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Qualities of Drones in Solar Inspection

Drones provide a practical solution for many business ventures across industries. They assist inspection teams in avoiding hazards and are deployed for emergency repairs. On top of this, they also see use in surveillance and aerial photography.

The renewable energy industry extensively deploys drones. Drone inspection of solar panels, wind turbines, and other power plants is becoming the new standard.



Why Use Drones for Solar Farm Inspection?



Yearly inspections are a requirement for many power plants. Solar farm inspections and maintenance are challenging because solar panels are installed on vast land and exposed to the elements.

These days, solar panel inspection using drones is more necessary than ever. They are less expensive than planes or manned aircraft and save time by easy accessibility and operation. Additionally, they can inspect thousands of panels faster, reducing worksite hours and avoiding injuries.

Additional benefits for solar panel inspection:


  • Better documentation – Drones can help operators capture and categorize data over time, giving technicians the information they need for proper maintenance.
  • Faster defect and fault detection – Drones can detect defects or damages in solar hardware after installation.
  • More efficient procedures – Drone inspections can be done without needing to shut down the entire operation.



What are the Top 10 Qualities of Drones in Solar Panel Inspection?



Solar farms span several hectares and are challenging to inspect and repair by foot. Because manned aircraft are expensive, drones are the next best way to do so. They can improve solar panel inspections by streamlining operations and making procedures safer.

As drones become more widespread, more solar energy companies will consider and eventually invest in them. The best UAVs will have these ten qualities commonly used in different operations, such as solar inspection:


Flight range 


Solar farms can span several hectares that can be difficult to inspect and survey by foot. Because of this, drones with an extended flight range can easily watch more ground.



Flight duration


Flight duration is another needed quality for solar panel inspection using drones. Longer flight times allow them to survey more areas and retrieve more high-resolution footage, especially from greater distances.



Payload capacity


Maintenance and repair crews need replacement parts and additional tools. A drone with an adequate payload capacity can easily send out these types of cargo. As a result, faulty panels and photovoltaic (PV) cells are repaired more quickly.



Recharge time


A self-charging solar drone or one with a wireless charging pad further streamlines regular inspection. Along with pre-programmed flight routes, reduced recharge time ensures that each flight run is as automated and efficient as possible.





Weight is another factor that limits the drone’s capability. The heavier the drone, the more power is required to achieve liftoff. A balance in weight allows it to fly faster and longer while still able to carry much-needed onboard sensors.





Drones can fly into unexpected rough winds and crash into other objects. Being able to withstand impact and operate normally separates high-quality drones from other models.




Solar panels reflect light and can skew images from handheld cameras during data collection. With drones, this is usually not an issue thanks to their multispectral sensors, which allow for different types of imaging.



Artificial intelligence


Drone solar panel inspection accounts for different factors and variables in PV cells and panels. Onboard software can help process large amounts of raw data and high-resolution footage to yield critical insights.



Data storage


High-resolution multispectral images naturally take up large amounts of storage space. Today, large storage capacities are more commonplace, allowing drones to collect and process more data in real-time.





Maintenance and repair teams occasionally need to make repairs in otherwise inaccessible areas. Swappable attachments, like robotic arms and cameras, are essential for quick and efficient maintenance during a solar inspection.


The Takeaway


Drones are essential in many industries for optimizing workflow and reducing instances of worksite injuries. Renewable energy, and solar energy, in particular, are no exception.

Solar panel inspection using drones is incredibly beneficial. It provides many advantages, such as more time and money saved and reducing the risk of worksite injuries. Drones can even deliver automated routine inspections and conduct minor repairs.

Because of this, companies looking to invest in drones or drone services need a model that can match their needs. Factors such as flight time, multispectral sensors, and battery life should all be considered for optimal performance.

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