1 Jul 2020
Solar Panel Drone Inspections.
Thanks to an ongoing demand for commercial solar, the competitive solar industry is introducing groundbreaking new developments in rooftop inspection technology. Increasingly, drones are being used during/for installation and maintenance processes to reduce turnaround times and optimise system performance, without compromising on quality or safety.
Here, we outline some of the ways drones are being used to accomplish this.
How it works
Like any other infrastructure, solar panels may need maintenance. Depending on factors such as their make, positioning and environmental conditions, individual panels can sustain damage or otherwise malfunction.
Their surfaces can also become dirty, dusty or scratched and/or covered in bird droppings or lead litter, all of which can interfere with their performance.
Addressing these issues could mean identifying their location of the affected panels in the system. Doing this manually can be time-consuming, especially in large arrays.
Solar panel inspections using drones enables this to be done in minutes with a high degree of accuracy.
Drones can also be used in site inspections ahead of installation to identify potential issues with your rooftops that may impair system performance or safety.
This all adds up to significant time and money saved through less backtracking and more accurate, comprehensive and detailed inspections than would otherwise be possible.
Drones can be equipped with specialised software that enables them to generate thermal maps of your rooftop.
This enables a clear visual overview of how heat is distributed over your roof area, which in turn provides valuable information for optimising the positioning of solar panels for capturing sunlight.
Thermal imaging drone technology can also be used in solar panel maintenance to detect defective cells, meaning more rapid and targeted repairs or adjustments. This saves time and minimises lost energy output.
Carrying out large scale tasks, such as inspecting solar farms, with thermal imaging drones is proving to be highly effective. This has led to the emergence of drone thermal imaging companies, specialising in land surveying in the roofing, insurance and solar industries.
As part of integrating drone technology into our processes, Cherry Energy Solutions has developed a class-leading rooftop software program, affectionately known as Berty.
Berty uses line-of-site vision alongside predictive AI to identify hazards and potential weak spots on your rooftop, allowing faster turnaround and enhanced results in our installation and maintenance work.
See Berty in action.
Cherry Energy’s Inspection Service
Prior to commencing any works, we launch Berty at your site so she can take high-resolution images and videos of your rooftop.
This means any necessary maintenance on your roof can be completed prior to solar panels being installed.
As part of your installation, you’ll receive an ‘on roof’ walkthrough detailing critical electrical connections, design flow, how the system will be installed, plus key training advice for your wider team.
By providing the walkthrough at rooftop level, Berty provides insights that go beyond the operations and maintenance manual (also included). An additional benefit of this is that it allows you to share your sustainability journey throughout your organisation.
At maintenance visits, Berty will take thermal imagery of your panels to ensure your system is performing as it should be.
This provides advance warning of any potential panel ‘hot spots’ before your monitoring system may detect them. If an issue is detected, it can then be corrected while we are onsite.
We’ll also share your new digital rooftop fingerprint with you, including high-resolution photographs plus video imagery.
Combined with Berty’s regular maintenance flyovers, this provides a catalogue of baseline imagery for comparison over an extended period of time. Berty’s AI capabilities are designed to let you know about issues before they occur.