Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Richard D. Wilk




solar, power, energy, circuits, photovoltaic


With the increased usage of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to supply our electrical energy needs, it becomes of interest to be able to measure and track the actual conversion efficiency of these systems. This would involve the measurement of both the power output of the system and the radiant power of the incident solar energy. While the power output of these systems is typically measured, it is not common to also measure the incident solar insolation, due primarily to the relatively high cost of a solar radiation pyranometer. This project involves the research and application of low cost, individual PV cells to design an economical, portable solar insolation meter. The research objective was to measure and define the relationship between the short-circuit current, Isc, of an individual PV cell and the corresponding solar insolation. Preliminary research indicates that there is a highly linear correlation between these two parameters. Nevertheless, it has not yet been determined if the Isc of an individual PV cell is significantly affected by temperature, cell type, or cell circuit configuration1. A solar simulator was used to provide a constant source of radiation while investigating the effect of each of these parameters on Isc. A linear approximation with a coefficient of determination, R2, of 0.986 has been calculated for a single solar PV cell. While this calibration curve is not yet statistically significant, it does provide empirical evidence that there is a significant linear correlation between insolation flux and short circuit current.