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Photovoltaic solar panel resistance to simulated hail. Low-Cost Solar Array Project

Description: As part of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Low-Cost Solar Array Project, test methods have been evaluated and procedures developed for testing photovoltaic flat-plate solar cell modules for resistance to impact by hailstones. Testing has included the use of simulated hailstones (frozen ice spheres projected at terminal velocity), steel balls, and other projectile types applied with three loading methods: pneumatic gun, gravity drop, and static loading. Results are presented that compare the advantages and disadvantages of the three test methods. Dropped-steel-ball tests are shown to exhibit little correlation with high-velocity ice-ball tests, whereas statically-loaded steel balls show a somewhat better correlation with ice-ball tests. Results are also presented on the hail impact strength of 16 flat-plate photovoltaic modules. The module designs tested have been shown to be capable of withstanding as large as 1-1/2-inch diameter and not capable of withstanding as small as 1/2-inch diameter simulated hail. The top surface material of the modules has a dominant influence on the hail impact resistance of the modules. In order of increasing impact strength for a given thickness, the top surface materials encountered in the modules tester were: clear silicone rubber, annealed glass, tempered glass, and acrylic sheet. The critical failure mechanism of each module type is explored and means for improving the hail resistance of future modules are described.
Date: October 15, 1978
Creator: Moore, D. & Wilson, A.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department