April 29, 2023

Quality Control in A Solar Panel Production Line

Solar energy is a rapidly growing industry, with solar panels becoming increasingly popular for both residential and commercial use. However, with this rise in demand comes the need for proper quality control during the manufacture of a solar module.

Why is quality control in a solar panel production line important? Quality control ensures the PV panels manufacturers produce are reliable, efficient, and safe for use. In this article, we will discuss how to implement quality control, common defects in PV panels, the causes of these defects, and quality control measures to prevent them.

Additionally, we will highlight the value of certification in solar panel production, the types of certifications manufacturers should aim for, and the benefits of quality control in PV panel manufacturing.

How Solar Panels Are Produced


The manufacturing of solar panels involves several steps, including the production of solar cells, connecting the cells, and then adding materials including glass, a backsheet, and a frame to form a solar panel.

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The initial stage in manufacturing a module is the production of solar cells. This process involves the following steps:

Polysilicon Production: The first step is the production of polysilicon, which is the primary material used to create solar cells. Polysilicon is produced by melting silicon and then allowing it to cool and solidify into a block.

Wafer Production: Once the polysilicon block is created, it is sliced into thin wafers with a diamond saw.

Cell Production: The silicon wafers are then coated with a thin layer of anti-reflective material and a thin layer of conductive material. The conductive material is usually made of silver and helps to create an electrical current when the cell is exposed to sunlight.

Module Assembly: The solar cells are then assembled into modules. This involves connecting the cells together with wires. The cells are connected in series or parallel to create the desired voltage and current output.

Panel Assembly: Finally a frame is added to give the module stability. The cells are protected from exposure or impact with a backsheet at the back and glass in the front.

Fortunately, for our purposes, the only stages we need to be concerned about are the module assembly and panel assembly.

The Types Of Quality Control In Solar Production


Quality control in solar panel manufacturing involves ensuring that each step of the production process meets the necessary standards. There are three types of quality control in solar production namely in-process quality control, final inspection, and testing and validation.

In-Process Quality Control 

In-process quality control involves monitoring the production process to ensure that it is proceeding as planned. This mostly involves pre-production checks like inspecting the materials used, checking the equipment for accuracy and reliability, and ensuring that production is running smoothly.

Testing And Validation

Testing and validation involve testing the solar panel to ensure that it meets the necessary performance standards. This involves testing the panel’s efficiency, durability, and reliability under different environmental conditions.

Final Inspection 

The final inspection involves inspecting the finished product to ensure that it meets the necessary quality standards. This involves checking the physical appearance of the solar panel, ensuring that all components are properly installed, and ensuring that the panel is functioning as intended.

Common Solar Panel Defects And Their Causes


Solar panels can experience a variety of defects during manufacturing. These defects can affect their efficiency and reliability. Some of the most common defects include:

Cracks in the solar cells: Cracks can occur during the manufacturing process due to improper handling or pressure.

Contamination: Contamination can occur during the production process. This can include dust, water, or other impurities, which attach to the cells and affect the panel’s performance.

Incomplete cell coverage: This can occur when the conductive material is not applied correctly, resulting in a reduction in the panel’s efficiency.

There are far more defects than the three we have listed here. These are just a few of the most frequently occurring. The most common cause of these defects is not observing or having poor quality control during solar panel production.

This can be because of poor training of employees leading to mistakes for example. It can also be caused by inadequate testing and validation.

The most important steps to ensuring that your solar modules meet the required performance and safety standards for certification are therefore:

1. Proper training of employees on how to handle modules, machinery, and the entire production process.
2. Correctly implementing quality control procedures.
3. Conducting regular testing and validation.

The Value Of Certification In Solar Panel Production


Certification is essential in solar panel production line. First, it increases consumer confidence in a manufacturer’s products. Second, it is a requirement in many markets that solar modules meet certain set standards for efficiency, durability, and safety.

There are several types of certifications that photovoltaic manufacturers should aim for, including:

IEC 61215: This certification is for crystalline silicon solar panels and covers the design, construction, and testing of the panels.

IEC 61646: This certification is for thin-film solar panels and covers the design, construction, and testing of the panels.

UL 1703: This certification is for solar panels used in the United States and covers the design, construction, and testing of the panels.

These are just a few of the main certifications. They are established and maintained by several certification bodies including the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and the CB Scheme.

For an in-depth look into certifications, check out our article on the required certifications for PV module manufacturing.

Conclusion


To summarize, quality control is essential if not mandatory in solar panel production line. Quality control checks during production help to ensure solar panels generate the required electricity and perform optimally over their lifetime.

Inspections help to identify defects and prevent them from making their way into the final product. This can reduce the number of defective panels and improve the overall quality.

Quality control processes help ensure solar panels meet regulatory and industry standards, which can increase customer satisfaction and improve marketability.

By identifying and eliminating defects during the manufacturing process, quality control can help to reduce waste and lower costs associated with rework or returns.


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