06 April 2010
TUV Rheinland Solar Test Centres in Cologne, Germany is offering fire tests for verifying the resistance of the modules to the effects of external fire. TUV Rheinland is also offering all manufacturers a full inspection according to ANSI/UL 1703 for accessing the North American market. These fire tests are designed to ensure that the modules are sufficiently resistant to the effects of external fire.
In the photovoltaic test standards IEC 61730 (Photovoltaic Module Safety Qualification) and ANSI/UL 1703 (Flat Plate Photovoltaic Modules and Panels), fire testing of modules is mandatory. The standards refer to two different tests from the UL 790 standard - the incendiary test and the spread-of-flame test.
With the incendiary test, incendiary material made of wood is inflamed and placed on the surface of the test specimen. The spread-of-flame test, however, involves a gas flame along with the additional effects of wind in order to determine the effects at module level. With this test setup, tests are carried out to determine whether any types of flammable materials cause the flame to spread further across the surface of the module.
For building-integrated photovoltaic systems (BIPV), further inspections are required in Europe. In addition to a building material classification according to EN 13501-1, various inspections regarding exposure to fire are also required (EN 13501-5). TUV Rheinland offers the following testing procedures: ENV 1187-1 for Germany and other EU countries, and ENV 1187-3 for France.
Around 80% of all solar module manufacturers have their products tested at TUV Rheinland in order to obtain international market licences. TUV Rheinland operates test laboratories for solar modules and systems in Cologne, Shanghai, Taichung and Yokohama as well as an additional facility in Arizona at TUV Rheinland PTL, a joint venture with Arizona State University. 170 experts work at the existing test centres.