New String Current Monitoring Increases Efficiency of Photovoltaic Installations

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The new Solarcheck monitoring system from Phoenix Contact is a new reliable instrument for monitoring string currents in large-scale photovoltaic installations. The easy-to-integrate system detects losses in power caused by dirty or damaged panels. This enables targeted remedial measures to be taken so as to increase system availability and thus revenues.

The two-part monitoring system consists of a measurement module and a communication module. The compact measurement module has a width of only 22.5 mm, allowing it to determine the current values of up to eight PV strings without taking up a lot of space.

Measuring is performed with Hall sensors, so the live cables are threaded through holes in the module during installation, meaning there is no need to interrupt the cables.

This prevents the introduction of any further contact points which would generate contact resistance and thus represent a potential source of error. The device also detects direct current voltages of up to 1200 volts, providing a constant overview of the installation’s power and productivity. A digital input enables the monitoring of remote signalling contacts such as those from the surge voltage protector.

The communications module collects measurements from up to eight measurement modules and relays them to a superordinate control as a Modbus RTU slave. The 2-conductor communication cable with a max. length of 500 meters also provides the power supply for the measurement module.

This does away with the need for an additional power supply in the device junction box and simplifies the wiring. Up to 31 communications modules can be integrated without a repeater, and almost 2000 photovoltaic strings can be monitored reliably.

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