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Thermal Infrared Imaging Drones For Solar

Good Faith Energy is one of the only solar and battery installations contractors in Texas using Thermal Drones for assessing damaged solar panels. Infrared (IR) imaging technology has been around since the 1920s and is utilized for multiple purposes in various industries. IR camera technology allows users to see heat radiation that isn’t visible to a human’s naked eye. This is a major technological advantage that is used for improving safety and security, while also enhancing development in building infrastructure. The most common applications for IR imaging technology are for the military, emergency services, medical, and utilities.  

Utilities use IR imaging technology for maintaining infrastructure. When combined with drones, IR technology makes a significant impact on utility applications. The incorporation of thermal IR imaging cameras on drones provides a more effective inspection process compared to other prior methods. 

The adoption of IR drone technology in the solar industry was initially used for inspecting utility-scale solar farms. The drones cover more surface area and collect more information during an inspection, compared to a technician on the ground equipped with a handheld IR camera. Other prior solar panel inspection methods require a technician to physically access the solar panels for testing each module. 


Solar Panels VS Hail

Thermal Drone Images for Solar

Solar panels are engineered to withstand different weather and environmental conditions. However, they can be susceptible to damage caused by large hailstones, or other debris that impact solar panels during a storm. After a hail storm, it is usually easy to see the damage done by broken or shatter glass, dents on metal, or even broken branches and leaves all over the ground. With solar panels, although the glass doesn’t always shatter or break, beneath the surface glass, solar cells can be ruptured and broken .

Hailstones over 1” inch can cause damage that affects the performance and efficiency of the solar panels. Ruptured solar cells are short-circuited from the damage caused by hailstone impacts. Therefore the solar panel as a whole, will not be able to produce electricity as efficiently. These short-circuited ruptured cells produce more heat than non-broken solar cells. This heat difference between solar cells can be detected by a drone’s IR camera.


Value of Thermal Drones In Solar

Solar asset owners rely on long-term energy production to get an ROI and save money on their electric utility bills. The use of IR drones by the installation company brings value to those solar owners by being able to inspect the solar production performances of the panels. Early detection of damages and defects on panels ensures that production losses can be addressed and resolved before much revenue is lost because of it. If damages and defects aren’t detected and resolved, the owners will likely have to pay more for their electricity from the grid because their system isn’t producing energy as effectively. 

The adoption of IR drone technology in the residential solar space is very valuable, as the majority of the solar panels installed in Texas are on the roofs of houses. Homeowners needing an inspection by the insurance after a hail storm should consider having their panels inspected by IR imaging. The insurance company covers storm damages under the homeowner’s insurance policy, therefore if damages are detected on the panels by IR imaging, the insurance is responsible for compensating for replacement. These damages might not be seen by the insurance adjuster, so providing proof of unseen damages on the panels, will help ensure all damages are covered under the homeowner’s policy. Once the damages are addressed the system can produce energy as originally expected, and homeowners can then rest assured that they will maintain their ROI and savings from going solar! 

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