Review of PV modules IEC, EN Standards
There are standards everywhere. Most of the time we don’t even notice them. We may hear talking about a “standard bed”, a “standard size photograph” or “standard time”, but that’s about it. There are certain standards set by International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for all PV module manufacturing companies accepted internationally. PV modules are tested for reliability and durability as per these standards. Standards IEC 61215 for crystalline silicon modules and IEC 61646 for thin film modules tested for thermal cycling, mechanical stresses, moisture, humidity, freezing and performance of modules under standard temperature conditions. UL is also one of the testing lab in USA with existence in too many countries and IEC is international technical standard organisation. But IEC standards are applicable internationally. UL have its own standards some of them match with IEC.
Crystalline terrestrial PV modules – design qualification and type approval
The standard certification uses a 2,400 Pa pressure. Modules in heavy snow locations may be tested under more stringent 5,400 Pa conditions.
Thin film terrestrial PV modules – design qualification and type approval
Very similar to the IEC 61215 certification, but an additional test specifically considers the additional degradation of thin film modules.
PV module safety qualification
The certification defines three different
1) Safety Class I – Restricted access applications.
2) Safety Class II – General applications.
3) Safety Class III – Low voltage applications.
Protection against electrical shock
Module safety assessed based on:
2) High dielectric strength.
3) Mechanical stability.
4) Insulation thickness and distances.
Resistant to salt mist and corrosion
Required for modules being installed near the coast or for maritime applications.
Certified product conforms to the EU health, safety and environment requirements.
Mandatory in European Economic Area
Comply with National Electric Code, OSHA and the National Fire Prevention Association. The module performs at least 90% of the manufacture’s nominal power.
Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) is an independent U.S. based product safety testing certification company which is a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL). Certification by a NRTL is mandatory in the U.S.
The above table gives a summary of major PV module standards. These are accepted standards across globe. These are an accepted quality mark and indicate that the modules can safely withstand extended use. However, they say little about the performance of the module under field conditions of varying irradiance and temperature experienced at a specific site location.
There are efforts to create standards IEC 61853 describes requirements for evaluating PV module performance in terms of power (watts) rating over a range of irradiances and temperatures. The object is to define a testing and rating system, which provides the PV module power (watts) at maximum power operation for a set of defined conditions. This standard should facilitate selection and comparison of PV modules based on performance aspect.
EN Standards –
The European Standards Bodies European Committee for Standardization (CEN), European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC), European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) define a Standard as a document, established by consensus and approved by a recognized body that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context. Standards should be based on consolidated results of science, technology and experience, and aimed at the promotion of optimum community benefits. They are designed and created by all interested parties through a transparent, open and consensual process.
As a European reference laboratory for PV calibration accredited to ISO/IEC 17025, ESTI validates electrical performance and assesses lifetime of PV devices, including those based on emerging technologies. ESTI also performs pre-normative research to develop and improve traceable, accurate measurement techniques.