Solar power is slowly becoming one of the most preferred alternative sources of energy. There are commercial buildings that use solar arrays to power up their building. Countries have taken off a significant load of their power plants by harnessing energy through vast arrays of solar panels.
However, as this technology gets bigger and more widespread, it will also become difficult for users to track and monitor their systems. To counter that issue, we use RFID solar tags.
So, let’s discuss more about the inclusion of RFID technology in the solar industry.
RFID Tags & MNRE Guidelines – Solar Energy
Radio Frequency Identification technology is a necessary investment when implementing a solar power system. This is because of the MNRE guidelines for Solar Energy for commercial purposes. So, let’s discuss what the guidelines suggest.
(A). Every Solar Photovoltaic Panel must be equipped with a Radio Frequency Identification Tag capable of withstanding the environmental conditions, for identification & monitoring purposes.
(B). Users can mount the RFID tags either inside the PV panel’s laminate or on its surface.
(C). Radio Frequency Identification Tags must contain important information about the module, like specifications, date of manufacture, etc. Below is a complete list of the necessary information to be stored within a tag’s RFID chip.
What Data is Stored Within the RFID for Tracking & Monitoring
1. Solar PV Module Manufacturer’s Name
2. Name of Semi-Conductor Silicon Solar Cell Manufacturer
3. Date of Manufacturing for each Component
4. Location/Country of Manufacturing for Each Component
5. Current Density – Voltage (J-V) Curve of the Solar Module
6. Technical Specifications of the Module – Wattage, Current at Maximum Power Point (IM), Voltage at Maximum Power Point (VM) and Fill Factor (FF)
7. Model No. And Serial No. Of the Module
8. IEC PV Module Qualification Certification Date
9. IEC Certificate Issuing Lab
Applications of RFID Tags in Solar Energy
Solar Power is very expensive to employ, in addition to the fact that these systems are arranged in the form of widespread arrays for commercial uses. This makes it difficult to cover the entire system with just manual labor alone.
(A). Locating PV Units
Solar panels are generally a part of big arrays, aligned to harness electricity from sunlight. This makes it very hard to locate a particular panel or identify and keep track of units for different purposes. With the help of RFID tags with unique serial numbers programmed into them, and a handheld RFID reader, you can easily locate any unit you want to. You can also store the location information (row & column number) in the tag while mounting the panels.
(B). Maintenance Records
Like any technology, you need to check your solar array from time to time to make sure there are no problems. You also need to conduct a standard annual inspection. During these operations, it can become difficult to keep track of the units. Using RFID, you can easily update your database in real time.
(C). Check Incoming Supplies
While receiving supplies like panels, accessories, cables, etc, you need to ensure that there are no errors. It’s necessary to avoid things like incompatible components, defects, correct equipment, etc. Performing this task manually can be time-consuming and have a risk of error. With the help of RFID, you can automate this process or at least, cut the down time consumption significantly.
Benefits of Using RFID Tags on Solar Modules
Radio Frequency Identification technology allows users to have a greater insight into the working of their assets. You can have real-time monitoring capabilities over your solar array using RFID tags. Greater visibility means that you have greater control over the functionality and maintenance of your system.
(B). Inventory Management
Controlling and checking your inventory becomes increasingly difficult with the rise in the volume of supplies. Not only that, but it also becomes a time-consuming task. But, with the integration of RFID technology into your array and supply storage, you can automate the whole process of inventory management.
(C). Streamlines Monitoring
By providing visibility and automation, RFID optimizes your system to make it more streamlined. Instead of manual inspections, you can use RFID readers to monitor your entire array in real-time. With further integration of IoT and using the array to power up readers and antennas, you can make the monitoring operation self-sustaining.
Types of RFID Tags Compatible with Solar Panels
Now you know about the applications & benefits of radio frequency identification technology in solar energy setups. It's time to learn the equipment you will need to set up such a system.
There are a variety of tag types available in the market. All are suitable for different applications and surfaces. For example, hard tags are capable to withstand extreme temperatures and physical damage. Mount On-Metal tags can resist signal distortions from metal surfaces, etc. So, which type of RFID tags are perfect for use in Solar Arrays?
(A). RFID Wet Inlay –
These are one of the simplest and most cost-effective types of tags. They consist of a substrate with an RFID inlay on it, covered by an adhesive layer.
(B). RFID Polyester Label
These tags are a combination of barcodes and RFID, it is a thin substrate made of polyester, with a barcode on the surface and an RFID inlay on the inside.
(C). RFID Paper Tags
Like the polyester tag, these consist of a substrate made of paper with an inlay inside. These tags also have an adhesive layer on the back.
The next thing to keep in mind is the type of reader you want, there are three primary types of RFID readers you can choose from. These are - Fixed Mounted, Handheld, and Integrated. For application in a solar array, your best option is to select either a handheld reader with an integrated antenna, or a fixed-mounted ultra-high frequency reader.
These are responsible for broadcasting the reader’s signals and receiving signals from the tags. There are two types of antennae available for use, circular & linear polarization. In a solar array, panels are all oriented along the same plane, so it’s best to select a Linear Polarization antenna, as it also provides the best range.
As we discussed in the above blog, RFID has significant applications in solar energy. From tracking and monitoring to maintaining records. We hope by now you know enough to be able to implement an efficient RFID system in your solar array.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Are there different types of RFID tags?
Ans - Yes, due to their compatibility and vast applications, we have developed a variety of tag types suitable for different industries and uses. Some of the most popular types of RFID tags are – Mount On Metal Tag, Wet inlay, Hard Tags, Windshield Tag, Cloth Tag, etc.
Q2. What is an RFID tag in solar panel?
Ans - The most common tags used for tracking and monitoring solar arrays are the specially designed Solar Wet Inlay Tags.
Q3. What are the three types of RFID tags?
Ans - There are a couple of ways that you can use to classify RFID tags, by application, power supply, and operational frequency. Based on frequency, you can divide tags into three categories, namely – Low Frequency, High Frequency, and Ultra-High Frequency.
- Last updated on May 20, 2023