Detection and Localization of Disconnections in PV Strings Using Spread-Spectrum Time-Domain Reflectometry

Christopher Deline, Mashad Saleh, Samuel Kingston, Naveen Tumkur Jayakumar, Evan Benoit, Joel Harley, Cynthia Furse, Michael Scarpulla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus Citations


This article describes the novel use of spread-spectrum time-domain reflectometry (SSTDR) for detecting and locating disconnection faults in photovoltaic (PV) power plants. We measure strings of cells and full-sized modules to understand how disconnections affect the reflectometry signature. PV modules correspond to reactive loads and disconnections in a PV string and cause distinguishable and measurable changes in SSTDR responses. Disconnection faults are manually introduced and correctly identified and localized applying the proposed technique. The SSTDR technique can detect and locate disconnects through at least eight 36-cell modules. Using the new technique described in this article, we can both detect and locate the disconnections within a 1-ft resolution, on average.
Original languageAmerican English
Article number8918119
Pages (from-to)236-242
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2011-2012 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-75087


  • Disconnection
  • fault location
  • photovoltaic (PV) cell
  • PV minimodule
  • PV module
  • PV string
  • reflectometry
  • solar cell
  • spread-spectrum time-domain reflectometry (SSTDR)


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