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Infrared Photovoltaic System Surveys

Infrared Photovoltaic System Surveys can detect incipient failures within installed PV panels, associated wiring, and controls.  Performed on sunny day, our infrared inspections can reveal defects that reduce system efficiency and shorten the life of installed panels.  Performed regularly, infrared inspections of photovoltaic systems can help reduce maintenance costs and improve PV system output.

When exposed to equal amounts of sunlight, PV panels should exhibit uniform thermal patterns with no pronounced hotspots.   Unusual thermal patterns may indicate a potential problem involving individual cells, strings, or faulty components. Typical problems detected during an Infrared Photovoltaic System Survey include:

  • Defective cells within panels

  • Faulty wiring or equipment

  • Partially shaded or obstructed panels

  • Surface debris, dirty, or shaded panels

Defective Strings & Cells

Hot Cells

Hot Junction Box

Aerial Inspections

Infrared Photovoltaic System Surveys should be planned as part of:

  • P/PM Program
  • Shutdown Preparation
  • Commissioning
  • Quality Assurance

Aerial Inspections

A leader in commercial and industrial Surveys for over 40 years, Jersey Infrared Consultants have been instrumental in pioneering this new application for infrared thermography. Members of our staff have co-authored the current industry standards covering infrared inspections of photovoltaic systems.  

Jersey Infrared Consultants have been providing Infrared Photovoltaic System Surveys since 1984. All work is performed by Infraspection Institute Certified Infrared Thermographers® using state-of-the-art equipment. All work is performed in accordance with published standards and industry best practices.



  • Rapidly inspect large installations

  • No downtime required
  • Help improve system output and increase revenue

  • Help extend PV system life
  • Perform Q/A testing of new installations

Contact us to schedule your Photovoltaic System Survey.


What are the basics of Photovoltaics (PV)?

Photovoltaics (PV) are a method of converting sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. This DC power can be used directly or converted to AC power for standard applications.

A photovoltaic system for commercial or industrial energy supply normally starts with a photovoltaic array. This array consists of multiple solar panels designed and placed to collect the maximum amount of solar energy. Generated electricity can be stored in a battery system. If the end use requires AC power, a DC to AC inverter is used.

The number of panels in the system determines the total DC watts capable of being generated by the solar array; however, the inverter ultimately governs the amount of AC watts that can be distributed for consumption.

How does an Infrared Photovoltaic System Survey work?

When exposed to direct sunlight, properly operating solar panels should be uniform in temperature, with no pronounced hot spots. Thermal anomalies, or hot spots, are most often caused by defective cells, faulty wiring within panels, partially shaded panels, and/or dirt or debris on the panels.

Performed midday while the panels are exposed to direct sunlight, our Infrared Photovoltaic System Surveys are capable of quickly detecting and documenting defects that can compromise panel efficiency and lead to premature panel failure.

Should the Survey be performed from the ground, an elevated vantage point, or an aircraft?

When deciding whether to perform an Infrared Photovoltaic System Survey from the ground, an elevated surface or by aircraft, many factors need to be considered.

Ground-based inspections allow for clearer imagery and ease of problem location.  Inspections may be mobilized quickly and do not require FAA clearance.  Inspections may be performed from above or below panels. 

Elevated vantage point surveys are performed from above panels and can provide a macro view of installed panels.  Inspections may be performed from a higher elevation on a building or from a manlift.

Aerial surveys may be conducted from a manned aircraft or a drone.  Aerial inspections are appropriate when large fields need to be inspected within limited amount of time. Prior to the flight, all FAA requirements must be met with regard to equipment installed on the aircraft, flight safety, security, and noise.  Cost is usually higher than ground-based or elevated vantage point inspections.

Jersey Infrared Consultants can provide Infrared Photovoltaic System Surveys from any of the above vantage points. Please contact us to discuss your specific project and which type of survey will best meet your needs.

What conditions are required for an Infrared Photovoltaic Survey?

To ensure the success of an Infrared Photovoltaic System Survey, subject panels should be clean and dry at the time of the inspection. Inspections are conducted on a clear day while the panels exposed to direct sunlight and solar irradiance is at least 650 Watts/square meter across the face of panels. Winds should be <15 mph during the inspection.

What safety requirements apply to Infrared Photovoltaic System Surveys?

Safety requirements that apply to installed PV systems include:

  • NFPA 70E
  • Occupational Safety and Health Standards for General Industry 29 CFR, Part 1910
  • Occupational Safety and Health Standards for Construction Industry 29 CFR, Part 1926

Jersey Infrared Consultants have a full-time Safety Coordinator, and comprehensive Safety Compliance Program. All field personnel are equipped with the proper PPE.

What standards apply to Infrared Photovoltaic Surveys?
In addition to applicable safety standards, Jersey Infrared Consultants comply with standards published by NFPA and Infraspection Institute.  Following published standards helps to ensure quality results from your Infrared Photovoltaic System Survey. A full list of standards followed by Jersey Infrared Consultants can be found on our Standards Page.
What will my report include?

Jersey Infrared Consultants reports are clear, easy-to-understand, and available in hardcopy and/or digital formats. Your report will include the following:

• Introduction covers the procedures followed and provides information to assist understanding the report including priority assessment for problems.

Thermographers Comments will discuss the areas inspected, number of problems identified and special notation of any serious problems.

• Route(s) that provide a detailed list of all equipment surveyed, including location, type of equipment, identification, status at the time of the survey, and notation of problems along with their severity.

• Deficiencies will be documented with a Thermogram and control photograph, the location of the problem, and a description that includes the following information:

  • Equipment name and location
  • Ambient temperature
  • Temperature rise over similar equipment
  • Ammeter readings (where appropriate)
  • Detailed comments concerning the problem

• Avoided Cost Analysis, based on insurance industry statistics, provides documentation of the potential cost savings associated with your survey.