Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Energy Engineering

First Advisor

Michael Mann

Second Advisor

Hossein Salehfar


Current photovoltaic (PV) panel test methods do not provide efficient and repeatable standardization, which can result in inconsistent results. Test requirements for individual PV cells are promulgated by standard test conditions (STC), but do not directly translate to new array or panel designs, particularly for panels that are irregularly shaped and used for different applications. Optimal angles that yield the most power delivery from the PV device when integrated into a panel are achieved by manipulating the panel’s orientation via single or dual axis tracking (e.g., maximum power point tracking). In applications where PV is intended to be integrated into a flying object, such as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), maximum power point tracking (MPPT) is not an option due to aerodynamic constraints resulting from airfoil and control surface design. In these instances, it is pertinent to develop a system that can consistently measure responses of a PV-embedded airfoil in a controlled environment that is also cost-efficient and readily available for researchers to use. Additionally, the system must also be scalable to meet the needs of larger experimental setups for future UAV development. The intent of this dissertation was to propose a new method for capturing the PV-embedded airfoil performance as it compares to a conventional flat panel in terms of efficiencies. As a result, a user has the ability to analyze the collected experimental data and subsequently develop a performance correction factor that is specific to the airfoil used. Recommendations to further enhance analysis of UAV integrated PV efficiency factors, such as vibration impacts on performance, will also be discussed. From an analysis of experimental data, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) engineers can be able to integrate renewable energy systems more effectively and therefore increase vehicle energy efficiency.