Some things are really tough to test. For example, how do you simulate the solar panels on a satellite under varying light and orientation conditions? Well, Agilent’s E4360 Solar Array Simulator accurately simulates the I-V curve of a solar panel’s array under various environmental conditions (see the figure).
The E4360 is a hefty dc power supply that acts like a solar panel. It provides up to two outputs of 600 W each. It also reproduces the I-V curve of a solar panel under conditions that you program such as eclipse, spin, rotation, aging, and temperature. You can input the four key operational parameters (VOC, ISC, VMP, and IMP) for the array to internally create the I-V curve. Otherwise, you can download a user-defined table for the I-V curve of the solar array. With this unit, you can parallel the outputs for greater power and/or connect other N4360s for additional capability.
The simulator has USB 2.0, 10/100 Ethernet, and GPIB interfaces, making it easy to connect to a PC or in a test system. The E4360 mainframe holds up to two modules. And, the E4360 can be operated and monitored from any Web browser via a built-in Web server and GUI. It costs $3961. The E4361A module features a 65-V, 8.5-A, 510-W output. The E4362A module offers a 130-V, 5-A, and 600-W output. Each module costs $5136. Agilent offers a full turn-key solar array simulator system based on this product as well.