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Commissioning may seem like an unnecessarily time-consuming and complex exercise, but it is a critical part of a well-installed system.

Understanding and paying attention to PV commissioning is important to the industry. If the PV industry is to continue to expand and become a significant part of the US energy portfolio, short- and long-term system performance is critical to maintaining public confidence and goodwill. Already, many interested parties are making concerted efforts to maintain the quality control of installed systems.

Commissioning is a way to formalize quality control of installed PV systems. The process ensures that systems are safe and high performing. It encourages integrators to be responsible for their installations and facilitates project closeout and prompt payment. Successful commissioning leads to satisfied installers, employers and system owners. Satisfied customers become repeat customers and lead to new clients. Seen in this light, commissioning is essential to the growth of the PV industry and to the overarching goal of installing more renewable energy systems.

Think this is an overstatement? Consider what commissioning prevents.

  • It protects against fires, shocks and injury.
  • It keeps customers happy and minimizes callbacks.
  • It ensures that a lot of silicon, aluminum, glass, steel, copper, dollars and effort are not wasted on nonperforming or underperforming systems.
  • Commissioning guards against a lack of public confidence in PV and renewable energy technologies.

This article covers the commissioning of both residential and commercial scale grid-tied PV systems in detail. Although it does not specifically address off-grid, battery-backup or vehicle PV systems, many of the same principles apply. Similarly, while large utility scale PV systems are not specifically exemplified, the commercial scale procedures are easily scalable.

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