Enhancing Solar Panel Efficiency with Drone Surveys: AAI Drones’ Comprehensive Approach

At AAI Drones, we understand the critical importance of maintaining solar panel efficiency to maximize energy production and extend the lifespan of your installation. Our drone survey services offer a cutting-edge solution for inspecting solar panels, ensuring they operate at peak performance. Here’s a detailed look at our recent project at the Allia Future Business Centre in Peterborough, showcasing the benefits of our drone survey services.

Understanding the Importance of Solar Panel Efficiency

Solar panels are a significant investment, and ensuring they function efficiently is crucial for achieving the best return on investment. Regular inspections and maintenance are essential to prevent energy loss and identify potential issues early. At AAI Drones, we leverage advanced drone technology for solar inspections to provide thorough and accurate inspections, helping you keep your solar panels in top condition. According to industry reviews, many operators have found that drone inspections significantly reduce both time and labor costs compared to traditional methods​.

Our Recent Project: A Closer Look

Project Overview

On April 14, 2024, our team conducted a drone survey at the Allia Future Business Centre in Peterborough. The project was led by our skilled pilots, Francois and Karma, with Maya serving as the spotter.

Purpose of the Inspection

The primary goal of the drone survey was to assess the condition and efficiency of the rooftop solar panels. Our objectives included:

  • Identifying connection issues
  • Detecting malfunctioning cells
  • Assessing infrared (IR) uniformity
  • Evaluating the cleanliness of the panels

Methodology: How We Conducted the Survey

Equipment Used

For this project, we used the DJI Matrice 350RTK drone, equipped with the H20T payload camera. This advanced setup combines high-resolution visual imaging with thermal capabilities, allowing for detailed visual inspections and thermal analysis. The precision and stability of the DJI Matrice 350RTK are crucial for capturing accurate data.

Real-world experiences have shown that drones like the DJI Matrice 350RTK are particularly effective in reducing inspection times and providing detailed data. One user mentioned that using drones cut their inspection time from weeks to just a few days.

Flight Plan

Our flight plan involved a pre-mapped route covering all solar panels on the rooftop. We obtained authorization from the Allia Future Business Centre and conducted meticulous pre-flight planning, including a thorough risk assessment and adherence to safety protocols. This comprehensive approach ensured a safe and effective inspection process.

Key Findings and Analysis

General Condition of Solar Panels

Our survey revealed several key issues affecting the efficiency of the solar panels:

  • Dust Accumulation: Dust and debris were observed primarily along the sides and lower edges of the panels. This soiling pattern results from water flow over the inclined surfaces, causing dust to settle.
  • Circular Specks: Some panels displayed circular silver specks, potentially indicating damage to the polycrystalline coating.
  • Infrared Distribution: The IR analysis showed non-uniform temperature distribution across the panels. The three central rows were cooler than the outer rows, correlating with the dirt distribution on the cells.

Detailed Observations with IR

  • Temperature Variations: Higher temperatures were noted on cleaner areas and connection points, while cooler areas corresponded with dust accumulation.
  • Connection Points: Some connection points were not visible, particularly on the left-hand side of the solar array. Additionally, the low infrared temperature on the left-hand side of the panel was also connected to the left power supplies, which had short-circuited due to water-soaked cables. These points need physical inspection due to their critical role in panel efficiency.

Issues Identified

  1. Immediate Concerns:
    • Dust deposits significantly affecting IR readings.
    • Larger specks potentially indicating damaged cells.
    • Connectivity issues at specific points in the array.
  2. Maintenance Issues:
    • Regular cleaning is essential, ideally two to four times a year, based on dust accumulation rates.
    • Ongoing monitoring through drone surveys or physical inspections to maintain optimal performance.
  3. Potential Risks:
    • It is indicated that dust and connection issues can reduce productivity by up to 50%. Therefore, proactive maintenance is crucial.

Recommendations: Keeping Your Solar Panels at Their Best

To address the identified issues and ensure long-term efficiency, we recommend:

  • Routine Maintenance: Implement regular cleaning schedules to remove dust and debris.
  • Follow-up Inspections: Conduct semi-annual thermal analyses and visual inspections to monitor and maintain IR uniformity.
  • Physical Inspections: Verify the integrity of all connection points, especially those not visible in the drone survey.


AAI Drones’ survey at the Allia Future Business Centre underscores the vital role of regular inspections and maintenance in optimizing solar panel performance. By leveraging advanced drone technology, we provide precise and comprehensive assessments, enabling timely interventions to sustain energy production and extend the lifespan of solar installations. For more information on our drone survey services in Peterborough, visit our website or contact us directly.

Ensure your solar panels are operating at their best with AAI Drones in Peterborough.

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