How to build a solar tracker. DIY solar panel sun tracker


How to build a solar tracker. DIY solar panel sun tracker

Solar tracking devices, mounted with photovoltaic (PV) panels, allow the panels to exactly track the sun’s course across the sky and can increase the yield of solar energy setups by as much as 40 percent compared to stationary panels. Solar trackers have been around because about 1980, however their increasing use in both property and commercial-scale solar energy jobs is a direct result of proven, improved solar capture efficiencies.

This boost, though mostly driven by commercial-scale solar energy installations, has actually equated into lower expenses and more reputable tracking systems for homeowners and small businesses as well.

Fixed solar panels are fixed, either by the installer or the homeowner, at the optimum angle for solar exposure; that is, in Australia, at 35 degrees latitude south, where the sun’s declination differs from 78.5 in the summer to 31.5 in the winter, most rooftop systems will depend on a roughly 52.3 degrees declination, enabling a 22.6-roof tilt angle (or a 5/12 roofing pitch). In more northern climes, the angle of the sun’s rays in summer season varies from winter season by much more than 60 degrees, which suggests targeting summer season sunshine makes winter season solar energy generation rather iffy.

Solar trackers resolve this problem. The standard solution, a single axis horizontal tracker, follows the sun throughout the sky from morning to evening, optimizing solar efficiency during spring and summer season days, when the sun is greater in the sky. They are less useful the farther north one goes, given that (as noted above) the variance the sun’s angle is greater in between summer and winter season, so any setting along the horizontal diminishes performance the other 60 percent of the year.

Vertical axis trackers work much better at greater latitudes, making it possible for photovoltaic panels or ranges to track the sun both at summertime and winter declinations. Double axis, or azimuth trackers resolve both issues concurrently, however can be very pricey, adding from $3,500 to $6,500 to the cost of solar setup, with the smaller figure accommodating about 125 square feet of photovoltaic panels and the larger supporting 225 square feet.

There are also double axis trackers that depend on vertical and horizontal pivots directed by a controller, comparable to that used for solar telescopes. These are so expensive that their usage is typically restricted to business solar energy systems that rely on a parabolic meal with an accompanying Stirling engine that produces energy onsite, instead of being grid-tied.

This type of precise tracking is also utilized in focused solar applications (i.e., mirrors gathering sunshine directed onto receivers which transform sunlight to heat), which require minute accuracy to be reliable, because the focal point on which sunlight is directed is near the center of the reflector, or lens.

Trackers can also be divided into passive and active trackers, the first operating on an electric motor activated by a controller, the 2nd using compressed gas which, when warmed (by the sun’s rays) creates an imbalance in a chamber which triggers the tracker to tilt.

In the early days of solar energy setup, maximizing yields was less important than establishing technologies. With the introduction of feed-in tariffs (where entities like utilities pay more for renewable resource generation, and the excess approaches broadening renewable technologies), solar setups are finding profit in increasing the number of kilowatt hours delivered to the energy grid. The incentive is cash, however the benefits lead to enhanced technologies, not only in collection but in expense effectiveness (think thin-film solar).

The need to enhance solar yields has, recently, driven the solar tracking market from about 2 percent in 1990 to more than 25 percent in 2008, and projections recommend that at least 85 percent of solar setups of more than one megawatt integrated in the future will use some type of tracking.

This increasing dependence on tracking will also lead to enhancements in tracking innovation, as developers battle to discover brand-new and better methods to insure the dependability and enhance of the motors, gear drives, controllers and pivot systems that trackers rely on.