String Protection for Photovoltaic Cells

Hot-spotting is a common problem in solar panel configurations that can potentially damage photovoltaic cells by forcing the conduction of reverse current in shaded or dysfunctional cells. The proposed invention offers a solution at the modular level by incorporating the photovoltaic panel into an open circuit to prevent hot-spotting. As a result, other panels in the photovoltaic string will remain functional under all adverse conditions.

Researchers from the University of Illinois have developed a method and apparatus to protect solar cells from hot spotting and damage resulting from arc faults. This device would also provide a way to shut off the solar array remotely. By preventing the damage caused by hot spotting and arc faults this device increases the longevity of solar arrays. It also reduces the risk of fire and provides a remote way to cut the power in cases of emergency.