Photovoltaic installations must meet stringent demands to obtain approval for their connection technology – both in terms of safety and in terms of service life. For the electronic components of these installations, BASF has special grades of the engineering plastic Ultramid® (polyamide) and plastic additives in its range.
Electrical Components for Photovoltaic Installations
Photovoltaic installations and their connection technology, usually installed on roofs of houses and factory buildings, are directly exposed to the elements. Sun, rain and wind affect these installations, and in addition, fire protection regulations place high demands on the plastics used.
BASF has two grades of engineering plastics (Ultramid® A3X2G7 and Ultramid® A3XZG5) in its range which are particularly flame-retardant, very strong even at low wall thicknesses, resistant to chemicals, and particularly resistant to high impact at low temperatures (UL standard 1703). Ultramid® A3X types are particularly suitable for plug connectors. Ultramid® A3X2G7 is extremely stiff so that plugs can be very thin. For example, this material meets the UL94 flammability standard V-0 class starting at a wall thickness of 0.8 mm and 5VA starting at a wall thickness of 1.5 mm.
For junction boxes, Ultramid® A3XZG5 (UL 94 class 5VA) is the recommended choice. Whereas the damp-heat test only requires 1,000 hours of exposure, the highly impact-resistant modified Ultramid® grade provides an elongation at break that is twice as high as that of the materials, which have been used to date – even after 4,000 hours of storage in climatic conditions at 85°C temperature and 85%rh humidity. In general, junction boxes made from this material comply with the demanding cold-impact test according to UL 1703. Components pass this test, if they are able to withstand the impact of a ball weighing 535 g falling from a height of 1.3 meters without showing any cracks or damage at a temperature of - 35°C. Ultramid® A3XZG5 meets the prescribed flammability standard UL 5VA from 2.3 mm. Both Ultramid® grades show a very good tracking resistance. The comparative tracking index CTI is up to 600 V acc. to IEC 60112. The inclined-plane tracking test (tracking and erosion) is passed at 1,000 V test voltage for more than 60 minutes (according to ASTM D-2303, method time-to-track).
Photovoltaic panels must maintain their high performance for at least 25 years. BASF additives enable plastics used in photovoltaics to withstand exposure to heat and sunlight and help meet this demand.
Recommended BASF additives for plastics in photovoltaics applications: