The SunTestLab was established to test the performance of photovoltaic (PV) modules according to International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards as well as in-house standard tests.

STL 1The standard tests that are performed include:
• Visual Inspection in accordance with IEC 61215 – section 10.1;
• Determination of Maximum Power using a class AAA in indoor solar simulator in accordance with
IEC 61215 – section 10.2;
• Electrical Insulation test in accordance with IEC 61215 – section 10.3;
• Reverse bias thermographic inspection according to an in-house procedure; and
• Electroluminescence imaging of PV modules according to an in-house procedure.

Additional tests that can be performed on-site at any large PV installation include:
• In situ outdoor (low light) electroluminescence imaging of module strings up to 10kW;
• In situ outdoor current voltage (I-V) measurement of large module strings; and
• In situ thermographic inspection.

Advantages
• SunTestLab is an independent testing laboratory that verifies claimed module performance.
This provides developers with confidence that the claimed performance is likely to be achieved before installation.
• SunTestLab has equipment that can be used on modules in situ to determine the reason for performance problems.
• The laboratory has access to experts at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University that can provide answers to problems highlighted by the tests performed.

Progress
The laboratory is currently operating and SANAS accreditation is pending.

Opportunity
SunTestLab provides an opportunity for investment into an independent testing laboratory in a fast growing segment of the regional and national market. As more solar farms are erected, the need will grow for insurers and developers to verify performance and to determine reasons for non-performance. The close collaboration with an academic institution places SunTestLab in a unique position to provide a suite of solutions.