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'Hardware in the Loop' test rigs

Hardware in the Loop (HiL) is a procedure in which a real component is connected via its inputs and outputs to a test rig that simulates and emulates the environment of this component. The emulation converts the reaction of the environment determined in the real-time simulation into real physical values. At SPF this method is mainly used for testing complete building energy supply systems (heating, cooling, electricity). For this purpose, both thermal and electrical sources and sinks are available to implement a wide range of possible applications and, in particular, to investigate questions of sector coupling and control.

Light-scattering measurement (BSDF, BRDF, BTDF)

For light-scattering measurements of reflectance and transmittance we are using an «Imaging Sphere». In contrast to a Goniophotometer this kind of instrument has the advantage of measuring the spatial distribution of the light in a complete hemisphere within a few seconds, detected by a light density camera. The angle of incidence can be varied from 0° to 80° for reflectance, and from 110° to 180° for transmittance. The angular resolution of the straylight is 0.5°. As an option the measurement can be done with spectrally resolved in the range from 330 to 1100 nm.

Determination of the specific heat capacity (cp) of heat transfer fluids

Our procedure to determine the specific heat capacity of heat transfer fluids is providing an accuracy of ± 0.3 – 0.5 %. This is significantly more accurate than standard values that are declared with an uncertainty of ± 3 – 5 % in data sheets of products on the market. A higher accuracy of these important values increases confidence in your products. This is indispensable for the monitoring of energy balances of heating and cooling applications.

Mobile photovoltaic test laboratory

With our mobile PV test laboratory we run detailed tests and measurements of PV modules on-site. The tests include I/V curves, electroluminescence, infrared imaging and HighPot measurements. The mobile test lab measures in a matter of seconds and delivers resilient information e.g. in case of suspected loss of efficiency or safety-related deficiencies of panels, as well as for general quality checks during operation or as inspection of new panels delivered to a storehouse or on-site.

Information about the testing methods

Walk-in climatic chamber

Our walk-in climatic chamber measures 2.0 m x 2.7 m x 4.5 m (H x W x L) on the inside and can be run at temperatures from -40 to +85 °C. Moisture can be controlled in the range of 15 to 95 % above 7 °C. We can run constant conditions as well as any kind of time dependent profile for temperature and moisture.

Solar Tracker

Several solar trackers are installed outdoors and allow for the testing of components under normal irradiance, including accelerated ageing and depenency of parameters on the angle of incidence of solar irradiance. Fluid circulation loops are available for cooling or heating of the exposed specimen.

Solar Simulator / Artificial Sun

Our indoor solar simulator enables testing of larger objects with predefined and repeatable conditions for solar irradiance and environmental conditions. Examples of application are the testing and optimization of solar collectors and othere elements of the building skin, resistance of materials to extreme conditions of irradiance, infrared imaging of objects under solar irradiance, and many more.

Test rigs for components of heating systems

For the development of pumps, thermal compensators, sealings, solar fluids, DHW modules etc., different test benches are available that can be adapted to almost any kind of problem definition.


A wide range of spectrometer systems are available for the measurement of spectral radiation distribution (radiometrics) and for the determination of absorption, emission, reflection and transmission of materials.

Thermal Imaging (Thermography)

Thermography allows us to analyse the temperature of surfaces without contact based on imaging technology. Thus, heat fluxes on the surface of components like absorbers or storages become visible. For absolute calibrated measurements, our liquid nitrogen cooled precision thermography camera can be used. Simpler and more economic alternatives are available that deliver all the answers we need for ordinary problem definitions.


Particle Image Velocimetry enables a non-intrusive quantitative visualization of flows in fluids and gases (eg. free convection in storages). Temperature fields can be deduced using a similar visualization relation from Laser Induced Fluorescence (LIF).

Concise Cycle Test

Concise Cycle Test for combi-systems

The Concise Cycle Test (CCT) method is used for the determination of the functionality and efficiency of combined heating systems for domestic hot water and space heating under realistic conditions based on a six day dynamic hardware in the loop test profile.
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Concise Cycle Test für Speicherschichtung

Since 2014 SPF offers a Concise Cycle Test also fort he determination of storage stratification efficiency under realistic dynamic operating conditions with a 24 hour test profile.
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Environment simulation

In our climatic exposure test cabinets and high-temperature ovens materials and components can be tested for their resistance to environmental influences such as temperature, humidity, condensation and irradiation.

System Simulations

The SPF institute for Solar Technology has a long and vast experience in the simulation of complex energy systems with Polysun and TRNSYS. We are not only users of these programs, but also develop our own codes for components, control and systems. Thus, our possibilities go far beyond the tasks a normal user can accomplish.

Building Simulation

For building simulations IDA-ICE and TRNSYS are used at SPF.


EES is a program for the solution of differential and algebraic equation systems. Its programmable user-interface can be programmed with customer specific applications. (TubeCalc is a program that was programmed in EES and can be downloaded from our product page.)


Non-sequential Raytracing enables the enhanment in optical performance of collectors with mirror systems.


The Finite Element Method can be used wherever complex heat conduction processes may no longer be solved analytically.


As opposed to FEM, Computational Fluid Dynamics allows material transport processes to be modelled where fluid heat transfer processes are concerned. It is suitable for all flow processes inferred through the simulation fluids and gases.

Accelerated Lifetime Testing («ALT»)

Accelerated Lifetime Tests allows prediction on the expected lifetime of new materials to be made, such as with solar absorber layers under preset operating conditions.


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