under standard test conditions and performance testing under various climate and environmental conditions.
Environmental Testing: Photovoltaic systems need to operate in various environmental conditions. Therefore, SGS conducts various environmental tests to ensure the reliability of these systems under different climates and weather conditions.
The certification and testing services provided by SGS Group aid the solar industry in ascertaining the quality and performance of its products and systems, fostering the sustainable growth of renewable energy. These certifications and tests are generally globally acknowledged, easing product penetration into international markets and garnering customer trust.
Future Trends in Solar Panel Certification
Moving ahead, solar panel certification will increasingly hone in on the precise forecasting of energy output, considering diverse climate conditions, shading, and geographical locales. Safety advancements will continue to be central to certification, ensuring solar systems are risk-free during installation, maintenance, or in emergency scenarios.
The rise of “smart” or IoT-integrated solar panels will necessitate a more thorough scrutiny of the reliability and security of these integrated technologies, encompassing data transmission, network security, and performance monitoring. Certification agencies will be instrumental in guaranteeing the reliability of these advanced systems.
Sustainability will persist as a crucial concern, emphasizing the recyclability and end-of-life disposal of solar panels. Moreover, global harmonization of certification standards will diminish market fragmentation, offering consistency and assurance for consumers across the globe.
In a nutshell, the trajectory of solar panel certification will be characterized by adaptability to novel solar technologies, performance assurances for consumers, and an unwavering dedication to environmental responsibility and safety. As the solar industry burgeons, these trends will mold the market and uphold consumer trust in solar technology.
Maysun Solar has been specialising in producing high quality photovoltaic modules since 2008. Choose from our wide variety of full black, black frame, silver, and glass-glass solar panels that utilise half-cut, MBB, IBC, and Shingled technologies. These panels offer superior performance and stylish designs that seamlessly blend in with any building. Maysun Solar successfully established offices, warehouses, and long-term relationships with excellent installers in numerous countries! Please contact us for the latest module quotations or any PV-related inquiries. We are excited to assist you.
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