Major test facilities

In the context of appraisals or research programs, the LEPS laboratory, based at the CSTB site in Sophia Antipolis, characterizes thermal and mechanical performance, as well as the reliability and durability of solar processes: thermal collectors, self-storage solar panels, individual water heaters (with thermosiphon or forced flow), combined or hybrid systems, etc. The laboratory is COFRAC-accredited (No. 1-2122, scope available at

Thermal performance

The collector test benches are used to determine the thermal performance of liquid-type solar collectors, according to the European standards NF EN 12975-2 and NF EN ISO 9806. Angled to receive nearly perpendicular solar rays, the collector is installed on an automated mechanism that tracks the azimuthal trajectory of the sun.

The water heater test benches are used to determine the thermal performance of individual solar water heaters with separate components, according to the European standard NF EN 12976-2. During testing of these water heaters, the solar collectors are installed outside, on fixed stands angled at 45°. The storage tanks are placed in a temperature-controlled space. Two other test benches determine the thermal performance of solar water heaters with thermosiphons.

Reliability and durability of solar processes

To characterize the reliability and durability of solar processes, additional tests are performed on thermal solar collectors:

  • aging tests of a solar collector under prolonged exposure to local climatic conditions over a one-year period
  • impact tests on the collector’s glazed elements
  • temperature resistance test
  • exposure test
  • pressure resistance test on the solar absorber
  • internal thermal shock test on the absorber; external test on the collector
  • rain water tightness test on the collector
  • temperature stagnation test on the collector
  • climate load resistance tests of the casing and glazing of the collector

and on individual solar water heaters:

  • aging tests
  • frost resistance test
  • verification of the protection against extreme temperatures
  • pressure resistance test
  • electrical safety verification
  • simulations to verify the ability to cover needs in the absence of sun

Other research platforms

SOLFIA implementation of solar installations

The SOLFIA platform verifies the feasibility of mounting solar installations. It is used for assessing the installation in terms of waterproofing, mechanical connections between elements and with the supporting structure.

OPTORA characterization of the optical properties of materials

The tests performed at the OPTORA platform, located at the CSTB Grenoble site, are used for characterizing the thermal and luminescent properties of solar collector components (glazing, emissive layer, etc.).