Brennan Coulter
Jul 27, 2012

New Measurement Standards for Solar Efficiency

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has created a new system to accurately and quickly measure the electrical power output of solar energy devices. The NIST team’s system combines 32 different LEDs, each generating light at different portions of the solar spectrum. The system illuminates panels more evenly, obtaining more accurate results than current incandescent or xenon bulb testing methods and boasts a ten-times-longer lifespan. At its fastest, the system can test the entire light spectrum on a single panel in four seconds, activating all 32 LEDs simultaneously, having each pulse at a different rate. To get more precise results for individual frequencies, the system also has a six minute testing option where each LED is activated one-at-a-time. Though the system exceeds the NIST 2010 design goals of for aiding in the production and quality control of solar panels, the team still plans refine it further by making it capable of transmitting infrared spectra.