COLOGNE, 26-2-2015 — /EuropaWire/ — As the first test center in Germany the Cologne Solar Energy Assessment Center of TÜV Rheinland received recognition by the Swiss Cantonal Fire Insurance Association VKF for the execution of hail tests according to various test methods. The experts of the globally active test and certification provider can now test building elements for roofs, facades as well as windows, shutters, photovoltaic modules and solar thermal collectors according to the required hail resistance classes 3 to 5. Hail resistance class 5 is the toughest test category: Here hailstones with a diameter of 50 mm and a weight of 57 grams are fired with a speed of 31 meters per second. This is equivalent to 110 km/h or 68 mph.
The listing as a recognized test agency followed an extensive approval procedure in which TÜV Rheinland was required to participate in a round robin test to proof the precision and reproducibility of the testing. It is of particular importance that the used ice balls are free of any enclosures and are clear as glass.
Jörg Althaus, business field manager Solar Energy at TÜV Rheinland, explains why the range of tests has been extended: “Quite rightly, insurance firms and project developers are increasingly insisting on the more rigorous tests as hailstorm damage to solar systems has increased significantly in the past few years.”
Products that have passed the requirements of the hail tests are listed in a hail register. Entry in the register is the basis for insurability of buildings in Switzerland and Austria already. The requirement for photovoltaic modules as an example is, dependent on the installation location, hail resistance class 3 or 4, which is a considerably higher requirement than in the currently valid international type approval standard IEC 61215. The experts still offer the here prescribed test with 25-millimeter hailstones (speed of 23 m/s) as before. According to the hail register, this test only correlates to class 2. Compared with this test, the mass of a class 4 hailstone with a 40 millimeters diameter is around four times greater, and at the prescribed speed of 27.5 m/s develops more than five times as much kinetic energy.
Besides the VKF test methods, various other national and international standards require firing hailstones on various products. Testing according to other national or international standards such as FM Approvals standard no. 4473, ASTM E1038, ASTM E822, EN 13583 or others can be offered upon request.
Jörg Meyer zu Altenschildesche
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