Larger solar installations can take up a considerable acreage, especially when dealing with approx 5 acres per MW. These can take many many hours to walk and test, and it is difficult and not cost effective to inspect them on foot on a regular basis.

This is where a quality commercial grade drone and thermal sensor package can come into its own.

We can cover a large area quickly and efficiently with a two man team and minimum disruption. This will greatly reduce your time on site and the savings can go straight to the bottom line with reduced solar O&M costs.

The sensor (DJI/FLIR XT2) can provide IR & RGB images in both still and video.    

We can complete the thermal inspection, gather the data and supply for your in-house staff to review, and based on the review, you just have to dispatch technicians to the fault location. This is far better use of scare staff, time resources and will result in a bottom line saving for your solar operations and maintenance costs. 

You can generally fly a solar installation at a higher altitude since the size of the smallest defect or anomaly you are looking for is fairly large. In general at a solar installation we are looking for defects that start at the cell level, so 154mm+- and this allows us to fly with a much larger GSD, thus covering more ground per image. If we are looking for smaller defects, we can adjust altitude to suit the smaller GSD requirement.

Some use cases of a drone for thermal inspection as part of an ongoing maintenance schedule, with output in RGB & IR,  these could be detected from a high altitude inspection and the results used to determine the next course of action.

  • Defective or overheating modules or strings.Drone IR Inspections in the bay area
  • Cracked or damaged modules. 
  • Cell level anomalies.
  • Debris on modules.
  • Cracked or damaged modules.
  • Pre-Commissioning (establish a baseline).   
  • Regularly scheduled maintenance.

Output available in RGB and Thermal, video or stills, radiometric for review by your own in- house team or we can create reports based on your SOW.

If you would like to discuss a project or SOW in more detail, please contact us and we will be more than happy to assist. 

  • Part 107 Drone Pilot

  • Insured

  • Level 1 sUAS Thermographer

  • Drone Thermal Inspections

  • Industrial Thermal Inspections

  • DJI  M210 & FLIR/DJI XT2

  • R-JPG & JPG

  • Still & Video

  • Thermal Roof Inspections

  • Solar Farm Inspections

  • Solar O&M

  • Complies with IEC TS 62446-3 2017


When it comes to solar installation or industrial inspections they level of detail you need/require as a final report is a major factor in the overall cost of the Inspection.
With regard to solar installations you asking what GSD ( Ground Sampling Distance) or SSR (Spot Size Ratio) do I need. The number of thermal sensors on the camera is fixed, so the higher you fly the more area on the ground has to be covered by each sensor, this means that there is less detail available for each point on the ground. On the plus side, if you fly higher you can cover more ground area faster so it takes less time.

The balance is between speed and detail.

This then asks the question how much detail do you need?
If you need to determine module or array level and bigger defects, then the flight height can be much higher, if you need to see cell level defects then your Inspection needs to be conducted at a much lower height ( and therefore will take longer to fly)

There are really 3 level of inspection
Overview – Altitude 300ft+-
Array & String level defects
Detail – Altitude 150ft+-
Module level and cell level defects
Comprehensive – Altitude 75ft+-
Cell level defects

We also provide a hybrid level of inspection with our M210 dual sensor mount option which carries the Flir XT2 and the DJI Z30 zoom lens/camera. With this option we can provide a thermal Images detail at a sub module level and using the zoom camera provide RGB images of specific defects on the module. This can show physical damage or lack of physical damage to help guide the repair decision process.

3 Images below are all taken at the same time with the drone in the same position

XT2 – Thermal – (R-JPG) Sub module level issue. Hotspot’s visible.
XT2 – RGB – (JPG) visual of sub module level issue, confirm physical of surrounding array.
Z30 RGB (JPG) Zoom approx 10X, close up of module showing physical damage.


Hot Spots during thermal solar inspection

FLIR/XT2 & Z30

Thermal Solar Inspections California


Solar Farm Thermal Inspections Physical Damage

The 3 sample images above were taken with our M210’s and dual payload installed. All 3 shots taken from the same location at the same time.

  1. R-Jpg radiometric thermal image (Fusion Palette) which can be marked up with spot temperatures as needed.
  2. Jpg RGB image captured to show condition of surrounding modules and strings.
  3. Z30 RGB images, approx 10X, showing physical damage to the module.

This would/could be part of one of our detail level inspections, combined with the as built legend for the installation with a report deliverable containing all observed anomalies. If you have a project solar or otherwise that you would like to discuss, please contact us and we will be more than happy to assist.


Raptor maps is the premiere software processing and reporting software for solar facility inspection.

They have specific data quality and capture requirements and we have the equipment and staff to capture the images to specifications.

We can provide data collection to Raptor Maps specifications to meet
  • Comprehensive
  • Standard
  • Overview
Equipment includes DJI M210, FLIR XT2 (19mm) using Ground Station pro or PIX4D capture and capacity to fly all day (weather permitting) as well as Irradiance meter.
We can also capture base layer (orthomosaic) at RGB visible resolution or higher with additional equipment as needed.
Laguna Drones is located in San Jose, California, with easy access to the Central Valley and high desert as needed.
If you have a solar inspection project in California or neighboring states, contact us and we will be more than happy to assist.