Underwriters Lab launches BIS testing service for solar inverters

Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a BIS recognised testing service provider globally, has launched a testing service facility for solar inverter manufacturers in India.

UL has expanded its Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) recognised testing service facility in Bengaluru to support manufacturers to adhere to the standards prescribed by the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE), according to a company release.
MNRE’s quality control order prescribes that solar PV inverter manufacturers are required to have their products tested from a BIS recognised laboratory.
In August 2019, the MNRE had approved the guidelines for conducting laboratory tests for the implementation of quality control order of 2017 and for grouping solar inverters. 
As per the guidelines, the manufacturers will have to submit a declaration about the series of their products while submitting the samples of a particular series for testing.
UL said its testing services, available at the company’s Bengaluru facility, are now accessible to commercial, industrial and residential application projects, according to its press statement. The laboratory can test solar PV inverters with a rating of up to 50 kW with two independent test set-ups - one for low power ratings up to 10 kW, and the other for high power ratings up to 50 kW.
The testing facility at Bengaluru is accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), UL stated, adding that it is also recognised by the BIS to conduct testing of solar PV inverters.
Last year, UL announced the launch of its first-ever mobile solar PV testing laboratory in New Delhi. The lab’s function was to identify, evaluate, and replace modules directly at the solar project site, which could help solar project owners and operators to capitalise on the production and reduce the downtime at the project site, according to the company.
Inverter manufacturers have to gain clarity regarding the ambiguous BIS certification process. The unavailability of labs, lack of testing facilities and workforce, unreasonable costs of testing, absence of series guidelines, and confusion regarding MNRE notifications were some of the issues that have made the compliance of the order “Solar Photovoltaics Systems, Devices and Component Goods Order 2017” extremely difficult. Through several interviews with inverter suppliers, Mercom found out that the cost of BIS certification is also a cause of concern for the inverter suppliers apart from the time-taking process.
In April 2020, the MNRE issued draft guidelines for standards regarding the technical specification for solar grid-tied inverters. The ministry introduced relevant standards covering safety, efficiency, environmental, and islanding prevention measures tests for utility-interconnected PV inverters.