People are moving towards solar panels for electric energy as electricity is getting expensive daily. The new technology of solar panels, which helps us by providing electricity by converting solar energy into electrical energy, has a great advantage, especially for those upset with the escalating prices of electricity.
Whenever we install a solar panel system, we become a part of the solar family. To be an efficient part of this family, we should know everything from installing to testing the solar panels. If any problems occur in our solar panel system, we can check them ourselves without extra help.
This article will inform you about testing solar panels using a digital multimeter. So people who are searching for an easy and efficient method of checking solar panels and their outputs are in the right place.
This article is also informative for people deciding to buy solar panels as here you will get information on how to test the working and output of your solar panel. After installing it and how to, check on it so that if any problem occurs, you get aware of it quickly.
Why do we have to test solar panels?
Before moving towards the testing procedure of the solar panel, first, we should know why we have to test the solar panels, and what types of reasons can lead a solar panel to become faulty.
So here is the list of signs you should notice in your solar panels. Suppose you find any of the below-given symptoms in your solar panels. In that case, it means that you immediately have to test the solar panels using the multimeter and the guide we gave you in this article below.
- If your solar panel is in a shaded place, its power delivery capacity is getting disturbed.
- If any crack is present on the solar panel and if it is physically damaged from any part, it needs an immediate inspection.
- If the solar plates are not connected correctly, they should be checked.
- If any wire of the solar panel has got damaged, then it means that you have to check the solar panel and then find out the accurate solution for this.
These are some reasons which can lead to severe damage to solar panels. If you find any visible solar panel damage, immediately change it; otherwise, it can also harm your wiring system. For further testing, we are providing you with a brief explanation below.
How to test solar panels with a multimeter?
The best thing about this procedure is that you only need a digital multimeter during this test. Following these instructions will be very convenient as you do not need extra tools and equipment to conduct the test.
- Make sure that the solar panel is placed in full sunlight
- If sunlight is not present, you will not be able to conduct the test.
- You should know how to operate the digital multimeter.
- Do not use wet hands while testing the solar panels by using the multimeter.
This test consists of two parts; first, you have to measure the current or amperage of the solar panel, which is also called testing short circuit current, and in the next part, you have to measure the voltage of the solar panel, which is also called testing open circuit voltage. In this way, your test will be conducted efficiently.
First, we will discuss the measurement of the short circuit current of the solar panel by using the digital multimeter.
How to test the short circuit current or ISC of the solar panel by using the digital multimeter
This is the first part of testing the solar panel using the digital multimeter, in which you have to test the short circuit current of your solar panel.
- Put the solar panel in the sunlight before starting the test.
- Set the multimeter to test amperage or ISC
- Connect the leads of the multimeter to the solar panel.
- Read the digital screen.
- Compare the values.
Now we will briefly explain the procedure of testing the short circuit current of the solar panel by using the digital multimeter.
Step 1: Put solar panels in direct sunlight
When you measure the short circuit current of the solar panel, it is necessary to put it in full sunlight. Please do not put it in a shady place because it will not give you the required results. Make sure that not any part of the whole solar plate remains in the shade.
Step 2: Set the multimeter to test amperage or ISC
A multimeter is a multi-tasking tool, so you have to set it according to your test requirements. Here you have to turn the multimeter’s dial towards the amperage option to calculate the short circuit current of your solar panel.
Step 3: Connect the leads of the digital multimeter with the solar panel
Now you have to connect the red and black lead of the multimeter with the solar panel to make a connection between them and to find out the value of the electric current of the solar panel. This connection should be appropriate; otherwise, your test will result in faulty results.
Step 4: Read the digital screen
After connecting the digital multimeter with the solar panel, you will get the short circuit current or ISC value of the solar panel on the digital screen of the multimeter. Read out the result and note it for further testing.
Step 5: Compare the values
At the back side of a solar panel, you will get the recommended reading of the ISC ( short circuit current) of the solar panel. Compare the recommended readings with the resulting readings of this test. If the readings are somehow close to each other, your solar panel is working efficiently, but if there is a great difference between both readings, it means your solar panel has faults.
How to test the open circuit voltage of the solar panel by using the digital multimeter
After measuring the short circuit current of the solar panel, now you have to measure the open circuit voltage by using the digital multimeter to complete the test. To measure the open circuit voltage, you must follow the following steps.
- Put the solar panel in adequate sunlight before starting the test.
- Turn on the digital multimeter.
- Set the multimeter on the voltage settings.
- Set the maximum range of voltage on the digital multimeter
- Measure the voltage of the solar panel
- Read the voltage readings from the digital screen of the digital multimeter.
Now we will explain the whole procedure more briefly for you to understand it better.
- Place the solar panel under direct sunlight.
- Please turn on the digital multimeter and set it for the required test.
- To test the open circuit voltage, first, you have to set the digital multimeter at the voltage settings, which you can do b turning the dial of the digital multimeter at the voltage option.
- In the next step, you must select a specific voltage range for your digital multimeter. Try to go for the maximum voltage range you will get at the back side of your solar panel. Look for the VOC value on the back side of the solar panel for this.
- Now you have to connect the leads of the digital multimeter with the solar panel.
- For this, you have to connect the red lead of the multimeter to the V/mA port and the black lead of the multimeter to the COM port.
- After connecting the leads of the multimeter with the accurate pots now, you will get the resulting voltage readings on the screen of the digital multimeter right in front of you.
After calculating the solar panel’s short circuit current and open circuit voltage using the digital multimeter, the final step of this testing procedure is to calculate the wattage of the solar panel, which you can do by applying the formula.
Amps x Volts = watts
Put the resulting readings of short circuit current and open circuit voltage in the formula and calculate the watts value.
There can be so many reasons your solar panel can stop working efficiently, and in this case, you have to test it, but what if you do not know how to test the solar panels? For your convenience, we have told you how to test the solar panels by following an easy procedure and using the digital multimeter, a very easy-to-handle electric tool.
Even if your solar panel is working well, you still should know how to test the solar panel because you can need it anytime.
It is optional to test the solar panel when damaged. You should keep checking its working efficiency and quality during its working, and you can also perform this test right after installing a new set of solar panels at your place.
So follow the above-explained procedure of testing the solar panel using the digital multimeter and test your solar panel if you have not seen any physical damage on it and it is still not giving you the required relevant results as output.