Drones may mostly be seen as advanced cameras that have fantastic utility. However, slowly, drones are starting to be used for more and more things. One of these new fields of drone use is inspections! After all, roofs and similar surfaces are not easily accessible. So, knowing how to use drones for solar panel inspections is a significant improvement in both safety and convenience.
Follow the guidelines
The one thing that is always paramount when it comes to drone use is safety. Since you will be trying to use drones for panel inspections, you must know how to safely operate a drone in urban areas first and foremost. Then, you also need to know whether this is an option for you at all! Some areas in towns and cities forbid the use of drones. For example, depending on state and local laws, you are most often forbidden from flying a drone at all if you are within a certain distance of an airport. If caught doing it anyway, you face steep fines and maybe even some jail time. Then, there are the safety concerns tied to the inspection yourself. It can be very easy to get carried away and fly your drone too close to the panels, which can end up damaging both.
Know what drone to get
The second concern when learning how to use drones for solar panel inspections is the type of drone you should use. Do not think that you can use just any drone for this task. Cheaper drones have neither the camera quality nor the level of control and stability you need to be able to do the job well. Typically speaking, Parrot and DJI drones perform best in inspections, and both have several lines of drones specialized for this task. DJI Phantom and DJI Mavic are outstanding series, having some of the best utility and specs.
Drone inspections are not just about visuals
You need to understand that inspecting solar panels using drones is not just about the visual side of things. Of course, a visual inspection is part of the process. It is very much necessary to determine whether there is any physical damage to your solar panels. Cracks, bending, and similar need to be located quickly and immediately corrected if you want your solar panel system to do its job instead of just being a loss of investment. However, some problems can only be detected through thermal scanning. This, of course, means you will need a thermal sensor attachment for your drones. This makes drones used for inspection more expensive than their regular counterparts. Additionally, if you have solar panel bird guards to keep pests away from your installation, the process of inspection will be a little hampered by their presence.
Wait for the proper weather conditions
Weather conditions are an important variable if you want to use drones for solar panel inspections. We’ve already mentioned you will need to rely on thermal sensors for a part of the process. Bad weather can interfere with them and make them unreliable. In addition, bad weather conditions will very much affect the performance of your drone overall since it will be harder to stabilize it and get consistent results. Not to mention that you need to know how to safely fly your drone in fog, rain, or strong winds. Inspection drones are expensive and delicate instruments, so it would be silly to risk damaging them just because you do not want to wait for the right day to do your inspection. A bit of patience will ensure both your and their safety and the fact that you can actually trust and use your drone inspection data.
Know what to look for
Of course, you need to know what data you are looking for. Drones may be a powerful and versatile tool for solar panel inspections. But if you are unsure of the parameters that the data needs to show to indicate that your solar panels are running well, then you would have just wasted money on expensive toys. Frankly, the required knowledge is a bit too complex to summarize in a paragraph. There are seminars and training classes you can attend if you want to learn more. Or, you can watch free online classes and videos to learn about it on your own. The experts from Peak Services Las Vegas, however, recommend that if all you want is just a check-up of your solar panels, then you may as well contact professionals and have them do it for you.
Practice makes perfect
Finally, even if you’ve learned about how to use drones for these inspections, it is not intelligent to do the first check on your own. Especially not without a lot of practice. A lot can go wrong if you are not experienced with flying a drone. You can even end up tangling it into power lines and cause a severe accident. If you are in a hurry to inspect your solar panels because of sub-par performance or a recent storm, then either call in professionals or hire a drone pilot to assist you. Then, you can relax and slowly get better at flying your drone. Drones are enjoyable to fly, and it is a thrill to play around with all they offer. But remember that you are using an expensive piece of equipment that has real potential to hurt someone. You will need to act per that piece of knowledge.
To drone or not to drone
So, now that you know more about how to use drones for solar panel inspections, it should be evident that, yes, drones make the process easier and safer. But, at the same time, they bring a lot of new safety concerns onto the table. An adequately used drone is an excellent tool that you can use in your everyday life. A misused drone will cause plenty of damage and chaos that you do not wish to see. It is down to you to ensure that everything goes without a hitch!