Building-integrated photovoltaics: TÜV Rheinland offers comprehensive testing procedures for manufacturers

For many years now, building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) have played a key role in the utilization of solar energy. They also offer exciting architectural possibilities. But to provide the same level of reliability and safety, building-integrated photovoltaic modules and solar thermal collectors must fulfill system requirements regarding construction and electrical products. As the world’s leading test service provider in the solar industry, TÜV Rheinland offers BIPV manufacturers a wide range of tests aimed at improving the safety and quality of their products.

The experts perform their work in line with the draft version of the European test standard EN 50XXX (TÜV Rheinland itself is heavily involved in formulating this standard). There is currently no uniform standard for products or tests, but this new standard is expected to be published in 2013 at the latest. The complex tests must take into account the special properties of BIPV. “Unlike building-mounted systems, building-integrated systems form an integral part of the roof or facade. This is why they also have to fulfill the relevant requirements. This applies not only with regard to thermal insulation and noise, but also to fire prevention and impermeability to rain”, says Florian Reil, project manager at TÜV Rheinland for BIPV and member of the technical committee for photovoltaic systems in the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC).

As part of a global competence center for BIPV at TÜV Rheinland, specialists are working on developing test scenarios, test benches and building up additional testing capacities. An important part of the new testing procedures involves the application of existing requirements regarding building components, which are based on the Construction Products Directive 89/106/EC as well as legal building requirements (e.g. of the German state building regulations), and deriving criteria regarding the safety of electrical systems in accordance with the Low Voltage Directive 2006/95/EC. Of course, the basic construction type and safety certificates for photovoltaic modules also apply (IEC 61730, 61215, 61646).

It is planned that EN 50XXX will distinguish between glass and flexible systems. Glass modules will in turn be divided into five product categories relating to the necessary system safety requirements. These categories depend on whether the system is installed on a sloping roof or facade and whether or not it can be accessed from inside the building. The glass used for facade and overhead installations must verifiably demonstrate that they fulfill requirements regarding laminated safety glass as per EN 14449. This is also checked by the TÜV Rheinland experts.

As regards fire prevention, the requirements set out in EN 13501-1 and DIN 4102-1 apply. In addition, the flammability and spread of fire are assessed on entire roof-integrated systems in accordance with ENV 1187-1 and -3.

Other aspects that TÜV Rheinland covers when testing BIPV include sound protection (e.g. sound insulation values for glass as per EN 12758), dynamic wind load tests in line with the relevant window and facade standards, impermeability to rain, inhomogeneous snow loading for roof-integrated systems as well as structural design issues. TÜV Rheinland also tests assembly systems and tethers.

TÜV Rheinland: working for the solar industry around the world

TÜV Rheinland is an internationally leading testing service provider for the solar industry. The company first started laboratory-scale technical testing of solar components back in 1995. TÜV Rheinland’s network of experts for the solar industry now comprises almost 300 specialists in seven laboratories worldwide. As a global market leader for the testing and certification of solar modules, TÜV Rheinland operates test laboratories in Bangalore (India), Gyeongsan (Korea), Cologne (Germany), Shanghai (China) and Taichung (Taiwan), as well as at TÜV Rheinland PTL in Tempe (USA) and Yokohama (Japan). Across the world, more than 500 manufacturers of photovoltaic modules are customers of the independent testing service provider, TÜV Rheinland. The specialists not only test modules and components, but also develop new test methods, collaborate on R&D projects for the use of solar energy and assist customers worldwide with the construction of solar power plants.

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