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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering

Degree Type

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (M.S.M.E.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



There has been significant growth in both utility-scale and residential-scale solar installa- tions in recent years, driven by rapid technology improvements and falling prices. Unlike utility-scale solar farms that are professionally managed and maintained, smaller residential- scale installations often lack sensing and instrumentation for performance monitoring and fault detection. As a result, faults may go undetected for long periods of time, resulting in generation and revenue losses for the homeowner. In this thesis, we present SunDown, a sensorless approach designed to detect per-panel faults in residential solar arrays. SunDown does not require any new sensors for its fault detection and instead uses a model-driven ap- proach that leverages correlations between the power produced by adjacent panels to de- tect deviations from expected behavior. SunDown can handle concurrent faults in multiple panels and perform anomaly classification to determine probable causes. Using two years of solar generation data from a real home and a manually generated dataset of multiple solar faults, we show that our approach has a MAPE of 2.98% when predicting per-panel output. Our results also show that SunDown is able to detect and classify faults, including from snow cover, leaves and debris, and electrical failures with 99.13% accuracy, and can detect multi- ple concurrent faults with 97.2% accuracy.


First Advisor

Menghong Feng

Second Advisor

Noman Bashir

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.