From pv magazine USA
Fluke recently acquired Solmetric, a company that combines cutting-edge equipment with industry expertise. pv magazine USA met with Fluke’s Will White at RE+ to explore the company’s new high wattage, current-specific solar module I-V curve tracing hardware.
At the booth, Fluke proudly displayed the PVA-1500HE, formerly Solmetric’s flagship product. The presentation emphasized the 3 primary components of the unit: the I-V unit, the SolSensor, and a user interface that operates on a tablet or laptop. The I-V unit and SolSensor function in tandem, assessing the I-V curve, irradiance, and temperature.
The team at Fluke highlighted a key challenge in testing high-wattage, high-efficiency, and thus high-current solar modules: managing and bleeding off the rush of current that occurs at the onset of a measure, which is driven by the high capacitance of modern solar cells. The acquired Solmetric team, with their refined solution, claims it has solved this challenge. The unit can provide an I-V curve read in milliseconds, a significant improvement over the seconds required for prior test techniques.
The unit is 45 kW, which is double Fluke’s existing 1000V I-V curve testing unit.
In addition to the PVA-1500HE, Fluke also now possesses the renowned SunEye, a valuable tool for measuring shade to accurately estimate electricity generation by the modules beyond idealized projections.
In the booth, hardware was only part of the story. Fluke, a recognized name in the testing industry, expressed their enthusiasm about collaboration with the adept team behind this equipment. Solmeric’s specialized knowledge in high-powered equipment testing, particularly for the I-V curve tracer, not only reinforces Fluke’s existing team but also opens doors to explore applications in the EV charging and energy storage sectors.
Patrick Edwards, a Massachusetts Master Electrician and owner of Edwards Electric, told pv magazine USA that he offers IV-curve tracing services in the New England market and said that he is planning to buy the Solmetrix unit for use on a recently contracted portfolio of community solar projects:
“We’ve recently signed a deal to do IV-curve tracing as part of the commissioning process for a series of community solar plants in Maine. All of these sites have high wattage modules, and we need a new testing kit to work with them. I was planning on buying the Solmetrix unit, so I guess I’m buying a Fluke now.”
When asked why he was going with the Solmetrix unit specifically, he said, “I have faith in a product that supplied reliability and accurate testing for as many years as I have been installing and testing.”
Although not yet featured on Fluke’s official webpage, the I-V curve tracing unit remains available on the Solmetric site, ensuring uninterrupted access to this critical tool for industry professionals.
In a broader context, this acquisition is part of Fluke’s consistent endeavor to integrate testing firms into its expansive portfolio. Fluke Reliability, a Fortive subsidiary, recently acquired machine diagnostic company Azima DLI, continuing a trend of adding specialized companies like Raytek, Comark, TTL Technologies, eMaint, Pruftechnik, and Irisys to the Fluke family, enhancing their offerings and reinforcing their industry standing.
Founded in 1948, Fluke’s growth and evolution included acquisition by the Danaher Corporation in 1998 and a subsequent spin-off into Fortive in 2016, marking key milestones in its journey to its current industry leadership position.
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