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Designing a programmable solar simulator for the study of photovoltaic panels
In order to study the behavior of photovoltaic (PV) panels, controlled simulation of lighting conditions is a must. For the comparative analysis of the maximum power point tracking algorithms, these lighting conditions must be reproduced identically for each individual algorithm. This article proposes such a controlled lighting system that can be easily integrated into a more complex system for the study of PV panels. Due to size and energy consumption considerations, the solar simulator is sized for 20W photovoltaic panels, but it can be easily expanded for PV panels of higher power. The lighting control can be done manually or automatically, and the simulator operation can be independent or synchronized with other experimental measurement modules. In case of automatic operation, the simulator allows establishing and memorizing a lighting profile that can be played later individually or periodically. The simulator can generate step or ramp lighting variations that can be combined within the lighting profile for programmable time duration for each interval.