Using FLIR to find microfractures and other solar problems


Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
Just found out you can use a FLIR to see if there's any microfractures from installers walking over your panels or delivery misadventures.

Anyone know anything about these that can say what sort of features to look for or make a model recommendation?



Will Prowse

Staff member
I wonder how accurate an Iphone FLIR (small unit that plugs into the phone) is compared to a professional level FLIR.

I would also imagine that pixel density and accuracy varies depending on cost.

I want to run a FLIR over some flex panels. They love to fail after a couple months. I have some flex panels I am testing right now for degradation (for over six months in full sun and open circuit for maximum degradation). I wonder how the traditional bus bar cell designs degrade vs sunpower copper backed cell. Would probably show up on a FLIR.

Another fun application would be solar panels mildly damaged from torsional stress. I have seen large panels mounted to vehicle roofs in less than ideal ways. I am sure they are getting twisted a tiny bit. So many fun ideas!


Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
Don't have one :cry: bu it's my understanding the thermal sensitivity is the same on the inexpensive ones, it's the resolution that's not good. The FLIR unit is supposed to overlay the thermal image on the camera's image - so it appears higher resolution.


Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
Nice... I'd play the lotto so I can afford it, but after looking into SPDs I realize I realize I'd get hit by lightening long before I'd win.


Photon Sorcerer
I've always wanted a FLIR, but just didn't have a real reason to buy one. Today I started looking again, thinking of the Android phone attach unit. Cost is low. Turns out the one made by FLIR has a very limited battery life between charge and experiences a lot of failures and software glitches. Still looking.

Also tripped over an ad from Home Depot. They apparently rent a handheld imager, but I couldn't find a single store that had one to rent.


Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
That must be why if you buy them from Flir directly they're handing out free battery packs.
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Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
I bit the bullet and ordered one. It should arrive before my panels.


Solar Enthusiast
Android has one built-in, it's the Cat S60 (like Caterpillar construction). Super rugged, great battery life, waterproof. As an android phone its ok, not break neck fast, camera kinda weak, wifi is ok. But as a tool it is great. FLIR camera works awesome, FLIR range as about 100ft I think, has helped around the house, found a potential fire hazard in a clogged dryer exhaust vent. Also has a built-in FM tuner for an emergency radio. plus you get to take cool pictures like this.


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Solar Enthusiast
Point it at your rim joists and the top of your walls where it meets the ceiling.
This is my next project...insulate my rim joists....curious how it will affect my energy consumption this winter.



Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
This is cool, Jehu is doing a video and discovers (completely unrelated to the video) a hot spot on a panel from a connector that isn't even connected to anything by accident ...



Solar Enthusiast
I bought a Seek Thermal camera module when they first came out years ago. It plugs into an Android phone micro USB port. It worked pretty good back in the day but now I have a heck of a time finding a phone that it still works with. Won't work with many of the new phones. For $200 it was a pretty good deal and I still have a tablet that it works with. Low res but good for finding dog poop in the yard in the winter. Took this today, it's an Australian Shepherd

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Science Penguin

one more option for arduino oriented folks

MLX90640 32x24 pixels thermal camera​

  • Field of View: 55°x35°
  • Measurement Range: -40°C-300°C
  • Resolution: ±1.5°C
< 100 usd

supporting component needed: microcontroller, cost: 5-20 usd


Solar Addict
I just use a Thermal weapon scope... I have a Pulsar Thermion that can detect even the slightest change in thermal gradients.. It will even pick up the warmer water a duck leaves behind as it paddles forward.

Here's a rabbit next to my grape vines at about 150 yards.


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