PV laboratory examines the long-term behaviour of PV connectors

20.02.2023 There are millions of them installed on the roofs of houses in Switzerland: Plug-in connectors for photovoltaic systems (PV systems). Researchers at the PV laboratory are investigating the ageing behaviour of PV connectors in the field on behalf of Stäubli Electrical Connectors AG. The results of the first measurement campaign are now available.

PV systems have a long lifespan and require practically no maintenance except for operational monitoring which is usually automated. The cabling in the module field is often in use for decades without requiring any intervention. However, in the event of a defect, these plug-in connectors can cause major damage to PV systems. The quality of the PV connectors used and correct handling during installation are therefore important. To gain more knowledge about the ageing condition of PV connectors in the field, the PV laboratory at Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH) carried out a measurement campaign in cooperation with Stäubli Electrical Connectors, in which PV connectors from various PV systems were examined in the laboratory. The researchers measured the contact resistance and examined the PV connectors for their heating behaviour under different current ratings. The PV connectors were also tested for high-voltage strength, insulation resistance and IP protection.

Leaving PV connectors exposed has negative effects

The results of the first measurement campaign are now available. Only a small sample size was examined but this exercise nevertheless provided important insights for the researchers. For example, the testing demonstrated that leaving PV connectors exposed may have negative effects. The manufacturer’s warning is also justified. This states that PV connectors from different manufacturers should not be cross-connected.

Further PV connectors are sought for the measurement campaign

The PV laboratory is continuing the measurement campaign and is looking for more PV connectors for this purpose. Anyone who has a PV system, especially one that requires reinstallation or repair due to hail or lightning damage, can contact the project manager Matthias Burri: matthias.burri@bfh.ch

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