Solar simulators: Konica Minolta shares how solar simulators work, and how yours can work at its best - Photovoltaics World
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Solar simulators: Konica Minolta shares how solar simulators work, and how yours can work at its best

February 10, 2011 -- Solar simulators expose solar cells to light in a testing environment, with a controlled spectrum and perfect lab conditions. This provides a true power output reading for solar cells. For the solar cell reading to be accurate, the simulator must be in-spec.

The idea is simple, but it is crucial to understand solar spectrum, air mass, spectral match, spectral evaluation, standard test conditions, when to calibrate, and more to get the most accurate results in solar cell testing. In the free webcast "Solar Simulator Spectrum Measurement and Calibration," Bryan Bond, business development manager, Konica Minolta Sensing Americas, takes viewers through the proper set up for a solar simulator test, reference cells and their purpose, and how to get the most accurate solar cell test readings. Register here for the on-demand presentation.

380-1100nm is the solar spectrum typically measured by solar photovoltaics. Air mass is also an important qualification for PV, and Bond reviewed why PV evaluations use AM 1.5.

Solar simulators should be calibrated over time and at periodic intervals to ensure correct operation. Relative energy at different wavelengths will be stronger and weaker depending on time during operation. Spectrum changes can result from various environmental and mechanical influences as well. This is why solar simulator measurement is important.

Uniformity rates are also important. Measure the simulator in the center and corners of the lamp.

How do you measure solar simulator performance? Bond recommends a sun spectroradiometer. Be careful to use a unit for the silicon solar cell wavelength range, not the range of visible light. Does it measure against the various industry standards? Bond provides extensive usage information on how to test the simulator and what the information you'll receive means.

After testing it, you'll want to adjust the solar simulator. There are various ways to do this, such as reference cells and solar power meters with photodiodes. Bond goes into detail on each method and the reasons to use, or avoid, that product. Konica Minolta provides filtered silicon reference cells, which are constructed with an advanced optical filter to create the proper spectral response for each type of solar cell. The filter technology resolves several problems that have the potential to make solar simulators inaccurate. 

Bond also illustrates how to set up a proper testing environment, and setting up the proper spectral response for the reference cell. Would you set up a solar simulator with a crystalline silicon reference cell, then use it for amorphous silicon cell testing?

To view the free, on-demand webcast (It will run about 1 hour including audience questions), click here.

View all available webcasts here

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