Ground faults and other wiring issues that compromise optimal panel performance are common, but often remain undetected posing safety and fire risks. Most methods for detecting ground faults require time-consuming voltage and current measurements, as well as visual assessment of solar panel integrity.

U of U researchers have developed a novel spread spectrum time domain reflectometry (SSTDR) method for the detection of photovoltaic (PV) string faults. This SSTDR method compares autocorrelation differences generated by the PV string before and after detection of the fault. It does not require current or voltage measurements, saves time, and prevents malfunctions caused by undetected string faults.