Solar power is the most sustainable, safe, and clean, renewable energy source that you can equip your home with. Sourcing your energy from the sun is beneficial financially and resembles your support for the environment. Getting solar energy needs you to have a set of unique electric tools and parts. Solar panels are the foremost important thing among them; it grabs the photons from the sunlight to convert it into AC. 

If you’re planning to power your whole house with it, you will need multiple solar panels. You may need to check if the panel is functional when you’re buying a new panel or facing a problem after a storm. There are some ways to properly check your solar panels if they are capable of doing their job. In this article, I’ll help you learn how to test a solar panel to make sure you do not depend on a faulty panel.

How can I tell if my solar panel is working?

The solar panel you’re hooking up to the roof has a complicated mechanism in it to do what it does. It absorbs the photons from the sunlight, makes DC current out of them, and sends it to the inverter to convert into AC. You need AC to run the home appliances, and the whole system works all together to produce that. 

how to test a solar panel

Whenever you encounter a faulty output from the inverter, you can tell there is something wrong in the process. Most of the time, inspecting the problem begins with the solar panels if the inverter looks good on bare eyes. If you’re getting less current, getting an unexpected energy bill, or getting unusual solar meter readings, there might be a problem with the panels. 

How to test a solar panel?

Testing a solar panel can be a must-do task if you’re facing problems with the solar system in your house. The testing is also necessary if you’re getting a single panel for an RV or a boat. You should test it before starting to use it as you won’t hire a professional for that small job. 

There are some easy ways to test your solar panel, especially if it’s a single panel, not permanently attached to the roof. If it’s attached to your roof, you may have to detach the panels from the roof and test them individually. Using a multimeter will be enough for the job in most cases. 

What You Need to Know About Solar Panel Systems

You must know about solar panel systems if you want to use solar energy efficiently in your house. Here are some of the most important things you should know about solar panels: 

  • Solar panels are here to save your money by reducing the energy consumption from the grid. Even the grid energy company will pay you if you give away the produced extra energy to the grid. 
  • Solar panels usually last about 25 years or more, so they are great investments. However, they will cost you a hectic one-time amount, most of which will be the investment for the solar panels. 
  • You can set up a solar energy system in your house as an alternative system to run all the existing electric devices. However, you have to use an inverter and pack of batteries to store energy in the daytime. 
  • Solar panels can solely run small appliances such as DC bulbs, fans, and so on. It makes the solar panels a good companion if you’re planning to go out, camping where you cannot take a generator. 
  • There is almost no maintenance required for solar panels as they are sturdy and rigid enough to remain for years. However, you would need to do periodical clean up and regular maintenance checkups. 

A Complete Guide to test a solar panel

If you have to check if your solar panel works well or not, you have to test it, and there are a few ways to do it. Here is  how to test a solar panel with the most effective ways that anybody can get on with: 

Understand the process and get your things

The first thing you want to test on your solar panel is the Voltage Open Circuit or the VOC. The second thing to test on the panel is the Short circuit current or the ISC. You can test both of them with a regular multimeter; you will find the multimeter in any electronics shop. To test the panel, choose the mid-noon time as it will give you the maximum sunlight to test the panel. 

Check the VOC

Open up the solar panel; there will be a printed specification list and a terminal box in the back. Look at the specification list of how much VOC the panel is rated for. For example, let’s assume the panel has a VDC rating of 21.7. Take the multimeter and set the rating greater than the VDC rating; for 21.7, it will be 200. Connect the leads to the terminal; follow the imprinted instruction for the negative and positive ones. Now, expose the panel towards the direct sunlight and look at the meter how much it shows. You will get a reading of a very close number if not exact, and it will go down if you take the panel away from the sun. 

Test the ISC 

Check the manufacturer’s specification list how much the ISC is rated for, with 21.7 V, it would be 2.65 Amps. Take the multimeter and swap the positive lead connector to the empty one on the left. Set the voltmeter on the greater value than the ISC rating; in this case, it will be 10 amps. Connect the positive and the negative leads to the panel terminal and point it toward the sun. If you get exactly 2.65 or close to that, the panel is functioning properly.

Frequently asked questions

Here are the most asked questions about solar panels and how solar energy works in a house. You’ll find them useful if you have solar power or planning to get one for your house: 

How much power does a solar panel produce?

One sq foot of solar panel usually produces 1.5 watts, that sums up at about 250 watts from full sunlight of 4 hours. You will need four similar panels in your setup to produce 1 kWh of electricity.

Can solar panels work without an inverter?

If you’re not planning to run your regular, full-sized electric devices in your house, you don’t need an inverter. Direct current from the panel can run small appliances when on the move. 

Do solar panels work at night?

Solar panels will not work at night because it won’t have sunlight to absorb. However, you can use an inverter, a battery with the panels to store the energy to use at night.

Final thought

Solar panels are the energy sources for any solar energy system, and many mechanisms go on inside a panel. It absorbs the sunlight, grabs the photons, and turns them into Direct Current electricity to power up an electric device. If you want to power up all the house appliances, you need a bigger panel setup and inverters. 

For that, a bigger panel set up will come with a big budget, and that concerns the wallet! You have to keep them in order by testing them regularly, and I tried to help you understand how to test a solar panel. Now you can test your solar panels yourself without hiring a professional and decide what to do. 

Author

Hi, I am David Binion, I am a technical assistant of a solar panel manufacturing company. I also have a solar panel selling and service providing shops beside my job. Because of my job & business, I have to face so many clients of the power tool users.

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