Swiss Solar AG modules get the TÜV NORD certificate
Swiss Solar photovoltaic modules with 7″ half-cut monocrystalline silicon solar cells have been successfully tested for compliance with the following standards:
IEC / EN 61215-1:2016
IEC / EN 61215-1:2016
IEC 61215-2:2016 / EN 61215-2:2016 + AC:2017 + AC:2018
IEC 61730-1:2016 / EN 61730-1:2018 + AC:2018
IEC 61730-1:2016 / EN 61730-2:2018 + AC:2018
The international expert company TÜV NORD CERT GmbH issued Swiss Solar AG with certificate number 44 780 21 406749-50 and confirmed its right to mark its solar modules with a special quality symbol (Fig.1), which is widely known not only in Europe, but also worldwide, as a quality and safety mark.
Fig. 1: “TÜV NORD type-tested”
What was the certification procedure? What tests did Swiss Solar’s modules undergo? How did the results relate to the quality of Swiss Solar products?
Standards and quality in the photovoltaic industry
The increased demand for solar modules at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century, caused by a dynamic decrease in their cost and the development of solar energy in the world, led to the expansion of their production and increase in production volumes. At the initial stage, the lack of industry standards and methods for testing in mass production conditions naturally led to an increase in the number of failures and a large number of modules malfunctions.
Analyses of the current situation conducted by national and international standardization organizations showed the need to prepare special tests and qualification tests of photovoltaic cells.
The development of standards and the definition of the necessary procedures for solar panels testing began with the collection of statistical data on the most common causes of failure. The first qualification tests were focused precisely on the rapid detection of such failures and, due to the availability of feedback from the developers, made it possible to make prompt changes in the design of the modules . Such an approach had a positive effect on the quality of the manufactured products.
The continuous improvement of testing methods associated with the development of new designs and technologies in the PV industry led to the creation of a number of standards that have formed the basis of the PV certification procedure. Today, most of the standards and certifications in this area are performance-related and are focused on ensuring product reliability and quality control. The most well-known and sought-after among them are IEC / EN 61215-1:2016 and IEC 61730-1:2016. These are the standards for which Swiss Solar AG received certification.
Standard IEC / EN 61215-1:2016
Verification for compliance with this standard involves a sequence of tests to determine the thermal and electrical parameters of crystalline silicon modules. The purpose of the tests is to confirm that the given module design is able to maintain these parameters over a long period of time when operating under the climatic conditions specified by the application and under the influence of other factors related to operating conditions.
Twelve modules were randomly selected for testing directly on the manufacturing site. After a division into 6 groups, each of them was subjected to a certain fixed test sequence. A total of 19 different quality tests are designated, some of which are carried out on all modules simultaneously, and the remaining ones are made up of individual test sequences (A, B, C, D, E, F) for each of the groups.
The criteria for successful completion of the tests:
– modules retaining at least 95% of maximum output power after performing sequences B, C, D, E;
– absence of circuit breaks during the tests (for all modules without exception);
– absence of significant damage and visible defects;
– fulfillment of electrical safety requirements, such as: insulation requirements, leakage current test requirements in high humidity environments.
All 12 selected Swiss Solar modules were successfully tested for compliance with the standard.
Standard IEC 61730-1:2016
A revised, supplemented and unified in 2016 version of the standard consists of two parts:
⦁ IEC 61730-1, “Photovoltaic (PV) module safety qualification- Part 1: Requirements for construction” – focuses on preventing the possibility of fire, electric shock or injury due to improper installation or operation of modules, as well as failure of their components or design parts;
⦁ IEC 61730-2 “Photovoltaic (PV) module safety qualification. – Part 2: Requirements for testing” – describes the tests designed for checking the modules for fire safety, electrical safety, high temperature and humidity resistance, mechanical loads and testing of module components.
In this version, the test plans are harmonized with IEC 61215, so that the test results can be used to evaluate both safety and module parameters.
Six modules were selected for IEC 61730-1:2016 compliance testing. After successfully passing the tests, this type of product was assigned Safety Class II.
Why TÜV NORD is a quality guarantee
In the PV industry, the term “certification” is somewhat different from the meaning adopted in other industries [2-3]. The standard definition implies going through a certification program, which must include:
– testing by an independent third party;
– random selection of modules for testing;
– production and design evaluation;
– regular retests;
– issuance of a certificate for the right to use the certification program mark.
At the same time, the term “certified” is often used to refer to a module that simply passed standard qualification tests, while “certification” refers to a report from the laboratory that conducted those tests. Such an interpretation of the terms, as well as the use of the phrases “IEC certificate”, “IEC certification” or “IEC 61215 certified”, is incorrect and misleading to buyers.
It should be emphasized that the laboratory report is not a substitute for a certification body license, and IEC itself does not certify products, but only develops standards and is responsible for supporting and publishing test procedures.
Therefore, only certification by highly qualified, independent experts gives confidence that the company’s products meet the standards requirements and generally recognized technical regulations. Thus, the TÜV NORD certification was one of the important factors for Swiss Solar AG for the decision to offer an extended (up to 30 years) warranty on its products.
 Hoffman AR, Ross RG. Environmental qualification testing of terrestrial solar cell modules. Proceedings of the 13th IEEE PV Specialists Conference, Washington, DC, USA, 1978; 835–842.
 International Standards Organization/International Electrotechnical Commission. Conformity assessment guidance on a third-party certification system for products. ISO/IEC Guide 28:2004, Geneva, Switzerland, 2004.
 Wohlgemuth JH. Qualification and certification: key elements in the successful implementation of PV. Proceedings of the 16th European PV Solar Energy Conference, Glasgow, UK, 2000; 2108–2109.