How to Test Portable Solar Panels?


Portable solar panels are made using high-end materials. The final product goes through various quality checks and expert reviews before it is made available for sale. The manufacturer assures you that each portable solar panel would be excellent.

It would be best if you did not fall into the trap as the transportation of the panel from the factory to your home carries a long journey.

Solar Inverter
Solar Inverter

There are several occasions when the portable solar panel gets damaged, or some of the components working fine while conducting quality checks in the factory are damaged. 

Therefore, it is advisable to check each component you received in the package before installing it. Any defect in the product should be informed to the company as soon as you receive the product.

 Fault in the solar panel or any of the components may damage your power grid, which could cause risk to your family’s safety. 

Follow these steps to ensure that the installed portable solar panel is in working condition.

Measure solar panel amperage:

The amperage is measure using the amp meter. It is a device specially designed to check the electric output and provide the value in the amperage. 

Find the positive and negative sides at the back of the solar panel. Connect it with the meter. The meter will read the conventional current from the solar panel and accurately measure the output.

Ensure that the solar panel is kept directly under the sunlight to collect maximum sunlight to get a quick result for your test. Remember that the amp meter used for the testing purpose has a higher than amp output of your solar panel, else your reading would not be accurate.

Measure Current:

The current measurement is done using the proper equipment. Remember that you are dealing with a high voltage current, so take precautions while handling the equipment, batteries, live wires, and other essential components.

Equipment you use should be in good condition and tested for their highest capacity. You would also require resisters and a multimeter to get the meter reading of the direct current. 

The multimeter used in the testing process would help you find Direct Current, also known as DC voltage. Once you have the DC voltage value, the formula is used to find the Watts to confirm the solar panel’s final output.

Once you have everything in place, follow the step by step guide given below to get reading.

Step 1. Converter Box

The converter box is placed on the backside of the portable solar panel. The box will be covered in the layer of the protection shield. Remove the cover to access the panel output grid. All the connections will be inside the section. 

Step 2. Positive and Negative Connection output

The energy moves from the negative to the positive direction in the actual grid. However, in practice, most of the meters are designed to test the current flow from positive to negative, so in this tutorial, we will also follow the same step.

The positive and negative connections are direct sources of concentrated energy. When you put the portable solar panel under direct sunlight, the electrons move from the positive to the negative direction making the power move freely.

Step 3. Connect Multimeter to DC

A multimeter would have various settings to check the DC power. You have to ensure that your multimeter reading is set higher than your solar panel’s probable output or the output indicated by your manufacturer.

 For example, if you are testing the portable solar panel rated for 30 volts, your multimeter must be set to 30 volts or higher value. The meter setting is imperative to get accurate data from the device. Some manufactures mention the voltage rating inside the converter box.

You can check for any mark or specification mention on the converter box.

Step 4. Alligator Clips

Meter will have two input and output clips called alligator clips. Connect the red lead alligator clip to your solar panel’s positive side and black to the negative charge or side. Once it is connected, you will notice the meter is gaining current, and the reading is display on the screen.

Compare the reading with the claimed output by the manufacturer of the panel. 

Remember, in some cases, the meter may show a low reading due to less sunlight in the region, or chances are the solar panel is not kept under direct sunlight. The high reading is a sign that your solar panel is working perfectly fine. 

To avoid any confusion or misunderstanding, test the solar panel on different occasions, and compare the data.

If it is still producing less meter reading than expected, then there may be some fault in your portable solar panel. In that case, you should inform the manufacturer immediately about the problem.

Testing the Charge Controller

  • Charge controller testing is also crucial to see how the solar panel is performing. 
  • Get your meter to measure DC amps. Connect the DC amps to the solar panel output cable to get the data.
  • In the next step, set the meter to 10A.
  • Now the solar panel is ready to produce the output. Connect the solar panel to the controller while the controller is connected to the energy storage or batteries.
  • Disconnect the positive cable that is connected to the battery and controller.
  • Measurement will begin when you connect the positive lead from the multimeter to the positive cable.
  • In the final step, connect the negative lead from the meter, which was open to the battery’s positive terminal.

This test is crucial to check the current passing between the panel and controller with the battery attached.

Testing the 12-volt solar panel

The 12-volt portable solar panels are most common in the industry. The testing methods for this type of solar panel is easy. 

Use a multimeter and set the voltage to 200 VCD. Check the reading by connecting the negative and positive alligator clip to your solar panel. The rating with overload value indicates that the solar panel is producing more than the declared value, so adjust the VCD to a higher rating.

Compare it with the product specification provided by the manufacturer. If it matches the claim details, then your solar panel is fully functional. 

Accuracy could be depending on the multimeter as well. So consult with the expert before choosing the multimeter. Check which multimeter brand is best for testing your solar panel. The input and output value needs to match with the portable solar panel to confirm its efficiency.

You need two values to get Watts, volts, and amps. Once you calculated this value using the above-given method, use the below formula to get the final Watts solar panel.

Volts x Amps = Watts

So… 12 Volts x 3.5 Amps = 42 Watts.

Conclusion:

For the first time installer, the testing procedure may sound a daunting task, but as you start testing on your own, you will find it is easy to do it.

It would be best if you had the right tools in your hands, so ensure that you are prepared before you purchase the solar panel. The testing also helps you to decide in what direction you should install your solar panel. 

It is essential to check all possible ways to get high performance from your solar panel. These solar panel systems are quite expensive. If it is not generating a sufficient amount of electricity to your primary grid, then the whole effort of using clean energy would be wasted.

Your portable solar panel should increase the capacity over some time and lower the local electricity bill. 

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Matt

I’m Matt, a computer and electronic embedded system developer. Currently, working as an electronic engineer. In my leisure time, I do love to blog about technology stuff. Specially, new advance high tech devices. Portable solar systems are one of topic that I love to investigate. They are becoming more powerful day by day which keep me alert.

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