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Why You Should Buy the Ossila Solar Simulator

Why You Should Buy the Ossila Solar Simulator

A solar simulator is an essential piece of equipment for any lab working with photovoltaics, optoelectronics, or any research that requires a simulated sunlight environment. They provide an accurate and repeatable source of light that is essential for conducting photovoltaic research. But how do you choose the right solar simulator?

There are many factors to consider if you are looking to buy a solar simulator. Here, we have outlined how the Ossila LED Solar Simulator fits into the solar simulator landscape – including the similarities between all solar simulators and outlining the benefits & limitations of the Ossila Solar Simulator.

Solar Simulator

Solar Simulator

Core Similarities Between Solar Simulators 


All solar simulators aim to replicate the AM1.5 spectrum over a defined device area. The Ossila Solar Simulator can produce 1 Sun irradiance over a small area and is ideal for testing small area devices.

The key factor which is used to define any solar simulator is how well they meet defined solar simulator classification standards. There are set standards for solar simulators provided by different organisations (e.g. ASTM E927-19, JIS C 8904-9, IEC 60904-9:2020) but all of these cover three fundamental properties:

Spectral Match – which defines how well the solar simulator replicates AM1.5G spectrum. 

Spatial Non-uniformity – which is a measure of how uniformly the solar simulator distributes light over a given area. 

Temporal Stability – which tells users how consistent the spectral output from a solar simulator is over a long time period. 

Every solar simulator must be classified by these three properties. The Ossila Solar Simulator meets these criteria with grade AAA, assuring that the light source provides a good spectral, uniform, reliable output between 350 nm - 1050 nm.

Ossila Solar Simulator Light source has a small lab footprint
Ossila Solar Simulator small lab footprint

Benefits


The Ossila Solar Simulator a great choice for researchers who need a reliable and accurate testing device without breaking the bank.

Some of the benefits of buying an Ossila Solar Simulator include:

Smaller footprint

The dimensions of this solar simulator are much smaller and more lightweight than its alternatives (both arc lamp source and LED).

Solar Simulator Classification Beam Diameter (mm) Dimensions (mm)
Leading Brand LED Solar Simulator AAA 50 ~ 650 x 300 x 700
Ossila Automated AAA 45 300 x 149 x 183
Ossila Manual AAA 45 200 x 105 x 210

The above table shows that the Ossila Solar Simulator occupies much less space than one of its direct competitors. Therefore, this solar simulator can fit in with any laboratory environment and can be used in places where there is limited available space, such as within a glove box or dry box.

Quick and easy to set up

If you are using an arc lamp solar simulator, the bulb will require some assembly before the solar simulator can be used. You will also need to install (and possible purchase) filters, to improve spectral match. Alternatively, if you are building your own LED solar simulator, it will take significant effort and complex electronics to align each LED output with the AM 1.5G spectrum.

The Ossila Solar Simulator light source is calibrated to produce a Sun, AAA spectral irradiance as soon as it is turned on, and the spectral output can be controlled via the free Ossila Solar Simulator Console. This means there is no initial coding or calibration required. The solar simulator lamp comes fully assembled and there is no need to install any lamps or filters.

You just plug it in, turn it on and start testing!

Long-lasting bulb

The extended lifetime of LED light means that you won't have to replace the bulbs regularly. This will reduce maintenance costs and is easier for users.

Low cost

Our goal was to make a solar simulator that is as affordable as possible, making cutting edge solar cell research accessible for as many researchers as possible. LED lamps have low power consumption and are very efficient light sources. This helps keep the running costs of the Ossila Solar Simulator low, as well as reducing initial costs.

Additionally, the Ossila Solar Cell Testing Kit further increases the value of our solar simulator and supplies you with everything you need to start testing solar cells immediately.

Low power usage

Arc lamp systems require a separate power source in order to supply the large amounts of power needed to produce 1 Sun irradiance. However, the Ossila Solar spectrum doesn't require an external power supply and can be plugged straight into a normal outlet. This is because, as mentioned earlier, LEDs have especially low power consumption and produce light very efficiently.

Extremely low start up time

It is widely known that arc lamp systems need to be left on for over 20 minutes before a constant, reliable spectral output can be achieved. This will slow down your experiments significantly.

The high efficiency of our LEDs means that your desired solar spectrum is achieved almost immediately, so you can quickly characterise your devices.

Variable spectral output

Variable Output of Solar Simulator

Our solar simulator relies on 11 individually powered LEDs, and the spectral output of each light source can be controlled individually. This means you can alter the spectral output to suit your needs, or can select wavelength ranges specifically to test your material performances under different light energies.

Additionally, you can vary the irradiance of your solar simulator to test devices at fractions of 1 Sun (100 W/m2 - 1000 W/m2). Testing at these lower light intensities can give you information about the recombination mechanisms happening within your PV device.

Mot solar simulators cannot offer this level of adaptability in their light output, and if they can, they charge a premium to allow you to do this. Our free Ossila Solar Simulator Console allows you to control the output of any of our solar simulators with ease.

Solar Simulator Console software
Solar Simulator Console software

Limitations


Our solar simulator aims to provide a low-cost alternative to the higher specification solar simulators. The more LEDs that are used in these light sources, the more closely you can replicate the solar spectrum - however, the higher the cost will be. Therefore, the Ossila Solar Simulator has higher spectral deviation than other solar simulators. We found that by using eleven different LEDs, we can cover the appropriate wavelengths of the solar spectrum while achieving 1000W/m2 spectral irradiance and maintaining low costs.

While our system will fulfil the needs of many researchers, there are some situations where this solar simulator would not be suitable. These include:

  • An active device area which extends beyond a 25 mm diameter circle.
  • Cells with prominent absorption features between ~750 nm - 850 nm.
  • Where an intensity of over 1 Sun is required (this can be achieved at shorter working distances, but the illumination uniformity is not guaranteed).

Why Am I Measuring Different Device Efficiencies Between Different Solar Simulators?


The measured metrics of a device depend upon the spectral irradiance of the light source and the spectral responsivity of the device. All solar simulators will provide a different spectral irradiance, and this difference can be large when comparing arc lamp to LED type solar simulators.

A parameter called 'spectral mismatch' can be used to correct for this deviation. The Ossila Solar Simulator allows the user to set the total irradiance, as well as control each of the 11 LEDs independently, giving you complete control over your measurement.

Contributing Authors


Written by

Dr. Mary O'Kane

Application Scientist

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