Evaluation of High-Temperature Exposure of Rack-Mounted Photovoltaic Modules

Sarah Kurtz, Kent Whitfield, David Miller, James Joyce, John Wohlgemuth, Michael Kempe, Neelkanth Dhere, Nick Bosco, Timothy Zgonena

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

88 Scopus Citations


Photovoltaic (PV) modules operate in an extreme environment and are exposed to radiation, humidity, and hot and cold thermal extremes. This paper focuses on polymeric-material degradation during PV-module operation at high ambient temperatures, high solar irradiance and low wind speed. The 2004 version of the IEC 61730 specification requires all polymeric materials used in a photovoltaic module to have a Relative Thermal Index (RTI) or Relative Thermal Endurance Index (RTE) at least 20°C greater than the maximum material temperature measured during the temperature test conducted at 40°C ambient. There is currently an international debate regarding this requirement. This paper explores the thermal exposure of photovoltaic modules in the field as a technical basis for this debate. For the hottest cities, the thermal exposure is found to be equivalent to aging at a constant temperature of 42-53°C, with maximum temperatures of 75°C.

Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 2009
Event2009 34th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, PVSC 2009 - Philadelphia, PA, United States
Duration: 7 Jun 200912 Jun 2009


Conference2009 34th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, PVSC 2009
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPhiladelphia, PA

Bibliographical note

For preprint version see NREL/CP-520-45986

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-520-45644


  • IEC standards
  • photovoltaic cells
  • polymers
  • solar cells


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